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Business Research Methodologies



Measuring the Effectiveness of Customer Service Satisfaction in the Hospitality

Abstract

The companies carry out their activities with aim of making profit. In addition, the company’s performance will determine its success or failure. There are different challenges faced by the companies, which are internal and external. However, present strengths or weaknesses will determine its going concern. Some of the internal factors include employees’ performance, compliance to the industry standards, while the external are the competitors within the same industry, legal regulation imposed by the government and the economy of the country. A successful company will motivate its employees, set and comply with the standards and goals, which should be achieved. Unity in the company will promote satisfaction of every stakeholder and will encourage them to work together with the company.

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Problem Statement

Satisfying customers is a business philosophy, which entails the creation of an additional value for the customers, managing and anticipating their expectations. Further, it demonstrates responsibility and ability to ensure that they are satisfied (Dominici & Guzzo 2010). Customer satisfaction and quality service are paramount for the success of any business, especially in the hospitality industry (Kandampully & Suhartanto 2000). Any firm or business exists, because customers have demands. Hence, the existence of quality customer deliverance is a prerequisite of any food or retail service outlet. It is a fact that most companies are facing a tough competition now more than ever, because most customers are resorting to the companies with good services. There is the need for the hospitality organizations to stay proactive and not reactive in respect to the way they handle customer demands (Barsky & Nash 2003). In order that to achieve success in business, companies should set and implement effective policies. They will support the strategies of attracting and sustaining new customers. There is the need of measuring the importance of customer pleasure in getting the best food and other hospitality services.

Research Purpose

Satisfaction of customers has been the priority factor in defining the business objectives. The firm should ensure it meets all requirements that enable the customer to obtain the best service and product. In addition, the hospitality and food business has developed alongside the work of professionals, who gain knowledge of customer satisfaction (Yen and Su 2004). This research will analyse the positive relationship that can create and increase the customers’ commitment and retention. The impact of client contentment on hospitality and food retail and services is concerning the chances and probability of them being retained in the same hotel or restaurant. After the analysis, the research will recommend the need of proper customer satisfaction, which may lead to potential increase in customer retention and hence customer loyalty. It will be an objective of the research to determine whether satisfaction has a significant impact on customers’ reliability, while assessing whether the hotel and food retailers provide services that meet the wants and needs of the customers

Statement of Hypothesis

There is a positive association between the quality of service and satisfaction of the customer in the hospitality, food and retail services.

Definitions of Variables

Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction can be considered as an evaluation of post-consumption judgment in reference to a specified service or product (Gundersen, Heide & Olsson 1996). The result is an evaluative procedure that distinguishes the perception of performance and pre-purchase expectations after and during the consumption experience. Expectancy disconfirmation theory is widely conceptualized as the most accepted way of rating customer’s satisfaction. This theory proposes that the contentment stage is based on the difference between the apparent presentation and the forecasted performance. Positive disconfirmation, which is the satisfaction, happens, when the product and service may be compared to the expectation. Adverse disconfirmation happens due to the forecasted outcome that becomes negative and contributes to frustrations (Deng, Yeh & Sung 2013).

The study will analyse whether the customer satisfaction has an indirect impact on the productivity results of various hotels and restaurants. In conclusion, consumer satisfaction may have a positive effect on the production of business. The positive impact of customer’s satisfaction is significant, since it increases the probability of retaining customers within the same restaurant or hotel (Gilbert & Horsnell 1998).

Service Quality

Service quality is another variable that will be taken into consideration in the research. Service quality can be defined as the comparison that customers make with respect to perception of the service received and their expectations (Gr?nroos 1990). Quality entails the interactive quality, physical quality and, finally, the corporate quality, which takes into consideration the technical quality and corporate image. In accessing the measurements of service quality, SERVIQUAL is the most accepted instrument that provides different dimension. This scale consists of 22 items that can access the expectations and perceptions of the customer concerning the quality of the service offered. Finally, this scale will be used to rate the level of disagreement or agreement. The difference between the expectations and perception scores measures the gap that indicates the quality of service. Therefore, service quality occurs when the perceived service exceeds or meets customers' expectations.

Research Objectives

The main objective of the study is to determine whether the customer satisfaction establishes the effectiveness of customer service in the hospitality, food or retail services. Other objectives are:

  1. To determine how the hospitality/food industries can provide the best services to its customers;
  2. To develop strategies that maintain the best services to be provided.

Research Questions

The research is aimed at answering the following questions:

  1. How do some companies succeed in their operations?
  2. How do some companies maintain and encourage customers?
  3. What motivates some companies to maintain their best services and how do they deal with the competition?

Literature Review

Customer contentment and the quality services are a major element in any hospitality and food retail business. These factors are paramount in obtaining customer retention and competitive advantage. Moreover, in order to achieve the desired customer satisfaction, there is a need to anticipate and recognize the need of the customers while considering their perceptions concerning expected services, transactions and relationships with competing firms. This review will analyse the research papers that take into consideration these two variables that will be used in this study.

