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A business model that aligns customer expectations and company performance

The SERVQUAL model was developed by three academics, Parsu Parasuraman, Valarie Zeithaml and Len Berry, following research they carried out between 1983 and 1988. 

Service quality, shortened to SERVQUAL, is a model designed to find out the match between a company’s service performance and customers’ expectations.  It is a sort of gap analysis.

The SERVQUAL model is based around five service dimensions which make the acronym RATER:

  1. Responsiveness – these are questions about the importance and satisfaction on factors such as speed of response to enquiries, ease of doing business etc.

  2. Assurance – these questions examine to what extent customer service and sales staff are knowledgeable and courteous.

  3. Tangibles – these questions determine physical aspects such as cleanliness of the delivery vehicles, appearance of the staff etc. (Note that SERVQUAL is a service orientated model and so the tangible factors that are of interest are related to service delivery and not to the product itself).

  4. Empathy – these questions test the importance and satisfaction of the service provided by such as sales representatives.

  5. Reliability – these questions examine the importance and satisfaction of meeting promises such overall satisfaction and likelihood to recommend etc.

The results show where there are gaps between expectations of the service and the performance of the company in meeting these expectations.  There are 5 possible gaps to be measures as shown in the figure below.


Service is a crucial factor in delivering satisfaction.  Customers have become increasingly demanding in their expectations of service.  Comparisons of your company will be made by customers who enjoy high service delivery in unrelated areas but this nevertheless influences their expectations. Using the SERVQUAL results, managers can minimise gaps. They can lift the service levels where necessary and ensure that they don't overpromise. They can train staff to provide suitable levels of service and they can be more effective with communications.

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