Since the mid-eighties much has been said and written about customer satisfaction. One of the most insightful models to map to customer satisfaction is the Service Quality model (SERVQUAL) of Zeithaml, Berry & Parasuraman. This model explains the absence of customer satisfaction on the basis of the four major organizational shortcomings. The way organizations look at the concepts of service quality and customer satisfaction drives changed substantially by this model.
The SERVQUAL model defines satisfaction as the difference between what the customer expects and what the customer is experiencing. If the service does not meet the expectations in the perception of the customer, he will be dissatisfied. Is the experience beyond the expectations, then the customer will be very satisfied.
The expectation that the customer has of a product or service, depends on a number of factors. Not only the marketing communication of the company is of influence, but also the previous experience with the company, mouth-to-mouth communication with friends and of course the own wishes and needs of the customer. The company therefore has limited influence on the expectations of the customer. However it can try to get the picture as thoroughly as possible.
In the SERVQUAL model there are only four Gaps, where products or services do not meet the expectations of the customer (often regarded as the fifth Gap).
- The management has no realistic view of the expectations of the customer expectations
- These are not correct translated into product or service specifications
- The product or service is not delivered according to the specifications
- The marketing communication arouses false expectations
- Internal causes determine the quality of the service.
Management perception GAP 1:
- Managers think they ‘know’ the customer need
- Management has no contact with customers
- Too much hierarchical layers in the organization.
Management perception – Service quality specification GAP 2:
- Low commitment (focus on cost efficiency and return on investment, instead of quality)
- Absence of quality programs
- Lack standardization
- Expectations to high.
The service quality specification – Service delivery GAP 3:
- Employees can’t /don’t want
- Lack of Teamwork
- Employee – not fit for the job.
- Technology – tools not fit
- Control over own tasks and flexibility to get the job done
- Output control systems (e.g. on numbers not on satisfaction)
- Employee does not know exactly what is expected by the management.
The over promise GAP 4:
- The external communication tends to higher promises than reality (can) be.
The dilemma of GAP 5:
Two ways to influence the quality of the service:
- Higher performance > Will also turn into higher expectations.
- Reduce expectation level.
Conclusion: Satisfaction / quality is Result minus the Expectation ! (S = R – E).
‘Service’ is managing the Customer expectation(s).
You will find more specific information in the literature, shown in the left section of this page.
* Source: ‘Delivering Quality Service’, (SERVQUAL) of Zeithaml, Berry & Parasuraman, 2009.