According to the study done by Ronald et al. (2004), in which the authors provided a cross-cultural comparison of quality and customer satisfaction. The research was conducted in the fast food industry in four countries dominated by the English speakers. The study based its research on data collected from the interviews from five franchised food chains. The analysis of the raw data was done using the developed satisfaction instruments of analysing the relationship between customer satisfaction and service quality. The outcome of the research showed the existence of correlation between service setting and personal satisfaction concerning personal service rendered by the workers. Therefore, there is a clear need for the measurement of customer’s satisfaction fort all food and retail services.

There is a need of determining the positive effect of the customer related supervision and the faithfulness of the clients in the hotel business. Amoako, Arthur, Bandoh & Katah (2011) conducted a study of some of the five-star hotels in Accra, Ghana. The main aim of the research was to determine how good customer relations could lead to customer retention, satisfaction and loyalty. It also established whether the provided services meet the requirement of the customers, hence customer satisfaction. The outcome revealed that customer satisfaction was indeed determined by the services and the existence of client devotion.

According to the International Journal of Hospitality Management Prize for Best Paper (2007), the outcome of the customer satisfaction can be of a great importance to hotel managers and service providers, because they can modify and conduct the current practices. These factors are involved in measuring customer satisfaction in the hospitality industry. The objective of the service providers and hotel managers is to understand the guests' needs, their comments, and opinions, and assess the customer satisfaction concerning the quality of services. The application of SERVEQUAL system and GCCs shows that they are the best tools for measuring client satisfaction, and the outcome of the study recommends further improvements in most hotels. The study combined analysis of customer satisfaction and management schemes (International Journal of Hospitality Management Prize for Best Paper 2006). Therefore, they concluded that the success of the hotel is dependent on the methodology.

Kumar (2008) conducted a research on the hotel satisfaction and suggested that customers have higher expectations for the accuracy of transactions, promptness of the service, concerns, and security issues, while ambiance and cleanliness were of less importance. This study was comparative, which established that the service quality dimension scores lower with respect to security and promptness. Rudman (2003) suggested that interviews via questionnaires show the satisfactory feedback from the customers regarding the performance of staff. Therefore, minimal improvement is expected from them. Most customers were satisfied with the promptness and processing of transactions, though they recommended increasing number of counters. It is evident from the study that the lower satisfaction is exhibited concerning the staffs’ willingness to assist with accessing the information on services, assortments, and various hotel facilities (Kattara, Weheba & El-Said 2008).

A study performed by Gandolof (2010) used a qualitative analysis of the hotel in Sicily, IT. By using the incident critical process, it evaluated satisfaction of customers in regard to the particular service rendered. After the qualitative analysis, the outcome showed that the level of customer satisfaction was high, because the human resource management emphasized on quality services and helpful entertainment, which led to customer retention and satisfaction. The study further recommended improvements in customer satisfaction management. His study took into perspective the two variables of customer satisfaction and quality of services, which are paramount in this research.

In addition, a different method of measuring customer satisfaction is the use of hotel guest comment cards (GCCs) as applied by Yen-Lun (2004) for the Taiwanese hotels. The research applied content analysis for the redetermination of the extent to which there exist a correlation between the best practice criteria and guest card comments. The completion of the data analysis showed that no hotel met all the best practice criteria as per their GCCs. This finding has a significant relation to the topic of customer satisfaction measurement. It evaluates customer satisfaction with respect to the desired practices in the hotel industry.

Employee satisfaction also affects the loyalty and customer satisfaction (Bellon, Estevez-Cubilete, Rodriguez, Dandy, Lane & Deringer 2010). The authors analysed the influence of the quality of services on the customers’ satisfaction and loyalty. They argued that the commitment of the firm towards continuous customer loyalty is achieved through the provision of quality services, which align with the expectations of the customers. With respect to the topic of measuring the effectiveness of customer service satisfaction in the hospitality, food or retail services, the research offers many ideas on the customers’ perception of employees’ actions.

Lastly, Haemoon (2009) performed a test\ and proposed an integrative model of customer value, service quality, and consumer satisfaction. The study uses the data from the luxury segment. In general, the paper focuses on how the holistic provision of services to customers in the hotels and retail services can influence the post-service decision-making, hence defining customer retention. This research is helpful, since it possesses the explanatory ability and practical validity, which assist with the development of suggestions.

Clutterbuck (2007) propose the following improvements to be done by the management. First, the improvement staff-customer communication by updating the channels of complaints and ensuring transactions that are error-free is needed. In addition, staff should undergo continuous training to enable assisting customers on relevant emerging issues in the hospitality industry. Finally, there should be improvement in the hotels’ ambiance, parking spaces, and children’s areas.

