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Saturday, October 16, 2010

SERVICE QUALITY AUDIT BASED ON THE CONCEPTUAL GAPS MODEL OF SERVICE QUALITY

Executive summary
Parasuraman, Zeithaml, and Berry (1985) developed a conceptual framework called the “GAPS model”. The primary thesis of this model is that the service quality shortfall (i.e. GAP 5, the gap between customers’ service expectations and perceptions) is a result of a series of shortfalls within the service provider’s organization (i.e. GAPS 1-4). Thus, improving the quality of service experienced by customers (i.e. GAP 5) requires diagnosing the causes and correcting the internal deficiencies (i.e GAP 1-4).
A service quality audit was conducted for Aphalodge Hotel based on the conceptual GAPS Model of Service quality. A sample of the result is shown in Appendix 2 of this report. The scope covers a sample size of ten respondents (employees). The purpose of the Service Quality Audit is to identify any service deficiencies in Aphalodge Hotels’ services by applying the results to the Gaps Model of Service Quality and then analyzing them. The respondents had to fill in questionnaires comprising of 31 questions covering the five GAPS (i.e GAP 5, and GAP 1-4). The objectives of the report are then to analyse the Customer Gap (GAP 5); one of the Provider Gap (GAP 1-4); and to recommend effective strategies for implementation to close two of the Provider Gap (GAP 1-4).
Findings for GAP 5, showed that the perception was lower than expectation which means customer is dissatisfied with the service level. Aphalodge has a reasonable understanding of customer expectations but not the customer perception of service.
Findings also show that for closing the “listening gap” (Gap 1): Aphalodge have some form of mechanisms in place for channelling feedback from front-line staff to management; management have some direct contact with users; and management at least occasionally perform customer-contact roles.
Aphalodge in closing the “service design and standards gap” (Gap 2): management are quick to dismiss user expectations as unrealistic or unreasonable; have an informal, non-continuous process for setting service specifications; and performance-evaluation criteria do not take “input” and “efficiency” type measures. Improvements have to be made here.
In closing the “service performance gap” (Gap 3): Aphalodge have reasonable support for front-line staff with reasonable technology and information systems; does provide adequate training to front-line staff; recognize and take steps to reduce potential role stress among front-line staff.
In closing the “communications gap” (Gap 4): mechanisms are in place to encourage communication across different functional areas; do communicate to customers about what will be provided to them; do scrutinize all external communication intended for users to prevent over-promising; and are careful to price their service so as not to raised customer expectations.
The report critically analysed in detail the strategy of Aphalodge for closing Gap 2. The report also recommended two strategies to close Gap 1, and Gap 3. In closing Gap 1, it is recommended to have effective service recovery efforts and plan for service failures. It is also recommended to have good customer relationship and to provide service guarantees. For closing Gap 3, Aphalodge is recommended to implement human resource policies strategy. This strategy is focused on the importance of effectively recruiting, hiring, training, compensating and empowering employees. It is also to ensure that service quality delivery is consistent across employees, teams and units. Finally, the report includes the implementation plan to activate these two strategies.


 

