|Assessment task details and instructions
Critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the gap model of service quality as an approach to build and sustain customer relationships. Illustrate your answer by drawing upon your own consumption and/ or job role experiences(100 marks)
As a guide you should:
(a) Critically review the gap model of service quality , and its strengths and weaknesses (30 marks)
(b) Review customer relationships academic literature (30 marks)
(c) Evaluate the linkages between the gaps model of service quality and customer relationships using academic literature (15 marks).
(d) Illustrate throughout your answer relevant theory by drawing upon your own consumption and/ or job role experiences (25 marks).
Your work should be in a creative, critical and evaluative manner. Ensure that your arguments are clear and logical and where appropriate include academic sources, i.e. academic journal papers, which add weight to your points raised. Please show in your list of references an appropriate breadth and depth of references relevant to the topic.
Your work must be correctly referenced throughout in the Harvard format.
Your assignment should be word processed and produced in an appropriate academic style. The font should be 12, and be double spaced. The work should be completed on an individual basis.
We have set up a draft submission area so that you can check whether your work is adequately referenced. You are strongly advised to make use of this system. You can submit a draft to turnitin as many times as you wish but you can only submit one final version. Therefore please ensure you submit to the correct area of blackboard turnitin systems.
|Assessed intended learning outcomes
Knowledge and Understanding
On successful completion of this assessment, you will be able to:
1. Critically and effectively assess the value of theories, concepts and models to the practices of the service sector and how they manage service quality;
2. Critically assess the relationship marketing (RM) approach in marketing theory and practice and evaluate critically the importance of ‘interactions’, ‘networks’ and service processes in modern marketing;
3. Demonstrate critical awareness of ‘experiential marketing’, and how this can be complemented through Social Media Marketing in a way with which organisations and consumers can ‘co-create value’.
Transferable/Key Skills and other attributes
On completion of this module students will have had the opportunity to:
1. Enhance and apply planning, organising, decision-making and time management skills appropriate for use in an organisational context.
2. Experiment and develop personal initiative and responsibility in undertaking complex investigations in the solving of organisational problems and issues.
3. Critically analyse and apply key ideas and concepts via comprehensive research relevant both to the subject area and to professional practice in the field.
4. Use terminology associated with the subject area accurately and in a way, which demonstrates sophisticated knowledge and understanding.
5. Develop and enhance both individually and collaboratively effective written and oral communication skills for both specialist and non-specialist audiences.
The module aims to:
1. Provide a wide-ranging critical analysis of the issues involved in managing the strategic marketing management functions within a variety of local and international organisation types, but particularly in a service context;
2. Appraise findings from research and practice to place emphasis on a number of theoretical perspectives that enable students to develop the ability to critically evaluate and analyse service management opportunities problems and quality management issues;
3. Evaluate the implications of the relationship approach to the management of customers for the development of marketing theory and marketing practice;
4. Facilitate students’ critical awareness of the shortcomings of ‘mainstream’ based transactional marketing and to enable them to acquire academic, research and practical skills in the area of relationship and experiential marketing;
5. Develop students’ critical awareness of the interrelationships and tensions that exist between organisations, consumers and government by examining and analysing various approaches available in a fast-changing environment.
|Word count/ duration (if applicable)
Your assessment should be 3000 Words (+/- 10%) excluding references.
As a guide, you should divide the word count approximately in proportion to the allocation of marks.
No appendices are permitted.
Word count in tables is included in the permitted word count.
Explain how students can find information about assessment criteria.
Outstanding discussion of the gaps model of service quality and customer relationships literature, and outstanding connections between the two theoretical domains. There is outstanding use of examples drawing upon your own consumption and/ or job role experiences. There is outstanding presentation style, flow between sections and sequencing of the different sections.
Excellent discussion of the gaps model of service quality and customer relationships literature, and excellent connections between the two theoretical domains. There is excellent use of examples drawing upon your own consumption and/ or job role experiences. There is excellent presentation style, flow between sections and sequencing of the different sections.
Very good discussion of the gaps model of service quality and customer relationships literature, and very good connections between the two theoretical domains. There is very good use of examples drawing upon your own consumption and/ or job role experiences There is very good presentation style, flow between sections and sequencing of the different sections.
