Gap 5: Actual Performance vs. Perceived Service Gap

Learning Objectives

  • Outline how a retailer can close the actual performance and perceived service gap

Gap between expected service and experienced service: This gap arises when the consumer misinterprets the service quality. The physician may keep visiting the patient to show and ensure care, but the patient may interpret this as an indication that something is really wrong.

The fifth or Customer gap represents the overall difference between the customer’s expectations for and perception of the level of service received. This gap can occur due to service issues from gaps 1–4 or can reflect an error in the customer’s judgement of the service received. The customer’s perception is influenced by a range of factors including personal experience and needs, advertising and word of mouth. For example, a customer may have experienced excellent service during a meal but incorrect charges on the bill or boisterous diners at the next table may taint the experience and leave the customer dissatisfied overall. The key point to recognize is that the fifth gap can’t be closed directly; in order to close the customer gap, a retailer needs to close gaps 1–4. Obtaining customer feedback is the key to identifying the root cause(s)—that is, the underlying service gap(s)—and, ultimately, closing the Customer gap.

practice questions