Closing the Student Service Quality Gaps

We use the ‘Service Quality Model’ developed by Parasuraman et al (1988) to help us identify, understand and reduce any shortfalls of our service delivery. By closing the five ‘gaps’ in service quality below we aim to improve our service to students.

Closing the Student Service Quality Gaps

Closing Gap 1: Learn what customers expect and their exact wants

To close this gap we need to increase our understanding of student expectations and needs by:

  • Conducting research including surveys, interviews with student and undertaking analysis of complaints and other feedback.
  • Improve our understanding by making sure that feedback from and frontline staff supporting students is fed back to those making decisions about service delivery.
  • Getting those decision makers ‘closer to the customer’.
  • Converting research and feedback into information, insight and action.

Closing Gap 2: Improve Service Standards

For the second gap we need to revise our service quality standards by:

  • Specifying standards that more closely reflect student expectations.
  • Making sure quality is defined from the customer’s point of view.
  • Set, communicate, and reinforce customer-centred service standards
  • Be open to new ways of serving students that overcome barriers to delivering quality service.
  • Standardise repetitive work tasks to ensure consistency and reliability
  • Measure staff performance and provide regular feedback to the service team.

Closing Gap 3: Improve Service Delivery

We need to make sure that service performance matches specifications by:

  • Recruiting and retaining student-customer-centred people.
  • Making sure all staff are aware of their roles and what is expected of them in terms of service quality.
  • Making sure all staff understand how they can contribute to the student-customer experience.
  • Giving staff the technical training needed to perform their assigned tasks.
  • Educating staff about customer expectations, perceptions, potential problems and service recovery.
  • Moving decision making closer to the customer and giving staff greater discretion in how the help students reach their objectives.

Closing Gap 4: Meet Your Promises

We need to make sure that our performance levels match our marketing promises by:

  • Consistent service delivery to our stated and advertised service standards.
  • Making sure that advertising content accurately reflects those service characteristics that are most important to customers
  • Asking front line staff to contribute when designing new advertising
  • Asking staff to comment about messaging to delivered to student-customers.
  • Testing communications with student representative to make sure messages are clear and effective.
  • Identifying and explaining the uncontrollable reasons for shortcomings in service performance

Gap 5: Perceptions

Educate customers to see reality of service delivery by:

  • Getting the customer to communicate what they want at the time they arrive at the counter
  • Getting the customer to communicate what they wanted through feedback after their interaction with the service.
  • Managing student-customers’ expectations by letting them know what is and is not possible and the reasons why.
  • Sharing feedback from student-customers with those making decisions about service delivery where they are dissatisfied with our performance.

by Scott Castle
9 October 2007
updated 24 July 2017