Many firms in the hospitality industry have difficulty providing quality service consistently. In order to become a leader in any segment of the industry, such as a boutique hotel or a casual theme restaurant, following these principles should be the cornerstone of your core competencies.
1. Quality is Defined by Customers
Quality is conformance to guest expectations. Guests decide what good quality is and what they consider important in the service product. It is imperative that management understand their perspective.
Suggestions: Use guest satisfaction cards to gauge the quality level of daily service encounters. Train your employees to know how to read their customers and perform according to their perceived guests’ expectations.
2. Quality Is a Journey
Quality must be pursued constantly. The journey is for continuous improvement. Guests’ needs and expectations change as they are exposed to new experiences, and the intelligent manager is constantly striving for improvement.
Suggestions: Talk to people about their recent experiences when socializing and try to identify emerging trends. Modify your products and services to cater to these new trend setters.
3. Quality is Everyone’s Job
Responsibility for quality service cannot be delegated to one individual or department. In the hospitality industry we are a collection of processes, each of which must be managed in conformance with the goals of the organization. Every service employee and moment of truth counts. The guest perceives the experience as a whole, not a collection of processes.
Suggestions: Create a positive work environment where all employees serve their internal and external customers (guests and employees). Provide cross-training so that employees better understand the company’s mission. Empower all employees to handle service recoveries (problem resolution) immediately.
4. Quality, Leadership, and Communication Are Inseparable
To produce quality service experiences, employees must possess knowledge, feedback, and support from management. Management, however, must provide service leadership.
Suggestions: Utilize team leaders in your guest services departments. For instance, having a team leader among your wait staff can help you provide weekly personalized training to the other servers based on their analysis of each person’s sales data and customer satisfaction surveys. Team leaders can provide managers with valuable insights into the service culture and assist them in implementing directives.
5. Quality and Integrity Are Inseparable
Service quality requires a corporate culture that emphasizes integrity. Fairness toward guests and employees must be a core value shared by all.
Suggestions: Provide all employees with a formal training program that instructs them on corporate vision, values and mission. Teach employees a motto that encourages a positive work environment. Utilize rewards programs and sales competitions to motivate employees. Provide quarterly team-building activities, such as company/family barbeques or other outdoor events.
6. Quality Is a Design Issue
Service quality must be designed in advance. The use of technology, personnel, and guest participation must be planned in advance. The process must be designed with the ultimate goal in mind.
Suggestions: Utilize a flowchart to model the prescribed guest experience you wish to provide, then train your entire staff to understand the roles each team member plays in order to fulfill that experience based on the type of services you wish to offer your guests. When designed your service quality flowchart, it is important to understand what your target market’s perceived value is. That is, customers are willing to part with their money in order to receive a specific benefit (lunch or dinner, a hotel room, a visit to the spa, etc.) and determine the value (good, average, poor) based on their encounter and the cost of that encounter: PV = B – C
7. Quality Is Keeping the Service Promise
Guests’ expectations are often shaped by the organization. When the organization promises to provide a certain level of service, it must keep those promises. Failure to do so results in poor perceived quality and guest dissatisfaction.
Suggestions: Always perform at a level that meets or exceeds your guests’ expectations. Your marketing and branding should guide your target market to set up their perceived expectations of the service quality you will provide. This will be considered and weighted with their actual service experiences to result in their subjective judgment of the quality of service they received. As long as you deliver service at the same level that your market expects, then your guests will have a positive experience. Problems arise when there are gaps between their expectations and the product quality or service experience you provide.
Remember that service quality is equal to cash flow for your business. As managers, we must always strive to attain the perfect service experience for our guests.
Sources: 1) Olsen, Michael D., et al., “Strategic Management in the Hospitality Industry,” Pearson Education, Inc., 2008. 2) L. L. Berry, “Discovering the Soul of Service,” Advance Uncorrected Proofs, The Free Press, 1999.