What Is the GAP Model of Service Quality? (With Examples)

In general, service quality refers to how well a company performs in relation to a customer’s comparison of service expectations. A company that provides high-quality service is probably able to satisfy customers’ needs while also remaining profitable in their industry. Proactively seeking information from their current or potential customer base helps successful businesses stay competitive and relevant in the market and make sure they are satisfying their needs.

Recent years have seen a rise in the adoption of feedback loops by many businesses, enabling them to gather feedback immediately after an experience. For instance, National Express, one of the top transportation providers in the UK, has allowed customers to text while riding the bus. This has been demonstrated to be helpful because it enables businesses to enhance their customer service before a customer complains, greatly increasing the likelihood that the customer will return next time.

Customer service is the cornerstone of any flourishing business because it encourages repeat business. Getting new clients is great, but if those clients don’t return for more business—and they will only do this if they are satisfied—a business won’t remain profitable for very long. If they are content, they will promote your business for you by spreading the word and attracting new clients.

Any business faces challenges in maintaining a consistently high level of customer service. Service providers must understand that every aspect of their business, not just those that involve direct customer contact, has some bearing on customer service in order to consistently exceed customers’ expectations. It manifests in a company’s attitude, how customers are treated, and how its employees provide customer service.

Excellent customer service quality examples include individualized attention, reasonable return policies, complaint desks and hotlines, the ability to speak with a live person when calling for assistance, and more. A customer service experience can completely alter a customer’s perception of an organization, so it should be considered as part of an overall strategy for systematic improvement.

Consider the neighborhood Chinese restaurant as an example. The family is welcomed to their preferred table when they walk into the restaurant and are greeted by name. Before presenting the standard menu, the owner suggests a dish based on the most recent availability of the freshest ingredients, taking care to avoid the customers’ dislikes and having a good sense of what they might prefer on that day, given the time of year, and given the weather. The proprietor promptly brings a glass of the clients’ preferred beverages and makes sure the water has a fresh lemon slice added as the family prefers. The restaurant owner is aware that the family will soon celebrate a birthday and offers to cater the celebration at their house if they prefer. She spends time conversing with the family and is familiar with all the other restaurants they frequent. She knows how often they dine out.

It is quite conceivable that the business owner receives a significant portion of this customer’s restaurant spending thanks to this kind of personalized service. Recent studies reveal that for higher-end customers, the accumulation of experiences is more significant than the convenience of eating out. The client probably tells all her friends about the restaurant. For this level of service, the owner can easily charge the client a premium, and the client will gladly pay it. She can change the menus to accommodate their needs and bring in more customers.

It’s critical to categorize all customers according to how profitable they are. Good customers buy ten plus times more than marginal customers. The company needs to recognize its loyal clients and give them the consideration they deserve. Some businesses will assign staff to high-value customers. They take advantage of the chance to forge closer ties with these clients. They will call them to get feedback on their experiences. They will thank them for being good customers. To better meet their needs, they will work with them to customize the good or service.

‘SERVQUAL’ or GAP model explained

5 types of gaps

The GAP model of service quality looks at five of the most prevalent business areas where deliverables and expectations might not line up. The GAP model of service quality focuses on the following five areas:

1. The gap between management perception and customer expectation

The first gap quantifies the discrepancy between what customers anticipate and what management believes they will anticipate. This gap may exist if management lacks sufficient knowledge of their customers. For instance, supermarket managers might believe that customers want a greater selection of name-brand goods and more self-checkout stations, but customers may actually be more concerned with the cleanliness of the establishment and the friendliness of the staff.

Before making significant changes to the goods or services you provide, thoroughly research the market and solicit customer feedback. This will help you comprehend your target market better. To confirm that your understanding of what your customers want is accurate, think about holding customer panels and interviews, putting satisfaction surveys into place, or conducting in-depth studies.

2. The gap between management perception and service quality specification

The second gap examines the discrepancy between management’s perception of quality service and how precisely management specifies the standard of quality they anticipate from their team. Although management may be aware of what their customers want, they haven’t set the necessary performance standards to guarantee that their team satisfies these demands. For instance, managers at a fast-food restaurant might order staff to finish orders quickly without indicating what is an appropriate turnaround time for each order.

To reduce the likelihood of misunderstandings, managers should specify the level of service they want their customers to receive. Establish SMART goals for your team that are precise, measurable, actionable, relevant, and timely. Create standard operating procedures for your team. You can create parameters that are simple to understand and give your team the tools they need to complete tasks successfully by addressing each of these areas.

3. The gap between service quality specification and service delivery

The third gap measures the discrepancy between the standard of service managers instruct staff members to deliver and the actual level of service the customer receives. If team members are unable to live up to expectations, customers may receive services that are of lower quality than management expects. At this point, managers must evaluate the customer experience to find areas for improvement. This kind of circumstance frequently necessitates additional training for the team. To ensure they choose candidates who are able and willing to provide top-notch customer service, management may need to occasionally review their hiring procedures.