60 to 69
Good discussion of the gaps model of service quality and customer relationships literature, and good connections between the two theoretical domains. There is good use of examples drawing upon your own consumption and/ or job role experiences There is good presentation style, flow between sections and sequencing of the different sections.
50 to 59
Satisfactory discussion of the gaps model of service quality and customer relationships literature, and satisfactory connections between the two theoretical domains. There is satisfactory use of examples drawing upon your own consumption and/ or job role experiences There is satisfactory presentation style, flow between sections and sequencing of the different sections.
Unsatisfactory discussion of the gaps model of service quality and customer relationships literature, and satisfactory connections between the two theoretical domains. There is unsatisfactory use of examples drawing upon your own consumption and/ or job role experiences There is unsatisfactory presentation style, flow between sections and sequencing of the different sections.
(30-39) Inadequate discussion of the gaps model of service quality and customer relationships literature, and inadequate connections between the two theoretical domains. There is inadequate use of examples drawing upon your own consumption and/ or job role experiences. There is inadequate presentation style, flow between sections and sequencing of the different sections.
Poor discussion of the gaps model of service quality AND/OR customer relationships literature, AND/OR poor connections between the two theoretical domains. There is poor use of examples drawing upon your own consumption and/ or job role experiences. There is poor presentation style, flow between sections and sequencing of the different sections.
(10-19) Very Poor discussion of the gaps model of service quality AND/OR customer relationships literature, AND/OR very poor connections between the two theoretical domains. There is very poor use of examples drawing upon your own consumption and/ or job role experiences. There is very poor presentation style, flow between sections and sequencing of the different sections.
(0-9) Extremely poor discussion of the gaps model of service quality AND/OR customer relationships literature, AND/OR extremely poor connections between the two theoretical domains. There is extremely poor use of examples drawing upon your own consumption and/ or job role experiences. There is extremely poor presentation style, flow between sections and sequencing of the different sections.
High service quality is very much important and imperative for competitiveness of the service industry. And for that matter it becomes important to conduct deeper research on the available service quality models to provide much better quality services to the customers. As of now there are various service quality models that helps practitioners and business managers to identify the quality problems and enables them to improve the profitability and efficiency of the overall performance. One of the most used and influential models that is available in the service quality space is the gap model of service quality. In this part of our discussion we will critically analyze the gap model of service quality and will highlight the strengths and the weaknesses of the model.
Service quality gaps model
The Parasuraman (1985) model of service quality is the most well known and most utilized model in the service industry. It is one standard model that attempts to signify the salient activities of the service organization that mainly influences the perception of the quality that a customer perceived for. In addition to this, the model shows a definite interaction between all the activities and identifies the specific linkages between the key activities of the marketer or the service organization which are pertinent to the delivery of a higher or satisfactory level of the service quality. The specified links are referred to as the gaps or discrepancies where the gaps represents some significant hindrance in achieving a satisfactory or a higher level of the service quality (Boulding et al., 1994).
This model proposed that the service quality is a result of the differences between customer expectation of the service quality and the performance of the service providers along the lines of quality dimensions. The gaps includes:
Gap 1: Customer expectation-management gap- This gap signifies the differences between the expectations of the customers and the perceptions of the management in terms of service quality.
Gap 2: Management perception-service quality specifications gap: This gap signifies the difference between the perception of the management of the expectations of the consumers and the service quality specifications.
Gap 3: Service quality specification-service delivery gap: Tis gap signifies the difference between the service quality specifications and the actual service delivered to the consumers which implies service performance gap.
Gap 4: Service delivery-external communication gap: This gap signifies the difference between the service delivery and the information or the communications to the customers about the delivered services which is whether the promises matches the delivery or not.
Gap 5: Expected service-perceived service gap: This gap signifies the difference between the customer’s expectation and the perceived service.
These gaps are the linkages between the service model and the customer satisfaction where the internal as well as the external factors plays an important role in deciding the quality of the services that are delivered to the customers (Mahapatra et al., 2006).
Critical analysis of the model
Over the years the gap models of service quality has been critically evaluated on both the conceptual as well as methodological grounds with proper evidences by the research scholars. Cronin and Taylor (1992) have evidently proposed that there is a clear lack of evidence that can support the expectation-performance gap as the predictive measure of the quality of services that are being rendered. As per their research they have mentioned that assessing the expectation of the customers are enough in terms of evaluating the quality of the service and it is quite unnecessary to measure the expectations of the customers in the research conducted for the service quality.
Higgs (1993) similarly has questioned the validity of the perception and the expectation gap with significant operational and conceptual problem in terms of the definitions of the expectation. As they have stated that the perception is measurable and definable but it is expectation that is subject to multiple definitions and interpretations by different researchers and the authors.
Various authors and researchers have critically analyzed the gap model of service quality based on their finding that are both in terms of methodology and concept. As per their research and findings it can be said that the model can be further developed and in line with the findings that are debatable and can be critically analyzed.
Strengths of the gap model of service quality
- It can be employed on a regular basis in order to track the customer perceptions of the specified service quality of a specific business organizations as compared to its rivals or the competitors.
- It enables an organization to assess its overall services quality performance based on each dimensions individually as well as on all the available dimensions in order to get the beset assessment for their service quality.
- It is one tried and tested method that can be employed by business organizations for the purpose of benchmarking.
- It also allows business organizations to classify its consumers into different specified segments that is based on their scores from the model.
- The validity of the model as one generic instrument for measuring the quality of services across various sectors is questionable based on the different service settings across sectors.
- The terms expectation is not definable and measurable as different authors and researchers have different views on the same and for that matter the service quality cannot be measured on these terms.
- Moment of Truth (MOT) is the consumer’s assessment of the service quality and that is variable as it is dependable on the various MOT to MOT.
- The five dimensions of the model is not entirely universal and there is always a high chance of inter co relation between the dimensions.
The world is changing at a rapid pace and globalization is taking full toll on the business organizations in terms of making them evolve all the time. And same goes with the customers as their perceptions for a company or a business organization changes overnight based on their experience with the company in terms of the products or the services. And for that matter we are now seeing a escalation in the global integration process and that has changed the markets form the sales and marketing oriented to the consumer oriented marketing. Hence, in this particular situation where literally the customer is king, the main challenge for the business organization is to get the customers and keep them for sustainable development and for that matter they need to develop a high quality customer relationship management process that can help them get ahead of their competitors (Anton, 2002).
Customer relationship management- Definition
Customer relationship management (CRM) is the new age marketing concept or the strategy that garners the interests of the business managers and the marketers (Boulding et al., 2005). The same author defines CRM as the alignment of the data about the customers’ needs and the preferences and that of the company’s offerings so that a better relationship can be developed between the company and the customer to ensure longevity in the business. Specifically, customer relationship management relates to the intelligent use of the technology and the data, strategy and the acquisition of the knowledge of the customer in order to generate customers.
The CRM can be reviewed and analyzed from the three factors:
- Pull of Demand
- Push of Technology
- Update of the Management concept
These three factors have revolutionized the concept of the customer management over the years and for that matter the traditional marketing is now evolved to being called as customer management where technology plays an important factor in deciding the entire customer management.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – Academic Review
The customers in this century are ruling the roost in terms of business and its success. They have complete hold over the leaders of the business, employees of the business and the potential success or the failure of the business. Customers today expecting and demanding efficient, effective and fast service.
There have been enough studies carried out on the topic of customer relationship management and have provided enough evidence that can state the facts that customer have a complete hold over the business today and they have the power to make a business successful or a failure. This holds true as we can see any business organization that provides effective, efficient and faster customer services are more likely to retain their customers and have competitive edge over their competitors (Awasthi et al., 2013).
The rich discussion on the matter and the advent of newer technology have certainly impacted the space of service quality and for that matter the customer relationship management programs. Big business organizations have developed extensive customer relationship programs in order to create a customer friendly environment to earn the loyalty of their customers. Over the years this space of customer management and service quality have garnered enough attraction and for that matter have now been prime attraction of a company’s portfolios. Customers now have bigger sayings in the service quality and models are now based on the feedbacks of the customers (Nguyen, 2011).
Over the years marketers have thoroughly researched on how companies can enhanced their relationship with their prospective and existing customers. The research scholars have stimulated the fact that social media is definitely driving the marketing process to a whole new level from where it can be seen as the most important tool for marketing and spreading the word of mouth to their prospective and existing customers. However, many scholars also have suggested that for a successful relationship between the customers and companies can only be established through trust and commitment (Morgan, 1994).
Thus, one can say the advent of technology has certainly contributed in developing the customer relationship management programs. The advent of social media has also significantly contributing in that direction and it is of utmost importance that business organizations and marketers must commit to it in order to have a direct relationship with their customers. The main purpose of the social media platforms is to communicate and exchange ideas of interests amongst communities or peer group. The frequent communication between the companies and people that are using social media networks create a long standing relationship between companies and its customers. There are lot of information available over internet and social media for customers and their field of interests and they can use to buy a product of their choice on the basis of their findings as well as the marketing strategies implicated by the business organizations (Gummesson, 2002).
Gaps model of service quality have several linkages that can be directly linked to the customer relationships management to strengthen the relationship. The model itself is based on the perception and the expectation of the customer and that provides the right base for the business managers to create a high quality customer relationship programs that can yield the desired results for both the company as well as the customers (Bose,2002).
Customers seek fast, effective and efficient service quality and if that is delivered than the company will have most loyal customers at their disposal and that can provide competitive edge for the customers. The main linkages between the gap model of service quality and the customer relationship management are:
These are the five linkages between the gap model of service quality and the customer relationship management and that is essential for the business managers and the marketers to evaluate them in order to provide the right service to their customers.
The most important thing in any service quality and customer relationship management is to understand the needs and the requirements of the customers as that will decide the response of the customers towards a particular company. The gap model of service quality signifies that importance and measure that in terms of the perception and the expectation of the customers and the deliverance of the service by the company. The whole process is part of an effective customer relationship management program. However, one must understand that the expectations and the perceptions of the customers is variable and that must be addressed on the basis of the moment of truth of the customer (Brotherton, 2004).
An effective customer relationship management program seek a better understanding of the tangibles that can hamper the whole communication process between the customer and the company. The response towards the customers and their problems too has to be quick and to the point as it gives proper assurance to the customers in terms of their problems and it makes their feedbacks (Campbell, 2003).
The relationship between the service quality and the customer relationship has garnered significant attraction in the academic literature. The results of most research studies have stated that the service quality and customer relationship are indeed independent but are closely related that and a rise in one is likely to result in an increase in another construct (Chang, 2007).
In order to achieve higher degree of service quality one have to develop an effective customer relationship management program that must be based on the dimensions of the gap model of service quality considering all the facets of it. The ultimate question however is that of customer satisfaction ad from the many studies that have preceded so far, the indication is quite clear that customer satisfaction is entirely based on the response time and the quick resolve of their matter. Hence, one can say that the parameters of the gap model of service quality and the customer relationship management do have many linkages that can help researchers and the scholars to develop a model that can be helpful for the business managers to provide high quality service to their customer and that can help the companies in creating a business model that can be competitive both in terms of products as well as services (Anton, 2002).
The whole process of creating a model that can help business organizations to deliver high quality service to their customers is based on experience and that experience can only come from the implementation of models that have succeeded previously. However, theoretically, every model is good enough to provide that kind of stability in terms of service quality but unless and until one that have not tried it practically cannot fathom the loopholes in the system or the model.
The advent of technology is one way to understand the dynamics of any model as that provides ample data to the users and that can help them in generalizing a standard process where they can achieve their desired result which in turn allow them to develop a model that is best suited for their needs and the demands. There is a very little scope of implementing the trial and error method as it can either make or break the whole service quality space.
Experiential marketing and customer relationship
Experiential marketing is relatively a new term and only have gathered speed in recent times and after the advent of the social media where users are directly connected with their customers and get instant feedbacks based on their experiences. The whole process is instantons and have greater implications in today’s world of fast moving products and brands.
Branding and social media are both interrelated and both have significance in customer relationships as they are all inter related and can form a new dynamics that can help the marketers in understanding the needs and the requirements of the customers. Social media is a space where relationships are made instantly and customers have direct interface with their choice of companies and have greater say for their needs and the requirements. With millions of eyeballs at one click can imply direct impact on creating a brand or a value for business organizations. The whole process is so fast that one simple wrong step can easily jeopardize the whole process. In here customers and the companies can come together and can add in order to create value for each other. Companies in terms of their business prospects and customers in terms of their needs and the requirements can come together and contribute to each other’s value creation.
Social media do help companies to create a brand awareness amongst its customers. It is cost effective and can help companies to connect with larger mass of people within smaller space. Social media platforms allows companies to learn about the behavioral patterns of the users as well as their fields of interest and that allows companies to create their marketing strategies as per the needs and the requirements of the users.
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