Measuring the gaps in service

While customer service has become an imminently necessary part of the retail, it is equally necessary to evaluate the service quality provided. Customer service is largely a function of perception, customer expectations and the service actually provided. If the customer expects a certain level of service and the service provided by the retailer fails to match the customer’s expectations the service would be perceived as poor. Dissatisfaction with services provided largely stems from a difference between expectations and what is actually provided. This is the basic premise for understanding the gaps that may arise in customer service.

The process of service quality needs to be looked at form perspectives: the customers and the firm’s. The most important gap, the service gap, is between customers’ expectations of service and their perceptions of the service actually delivered.

The service level expected by the customers is affected by their past experiences, personal needs and word of mouth communication. The received service is the actual service obtained by the customers. The chief element to be considered important on the side of the firm is the management’s perception of customer expectations, which affects the translation of perceptions into service specifications.

The service specification has effects on the external communications to customers and on the actual customer service delivered, which can be of pre-transactions, transactions and post-transactions type. The external communications to customers from the side of a firm has effects on the expected service and received service on side of customers. Similarly, actual service delivery on the firm’s side has effects on received service on the side of the customers.

In order to narrow the service gap, a retailer must attempt to narrow or close four other gaps. They are:

The knowledge Gap

This is the difference between what consumers expect of a service and what the management believes the consumers expect. Most organizations would happily believe that they know what the consumers want, but may be mistaken. For example for customers at a supermarket, price may be the most important factor, others may prefer quality, while yet another segment may prefer speedy checkouts.

Failure to understand what the customer really wants, usually leads to wrong facilities being provided. The need is to understand consumers and create facilities to sit their needs. Regular customer research conducted can help the retailer identify and understand customer expectations. Similarly, regular interaction with retail managers and scanning customer complaints are ways by which gaps in service can be determined.

Standards gaps

This is the difference between what the management perceives customers to expect and the quality specifications set for service delivery. Service standards need to be based on the customer’s expectations. The management of the organization needs to be committed towards providing high standards of service. For example, Domino’s Pizza has set a standard of delivering pizzas in 30 minutes. In case the pizza delivery is late, a part of the amount is refunded to the customer. The staff also makes regular phone calls to check on the time of delivery and the satisfaction of the customer with the product.

The Delivery gap

It is the difference between the quality specifications set for service delivery and the actual quality of service delivery. The level of service provided would vary from employee to employee and in the same employee over a period of time. Clarity of the role that is to be done by the employee and adequate training enable an employee to serve the customer in an efficient manner.

The Communications gap

This is the difference between the service the firm promises it will deliver through its external communications and the service that it actually delivers. If advertising or sales promotions promise one kind of service and the customer receives a different kind of service the communications gap increases.

The organization needs to address the four gap mentioned above in order to improve its level of service.

  • Meenakshi Ambedkar

    this is good for us.. plz provide more info. abt tools we can use for measuring gap and questionaire