The GAP-Model – How to avoid gaps in Services

There are plenty of opportunities in service processes to make mistakes, which will be evaluated in a negative way by the customer. Those opportunities are called “Gaps”.

The Gap-Model (after Parasuraman/Zeithaml/Berry) describes 5 potential gaps in service processes, whereas we differentiate between customer-based and company-based Gaps. 

Difference between customer-based and company-based Gaps

Customer based gaps occur during service processes above the so-called line of visibility, meaning during business processes which include the customer (for example processes in front-office activities, such as booking or customer service). Further gaps can occur below the line of visibility during processes in which the customer does not play a role (such as back-office activities, like internal communication or resource management).

The graphic below provides an overview of processes and activities below or above the line of visibility, using the example of a massage:


Let us have a look at the 5 Gaps with regards to Wellness Services: 

Lücken im Dienstleistungsbereich vermeiden

1. Gap:
Expected service vs. rendered service: customer

What does the customer expect to receive and how does the customer evaluate the service that has actually been rendered?

Example – Full Body Massage: Customer expects all body parts including limbs, back, front and head to be massaged. In actuality, only the legs and back are being massaged. How does the customer evaluate this deviance?

Example swimming pool: During the hotel booking, the sporty hotel guest stresses on availability of a swimming pool for his daily exercise. He is being assured by reservations, that a suitable swimming facility is available. During his stay, the guest becomes aware that swimming is near impossible due to playing children in the pool. How does the customer evaluate this deviance?

2. Gap:
Expected service vs. rendered service: service provider

What does management think about the expectation of the customer?Does the business actually offer its core services to the customer, or does the business offer services that management thinks are expected by the customer?

Example – Spa Trend Ayurveda: A couple of years ago Ayurvedic treatments had become a trend in Spas. Can authentic Ayurvedic Treatments be offered by the business? Does the business have the capacity and resources, or have circumstances been altered to make them seemingly fit? Can management evaluate the authenticity of the treatments?

New Age Ayurveda

New Age Ayurveda

3. Gap:
Service Creation and customer oriented communication

Are all services described correctly, completely and through various channels communicated to the customer?

Example – Facial Treatment:
Are benefits of the treatment sufficiently explained?
If explained, for whom and for what skin type is this treatment suitable, or not?
If explained, how is the guest is going to feel after the treatment?
Are the products utilised described?
Are all explanations to be found in the Spa Menu and on the website, and is the guest also informed by the spa receptionist and his/her therapist?

4. Gap:
Service Creation and Implementation

Will the described and communicated service be implemented in this way?
Will the communicated duration be respected?
Are all aspects of the service included or are shortcuts being taken?
Are products used as described?
Any disruptions during the treatment?
Is the outcome as expected?

5. Gap:
Service Implementation and Perception of Management

What does management of the service provider think about how the service is being implemented?
Does the spa manager think that all of his therapists perform all treatments as expected?
Do SOPs exist? (Standard Operating Procedures)
And are those SOPs always respected and considered?
How about the so-called organisational blindness?
Are audits performed for quality control and is training being offered to staff for continuous improvement?

Example – Reception: an new employee with foreign language skills is hired. Does this new staff member master the foreign language sufficiently enough to be able to perform a courteous and effective conversation regarding a conflict with a guest when under stress?

Customer satisfaction can only be achieved sustainably, if customer expectations are excelled

As described in my article in 2 steps to uncompromising quality in services, customer satisfaction can only be achieved in the long run when customer expectations are not only met, but exceeded.

Hence it is not sufficient to simply fill, or keep closed, some of the above described gaps, as all gaps need to be bridged simultaneously in order to ensure flawless processes resulting in positive guest perception. More details on flawless processes (‘The 7 P’s’) soon here on TalkWellness.

How to avoid gaps in services – successful activities

There are numerous measures for a company, that can be taken in order to close the above described gaps. Those measures can be internal and external, for example: 

  • Intelligent customer questionnaires 
  • Benchmarking
  • Target market analysis
  • Analysis of Business Partners:
    Which brand is predominant? In a Hotel Spa the predominant brand should always be “Hotel & Spa”, not the brand of a product manufacturer.
    How do business partner brands feed each other?
    How and where do the brand philosophies match?
  • Mystery-Guesting
  • Training
  • Consulting by independent professionals from outside


    What kind of experiences with regards to gaps have you made in real life situations? I am looking forward to your questions, please send me an email to