1.0 Formal introduction
1.1 Authorization
General Manager, Aphalodge Hotel Malaysia
1.2 Aim/Scope
The Aim of this report is to conduct a service quality audit for Aphalodge Hotel Malaysia based on the conceptual Gaps Model of Service Quality. The scope covers a sample size of ten respondents. The purpose of the Service Quality Audit is to identify any Service Gaps in Aphalodge Hotel services by applying the results to the Gaps Model of Service Quality. The objectives are then to analyse the Customer Gap; one of the Provider Gap; and to recommend effective strategies to close two of the Provider Gap.
1.3 Sources of Information
Primary Data were collected using questionnaires sent to employees of Aphalodge. Secondary data from Aphalodge internal, external reports, and surveys were obtained. Other sources of information include academia journal articles.
1.4 Limitations
Small sample size. Discrete flashed sampling.
2.0 Brief description of service firm and service offering and service blueprint
Organization: Aphalodge Hotel Malaysia
Established: 18 July 1994
Location: Selangor, Malaysia
Accommodation: The hotel offers 118 guestrooms and suites. Features include a one-touch-butler call system, broadband internet, electronic safe, cable television, and hot beverage making facilities.
Hotel Service & Facilities: 24-hour room service, limousine service, valet parking, restaurants, bar, business centre, gymnasium, health club, Spa, meeting and Grand room (Aphalodge).
Service Blueprint (Appendix 1: Blueprint for Aphalodge Hotel Overnight Stay Service) visually displays the service by simultaneously depicting the process of service delivery. The key components of service blueprint are customer actions, onstage/visible contact employee actions, backstage/invisible, contact employee actions, and support processes (Zeithaml, Bitner, and Gremler 2009). Potential service fail-points occur upon check-in is in the matching data of reservations to person checking in. Another potential service fail-point is in the preference of room whereby, if the guest requested a non-smoking room prior to checking in instead gets a smoking room upon entering the guest room. Other potential fail-point occur when guest orders room-service and delivery is late and the food cold.
3.0 Service Quality Audit
(Appendix 2: Service Quality Audit)
4.0 Analysis of customer gap (gap 5)
Customers hold different types of expectations about service. The highest type, desired service, being the service they hope for and the lowest type, adequate service, being the minimum level service performance acceptable (Zeithaml, Berry and Parasuraman 1993). Grewal, Monroe, and Krishnan (1998) support a positive relationship between customer perceptions of quality and perceived value.
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Chart 1: Customer Gap Service Quality Audit Mean Score
4.1 Disconfirmation of Expectations Model
Disconfirmation occurs where there is a difference between expectations and perceived performance. Oliver (1980) proposed that satisfaction is a function of the disconfirmation of performance from expectation.
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Figure 1 Disconfirmation of Expectations Model (Source: Lovelock et al. 2007)
Aphalodge’s Service Quality Gaps Model Audit showed an average result of E= 5.5 and P=4.5, a negative disconfirmation. When service performance is not as good as initially expected, there is a negative disconfirmation between expectations and performance that results in customer dissatisfaction. Whereas, when service performance is as expected, there is a confirmation between expectations and perceptions that results in mere satisfaction. In contrast, when service performance is better than expected, there is a positive disconfirmation between expectations and perceptions, which causes delight.
Teas (1993) argued that perceived quality is positively linked to customer satisfaction. In a study done by Burton, Sheather and Roberts (2003), they established that perceived performance is positively associated with satisfaction.


