Sodexo is one of the flourishing food and facilities management services. It believes in providing quality services is winning the customers heart and trust ;through which they have been successful in the market. The organization has more than 25 years old experience in the field of hotel chains, resorts and vacation villas. The organization contains the best and most efficient staff to provide quality service including laundry, housekeeping and food serving. According to Peter, customer service is defined as fulfilling needs and expectations of customers according to them (Whitman, 2001).
Since quality assurance is the key to gain the trust of customers and to maintain the competitive edge it is important to have a quality assessment in hotels to know the standards of a hotel. (Bo Edvardsson, 2006) Edvardsson advised the concept of services should be viewed from customers approach because they are the main users of the services and best to judge it. Different customers have different demands and they may look at same thing with different views. People belonging to different cultures, religions have different perceptions, social behavior and preferences. Many researches are done on assessing the service qualities through customer satisfaction in several parts of the world; (Davidson, 2003), (O’Neill, 1996), the Kano model (Preece, 2002), (Amy Wong Ooi Mei, 1991) etc.
The theory and models designed to evaluate the service quality and potential gaps in quality in hotel industry are necessary. Hotels do market research to get full information about its target audiences and the environment. TQM – Total Quality Measurement is a new management term introduced to execute the exceeding demands of the customers. Different hotels use different approaches to TQM according to the surroundings and competition.
Measuring Service Quality:
The actual evaluation takes place at the time of delivery, whether it’s beyond expectations are below expectations. The time when we service our customers is the moment of truth that gives the result. For instance the food delivered in the hotel gets its immediate feedback either by the verbal response or in written form by the customers.
SERVQUAL MEASURING TECHNIQUE:
SERVQUAL model which is also referred as the skeleton for measuring service quality. It basically evaluates what the customer demanded and what he got, the difference between the two. It includes five basic dimensions on which the customers assessed the quality he received and what he had in mind;
Tangibles: the physical appearance and facilities of the personnel
Reliability: ability to perform the desired service accurately and efficiently
Responsiveness: Availability and willingness to help the customers
Assurance: Knowledge of employees to gain trust and confidence
Empathy: Caring, making customers feel special and cared.
The advantage from this model is that it provides an immediate response of the customers after the service delivery which if not up to mark could be sent for improvement. For instance the responsiveness of the hotel staff is just a call away from one’s room. On time assistance availability always adds up to the quality of services they provide. Today almost every hotel in the world has their feedback form based on the SERVQUAL model of assessing the quality of services. However there has been some criticism about the model, Brotherton and Booth implemented SERVQUAL strategy on a 4 star hotel and found out that customers viewed tangibles as the hygiene and cleanliness of the resources. The homogeneity in the dimensions of the model is said not to be appropriate in providing exact results. Knutson introduced LODGSERVE for service quality evaluation, Mackey developed REQUAL and etc. all the studies carried out on this topic indicates that certain dimensions are highly valued by the customers which mainly includes the interaction and physical quality.
THE CHRISTOPHER NAD YALLOP MODEL:
Christopher and Yallop suggest a four stage process model to measure the perceptions customers have when they receive the services;
Identify the vital elements that are important to the customers and why
Understand the importance attached behind it
Investigate how successful the organization is in providing those elements
Analyze from the collected data for improvements.
The model basically suggests an inquiry set to investigate the expectations of the customers. It is important to know what the special or important requirement of the customers is and why is it so? Answers to this can help the organization earn customer’s trust and reliability. Then the organization needs to evaluate itself by seeing how well he fulfills those demands and how?? The answer to this can lead the organization to further improvement, analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of the organization in terms of customer’s perception. Especial rooms are designed according to the demands of the customers, the food menu contains a variety to serve all possible taste they could for vegans, Chinese or different people from different culture.
THE PRUDENTIAL MODEL:
(McCabe, 2001) Prudential model suggest how financial advice is also a way to meet the expectations of the customers and gain their satisfaction. It examines the perception of customers in terms of what they value most or what would make them value the most. Are there any possible changes that could be implemented in the organization? The charges in the hotel are reasonable and set according to the market equilibrium which should be acknowledged by the customers. The overall package of their stay; food, laundry, hygiene etc are the factors that the customers look for and expect it to be standardized.
The hotel charges are kept such that if offers a complete package the customers with the room and other complimentary facilities like sports club, gym, swimming pool etc.