Research Methodology

The study analyses the relationship between customer satisfaction and the quality of services in the hospitality and food retail services. It will shows the causal relation between the variables and their impact on customer satisfaction (Barsky & Nash 2003). In addition, the methodology of the research consists of four sections: research instruments, participants, procedures, and final data analysis. The sampling procedure is based on the systematic approach.

Sampling Procedure and Participants

Probability sampling procedures should be employed in the study, as they secure a degree of economic efficiency through systematic sampling within a short period. After the sampling, the skip interval approach is to be employed, which allows to select customers to be included in the study (Anderson 2011). This procedure ensures equal probability and sufficient randomness of the customers in the population. The participants of this study will consist of 150 customers, who attend various hotels and restaurants from the first day of November to the last day of November 2014.

Research Instrument

Data should be collected using questionnaires. The questionnaires should be prepared using simple English wording, so that the respondents would easily read, interpret, and respond. For the convenience of the respondents, facilitators will collect the data on the customers’ perception towards the quality of the service offered. The first questionnaire includes age, gender, occupation, nationality, and frequency of visits. The second and third entail the different SERVQUAL system dimensions of service quality. These should be tangibility, reliability, responsiveness, assurance, and empathy (Cohen, Manion & Morrison 2011). This questionnaire should explore the customers’ perception level and expectations towards service quality in various hotels and fast food joints (Su 2004). The questionnaires should be distributed based on the sampling procedures to 150 customers, who will be requested to complete them. The fourth part entails the questions concerning the customers’ suggestions concerning the quality of services provided by staff in the hotels and restaurants. The final part of the questionnaire will inquire whether the customers are willing to return to the same hotel or food joint (Kandampully, Mok & Sparks 2001).

Procedures

Prior to the real data collection, the night guards, front office managers, and hotel operations managers should be given copies of the questionnaires to examine and make further recommendations. Such approach will lead to the correction of some questions that are ambiguous or unclear. The staff may also provide examples of the answers to each question to make them clear to the receptionists and the respondents. The raw data will be collected from the clients, who stay and visit the restaurants and hotels between the 1st and 30th of November, 2014. Facilitators and receptionist will ask the customers to complete the questionnaires upon their arrival. From all the customers who will take the questionnaires, 100 are expected to return the complete forms (Timpe 1986).

Data Analysis

After the collection of the questionnaires, the customer's perception and expectation towards the quality of services from the staff can be collected based on the following five areas: reliability, tangibility, responsiveness, empathy, and assurance. The percentages and frequencies will be used for calculating and analysing the raw data in the first questionnaire. The gap analysis and descriptive statistics of standard deviations and means will be used to make comparisons between the perception score and the expected score of the respondents. Finally, the results will be analysed using the statistical software package (SPSS). The results will be summarized, and the recommendations concerning the areas for further studies will be provided (Tam 1999).

Ethical Considerations

The ethical considerations of this study include seeking of approval from the hotel management, statutory, regulatory authorities, and the relevant ethics committee to conduct the research (Su 2004). The other consideration is the informed consent of the respondent. The research involves seeking for the permission from the respondents and not taking advantage of any customers including, children and the elders. The researchers also protect and preserve the dignity, privacy, freedom, and well-being of all the customers, who participate in the study. Therefore, asking only for the needed information and taking responsibly for sharing it is guaranteed. The identity of all the participants is confidential, while unnecessary information is destroyed. Finally, the results of the research are to be reported correctly and accurately in an honest manner (Pizam & Ellis 1999).

Validity and Reliability

It is important to ensure the willingness to share information concerning the plans. Therefore, employees can jointly develop the best way to satisfy the customers’ requirements concerning what is being pledged as the role model of the organization. With the help of collaboration and communication, it is essential to position and coordinate members to do the right thing faster and more efficiently. Strong relationships across the organizational boundaries are based on the inter-organizational and interpersonal trust and confidence, which are recognized as the key factors of success (Bell 2005). Therefore, it is acknowledged that trust and willingness are critical features of successful collaboration, which allows to build and validate the results across the organization. The development of relationships depends on professional knowledge and skills that respect the individuals involved as well as the behaviours of the participating organization.

Limitations

Customer loyalty is subject to the constant change. Generalization of the findings concerning the customers’ expectations and perceptions may be biased and subject to the modification. The results, therefore, can be assumed for a particular period, pre-defined selling place, and economic scenario. A longitudinal research may lessen this restriction. The research can be further restricted to the Indian scenario with Hyderabad as the crucial position. Geo-demographic study may contribute significantly to the impact of the clients’ perceptions. In addition, there a need comment on how the zone of perseverance may differ among different clients. This variation has not been assessed in the current study. Furthermore, the research limits itself to some distinct styles. For instance, there are only three formats, which cannot cover different styles of all the retail segments.

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