How does an understanding of the Gaps Model of Service Quality improve management of a 21st century service delivery process?

Topics: Customer service, Service system, Service Pages: 8 (2368 words) Published: September 24, 2014
Introduction
In the 21st century the Service Industries are being seen to be playing an increasingly crucial role all over the economies of developed as well as developing countries. Focusing on the improvement of service quality and productivity has the capability of turning around a struggling business as this creates value for both the customer and the organization, with the quality more focused on the benefits produced for the customer (Freguson & Zawaki 1993). The key objective of improving the service quality can be achieved through closing or narrowing the gaps between the services that the customer experiences versus what the customer was expecting. The Gap Model of Zeitmal et al. (1990) takes into consideration both products as well as processes, where the service quality was defined as an extent and direction of those discrepancies arising between expectation and perception of the deliverable service, from the customer’s subjective perspective. The gaps model is based on trying to bridge the distance between customer’s expected service and perceived service, by looking at services in a structured and integrated method. Critical decision making on utilisation of scarce resources can be enforced by focusing on strategies and processes which can be employed by the firms for driving service excellence through the identification of cost-effective methods of closing service quality gaps and prioritization of those gaps that need to be focused on (Lovelock et al. 2009). In order to close the customer gap the four Provider Gaps that occur within the service provider firm also need to be narrowed or closed. Out of these four provider gaps this discussion will focus on Gap 3: the service performance gap, and Gap 2: the Service Design and Standards Gap, as the two most important gaps of a 21st century service delivery process.

Gap 3: the service performance gap
The service performance gap is also referred to by Lovelock et al. (2009), as “The Delivery Gap: The Gap between Service Quality Specification and Service Delivery”, which exposes the weaknesses in employee performance, their failure to deliver according to the set service standards. When an organisation exhibits a Delivery Gap it may have a specified service that is highly desirable for support to consumers yet the firm has consequently failed to provide their employees with appropriate training that is required to enables them to effectively put excellent processes and guidelines into action. This results in employees that are poorly equipped to provide the expected level of management of consumers’ requirements (Kasper 2006). The set designs and standards need to be backed-up by suitable resources (employees, systems, technology), and have to be enforceable in order to adequately accomplish expected service quality – of which the employee’s performance can easily be assessed and compensated based on achievement levels of successful delivery along these standards.

Defining the standards to accurately express the customer expectations without necessarily providing adequate support for the implementation of those standards means that the service performance gap will be wider and the standards will not do any good (Hansemark, & Albinson 2004). The organisation has to facilitate, provide encouragement, and imperatively enforce the achievement of these standards to ensure that the level of service delivery doesn’t drop below the set standards, otherwise the service quality falls short of those standards that are expected by the customer as well. The best way to narrow the performance gap is to fully provide adequate and essential resources that are required to facilitate the achievement of the set standards, which leads to a reduction of the customer gap. Ineffective recruitment, coupled with ambiguities in roles and conflicting roles where employees are not sure of their roles fit into the jig-saw puzzle is a clear sign of deficiencies in the applicable human...
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