The Servqual model (also called the gap model) was developed by American authors A. Parasuraman, Valarie A. Zeithaml and Len Berry. In general, the SERVQUAL model identifies the principal dimensions of service quality.
Initially, there were ten dimensions of service quality identified. However, later these were reduced to 5 as some of these dimensions were auto-correlated. These five dimensions of service quality are Reliability, Assurance, Tangibility, Empathy, and Responsiveness.In general, these five dimensions are considered representative of the dimensions of service quality for different types of services.
RATER Framework - Elements of Service Quality
According to the SERVQUAL model, a service provider must be able to provide five critical elements of service: reliability, responsiveness, tangibility, assurance, and empathy.
These five elements can be abbreviated as RATER.
Reliability means the degree to which a service can be relied upon to produce the desired result or outcome at any given time. This measures the consistency of services provided by an organization. If an organization offers consistent services, then it will have high reliability.
Assurance means the level of confidence that a customer has about the quality of service.
Tangibility means the physical appearance of the product or service provided by the organization. It includes things like cleanliness, neatness, and appearance.
Empathy means the ability of an organization to understand what its customers want and need.
Responsiveness refers to how quickly a service responds to customers' needs.
SERVQUAL Model: 5 Gaps
In order to provide services, companies must be aware of what their clients expect from them. Therefore, the SERVQUEAL model identifies five gaps that can occur between the client's expectations and the services provided by the organization. These include:
1. Knowledge gap
A gap in the service arises if the organization is not aware of what customer wants. If the organization fails to understand customers' expectations, it will prevent them from serving customers better.
2. Standards gap
The organization has already formulated its ideas about what kind of services the customer wants. These ideas do not match up with what customers really want. There is, therefore, a high chance that the organization will translate them incorrectly into a quality policy and set of rules.
3. Delivery gap
Let's assume that the organization has clearly understood what the customer wants (no knowledge gap) and has appropriately formulated the customer's needs into their policies and work processes (no standard gap). Still, there is a possibility that the organization might fail to deliver the service in the planned way. This will be the delivery gap.
4. Communications gap
To avoid creating false expectations or misleading promises, organizations should ensure that their external communications accurately reflect what they can deliver. Over-promise and under-delivery could raise customer expectations high, and the organization fails to deliver at that standard. This will be the communication gap.
To reduce the risk of communication gaps, organizations should ensure that they communicate clearly about their products or services.
5. Satisfaction gap
Customers are unhappy because they expect a certain level of service but get something different. Eventually, customers will be dissatisfied with the product or service they receive.