Service Quality of Hospitality

Introduction

            Service encounter refers to the personal contact of service employees and consumers. Normally, dissimilar communicative acts are involved in service encounters including, among others, leave takings, requests, greetings, and offers. It is important for employees in service organization to understand service encounter to deliver the best services to customers (Lovelock & Wirtz 2011). Specifically, this enables them to embrace the right communicative acts with handling customers. Scholars are of the view that at the heart of a service, it the encounter between the customer and server. At this point, feelings meet economics, and it is where consumers judge the quality of a service delivered by an organization (Fleming & Asplund 2007).

This paper intends to examine how to achieve service success through the service encounter.

Achieving Service Success through Service Encounter

            Consistent with Johnston and Clark (2008), there are a number of service encounter success factors. The factors relate to both human and machines. In relations to machines, a service organization must ensure it has the right people with the right skills to serve customers. For instance interpersonal skills are very important. The recent years have seen many companies in the service sector embracing the use of technologies to achieve efficiency. As such, it is also important for people to support these technologies to serve customers as expected. Ultimately, employees must engender trust. Customers derive great pleasure from being served by the people they trust. Machines employed by service organizations to provide quality services must be user friendly to allow employees to utilize them according. Ease of access and fast response is also very important. Service organizations must also implement technologies they can monitor remotely. Basically, they should be able to monitor their performances to ascertain on whether or not they are facilitating or hindering service encounters. In general, a service organization must have the right people and machines to achieve the right service encounters (Williams & Buswell 2003).

In line with Lovelock and Wirtz (2011), the differentiating characteristics of most customer experiences is how the people delivering the service do it. This is one of the main reasons as to why most large and well-established service organizations spend serious money and time in the management of moments. For example, Ritz Carlton invest in the same to ensure it creates a good first impression when consumers visit its organizations (Bruce & Montanez 2012). However, there are also organizations that fail to ensure the same, hence their inability to create a good impression. Normally, in a hospitality organization, the first few seconds after a customer arrives at their premises either make or break moments. This also determines on whether the customer will go ahead and consume its services or will leave and search for another provide. As such, it is important for the management in hospitality organizations to invest more in making moments to attract as well as to retain customers (Lovelock & Wirtz 2011). Ritz Carlton performs well in terms of making moments, hence its capability to attract many customers despite its services being deemed expensive as compared to most of its competitors.

Johnston and Clark (2008) is of the view that successful encounters are linked with job satisfaction. High levels of job satisfaction increases the success of service encounters considering employees are more than willing to do everything in their power to provide the best services.  Ford, Sturman and Heaton (2012) argue that there are times when service encounters are stressful to employees. Stress arises as a consequence of a conflicts between employees own personal beliefs and personality and their job requirements. In the same regard, employees experience stress whenever they are faced with the dilemma of whether or not to focus on satisfying customer demands or follow company rules. Human resource managers in the hospitality industry must ensure they come up with coping strategies for their people or employees to mitigate the risk of stress impacting negatively on service encounter. Fundamentally, stress can easily affect employees’ ability and willingness to embrace the most appropriate communicative acts. For instance, they should encourage employees to share their concerns or challenges they may be experiencing during service encounters (Kelemen 2009).

Service organization culture also impact service encounters. Service organizations that invest more in their people are in a better position to achieve success in relation to service encounters. This is because they are willing to equip their people with the right skills and knowledge integral to serve consumers as expected. Service quality in the hospitality industry can also be achieved through establishing a culture of collaboration among employees, that is, both between front-line and backstage production employees (Lovelock & Wirtz 2011). Essentially, front-line employees may embrace the right communicative acts to impress customers. However, their efforts may not payoff unless they gain support from backstage production personnel. For instance, service encounter is impacted negatively when backstage employees fail to deliver their roles as speedy manner. Hospitality organizations must also avoid the traditional organizational pyramid that places managers above all else. Fundamentally, frontline employees interact directly with customers, hence better understand their needs and preferences. Top managers need to avoid making decisions without consulting with frontline employees especially when handling issues relating to customer service. Equally, employees deal with the implementation of decisions. As such, it is only fair that they included in the decision making process to enlist their full support (Kandampully 2002).

Clearly, emotions displayed by employees during service encounters impacts the moment of truth. Emotional labor is an explanatory theory that explains how people handle encounters. Coping is considered a part of the encounter process. It also influences the outcomes or the quality of a service rendered by a hospitality organization. Employees utilize different strategies to deal with their emotions including deep acting and surface acting. Deep acting entails one feeling or experiencing the emotions that they wish to display. Employees display the right emotions and also attempt to create the same within themselves (Ford, Sturman, & Heaton 2012). On the contrary, surface acting involves the stimulation of emotions that are not felt in actual sense. This is achieved by employees careful presenting verbal and non-verbal cues. Employees only change the outward behavior to display the required communicative acts. Hospitality organizations need to come up with strategies to ensure their people display the right emotions. Ritz Carlton outmatches its competitors in relation to its people controlling their emotions. Specifically, its people try their level best to show friendliness towards customers at all times. There are times when customers make it hard for employees to act accordingly, for example, when they demand more than what the employees can provide. This stresses employees at the organization. Nevertheless, they still manage to engage in surface acting to create a good impression (Kandampully, Mok, & Sparks 2001).

