The gaps model which was originally developed in 1985, is still considered by industry as an important model into providing evidence as to why customer dissatisfaction occurs.
So what exactly is the gaps model and why is it important?
The central focus of the gaps model is ‘the customer gap, which is the difference between what a customer expects and the level of service that a customer actually experiences from your organisation’.
In order to ensure long-term longevity and profitability, you need to close this gap between what customers expect to what they receive in order to satisfy your customers and build relationships with them.
So how do gaps occur between expectations and perceptions?
Well, according to the model there are four provider gaps that need to be closed – otherwise customer dissatisfaction will continue to occur.
Provider Gap 1: Not knowing what customers expect
Provider Gap 2: Not selecting the right service designs and standards
Provider Gap 3: Not delivering to service standards
Provider Gap 4: Not matching performance to promises
They are known as provider gaps because they occur from within the organisation – for the next four weeks, we will be dedicating a blog post to the above four gaps. But essentially, the reasons why gaps occur surrounds around the key theme of not listening or poor communication skills, whether it be internally (ie. not communicating policies and procedures to your staff) or externally (ie. not understanding what customers really want).
So without going into detail about each gap, how do you go about closing the gaps?
The gaps should be closed in sequential order, the reason for this is the other gaps (including the closing of the customer gap) cannot occur until you truly understand your customer needs (ie. through listening which is what the closing of gap 1 aims to do).
The information gathered through market research, listening to customers and staff and researching social networking sites will be invaluable in helping to ensure all other gaps can be closed.
After the closing of gap 1, I would then proceed to gap 2 as I would need to ensure that the information gathered during the gap 1 analysis has been translated into the organisation’s service designs allowing for a pleasurable servicescape. Once the service design was in place and has met the needs of the consumer, I would look at closing gap 3, by ensuring all policies, systems, staffing and processes match the service design outlined in the analysis of gap 2. After all, there would be little point of having processes created and in place if they did not match the analysis conducted in gap 2!
After this gap has been closed, I would work on closing the final gap (the communication gap) as the analysis in all the other gaps would ensure your organisation matched or at least closely matched customer expectations and perceptions. This would help to ensure that any external communications sent out by your organisation would not result in over promising.
Until next week,
Cents and Sensibility
Julia Taine, Executive Director of Vent2Me, is a marketing problem solver and mentor. A mover and a shaker, Julia sees a niche in an industry, and takes it, by making it her own. Julia started Vent2Me, because people she knew were struggling with their online presence and their digital strategies. Julia knew she could help these people, and so here she is today.