Customer perceptions are needed to be met and exceeded. It requires from companies to study the buyer behaviour of their existing and potential customers and to devise programs and initiatives to offer superior customer service.
According to Parasuraman et al (1991, p.42), customer services expectations consist of two levels: desired and adequate. Desired level of expectations is the level of service a customer wanted to be performed, while the adequate level of expectation is the “acceptable” level of service by the customer.
A service quality model, highlighting the main requirements for delivering high quality service which identifies five gaps as causes for unsuccessful service delivery has been formulated by Parasuraman et al (1985, pp.41-50):
- Gap between expectation of client and perception of management. In order to be able to exceed customer expectations, and in this way to insure customer satisfaction service company management has to have a clear and accurate perception about customer expectations. A lack of such knowledge creates a gap that can be one of the main reasons for service customers not being satisfied.
- Gap between perception of management and service quality specification. Even if management accurately perceive customer expectations there are still chances of customer dissatisfaction that can be caused by the gap in planning quality of the service according to customer expectations
- Gap between specification of quality and the delivery of service. Another potential area for customer dissatisfaction relates to the failure of efficiently specified quality service due to various reasons, including incompetent workforce, and inefficient working conditions.
- The gap between the delivery of service and external communications. In cases where service company employees have relevant skills and willingness to offer efficiently specified quality service, still customers may be left unsatisfied due to external factors
- Gap between perceived and expected service. Lastly, one of the common causes for customer dissatisfaction in service sector relates to the gap between what customers expect from the service and what they think they have received
Johnson and Clark (2008, p.47) also inform that four Ps of marketing can be expanded to eight Ps if it is to include the elements of services product: product, process, place, physical evidence, people, productivity and quality, price and promotion.
- Parasuraman, A, Zeithaml, VA, Berry, LL, 1985, “A Conceptual Model of Service Quality and its implications for Future Research”, Journal of Marketing
- Parasuraman, A, Berry, LL & Zeithaml, VA, 1991, “Understanding Customer Expectations of Service”, Sloan Management Review, Issue: 32(3)