4.2 Key Factors that Influence Customer Expectations of Service
Service expectations are formed by factors from the experience of customers with other companies and their advertising to a customers’ psychological state at the time of service delivery (Zeithaml, Berry, and Parasuraman 1993).
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Figure 2 Factors that Influence Customer Expectations of Service (Source: Zeithaml, Berry and Parasuraman 1993)
Service intensifiers factor elevate the level of desired service (Zeithaml, Berry, and Parasuraman 1993), e.g. a person organizing a seminar in the hotel.
The higher the customer’s self perceived service role, the higher the level of expectation of adequate service (Bitner et al. 1997), e.g, a customer informing for a wake-up call, and the narrower the Zone of Tolerance (Appendix 2).
5.0 Overview and brief discussion of strategies contributing to provider gaps 1–4
Result shows that Aphalodge’s four provider gaps, was adequate in the Listening Gap, ineffective for Service design and Standards Gap, effective on Service Performance Gap, and performed well in the Services Marketing Communications Gap.
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Chart 2: Provider Gap 1-4 Service Quality Audit Mean Score
5.1 Provider Gap 1, the Listening Gap
Aphalodge Gap 1 (Listening Gap) is adequate with a mean result of 5.69. Services research, need to consider and monitor the gap between expectations and perceptions. This gap is dynamic because both perceptions and expectations fluctuate.
To improve, Aphalodge has to find out what customers expect. This is essential to providing service quality, and marketing research is a key vehicle for understanding customer expectations and perceptions of service (Zeithaml, Bitner and Gremler 2009).
Aphalodge may also embark on activities to improve communication between customers and management and the other between employees and management.
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Table 1 Elements in an effective Program of Upward Communication (Zeithaml, Bitner & Gremler 2009, p. 166)
5.2 Provider Gap 2, the Service Design and Standards Gap
Aphalodge is ineffective in closing their Gap 2 (Service design and Standards Gap) with a mean result from Service Quality Audit of 4.23. Their new services are not well defined for employees.
Improvements can be made in the service design and Customer-Defined Standards.
A service blueprint portrays the service system so that the different people involved in providing it can understand and deal with it objectively, regardless of their roles or their individual point of view (Zeitthaml, Bitner and Gremler 2009).
To be competitive, Aphalodge must support customer preferences with effective process design. Thus, customer preference information must be translated and fed back into design and day-to-day management of service processes (Zomerdijk & Voss 2010).
5.3 Provider Gap 3, the Service Performance Gap
Aphalodge Hotel Service Quality Gaps Model Audit returned with a mean of 5.31 for Gap 3 (Service Performance Gap). The Service Performance Gap occurs when there is a discrepancy between the specifications and the delivery of service (Parasuraman et al., 1985).
The foundation of maintaining service relationships is the fulfilment of promises made to customers (Zeithaml, Bitner and Gremler 2009). These promises must be delivered, often in real time, by employees and service delivery systems (Bitner 1995).
Improvement in the Human Resources policies is needed in Aphalodge.
5.4 Provider Gap 4, the Communication Gap

Aphalodge’s Gap 4 had a mean result of 5.33 from the Service Quality Gap Model Audit.
Because Aphalodge’s promises about services what people do and because people’s behaviour cannot be standardised, the potential for a mismatch between what is promised and perceptions of actual service delivery provider Gap 4 (the communication gap) is high (Zeithaml, Bitner, and Gremler 2009).
One strategy to match service promises with delivery is to address service intangibility and marketers address that by adding tangibility to the service offering through advertisement (Lovelock 2001).
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Figure 3 Aphalodge Hotel adding tangibility to the service offering through advertisement


