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Service quality is an approach to manage business processes in

order to ensure full satisfaction of the customers & quality in
service provided. It works as an antecedent of customer

If expectations are greater than performance, then perceived

quality is less than satisfactory and hence customer dissatisfaction

SERVQUAL is a service quality framework, developed in the

eighties by Zeithaml, Parasuraman & Berry, aiming at measuring
the scale of Quality in the service sectors.

SERVQUAL was originally measured on 10 aspects of service

quality: reliability, responsiveness, competence, access, courtesy,
communication, credibility, security, understanding the customer,
and tangibles, to measure the gap between customer
expectations and experience.

SERVQUAL as a Measuring Tool

In 1988 the 10 components were collapsed into five dimensions

(RATER). Reliability, tangibles and responsiveness remained distinct,
but the remaining seven components collapsed into two aggregate
dimensions, assurance and empathy.

Parasuraman et al. developed a 22-scale instrument with which to

measure customers expectations and perceptions (E and P) of the
five RATER dimensions. Four or five numbered items are used to
measure each dimension.

The instrument is administered twice in different forms, first to

measure expectations and second to measure perceptions.







The Key Service Dimensions

The five SERVQUAL dimensions are: R-A-T-E-R:


RESPONSIVENESS - Willingness to help customers

and provide prompt service


ASSURANCE - Knowledge and courtesy of

employees and their ability to convey trust and


TANGIBLES - Appearance of physical facilities,

equipment, personnel, and communication


EMPATHY - Caring, individualized attention the firm

provides its customers


RELIABILITY - Ability to perform the promised

service dependably and accurately

Conceptual Model of Service Quality

GAP 1: Not knowing

what customers expect

GAP 2: wrong service

quality standards

GAP 3: The service

performance gap

GAP 4: promises do not

match actual delivery

GAP 5: The difference

between customer
perception and


Gap 1

of Customer

Commonly known as the management perception gap

Gap 1 results from a difference between what customers

expect and what management perceives these
expectations to be.

It indicates a problem with the understanding of the

market. This can occur, as a result of insufficient research
or communication failures.

E.g. : Management of ABC Dry cleaning Ltd perceives that

a particular segment simply expects low prices on its
service, when in fact, the expectation is a value-formoney service.



Gap 2


Commonly known as quality specification gap.

Gap 2 results from a difference between management

perceptions of what customers expect and the
specifications that management draws up when detailing
the service quality delivery actions that are required.

Service design and performance standards are prerequisites for bridging this gap.

E.g. : Most hotels do not do housekeeping in a room on

the day the customer is checking out.
But has
management realised that the customer who is doing a
late checking out wants a clean room during that day?

of Customer


Gap 3


Commonly known as the Service delivery gap.

Gap 3 results from a mismatch between the service delivery

specifications required by management and the actual service that is
delivered by front line staff.

It is the difference between customer-driven service design &

standards, and the service delivery of the provider.

Managers need to audit the customer experience that their

organization currently delivers in order to make sure it lives up to the
expected level.

E.g. : Usually, all restaurants need to attend to every request and

orders of the customers. But very often when customers place
orders, they either do not receive the orders at all or the waiter has
confused it with that of another customer.



Gap 4


Commonly known as market communication gap.

This is the gap between the delivery of the customer experience

and what is communicated to customers, i.e. the discrepancy
between actual service and the promised one

All too often organizations exaggerate what will be provided to

customers, or discuss the best case rather than the likely case,
raising customer expectations and harming customer

E.g. A company commercialising slimming products boasts that

customers may lose up to 4-5 kgs/week. But they do not specify
that a strict diet and regular exercise must accompany the
treatment for it to have the desired effect.

to Customers


Gap 5


Commonly known as the perceived service quality gap.

Gap 5 may be identified as the overall difference between

the expected service and the perceived service
experienced. Gap 5 results from the combination of Gaps 1
to 4

Customers' expectations have been shaped by word of

mouth, their personal needs and their own past service

Unless Gap 5 is kept under check, it may result in lost

customers, bad reputation, negative corporate image.


Causes for the Gaps

GAP 1 - not knowing what customers expect

E.g. : XYZ Events Ltd organised a wedding with the usual

white and blue decorations, when the customer had
expected something new and original.

Lack of a marketing orientation to quality

Poorly interpreted information about customers


Research not focused on demand quality

Too many layers between the front line personnel &

top level management

Causes for the Gaps

GAP 2 - The wrong service quality standards
E.g. : XYZ Events Ltd perceived that the customer wanted a
very nice reception with at least 2 waiters at each table, but
management eventually decided otherwise to reduce costs.


inadequate commitment to service quality

lack of perception of feasibility

inadequate task standardization

the absence of goal setting

Insufficient planning of procedures

Causes for the Gaps

GAP 3 - The service performance gap

E.g. : XYZ Events Ltd had promised the most exquisite

catering and wedding cake, but the food was not
appreciable and the bride didnt like the cake at all.