The human sigma process can also be utilized by organizations in the hospitality industry to improve service encounter. It relates to process of improving as well as reducing the variability in the engagement of customers and employees (Fleming & Asplund, 2007). There are five simple rules a hospitality organization needs to adhere to achieve excellence in regards to how employees interact and engage with consumers. For one, there is the need for customer and employee experiences to be managed together. This enables the management in an organization to come with the right strategies to improve the encounters and moments. Ritz Carlton has applied the same strategy and achieved great success (Hollins & Shinkins 2009). Additionally, managers must understand the fact that emotions drive and determine employee-customer encounter, hence the need to control the same. Thirdly, hospitality organization need to think globally but act locally. Essentially, service encounter must consider local needs. Ritz Carlton is a global company (Bruce & Montanez 2012). It has embraced localization strategy to achieve successful service encounter. Ultimately, having good intentions and failing to act on them hinders proper service encounter. To deliver the right services, hospitality companies must be willing to change their cultures, recruitment and selection strategies, rewards and recognition, and people management practices. Basically, the new practices must allow the company in question to serve consumers as expected (Johnston & Clark 2008).

Likewise, the service-profit chain explains how hospitality organization can enhance service encounters to attract and retain consumers. It establishes the link between customer loyalty, profitability, and employee productivity, satisfaction, and loyalty. Normally, growth and profits are driven by customer loyalty (Heskett, Sasser, & Schesinger, 1997). This is one of the main reasons as to why companies such as Ritz Carlton have maintained a unique position in the hospitality industry. Customer loyalty is achieved by a hospitality organization either meeting or exceeding customer expectations, hence customer satisfaction (Bruce & Montanez 2012). On the other hand, satisfaction is influenced by the value of the services rendered to consumers. Good value is created by satisfied and productive employees. Ultimately, employee satisfaction comes from high quality support policies and services. From the provisions of the service-profit chain, it is clear that hospitality organization should first focus on the implementation of effective support policies and services. This will go a long way in motivating them to embrace the right communicative acts and the creation of lasting moments. Moreover, the organization will achieve customer satisfaction which will in turn lead to loyalty. Consequently, the company achieves high profitability and growth (Hollins & Shinkins 2009).

Customers also play a role in ensuring effective service encounters. Their attitudes and expectations impact the way they are served by employees. Customers that are overly demanding make it hard for employees to serve them in the right manner. Employees struggle to attend to their needs. This impacts employees’ attitudes and emotions towards the customers. Some employees have the ability to handle such customers (Lovelock & Wirtz 2011). On the contrary, there are those who struggle to deal with customers who are exaggeratedly demanding. Customer attitude also affects service encounter. A positive attitude helps employees to deal with all customers despite their attitude. However, sometimes handling customers who display a negative attitude at all times can be very challenging. Employee training can be utilized to equip all employees with the knowledge and skills to deal with all types of customers. Employees must also be encouraged to accept the fact that customers are different and that their behaviors vary. Accepting this fact aids in ensuring employees are prepared to handle all types of customers (Fleming & Asplund 2007).

Employee motivation is equally important in ensuring successful service encounter. Highly motivated employees are more than willing to do everything in their power to achieve the right service encounter. Different employees are motivated by different factors. Managers in the hospitality sector must appreciate this fact if they are to achieve high levels of employee morale. Ritz Carlton applies different strategies to motivate its people depending on their needs (Bruce & Montanez 2012). For instance, employees are motivated through rewards and recognition, training and development, and competitive pay among others. Hospitality organization managers must work closely with their people to determine how to best motivate them. Generally, failure to ensure the same can lead to them relying on the wrong strategies. Consequently, they will report low levels of motivation, hence unsuccessful service encounters (Ford, Sturman, & Heaton 2012).

Conclusion

Successful service encounter is integral to the survival of hospitality organizations. The recent years have seen companies in this sector engaging in practices that help them to create good impressions during the first encounter with customers. The interactions between employees and customers impacts the impression the customer has on the organization. Bad interactions leads to consumers having a negative attitude towards the firm and vice versa. Hospitality organizations must come up with strategies to improve the interactions to ensure successful service encounter. In the same way, they need to motivate their people to maintain a positive attitude and the right emotions when handling customers.

Bibliography

Bruce, A & Montanez, S 2012, Leaders start to finish : a road map for developing top performers, ASTD Press, Alexandria, VA.

Fleming, J & Asplund, J 2007, Human Sigma: Managing the Employee Customer Encounter, Gallup Press, Washington, DC.

Ford, C Sturman, M & Heaton, C 2012, Managing Quality Service in Hospitality, Cengage, London.

Heskett, J L Sasser, W E & Schesinger, L A 1997, The Service Profit Chain, Free Press, New York, NY.

Hollins, B & Shinkins, S 2009, Managing Service Operations, Sage, London.

Johnston, R & Clark, G 2008, Services Operations Management: improving service delivery, Prentice Hall, New Jersey, NJ.

Kandampully, J Mok, C & Sparks, B 2001, Service Quality Management in Hospitality, Tourism, and Leisure, Hawarth, New York, NY.

Kandampully, K 2002, Services Management: the new paradigm in hospitality, Frenchs Forest, NSW Australia.

Kelemen, M L 2009, Managing Quality, Sage, London.

Lovelock, C & Wirtz, J 2011, Services Marketing: People, Technology, Strategy, Prentice Hall, New Jersey, NJ.

Williams, C & Buswell, J 2003, Service Quality in Leisure and Tourism, CAB International, Oxon.

 

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