Gap analysis services


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Gap analysis services

  1. 1. THE CUSTOMER GAP <br />The central focus of the gaps model is the customer gap, the difference between customer expectations and perceptions. Expectations are the reference paints customers have coming in to a service experience; perceptions reflect the service as actually received. The idea is that firms will want to close this gap - between what is expected and what is received - to satisfy their customers and build long - term relationships with them. To close this all - important customer gap, the model suggests that four other gaps - the provider gaps- need to be closed. The figure depicts this model. . <br />THE PROVIDER GAPS <br />The provider gaps are the underlying causes behind the customer gap: <br />Gap 1 - Not knowing what customers expect. <br />Gap 2 - Not selecting the right service designs and standards. Gap 3 - Not delivering to service standards. <br />Gap 4 - Not matching performance to promises. <br />A primary cause in many firms for not meeting customers' expectations is that the firm lacks accurate understanding of exactly what those expectations are. A gap exists (gap 1) between' company perceptions of customer expectations and what customers actually expect. <br />Even if a firm does have a clear understanding of its customers' expectations, there still may be problems if that understanding is not translated into customer-driven service designs and standards (gap 2). <br />Once service designs and standards are in place, it would seem the firm is well on its way to delivering high-quality services. This is true but still not enough. There must be systems, processes, and people in place to ensure that service delivery actually matches (or is even better than) the designs and standards in place (gap 3). <br />Finally, with everything in place to effectively meet or exceed customer expectations, the firm must ensure that what is promised to customers matches what is delivered (gap 4}. <br />CLOSING THE CUSTOMER GAP <br />In a broad sense, the gaps model says that a service marketer must first close the customer gap, shown in the accompanying figure, between customer perceptions and expectations, To do so, the provider must close the four provider gaps, or discrepancies within the organisation that inhibit delivery of quality service. The gaps model focuses on strategies and processes that firms can employ to drive service excellence. <br />THE CUSTOMER GAP <br />The figure shows a pair of boxes that correspond to two concepts - customer expectations and customer perceptions - that playa major role in services marketing. Customer perceptions are subjective assessments of actual service experiences, <br />Customer expectations are the standards of performance against which service experiences are compared and are often formulated in terms of what a customer believes should or will happen. For example, when you visit an expensive restaurant, you expect a certain level of service, one that is considerably different from the level you would expect in a fast-food restaurant. <br />The sources of customer expectations consist of marketer-controlled factors (such as pricing, advertising, sales promises) as well as factors that the marketer has limited ability to affect (innate personal needs, word-of -mouth communications, competitive offerings). In a perfect world, expectations and perceptions would be identical: <br />Customers would perceive that they receive what they thought they would and should. In practice these concepts are often, even usually, separated by some distance. Broadly, it is goal of services marketing to bridge this distance, and we devote virtually the entire text to describing strategies and practices designed to close this customer gap. <br />Considerable evidence exists that consumer evaluation processes differ for goods and services and that these differences affect the way service providers market their organizations. Unfortunately, much of what is known and written about consumer evaluation processes pertains specifically to goods. The assumption appears to .be that services, if not identical to goods, are at least similar enough in the consumer's mind that they are chosen and evaluated in the same manner. The unique characteristics of services viz., intangibility, heterogeneity, inseparability of production and consumption, and perishability- necessitate different consumer evaluation processes from those used when assessing goods. <br />Because customer satisfaction and customer focus are so critical to competitiveness of firms, any company interested in delivering quality service must begin with a clear understanding of its customers. <br />