6.0 Critical analysis and evaluation of Gap 2
6.1 Analysis and Evaluation of Aphalodge Hotels’ Service Design and Standards Gap strategy
Aphalodge does adequate market research to understand customer expectation (Zeithaml, Bitner and Gremler 2009). However, they do not use this information in decisions about service provisioning.
Aphalodge Hotel can close the company’s Service Design and Standards gap by having a structured process for designing services that maps customer requirements to required functions and means (Berkley 1996).
These functions and means will be detailed in the hotel’s service blueprint. A service blueprint portrays the service system so that the different people involved in providing it can understand and deal with it objectively, regardless of their roles or their individual point of view (Zeitthaml, Bitner and Gremler 2009).
Zomerdijk and Voss (2010) suggest that service organisations are increasingly managing customer experiences to promote differentiation and customer loyalty. The delivery of experience centric services requires the systematic management and design of customer experiences through the careful planning of tangible and intangible service elements in the service delivery system (Zomerdijk and Voss 2010).
A study by Magnusson, Matthing and Kristensson (2003) found that customers are valuable contributors to new service and their involvement resulted in ideas for new innovative and useful services.
Incorporating customer preferences and choices into managerial decisions is important to all service businesses because customers generally evaluate offerings on more than one criterion such as price and quality. Yet, it probably is unrealistic to think that a typical service provider can excel on all competitive dimensions simultaneously. Hence, understanding how customers integrate information about (and trade off among) different service attributes can help firms effectively position their service offerings (Verma, Thompson, and Louviere 1999).
To be competitive, Aphalodge Hotel must also support customer preferences with effective process design. A product-service package designed to appeal to the needs and desires of particular segments of customers may deliver less than the firm expects without the ability to efficiently manage, control, and improve back-end processes. Thus, customer preference information must be translated and fed back into design and day-to-day management of service processes (Zomerdijk & Voss 2010). Aphalodge in their service design should incorporate customer expectations into their service standards.
The most visible aspect of Aphalodge’s distinctive brand strategies is the “servicescape” or the physical environment where the service is delivered-the hotel design itself. The hotel’s physical facilities, equipment and other tangibles have to be attractive and effective. In addition, they have to be appropriate to their service offering. Aphalodge’s suites offer spacious luxury living, with a comfortable living room, bedroom, balcony and plush furniture with carved wooden accents, all rooms feature 32-inch flat screen satellite television with DVD entertainment system. Suites include a spacious bathroom with a deep Jacuzzi tub and separate shower (Aphalodge.com).
A study by Reimer and Kuehn (2004) showed that the servicescape plays a greater role than was supposed in most previous studies. The servicescape is not only a cue for the expected service quality, but also influences customers’ evaluations of other factors determining perceived service quality. Thus, the servicescape has a direct and an indirect effect on perceived service quality, which leads the servicescape to have a high overall effect.
Service providers should give careful consideration to their servicescape. In accordance with findings from environmental psychology, the servicescape may not remain limited to tangible elements, but must also consider ambient components such as odours and background music (Reimer and Kuehn 2004). Each room in Aphalodge hotel has a unique nature theme, such as bamboo, palm, water plants and aromatic herbs, subtly etched in the room accents (Aphalodge.com). The collection of tangible service elements specifically the physical environment in which a service is delivered or experience is created, is often considered a key variable influ­encing customer perceptions and behaviour (Zomerdijk and Voss 2010). Grewal, Monroe, and Krishnan (1998) support a positive relationship between customer perceptions of quality and perceived value.
7.0 Recommendations for closing two of the provider gap
7.1 Closing the Listening Gap (Gap 1) through Service Recovery
Aphalodge Hotel Service Recovery strategy is ad-hoc but mainly include corrective or no action taken.
The nature of service: its intangibility, the inseparability of service production from service delivery, and finally, its ultimate dependence on the human factor result in service recovery (Becker 2000) as being an important factor in customer satisfaction. From the customer’s point of view, the most vivid impression of service occurs in the service encounter or moment of truth, when the customer interacts with the service firm (Zeithaml, Bitner, and Gremler 2009). For example, among the service encounters that Aphalodge hotel customer experiences are checking into the hotel, being taken to a room by a bellboy, eating a restaurant meal, requesting a wake-up call, and checking out.
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Figure 4 Service Encounter Cascade for a Hotel Visit
It could be thought of the linking of these moments of truth as a service encounter cascade (see Figure 4). It is these encounters that customers receive a snapshot of the organization’s service quality, and each encounter contributes to the customer’s overall satisfaction.
For customers who have voiced their dissatisfaction to the service provider, initial negative affect is believed to impact on the satisfaction judgement of service recovery and future repurchase intentions (Andreassen 1998). In a study done by Burton, Sheather, and Roberts (2003), they established that perceived performance is positively associated with satisfaction and that for experienced customers’, satisfaction is likely to be a function of previous encounters with the service.