Poor employee or technology fit - the wrong person or

wrong system for the job

Deficiencies in human resource policies such as

ineffective recruitment, role ambiguity, role conflict

Failure to match demand and supply

Too much or too little control

Lack of teamwork within the organisation

Causes for the Gaps

GAP 4 - When promises do not match actual delivery

E.g. : XYZ Events Ltd promised to have a Mercedes limousine

for the entry of the groom, but eventually the latter was
given a simple Nissan Sunny.

inadequate horizontal communication

Over-promising in external communication campaign

Failure to manage customer expectations

Failure to perform according to specifications given to


Causes for the Gaps

GAP 5 - The difference between customer perception of
service and the expectation they had
Usually the cause is the occurrence of the 4 other Gaps, which
results in a difference between customer perception and the
expectation they had. Ultimately the grooms experience was
way too far from what he had expected, and thus results in
Other causes can be:

cultural background, family lifestyle, personality,

demographics, advertising, experience with similar service

information available online

Solution for the Gaps

No Solutions as such, but rather, measures that can be taken to minimize the gaps



Customers expectations
versus management

Use of good Customer Relationship Management Techniques to profile & know

customers expectations, tastes and needs
E.g: XYZ Events Ltd should conduct sample surveys to know what customers expect

Management perceptions
versus service specifications

Managers need to make sure the organization is defining the level of service they
believe is needed.
E.g.: XYZ Events Ltd could have offered pre-set wedding packages at different prices
with different services set.

Service specifications versus

service delivery

Managers need to audit the customer experience that their organization currently
delivers in order to make sure it lives up to the expected level.
E,g.: XYZ Events Ltd needs to ask customers to give their post experience feedbacks

Service delivery versus

external communication:

Use of good Communication skills and avoid ambiguous or fraudulent terms to

confuse or mislead the customer.
E.g.: XYZ Events Ltd should clearly inform the customer about something that will
not be possible to implement

The discrepancy between

customer expectations and
their perceptions of the
service delivered

Application of all the above measures to make sure the service delivered meets the
expectations of the customer

Criticisms to SERVQUAL

It has been criticized that SERVQUAL's 5 dimensions (RATER)

are not universals, and that the model fails to draw on
established economic, statistical and psychological theory.

There is little evidence that customers assess service quality

in terms of Perception / Expectation gaps.

SERVQUAL focuses on the process of service delivery, not

the outcomes of the service encounter.

There is a high degree of intercorrelation between the five

RATER dimensions, thus the scores obtained cannot be

SERVQUAL; Good or Bad???

SERVQUAL remains the most complete attempt to

conceptualize and measure service quality Nyeck, et al.

The main benefit to the SERVQUAL measuring tool is the

ability of researchers to examine numerous service industries
such as healthcare, banking, financial services, and education

Nyeck et al. (2002) reviewed 40 articles that made use of the

SERVQUAL measuring tool and discovered that few
researchers concerned themselves with the validation of the
measuring tool, which means it is well anchored as a trusted

Service Quality is widely regarded as a driver of corporate

marketing and financial performance

Advantages of

quality from the customers

expectations and perceptions
over time, together with the
discrepancies between them

Servqual enables comparison to


We can assess the expectations

and perceptions of internal

departments or services we
deal with.

Disadvantages of

The uniform applicability of the

method for all service sectors is

The use of expectations in

measuring service quality has
currently come under a lot
of criticism.

Does not measure

outcome perceptions.


Methodology of SERVQUAL

The method essentially involves conducting a sample survey of

customers so that their perceived service needs are understood.

For measuring their perceptions of service quality for the

organization in question, customers are asked to answer
numerous questions within each dimension that determines:

The relative importance of each attribute.

A measurement of performance expectations that would relate to

an excellent company.

A measurement of performance for the company in question.

This provides an assessment of the gap between desired and

actual performance.

This allows an organization to focus its resources where necessary

and to maximize service quality whilst costs are controlled


To assess a company's service quality along each of the 5

SERVQAL dimensions. E.g. XYZ Events Ltd carries out the servqual
survey to know where it stands in the perception of customers.

To track customer's expectations and perceptions over time. E.g.

XYZ Events Ltd wants to compare its score of last year against that
of the current year to know whether it has improved or has to

To compare a company's SERVQUAL scores against competitors.

E.g.: XYZ Events Ltd wants to compare its score against that of
1570 Events Ltd to see who is the best.

To identify and examine customer segments that differ

significantly in their assessment of a company's service

To assess internal service quality (interdepartmental comparison)

Applications of SERVQUAL

Service quality has become an important research topic

because of its apparent relationship to costs, profitability,
customer satisfaction, and customer retention

SERVQUAL has been a keyword in 41 publications which

incorporate both theoretical discussions and applications of
SERVQUAL in a variety of industrial, commercial and not-forprofit settings.

Some of the published studies include :

Hotels ,travel and tourism

Car servicing, business schools

Accounting firms, architectural services

Airline catering

Mobile Telecommunications in Macedonia


SERVQUAL is considered very complex, subjective and

statistically unreliable. The simplified RATER model however is
a simple and useful model for qualitatively exploring and
assessing customers' service experiences

It is an efficient model in helping an organization shape up

their efforts in bridging the gap between perceived and
expected service

SERVQUAL is used to track customer's expectations and

perceptions over time to compare the company's SERVQUAL
scores against competitors.

Although SERVQUAL's face and construct validity are in doubt,

it is widely used in modified forms (RATER) to measure
customer expectations and perceptions of service quality.