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Improving Service Quality Essay

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Updated: Apr 22nd, 2019

Introduction

The quality of services that employees offer in a restaurant is as important as the meals served. According to Shaikh and Khan (2011, p. 343), the restaurant industry is continuously evolving and growing more complicated. They argued that a restaurant must include ‘service associated features to satisfy the complementary needs of its customers’ (343).

They further noted that satisfaction of customers is taking a new trend of being associated with quality of service. Customers are increasingly becoming conscious of their surrounding when in restaurants. According to Markovic, Raspor and Segaric (2010, p. 181), restaurants have continuously been pushed to offer excellent dining experiences to their customers.

These experiences constitute the tangibles as well as the intangibles. The intangibles are of a particular concern as their improvement requires considerable attention unlike the tangibles. It has been noted that the intangibles have a great effect on the financial viability of a restaurant on a long term basis.

Due to the stiff competition in the restaurant industry, offering of quality services therefore is not an option but a way of being competitive. In regard to the above briefing, this report examines the tools that can be used in improving the level of service quality of a nation-wide restaurant chain.

Two instruments are discussed and it is shown how they will be instrumental in improving the quality of service of the nation-wide restaurant chain.

Improving Quality of Service

In order to improve the quality of services given, it is prudent that the reference points of various stakeholders involved are known. In the context of this report, the main stakeholders in reference to quality of service offered are the staff and the customers.

It will be mandatory to be aware of what the customers expect and then make the correct adjustment to fulfil their expectations otherwise improvements cannot be effectively made if the deficit areas are not known. The instrument which best does this is the DINESERV instrument.

It has been noted that when customers are satisfied as per their expectations, they become frequent customers. Such satisfied customers also refer other customers, mostly friends and family members, to the business (Wu & Liang 2009, p. 587). By using the DINESERV tool, it will be possible to know how huge the gap is and consequently remedial measures will be taken.

DINESERV Instrument

This instrument was developed specifically for restaurant industry by Stevens, Knutson and Patton in 1995. It is basically a SERVQUAL instrument but modified such that it specifically addresses the restaurant industry (Kim, Nee & Kim 2009, p. 10). DINESERVE is a tool that measures the quality of service from the perspective of a customer (Markovic, Raspor & Segaric 2010 p. 183).

Understanding how a customer defines quality service is very important because it is his/her perceptions that will make him/her come back to the restaurant again. By using this instrument, it will be possible to get the position of the customers in regard to the service quality offered by the restaurant.

Taking into consideration that the restaurant in question is not an international business which might be servicing people of diverse cultures, a sample of the restaurants should, to a good degree, shed some green light on the nation-wide customer expectations.

Why this instrument is chosen is because it helps to show where a restaurant is and where it should be in terms of quality of services offered, that is, ‘it measures consumers’ expectations and perceptions of services received” (Markovic, Raspor & Segaric 2010, p. 183).

This instrument touches on five dimensions that consumers use when evaluating the quality of a service given. These five dimensions are ‘tangibles, reliability, responsiveness, assurance and empathy’ (Markovic, Raspor & Segaric 2010, p. 183). In the following sections, it will be shown how these dimensions can be used to improve the quality of service in the chain restaurant in question.

Tangibles

In a restaurant, the physical facilities which include the furniture and the appearance of personnel constitute the tangibles. It also encompasses the physical design and general cleanliness (Markovic, Raspor & Segaric 2010, p. 184).

A good physical design and a good internal arrangement enhance the dining experience that a customer experiences therefore helping greatly in the satisfaction of the customer. Things like lighting and music have also been associated with the internal structure and are said to greatly affect the satisfaction of consumers.

The consumer factors have also been said to have an influence on the satisfaction of consumers. Consumer-consumer interaction may be viewed favourably when it facilitates social interaction. However, some consumer behaviours such as smoking or talking loudly may be viewed to be offensive (Wu & Liang 2009, p. 587).

