The constant expansion in the services industry, particularly in hotel and restaurant management, had brought managers and business owners whose specialty is providing service-oriented fields to acquire practical and depth understanding about the industry. Dominantly in the business industry, providing reliable and customer-friendly services, is of high concern to provide both customers and organizations expectations mutually. And still growing, further sophisticated technical supervision must be practiced to excel and gain in the competition. Innovation is the key focus to excel in the industry.
Utilizing service management for proper handling and delivery of services is the aspect which the services industry must set a priority in their areas of concern for promotion and company’s growth – including industries in health care, caterers, manufacturers and suppliers, tourism and financial services.
Organizations must set the difference between the idea of customer satisfaction and service of quality rendered to clients. Although sometimes considered ambiguous, a specific label is required that will detach these important entities with regards in providing services of which supposed as one. Both are correlated in terms of industrial needs but different. Customers may vary on every organization to which they provide their products, be of services or goods, by some mechanism acceptable in the industry’s marketplace. Of course, getting through the competition in the market is another endeavor which organization needs focus.
Customer satisfaction is a business term which is used to capture the idea of measuring how satisfied an enterprise’s customers are with the organization’s efforts in a marketplace (Wikipedia, 2006). Once customer’s expectations are exceeded, the organization will attain high levels of customer satisfaction and will create “customer delight.” This implies that organization must possess the ability to fulfill the consumers’ needs through business, emotional and psychological aspects.
The interaction between the service provider and the recipient, which are the customers, must not be in idle to properly measure the level of satisfaction. Proper attitude in dealing with varied customers should be considered; knowing their attitudes, feedbacks or commendations can contribute in determining the organization’s marketing strategies. Basically, organizations aim is to retain customers in patronizing their services offered and the target of increasing the number of loyal customers and eventually increasing the organization’s revenues.
Although customer satisfaction may vary from customer-to-customer, it is important to consider that physical and psychological characteristics which play a very important factor in measuring the degree where customers satisfy with the organization’s services. Comparatively speaking, the customer’s expectation can be evaluated with the customer’s experience prior relevant to the services the organization delivers. Organization must take into account that satisfaction is not quantitatively measured since it is more of a psychological aspect; it is more of the qualitative. And, service of quality will be now measured.
Commonly, customers define ‘quality’ as they are met by their perception and experience. This is the degree or level of customer’s satisfaction with the services or products an organization offers dependently to the environment and the kind of service given. It is difficult to conform to the expectations of the customers needs with the level they require with regards to efficiency, quality, flexibility, and dependability to the services delivered.
To achieve this, Total Quality Management (TQM) is applied. TQM is management philosophy committed to a focus on continuous improvements of product and services with the involvement of the entire workforce. This principle is a long-term process to sustain business excellence and the comprehensively and continuously involvement of all organization functions. Through this method, organization can now have the adequate knowledge where the mistake has been made and will consider as factors. These factors are then submitted into variety of measurements, commonly the Critical Incident Technique (CIT) and Attribution Based Method (ABM).
Critical Incident Technique (CIT) is used for collecting direct observation from customers’ experience in relation to the services or products the organization provides. This is a flexible method which relies on determining and reviewing the collected information from the participants. Data are then submitted for fact finding to determine the issues encountered. Evaluation is followed to find solutions and resolve the raised issues to cause no further problem. The foundation of this technique was laid by the studies of Sir Francis Galton (circa 1930). This method can also avoid the stereotype opinions about the organization.
This technique is more of academic since it use the qualitative research method. Identifying atypical events that may be missed by other methods can be eliminated using this technique. Also, this is expensive and provides rich information needed for fact-finding related to the issues. Disadvantage to this is that the information collected relies mostly on memory; events may be inaccurate or may even go unreported.
Attribution Base Methods (ATM) focuses on risk and performance with a direct focus on standards of service. Using this methods, organization conceptualize the service or product must remain of standard or of higher level. Aiming to retain loyal customers and bringing a number in, suggest that regular raise of standards is made to meet different expectation level amongst customers. Organization intends to have the quality of excelling; possessing good merits in high degree.
Some organization uses the customer satisfaction survey procedure. This is an efficient and easiest way to measure service quality which may be viewed as facile. Obtaining customers’ feedback helps ensure business is meeting the needs of customers and giving insights on which aspects needs improvement where changes should be made to increase customers’ overall satisfaction with regards to quality service. Lack of gathered details during the survey may cause some problems in measuring the relation of problems to the factors involved.
