Service Gaps Model for Exceptional Customer Service

I’m not a big fan of marketing and business development ‘models’ in general, but I do like the Service Gaps Model. It’s old-fashioned, perhaps, but still works for me and the many service businesses I deliver mentoring to.

Essentially, the Service Gaps Model is a way of reviewing the performance of a business, as measured against what the customer had perceived the service would be before experiencing it.

But crucially, it also measures performance against how management had declared it should be. In other words, actual performance is measured against both internal and external preconceptions.

Let’s put some meat on this.

Imagine a person walks into a restaurant and orders the full breakfast for Euro 8. She imagines that this would include not only the fry but also tea and toast. In fact, she is surprised to be charged an extra Euro 1 for this. This is a service gap.

On the other hand, imagine the manager of the above restaurant prescribes that the breakfast should include two sausages and two rashers, along with the rest. In fact, there is a new recruit in the kitchen who has been putting three of each on the plate since he arrived yesterday. Again, this is a service gap.

Service Gaps Model

Service gaps can result in fluctuating margins and disappointed customers. And we all know that the disgruntled customer goes away and tells twenty friends about the experience…

One of the Seven Ps of Marketing is People. While it’s clear that people are critical to the success of any business, this is particularly the case in services. Training of staff is important, but then so too is the role of management in determining the level of service that should be delivered to the customer and ensuring that it is both appropriate and delivered upon.

Understanding the Service Gaps Model gives insight into how providing exceptional service that surpasses customer expectations can drive your business forward and make it stand out from others that have not given due consideration to this powerful marketing tool.

Service Gaps Model – The 5 gaps you need to close :

  1. Customer perception of what they will receive (Expected Service) v Management perception of what the customer will expect.
  2. Management perception of what the customer will expect v Management specification of what the service should provide.
  3. Management specification of what the service should provide v What actually happens.
  4. What actually happens v What was ‘promised’ through communication and promotion.
  5. What actually happens in the eyes of the customer (Perceived Service) v Customer’s prior perception (Expected Service).

Service Gaps Model – What you need to do to close gaps and deliver the type of outstanding customer care you’re aiming for :

  • Carry out marketing research, talk to your customers, ask questions and listen to what customers say and want.
  • Communicate clearly to your customer what he will receive and when. Do not over-promise and under-deliver and be sure that every marketing claim is justified.
  • Commit to service quality. Train and match the right people to the right job.
  • Preach uniformity, standardise tasks and levels to be delivered. Lead by example and do not cut corners.
  • Improve two-way internal communication between front-line staff and management, as well as between marketing, design and technical / production departments.
  • Work as a team towards a common branding goal, recognise and reward the delivery of quality service across your team.

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