Resolving customer problems effectively has a strong impact on customer satisfaction, loyalty, word-of-mouth communication, and bottom-line performance. This becomes critical as research suggest that only a portion (45 percent) complain to the people serving them and only 1-5 percent complain to management level of the company (Zeithaml, Bitner and Gremler 2009). Customer’s experience with the service, have an effect on satisfaction by influencing customer’s expectations and/or their perception of performance (Mattila 1999).
Smith and Karwan (2010) went further to suggest that service organizations should understand the structural dimension of a service recovery system and take systematic approaches to developing, an effective service recovery systems. Service Recovery strategies should be planned, analysed, evaluated, and implemented as carefully and thoroughly as any other element in the hotel’s arsenal for competitive advantage (Becker 2000). Service Recovery strategies should be viewed as a means to re-establish and confirm relationships with customers (Hoffman and Chung 1999).
7.2 Closing the Service Performance Gap (Gap 3) through Human Resource Policies
To close Gap 3, Aphalodge must be effective and consistent in their Human Resource Policies (Carter 1996).
A “people” focus, within hospitality, is by no means new and successful organizations such as Marriott and Ritz Carlton have developed strong reputations for their recognition of the role which their employees play in meeting customer expectations within their sector (Baum, Amoah, and Spivack 1997).
The importance of people in the marketing of services is captured in the people element of the services marketing mix (Zeithaml, Bitner and Gremler 2009, p. 351). In many cases, the contact employee is the service. Even if the contact employee does not perform the service entirely, they still personify the firm in the customer’s eyes. Service employees are the brand. Because contact employees represent the organization and can directly influence customer satisfaction, they perform the role of marketers. They physically embody the product and are walking billboards from a promotional standpoint (Zeithaml, Bitner, and Gremler 2009).
Today, customers expect more from the companies they do business with, and the best companies are figuring out ways to deliver on these expectations. One expectation of customers is to be treated as individuals and to be provided with the services they want, not a “one-size-fits-all” solution. Service employees are at the heart of a firm’s ability to deliver this type of customized service through their adaptive behaviours on the front line (Gwinner et al. 2005). Encouraging adaptive behaviour in the workforce starts at the point of recruitment. Those employees who are more comfortable and familiar with the task of adapting can be selected for positions requiring such behaviour. A study by Carter (1996) on Sheraton Hotel Australia affirmed that selecting employees that is suitable for the organizations structure and service philosophy is important for success in service performance.
Aphalodge to effectively deliver service quality (Zeithaml, Bitner, and, Gremler 2009), considerable attention should be focused on recruiting, hiring, training and developing employees. To deliver service, employees and system must be enabled through appropriate skills, training, and the right equipment (Bitner 1995). In addition, employee’s competitive pay, benefits and working conditions experience job satisfaction (Carter 1996). Higher job satisfaction will translate to higher productivity and improved service performance. Retention program is equally important as staff turnover, can be very high, and can be a major inhibitor for Aphalodge seeking to achieve overall enhancement of service and product quality (Baum, Amoah, and Spivack 1997).
8.0 Implementation plan
8.1 Implementation Plan to Close Gap 1 through Service Recovery
No Description Responsible When Resources Measurement
1 Encourage and Track Complaints (Tax and Brown 1998) Marketing Weekly Marketing executives Number of complaints
2 Act quickly (Zeithaml, Bitner, and Gremler 2009). Service Daily Front-line service employees Time taken to act on service complaint
3 Provide adequate explanations (Berry and Seiders 2008) Service Daily Front-line service employees, Managers Customer satisfaction after Service Recovery
4 Cultivate Relationships with customers (Gwinner, Gremler,and Bitner 1998) Service, Marketing Daily Frontline service employees, Managers, Marketing personnel Number of Customer Survey Feedback and Customer Expectation data
5 Service Guarantees (Björlin- Lidén and Skalén 2003 Marketing Yearly Marketing Executives Customer satisfaction Survey, Type and amount of Service Guarantees
Table 2 Implementation Plan to Close Gap 1 through Service Recovery
1. Aphalodge can encourage and track complaints by having a mindset that complaints are good, and make complaining easy (Tax and Brown 1998). A customer who does not complain to the firm when dissatisfied is cause of concern to management (Stephens and Gwinner 1998). Customer research can be designed specifically for this purpose through satisfaction surveys, critical incident studies, and lost customer research (Zeithaml, Bitner, and Gremler 2009).
2. Complaining customers want quick response. Thus, if Aphalodge welcomes, or encourages complaints, they must be prepared to act on them quickly (Zeithaml, Bitner, and Gremler 2009).
3. In many service failures, customers look to try to understand why the failure occurred. Explanations can help diffuse negative reactions and convey respect for the customer (Berry and Seiders 2008)
4. The importance of developing a mutually beneficial, customer relationship has been emphasized in marketing literature (Gwinner, Gremler, and Bitner 1998). One additional benefit of relationship marketing is that if Aphalodge fails in service delivery, those customers who have a strong relationship with Aphalodge are often more forgiving of service failures and more open to their Service Recovery efforts (Zeithaml, Bitner, and Gremler 2009).
5. To know how and to what extent a service guarantee affects the consumer’s buying decisions is critical (Hogreve and Gremler 2009). Furthermore, Service Guarantees provide an effective service recovery instrument (Björlin- Lidén and Skalén 2003).
8.2 Implementation Plan to Close Gap 3 through Human Resource Policies

