2 Gaps that Dissatisfy Customers

Satisfaction is the result of customers’ assessment of a service based on a comparison of their perception of service delivery with their prior expectations. (see Figure 1 below).




Figure 1

If the customers’ perception of the service matches their expectations then they should be satisfied. If their perception of the service exceeds their expectations then they will be more than satisfied, even delighted. If their perception of the service does not meet their expectations then they may be dissatisfied, even disgusted or outraged.

Thus expectations, and indeed perceptions, are key components in delivering a quality service. But the reality is that when we talk about service quality from an operation’s perspective we usually mean the quality of the service we deliver, i.e. does it consistently meet the specification for that service? This, of course, may be different from how a customer sees the service and thus there may be a mismatch between a customer’s expectations of a service and their perception of its delivery.

This mismatch could be the result of either a gap between expectation and delivery(Gap 1) and/or a gap between delivery and perceptions (Gap 2).  (see Figure 2 below).

Figure 2

There are several reasons why gap 1 might exist. The service may have been inappropriately designed or there may be insufficient resources to meet expectations. It is also possible that the customer may have inappropriate expectations.

An inappropriate design of the service may be as a result of poor understanding of customer expectations by the organization. Service employees may have not put enough time and effort into either specifying the service concept and service delivery or getting feedback  from customers about what they feel to be appropriate level of service. Insufficient resources may be the result of a poor understanding of market requirements.

Inappropriate expectations may be the result of inappropriate marketing, promises made by the organization that cannot be delivered, or bad organizational image, which may be the result of poor service experiences in the past.

Gap 2 may be the result of either incorrect delivery of a service or customers inappropriately perceiving the service. Incorrect delivery is not unusual in many service organizations. Service operations are often complex, human-based activities and things do go wrong. A mismatch as a result of poor delivery can be removed or at least reduced through service recovery.

In service organizations, it’s important to remember that ‘reality’ is what the customers perceive it to be and that customers will perceive each service in their own personal, emotional and sometimes irrational way. Customers’ perception of the quality of the service may not be the same as the quality of service delivered, because humans tend to filter what they see and experience.

Gap 1 and Gap 2 are the primary reasons for customer dissatisfaction. To minimize these gaps, service organizations should tackle some of the causes highlighted above, particularly the internal ones which are within its circle of influence.

There should be the determination to deliver consistently high standard of service. This should include taking time and trouble to understand what its customers want and ensuring that the service design process is not flawed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *