The gaps model says that a service marketer must first close the customer gap between customer perceptions and expectations. To do so, the provider must close the four provider gaps, or discrepancies within the organization that inhibit delivery of quality service. The gaps model focuses on strategies and processes that firms can employ to drive service excellence.
Customer perceptions are subjective assessment of actual service experiences. Customer expectations are the standards or reference points for performance against which service experiences are compared and are often formulated in terms of what a customer believes will or should happen.
The sources of customer expectations consist of marketer-controlled factor (such as pricing, advertising, and sales promises) as well as factors that the marketer has limited ability to affect (innate personal needs, word-of-mouth communications, and competitive offerings). In a perfect world, expectations and perceptions would be identical: customers would perceive that they receive what they thought they would and should. In practice these concepts are often separated by some distance. Broadly, it is the goal of service marketing to bridge this distance.
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