SERVQUAL (Service Quality), derived from LODGSERV, is a method developed by Valarie A. Zeithaml, A. Parasuraman, and Leonard L. Berry. This technique is used in achieving gap analysis in an organization to gauge its service quality construct performance against customer service quality needs. Basically, this method is used to improve service quality when faults are detected to the service or product customer receives. Using this method demands to show the discrepancy between customer’s expectation and customer’s perception, both must be answered to measure the customer’s attitude towards a service offered.
This methodology comprises 5 key dimensions; tangibles, reliability, responsiveness, assurance and empathy. In the hospitality industry, it is necessary to do a qualitative study. In healthcare, SERVQUAL is used in determining issues between management, staff and the services offered to solve practical problems. This may be considered as an academic method as it uses professional surveys. Additionally, this provides assessment with the desired and actual performance; maximize service quality whilst costs are controlled. Comment box or card and survey questions can be used, usually present in most establishments especially in hotel rooms, restaurants and other servicing field.
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) program can also be used to measure quality assurance. Particularly, ISO 9000 family offers organizations with quality assurance seeking advantage through the implementation of a quality management system. The common notion of customer to an organization (like hotels, clinics, medical institution and the related) which acquired an ISO certification equally delivers their desired service quality – expectation and the confidence of customer are at high degree. With that, the service industry is determined to subscribe ISO service to obtain the certification. Similar to ISO, EFQM (European Foundation for Quality Management) was developed aiming service quality excellence driving organizations to be more competitive.
There are many approaches in achieving sustainable excellence in all aspects of performance. Both deliver practical analysis to organizations seeking assessment with regards to their level of excellence to carry customer’s wants and expectations. Bearing the positive impact to potential customers, the organization must maintain their excellence or even increase service quality.
Still at high priority, Total Quality Management (TQM), assist organizations to sustain customer’s quality satisfaction. The management and employees must be involved in the continuous development of products and services offered. Combining quality and management methods, TQM remains a necessary tool for organizations in achieving aims of increasing business and minimizing loss. Continuous improvement must deal not only with improving results, but more importantly with improving capabilities to produce better results in the future.
Examining the various methodologies discussed may seem analogous. Their main purpose is to help organization attain the aim of delivering excellent services and products with proper management. In the hostility industry, it is advisable to know the expectations and needs of customer to retain loyal customers and attract prospect clients due to the industry’s high competition. Relevant information gathered is essential for quality analysis to achieve excellence in the services offered. Every department in the organization plays an important role for the continuous development and seizing in the boost of hostility market.
Although some may say it is academic or facile, the important thing here is to deliver the needs and customer satisfaction. The mentioned methods or techniques can be applied differently on various industry; dependent on the level of issues and technical problems. Furthermore, to close gaps amongst customer-provider relation, service industry should focus to be more customer-oriented. Hence, service industry requires continues progress. This venture may be difficult, comprehensive, and a long-term process in maintaining the commitment of excellent service management.
List of References
Parasuraman, Zeithaml, and Berry (1994). Alternative scales for measuring service quality: A comparative assessment based on psychometric and diagnostic criteria. Journal of Marketing, 70 (3) Fall, 201-230.
Wikipedia. (2006). Customer Satisfaction. Retrieved July 20, 2006, from the Wikipedia Website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Customer_satisfaction.
Berry, L. L. (1990). Delivering Quality Service: Balancing Customer Perception and Expectations. The Free Press.
Parasuraman, A.; Berry, L. L.; Zeithaml, V. A. (1988), SERVQUAL: A Multiple-Item Scale for Measuring Consumer Perceptions of Service Quality. Journal of Retailing, , 64, 12-40.
Stephen, H. (1991). Why Quality Circles failed but Total Quality management might succeed. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 29(4), 541-568.
Anderson, Kristin & Kerr, Carol (2002). Customer Relationship Management.
Berry, Leonard L; Parasuraman, A; Zeithaml, Valarie; Adsit, Dennis (1994). Improving service quality in America: Lessons learned; Executive commentary. The Academy of Management Executive. May.
Favell, Andy (2002). Opinion Sites Offer Guidance To E-Commerce Consumers. The Wall Street Journal.