THE ECR (EFFECTIVE CONSUMER RESPONSE) MODEL:
The main theory of this model suggests that the companies should give continuous focus on the elements that are highly values by the customers. The preference of a certain service or product for instance if the room service is very efficient hotel should invest more in this department in order to gain more customers. Also an appropriate use of technology for efficient usage of resources to satisfy customers.
It is a common and very effective theory adopted by the hotel through which they ensure an effective service delivery.
It defines the whole process of offering services in three stages; backstage, front stage and line of visibility. The whole struggle is to maintain service standards and to update the whole process with a backup plan. The front stage for instance is the interaction the staff has with the people. The reservation process, greeting the customers and introducing them to the hotel, parking the car, guiding them to their rooms with their luggage etc. Second and the third stage that is the invisible services that the hotel takes care off. Like maintain the reservations with updates and checking for the desired room and its availability. Taking care of the facilities and maintenance required for it.
It is important to set service target standards which are transparent to the staff to work on. The feedback from the customers should be analyzed and strategies should be redesigned according to the demands of the customers. Redesigning services reduces the services failure, enhance productivity and increase customer satisfaction.
The process of redesigning first step is to eliminate the non value adding steps, shift the system to self service.
The involvement of customers to co-produce the service can lead to progression. SSTs – Self Service Technology is the form of customer involvement such that the customers avail the services provided by the suppliers to evaluate and give a response. It is a flexible and cost saving method but requires a lot of effort.
Therefore the basic delivery process involves three stages;
Delivering the core/main service or product.
Conclusion of the drama
This provides the hotel with the information where the hotel is lacking in customers eye.
MEHRABIAN- RUSSELL STIMULUS RESPONSE MODEL
This is a model that indicates how customer’s response to environment that surrounds the, Emotional or physical responses like anxiety, boredom or excitement. How different environments gives different responses of customers in different surrounding.
How variety of factors can affect customers response. The surrounding, color scheme etc influence the customers. For instance the signs and symbols hanged for guidance in multi languages for the ease of the customers.
All these models and theories incorporate the similar concept implied for customer satisfaction. Sodexo and other hotels in the world implied these concepts to maintain or improve their service standards because hotel business heavily relies on quality service.
SERVICE QUALITY GAPS:
It is important to identify the key gaps that exist in delivering the services to the customers and how they can be overcome. (Sargeant, 2008)
The Knowledge Gap: it is basically the barrier in communicating the expectations and demands of the customers to the hotel staff.
It could be overcome by having a strong market research by carrying out interviews or sampling questionnaire which should be repeated once a while. Management should be allowed to interact with the customers to know what they feel and expect. The management should make sure the feedback is implemented immediately and monitored constantly.
The Policy Gap: it is the differences or restrictions made because of the policies.
To overcome this gap it is important to use systematic processes to improve working methods. The goals, agendas and priorities based on customers’ demands and expectations which should be transparent to the employees.
The Delivery Gap: it is the difference between the quality service delivered and the service itself.
It is important to ensure that the performance of the customers and also that the customers understand the service delivered. For this the employees should be well trained to perform the required tasks more efficiently. Employees should be clear in what they have to deliver and do in more effective way. Consistent monitoring should be done to endure how well are they are performing; they should be motivated to work harder with incentives.
The hotel should be updated in terms of technology. Advanced and cost effective equipments should be installed for better and quick services. This would also make a balance between productivity and demand.
The customers should be educated enough o perform their roles successfully to gain customer’s trust.
The Communication Gap: this occurs because of the communication barriers between the customers and the staff.
To overcome this gap it is important to have transparent vertical integration in the organization such that the information can easily flow in. The managers should be able to identify the problems the staff is facing or their demands to produce better results. Employees should be involved in the basic functions of the organization. By rotating and recruiting the staff can lead to more efficient and motivated employees to provide better results.
The Perception Gap: this occurs when there is a perception gap between the customers and the management and employees.
It is important to show customers with some evident changes that the hotel is putting in efforts to meet their requirements. By tangibilizing the management can show their customers how concerned they are for their customers.
The Service Gap: it is the collection of all the gaps which cause the services to get bad. It could be overcome by overcoming and monitoring all other gaps.
It is important to provide the customers with the best service and make sure that they acknowledge it and are satisfied. By implying the theories and models according to the requirement of the hotel the management can meet the demands of the customers and gain their trust.
The hotels should have a constant feedback system with immediate implementation to make the customers realize that they are important. By monitoring the work and progress of the staff the management needs to make sure that the staff is motivated enough and works with a team spirit. It is highly important for the hotel industry that the customers are satisfied and becomes loyal to the service it offers.
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