The earlier article on Excelling in Service Quality would have helped you to identify the five elements of service quality (Reliability, Assurance, Tangibles, Empathy, Responsiveness) that you have to focus on to exceed your customer satisfaction. But what is more interesting to understand is to know what creates the Gap between the perceived levels of Service Quality VS the expected level of service by the customer. The Gaps model helps you to understand that better by splitting the gaps into four different constituents. Understanding these gaps, measuring and narrowing down the gaps would help you to reach the ultimate objective of exceeding your customer expectations. The below picture summarizes the Gaps model where Customer Gap = Gap 1 + Gap 2 + Gap 3 + Gap 4
Gap 1 generally arises due to difference in understanding of customer expectation by front end analysts who elicit customer requirements. You can consider this as not knowing what the customer expects / the knowledge gap. This can happen due to multiple reasons like capability of the Analyst who elicit the customer requirements, not interacting with the right mix of customer contacts, not listening the customer, Language / cultural barriers, not asking the right questions, too many layers of management etc
Gap 2 arises due to translation of analyst understanding of customer requirements to service specifications / design. This is the services design and standards Gap. This primarily happens due to constraints (technology, people, process) that limits your ability to map the customer needs, not so flexible in-house processes to adopt to customer needs, lack of capability in translating the requirements specs to a well rounded design etc
Gap 3 is due to difference in the way the design is done against how it is actually executed. This is the services performance gap. This primarily happens due incompetence of delivery staff, process non compliance, employee-company conflict, high empowerment leading to people taking ad-hoc decisions etc
Gap 4 is due to difference in what is promised to the customer against what is actually delivered to the customer. This is due to you not in a position to deliver what you promised to the customer. Most obvious reason could be false promises by Sales / Marketing staff to the customer, poor expectations management etc
Unless you have tight measures to manage each of the Gaps by having right checkpoints, audits, surveys, reviews etc you may not be able to reduced the Customer Gap which is the difference between the expected service of the customer and perceived service.
Senior Director, CRMIT
(Originally Published in : http://venkysundaram.wordpress.com/2012/03/28/understanding-service-delivery-gaps/)