When analyzing this gap, you may want to take into account the aptitude, health, attitude, and cultural factors of the team members. For instance, managers at a call center may have established standards that detail the number of calls each customer service representative is expected to complete each hour. Management may decide to provide additional training if they notice that the majority of their team finds it difficult to meet this goal. They might also review their hiring procedures to make sure they select applicants who feel at ease talking to customers on the phone.

4. The gap between service delivery and external communication

The difference between the service a business claims to provide and the service customers actually receive is examined in the fourth gap. It assesses whether the business accurately conveys information about its services in its advertising and other communications, as opposed to making exaggerated claims. Customers’ expectations are greatly influenced by advertisements and company statements, so it is crucial for managers to make sure the claims they make are truthful.

For instance, a hotel may advertise clean, contemporary rooms on its website and in its brochures, but if the staff neglects to properly maintain the rooms in between guests, there may be a discrepancy between what guests expect and what they actually get. You can make sure your advertisements accurately represent the services you promise to offer your customers by reviewing your advertising materials on a regular basis.

5. The gap between expected service and experienced service

The fifth gap focuses on the discrepancy between the level of service that customers perceive and the level that they anticipate receiving. While advertisements and direct communication from a business undoubtedly influence customers’ expectations, interactions with other customers and their prior dealings with a business may also have an impact. When a customer interprets an organization’s claims incorrectly despite their sincerity, a gap can develop.

For instance, a salesperson at a upscale clothing boutique might greet clients, inquire about their needs, offer to set up a dressing room for them, and make sure the clothing is fitting properly. Although the salesperson may be providing the level of customer service that management takes great pride in offering, visitors may view this service as overwhelming based on their previous experiences shopping at other stores. Collecting regular customer feedback can help you identify this gap. Consider using transactional surveys to determine how clients feel about the level of service they received.

What is the GAP model of service quality?

Professionals use the GAP model of service quality as a framework to evaluate customer satisfaction and pinpoint areas for improvement. This tool, which is also referred to as the “five gaps model,” addresses some of the most prevalent communication issues that may lead to a disconnect between customers’ expectations and the service they actually receive. In order to better serve their customers, managers can better understand their needs by using the GAP model of service quality. Retail, food, hospitality, and the healthcare sectors are a few of the industries that employ this tool.

3 examples of the GAP model of service quality

Here are three more instances of how managers can use the GAP model of service quality to spot chances to enhance the level of care they provide to their clients:

Example 1

An illustration of how managers at an online retailer could use the GAP model of service quality to enhance customer reviews is provided below:

Online retailers Hygge Home Retail offer a huge selection of goods for the home. The management believes that their customers want more options, so they plan to increase the number of outdoor products they offer for gardens and patios. Management decides to use the GAP model of service quality to find any additional opportunities they may have to enhance the customer experience before launching this new product line.

Customers are happy with the selection of products they offer, but they feel that shipping costs are too high, they learn from carefully reading customer reviews. There is a glaring discrepancy between management perception and customer expectations in this instance. Over the following quarter, management observes a significant increase in online orders as a result of the new information it uses to develop solutions that lower shipping costs.

Example 2

Here’s an illustration of how a restaurant manager could use the GAP model of service quality to enhance customer interaction:

A brand-new fine dining establishment called Chives offers seafood, steak, and craft cocktails. The manager uses stock images for the menu because the establishment is new and he doesn’t yet have photos of all the dishes. Additionally, he posts these stock photos on social media to advertise food specials. Customers are disappointed that the food on their plates doesn’t resemble the food in the photos they saw before placing their orders when they receive their meals.

The manager takes note of this feedback and concludes that the customers weren’t provided with the food that Chives had advertised. He hires a neighborhood photographer to take pictures of each of the restaurant’s dishes, and he then uses those pictures to update the menu and make social media posts.

Example 3

Here’s an illustration of how managers at a cleaning company can improve the level of service their clients receive by utilizing the GAP model of service quality:

Happy House Cleaners provides cleaning services for residential customers. To ensure they finish all the cleaning tasks management expects them to perform, staff members must complete a digital checklist before they leave a house. Customers, however, continue to complain to management that the cleaning services fall short of their expectations.

When management observes a number of the staff members, they discover that while they are completing each of the cleaning tasks on the checklist, many of them lack the necessary skills to effectively clean these areas. The service quality delivery in this instance does not match the service quality specification. Service improves when management introduces a new onboarding and training program to teach staff members how to thoroughly clean every area of their customers’ homes.


What do you mean by Gap model?

They are: The gap between Customer Expectation and Management Perception. The gap between Service Quality Specification and Management Perception. The gap between Service Quality Specification and Service Delivery.

What are the 4 gaps?

Product Managers from all industries can use SERVQUAL (service quality gap model), a tool for measuring service quality gaps. Identifying gaps between customer expectations and the actual services offered at various stages of service delivery is the goal of this model.

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