SERVQUAL and Model of Service Quality Gaps: A Framework for Determining and Prioritizing Critical Factors in
Delivering Quality Services
Dr. Arash Shahin Department of Management, University of Isfahan, Iran
Abstract Service firms like other organizations are realizing the significance of customer-centered philosophies and are turning to quality management approaches to help managing their businesses. This paper has started with the concept of service quality and has demonstrated the model of service quality gaps. SERVQUAL as an effective approach has been studied and its role in the analysis of the difference between customer expectations and perceptions has been highlighted with support of an example. Outcomes of the study outline the fact that although SERQUAL could close one of the important service quality gaps associated with external customer services, it could be extended to close other major gaps and therefore, it could be developed in order to be applied for internal customers, i.e. employees and service providers.
Key words: Service, Quality, Gaps, SERVQUAL, Customer, Expectations, Perceptions
Introduction Managers in the service sector are under increasing pressure to demonstrate that their services are customer-focused and that continuous performance improvement is being delivered. Given the financial and resource constraints under which service organisations must manage it is essential that customer expectations are properly understood and measured and that, from the customers ' perspective, any gaps in service quality are identified. This information then assists a manager in identifying cost-effective ways of closing service quality gaps and of prioritizing which gaps to focus on - a critical decision given scarce resources.
While there have been efforts to study service quality, there has been no general agreement on the measurement of the concept. The majority of the work to date has attempted to use the SERVQUAL (Parasuraman et al., 1985; 1988) methodology in an effort to measure service quality (e.g. Brooks et al., 1999; Chaston, 1994; Edvardsson et al., 1997; Lings and Brooks, 1998; Reynoso and Moore, 1995; Young and Varble, 1997; Sahney et al., 2004). One of the aims of this study involves the use of SERVQUAL instrument in order to ascertain any actual or perceived gaps between customer expectations and perceptions of the service offered. Another aim of this paper is to point out how management of service improvement can become more logical and integrated with respect to the prioritized service quality dimensions and their affections on increasing/decreasing service quality gaps. In the following, after a brief review of the service quality concept, the model of service quality gaps and the SERVQUAL methodology is demonstrated and an example is presented to pinpoint the application of the SERVQUAL approach. Then, after a discussion, major conclusions are derived.