No Description Responsible When Resources Measurement
1 Hire the right people (Carter 1996). HR, Marketing Quarterly Hiring manager, marketing manager High number and quality applicants for job openings
2 Develop people to deliver service quality (Bitner 1995) HR, Training Half yearly Trainer, Consultants Number of trainings each employee attends per year
3 Provide needed support systems (Bitner 1995) HR, IT, Operations Daily Support staff, Managers Data/Support availability, Service failure rate
4 Retain the best people (Baum, Amoah, and Spivack 1997) HR, Management Yearly Managers, Supervisors Staff Turnover Rate.
Table 3 Implementation Plan to Close Gap 3 through Human Resource Policies
1. To get the best people, Aphalodge need to identify them and act like a marketer in competing with other’s to hire them. One way to attract the best people is to be known as the preferred employer. Strategies that support the goal of being the preferred employer include extensive training, career and advancement opportunities, excellent internal support, attractive incentives, and quality services with which the employees are proud to be associated (Zeithaml, Bitner, and Gremler 2009).
2. To grow and maintain a workforce that is customer oriented and focused on delivering quality, an organization must develop its employees to deliver service quality. That is, once it has hired the right employees, the organization must train and work with them to ensure service performance (Bitner 1995).
3. To be efficient and effective in their jobs, service workers require internal support systems that are aligned with their need to be customer focused. One way to encourage supportive internal service relationships is to measure and reward internal service. Service employees need the right equipment and technology to do their jobs effectively and efficiently (Bitner 1995).
4. An organization that hires the right people, trains and develops them to deliver service quality, and provides the needed support must also work to retain them (Baum, Amoah, and Spivack 1997). Employee turnover, especially when the best employees are the ones leaving can be detrimental to customer satisfaction, employee morale, and overall service quality (Zeithaml, Bitner, and Gremler 2009, p. 371).
9.0 Conclusions and recommendations
Managers should recognise that a service-quality audit is a first step to service-quality analysis. The analysis can help managers identify the source and magnitude of service-quality deficiencies and assist them in deciding where to focus in service-quality improvement. It is important that managers view their organizations as an inter-dependent system of work processes. This interdependency creates internal customer relationships, and a service failure in one department may have an impact on other departments. For example, a simple room change may involve front desk, reservations, hotel operator, bell staff, and housekeeping. Finally, the recommendations made are but a sample of what service-quality improvements to be implemented. Aphalodge has to evaluate the overall service-quality gap and implement strategies to improve the service-quality of the hotel for competitive advantage.
List of references
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Appendices
Appendix 1: Blueprint for Aphalodge Hotel Overnight Stay Service
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Figure 6: Blueprint for Aphalodge Hotel Overnight Stay Service (Source: Zeithaml, Bitner, and Gremler 2009)

