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Every business organisation focuses to keep the clients and customers’ happy. Hospitality organisations are mainly in the service industry as the hospitality organisations provide the services include event planning, lodging, theme park, travelling, food items, cruise line and additional fields. As stated by Lovelock and Patterson (2015), service performance of the firm fails to meet the expectations of the clients and it leads to the service failure. In the hospitality management sector, the guests expect to be compensated the service failure through the combination of discounts, credits, refund and apology. This paper aims to focus on one of the service failures of hospitality sectors, identify the type of complaint and its root cause. The following section, service recovery programme and strategies are explained with recommendations to improve the customer loyalty programme.
A clear description of service delivery failure scenario
A few weeks back, I went to Sydney with my family for attending a family occasion. Four Seasons Hotel is located near iconic Sydney Harbour and this hotel is the perfect place for nearby shopping, vibrant social scene and outdoor adventure. My father decided to stay in Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney and we had booked two Deluxe City Room 3 days before visiting Sydney. We had booked through website of Four Seasons Hotel and paid via credit card. After landing in Sydney, we booked a cab and visited Four Seasons Hotel. We reached Four Seasons Hotel at around 11.50 am as our check-in time was 12 noon. My father went straight to the front desk as we had to leave for attending the family party soon. The front-help desk asked us to sit at waiting room as no Deluxe City Room was available then. The front desk informed us that the guests who accommodated the rooms had left the rooms just a few minutes ago. They would require a few minutes to clean, mop and set the room. We had to wait for 30 more minutes until then the front desk informed us that they would require another 15 minutes as two of the housekeeping attendants did not present that day. My father broke into anger and I tried to pacify him and went to talk to front-desk to provide us with at least one room so that we can make us ready for attending the party. They refused to do so and ask us to wait for 10 minutes. At around 1 pm we finally got our Deluxe City Room with a dirty floor and without the toiletries. We had to call the front desk again to provide us with water and toiletries. The room had a king-size bed; however, the lounge chair was missing which they promised during booking.
Identifying the type of complaint and root cause
I personally think that our complaint to the front desk to get the rooms earlier was justified as we had paid the full amount and our check-in time was 12 noon. I think that our complaint was an instrumental complaint as the complaint expressed for the purpose of altering an undesirable state of affairs. My family played the role of high-roller customer during the situation as we are expecting the best and we paid for this. SERVQUAL Model described the service quality and performance of with stating the customer service quality needs (Teshnizi et al. 2018). SERVQUAL model has five core elements. Tangible element states about the physical facility, equipment and staff appearance. We did not see any housekeeping staffs that clean the room and the equipment of the housekeeping staffs were also missing. Reliability is the ability to perform the service accurately and dependable. We waited for at least 30 minutes without complaining anything; however, after 30 minutes we could not keep our patients. The housekeeping staffs and the front-desk staffs failed to manage the situations. Responsiveness is the willingness to assist and respond to the needs of the customers (Saini and Singh, 2018). The front-desk staffs of Four Seasons Hotel did not show any willingness to help to provide better service to us as we did not see any hurry and sense of urgency on their faces. Assurance is the ability of the people to inspire the trust and confidence. The staffs of the hotel were continuously telling us to wait and they were extending the time to give us false trust and hope. Finally, empathy is the extent to which the staffs provide our care. The sense of empathy was also missing among the staffs of the hotel as they just kept us in waiting arena without offering us coffee, tea or any snacks.
SERVQUAL concept has four themes which had been identified as the gaps. Management perception gap is created through a lack of perception of the management bodies. The front desk team of the hotel might be off-track that day and they did not have the idea of our coming. The front desk team generally has the track of the guests' coming and they prepare the rooms. Service quality specification gap is the inability on the side of the management to meet the customers' expectation (Aryee et al. 2016). The service design of the hotel was not accurate as they did not have adequate numbers of room service staffs. Service delivery gap is created through not providing a guarantee of high-quality service. Lack of coherence between front stage and backstage service staffs was clear in Four Seasons Hotel. External communication gap is caused due to the not showing off realistic expectations to promote the positive perception of service quality. It is through customer satisfaction in the hotel, the management can retain the guests. The loyalty of the guests is dependent on the quality and the guests become satisfied when the guests are treated well. As stated by Dhar (2015), when the customers face the service firm, it is called the service encounter and ‘moment of truth’. The encounter cascade means to a series of encounters between the customers and service firms from beginning to the end.
The service provider, lack of coherence between front stage and backstage service staffs was responsible for the failure. If the housekeeping staffs are not instructed properly, the cause of failure is likely to occur again. The front-desk staffs can control the cause of the problem to make a good communication with backstage staffs (Blut et al. 2015).
Propose a service recovery program and strategies for chosen incident
I think that our service failure issue was related to the service delivery system failure,we had faced the problem of unavailability of the service for a specific period and the service was unreasonably slow. The purpose of service recovery is reacting to and recovers from the poor customer experience. The beginning of the service recovery starts from the customer complaints, customer service and social media messages and employee insights.
Four Seasons Hotel could take the reactive business strategy where the complaints of the customers are heard and the staffs make the response. However, this process is haphazard with no such definite goal for the response and owing to the business process. In addition, Four Seasons Hotel can take active listening strategy to find out the exact issue voiced by the guests. Front-desk has the responsibility to structure the problem to respond to the complaints. The active listening process is still reactive for the hotel (Hoffman et al. 2016). Moreover, service recovery strategy of the hotel can be solicitous to move from the reactive to proactive solicitation of the customers. The customers do not take the risk to purchase the service again; therefore, the hotel needs to be proactive.
Service failure recovery strategy of Four Seasons Hotel could be compensatory as they can provide us with some extra benefits like complimentary breakfast or lunch as compensation. In addition, the front desk could have been apologetic to us. In addition, the hotel can take the strategy of restoration when the complaint identification merges with the business improvement to support the root cause resolution (Chen et al. 2018).
Recommendations to maintain customer loyalty and retention in the same context of the scenario
1. Providing extra perks:In the service industry, when the customers face the service failure, the customers expect some extra benefits from the service providers as a substitution. Therefore, Four Seasons Hotel needs to provide extra perks to us in the form of complimentary services to personalised services. Free benefits to the customers provide the organisation customer loyalty as the customers visit the organisation again. The management of Four Seasons Hotel can set the budget of extra AU$ 2,000 for providing perks to the customers.
2. Communicating with customers:Service organisation needs to communicate with the customers so that the organisations can share their new offers and discounts to the customers. In the case of service failure, the front-desk of the hotels needs to be apologetic and the staffs must communicate the proper solution to the issue. The management must have the skilled staffs in order to communicate the proper solution. The management of the Four Seasons Hotel can start the staff training programme in order to make the staffs experienced and skilled. The management can take the time of 5 months with the budget of AU$ 3,000.
3. Survey the guests in the hotel:After the service failure, the guests do not likely to visit the hotel again. The management of the hotel needs to identify the issues faced by the customers. The staffs of the hotel should provide support to the guests. Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney needs to start the survey where the customers can express their issues with feedback. The management of Four Seasons Hotel can start the survey programme within 2 months setting the budget of AU$ 1,200.
It has been noted that the service recovery programme is very important to retain dissatisfied customers and to fix the issues for the failure in customer service. Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney does not have the proper synchronisation between front stage and backstage services. We had to wait for the rooms for 1 hour and this incident could have been avoided by making the process of service in a perfect way. Service recovery strategies help the service organisations to make the customers comfortable and make the customers retained. Customer loyalty can be increased through developing proper perspective, leading through top-down loyalty and providing incentives to the customers.
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