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SERVQUAL - short version

A survey instrument designed to assess service quality along five specific dimensions consisting of tangibles, reliability, responsiveness, assurance, and empathy.

SERVQUAL - long version

SERVQUAL or RATER is a service quality framework. SERVQUAL was developed in the mid eighties by Zeithaml, Parasuraman & Berry. SERVQUAL was originally measured on 10 aspects of service quality: reliability, responsiveness, competence, access, courtesy, communication, credibility, security, understanding the customer and tangibles. It measures the gap between customer expectations and experience.

By the early nineties the authors had refined the model to the useful acronym RATER:

* Reliability

* Assurance

* Tangibles

* Empathy, and

* Responsiveness

SERVQUAL was considered overly complex, subjective and statistically unreliable. The simplified RATER model however is a simple and useful model for qualitatively exploring and assessing customers' service experiences and has been used widely by service delivery organizations. It is an efficient model in helping an organization shape up their efforts in bridging the gap between perceived and expected service.

The five gaps that organizations should measure, manage and minimize:

•Gap 1 is the distance between what customers expect and what managers think they expect - Clearly survey research is a key way to narrow this gap.

•Gap 2 is between management perception and the actual specification of the customer experience - Managers need to make sure the organization is defining the level of service they believe is needed.

•Gap 3 is from the experience specification to the delivery of the experience - Managers need to audit the customer experience that their organization currently delivers in order to make sure it lives up to the spec.

•Gap 4 is the gap between the delivery of the customer experience and what is communicated to customers - All too often organizations exaggerate what will be provided to customers, or discuss the best case rather than the likely case, raising customer expectations and harming customer perceptions.

•Gap 5 is the gap between a customer's perception of the experience and the customer's expectation of the service - Customers' expectations have been shaped by word of mouth, their personal needs and their own past experiences. Routine transactional surveys after delivering the customer experience are important for an organization to measure customer perceptions of service.


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