Appendix 2: Service Quality Audit
SERVICE QUALITY AUDIT QUESTOINNAIRE – APHALODGE HOTEL PUTRAJAYA
This questionnaire is part of the Service Quality Audit study performed by a USQ MBA student for his term paper. The objective of the Service Quality Audit is to look for Service Gaps in Aphalodge hotel by applying the results to the Gaps Model of Service Quality and analyzing them. The purpose of the service quality audit is to find the service gaps and to recommend strategies to managers on closing these service gaps.
There are no right or wrong answers. The research conducted is for academic study purpose only and all company information provided will be kept private and confidential.
The survey will take approximately 15 minutes to complete.


GAPS MODEL OF SERVICE QUALITY AUDIT
For each of the following factors in the gaps, indicate the effectiveness of the organization on that factor. Using a Likert Scale of 1 to 10 scale where 1 is “poor” and 10 is “excellent”.
Customer Gap
1= Poor
10 = Excellent
  1. How well does the company understand customer expectations of service quality?
  2. How well does the company understand customer perception of service?
Provider Gap 1, the Listening Gap
  1. Market Research Orientation
  • Is the amount and type of market research adequate to understand customer expectations of service?
  • Does the company use this information in decisions about service provision?
  1. Upward Communication
  • Do managers and customers interact enough for management to know what customers expect?
  • Do contact people tell management what customers expect?
  1. Relationship Focus
  • To what extent does the company understand the expectations of different customer segments?
  • To what extent does the company focus on relationships with customers rather than transactions?
  1. Service Recovery
  • How effective are the service recovery efforts of the organization?
  • How well does the organization plan for service failures?
Provider Gap 2, the Service design and Standards gap

  1. Systematic Service Design
  • How effective is the company’s service development process?
  • How well are new services defined for customers and employees?
  1. Presence of Customer-Defined Standards
  • How effective are the company’s service standards?
  • Are they defined to correspond to customer expectations?
  • How effective is the process for setting and tracking service quality goals?
  1. Appropriate Physical Evidence and Servicescape
  • Are the company’s physical facilities, equipment and other tangibles appropriate to the service offering?
  • Are the company’s physical facilities, equipment and other tangibles attractive and effective?
Provider Gap 3, the Service Performance Gap
  1. Effective Human Resource Policies
  • How effectively does the company recruit, hire, train, compensate, and empower employees?
  • Is service quality delivery consistent across employees, teams, units and branches?
  1. Effective Role Fulfillment by Customers
  • Do customers understand their roles and responsibilities?
  • Does the company manage customers to fulfill their roles, especially customers that are incompatible?
  1. Effective Alignment with Service Intermediaries
  • How well is service intermediaries aligned with the company?
  • Is there conflict over objectives and performance, costs and rewards?
  • Is service quality delivery consistent across the outlets?
  1. Alignment of Demand and Capacity
  • How well is the company able to match supply with demand fluctuations?
Provider Gap 4, the Communication Gap

  1. Integrated Services Marketing Communications
  • How well do all company communications – including the interactions between company employees and customers – express the same message and level of service quality?
  • How well does the company communicate to customers about what will be provided for them?
  • Does the company avoid over-promising and overselling?
  • How well do different parts of the organization communicate with each other so that service quality equals what is promised?
  1. Pricing
  • Is the company careful to price so high that customer’s expectations are raised?
  • Does the company price in line with customer perceptions of value?
Source: Zeithaml, Bitner and Gremler (2009)

Appendix 3: Zone of Tolerance
Services are heterogenous in that performance vary across employees from the hotel and even within the same service employees (Zeithaml, Parasuraman, and Berry 1985). The extent to which customers recognise and are willing to accept heterogeneity is termed the Zone of Tolerance (Zeithaml, Berry and Parasuraman 1993).
Marketer must understand not just the size and boundary levels for the zone of tolerance but also when and how the tolerance zone fluctuates for a given customer (Zeithaml, Bitner & Gremler 2009, p. 80)
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Figure 5 Zone of Tolerance (Zeithaml, Bitner and Gremler 2009)
Performance standards components of the Zone of Tolerance (ZOT) model may increase the explanatory power of performance-based models in the prediction of consumer satisfaction (Teas and DeCarlo 2004). The zone of tolerance thus provides a range within which customers are willing to accept variations in service delivery. Teas and DeCarlo (2004) observed that it also provides diagnostic value by capturing the range of service within which a firm meets customer expectations.

Service Quality Audit Based on the Conceptual GAPS Model of Service Quality, written by Christopher Lim

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