Reliability

Reliability in the context of service industry is defined as ‘the ability to perform the promised services independently and accurately’ (Markovic, Raspor & Segaric 2010, p. 184) and, specifically, in the restaurant industry it is the ‘freshness and temperature of the food, accurate billing and receiving ordered food’ (Markovic, Raspor & Segaric 2010, p. 184).

The temperature of the food and how fresh it is have been found to influence customer satisfaction. According to Andaleeb and Conway (2006 p. 5), these two affect the quality and taste of food served and therefore greatly determines whether a customer enjoys the meal or not.

Price also matters in this context, it has been observed that when the price is not reflective of the quality of food, customers feel they are being taken for granted.

For instance, a very high price is an indicator of a high quality therefore if low quality is offered then customers will have the impression that they are being ripped off (Andaleeb & Conway 2006). This is likely to annoy customers and might be viewed as one of the fastest way of sending away customers.

Responsiveness

Responsiveness is viewed as the willingness and readiness of the staff to help the customers promptly. In the context of the restaurant industry, it is associated with ‘staff assistance with the menu or wine list or appropriate and prompt response to customers’ needs and requests’ (Markovic, Raspor & Segaric 2010, p. 184).

Indeed studies carried out have shown that more responsive services enhance the satisfaction of customers (Andaleeb & Conway 2006). It has been shown that customers are happy with servers who understand their needs and address them accordingly.

In the context of this report, responsiveness can be achieved by training the customer-contact employees particularly the servers and waiters on how to handle customers with courtesy.

These employees are more in contact with the customers therefore they tend to be the image of the restaurant in the eyes of the customers. It would therefore be wise to invest in these front people such that they present a cutting edge image of the restaurant to the customers.

Assurance

This has to do with the knowledge and courtesy of the staff members. It also has to do with their ability to convey trust and confidence (Markovic, Raspor & Segaric, 2010, p. 184).

When applied in the context of restaurant industry, assurance implies that customers ‘trust the recommendations of staff, feel confident that food is free from contamination and be able to say any concern without fear’ (Markovic, Raspor & Segaric 2010, p. 184).

Empathy

This is viewed as the ability to offer services which are customized and which make the customers feel cared for or special (Alroub, Alsaleem & Daoud 2012).

Action Plan

Five dimensions of quality service have been discussed above. It is very important that these areas are well addressed in order to create and sustain a good restaurant image before the eyes of the customers.

In regard to this report, the director should plan for the training of the restaurant staff in order to ensure they adequately meet the expectations of the customers in regard to the above five dimensions of customer services.

According to Irfan, Mohsin and Yousaf (2009 p. 1222), training in service quality becomes successful when there is a commitment of all employees, senior and junior, to the objectives of the training exercise.

In regard to the nation-wide restaurant chain, which is the subject of this report, this commitment will be achieved by carrying out an internal marketing campaign which will address the grievances of the employees. It will also be ensured that the employees understand the need and significance of offering quality services to the customers.

The training exercise will be carried out after the DINESERV instrument has been administered in order to get a picture of how the customers view the nation-wide restaurant chain.

The action of training the employees will basically be viewed as a way of investing in the employees for the good of the restaurant. The following subsections give more details on how it will be carried out.

Customer-contact Employees

The customer contact employees are very important, as already noted above, in creating a good image of the restaurant in the eyes of the customers. Those involved in this category are the waiters, servers, and those who welcome the customer into the restaurant.

Depending on the findings of DINESERV, which would have been obtained by the time the training exercise will kick off, these employees will basically be trained on how to interact with the customers.

Basically, the training will be customized to ensure that the deficits which would have been exposed by the DINESERV instrument are addressed. In addition to that it will be ensured that the employees are sharpened into becoming reliable. Andaleeb and Conway (2006) stated that ensuring that customers get the correct food they order is being reliable.

Waiters and servers therefore will be reminded that they cannot make such mistakes as taking the wrong food, or serving food when it is of the wrong temperature or size. Customer-contact employees will also be reminded and trained to be responsive to the customers through such simple gestures as maintaining eye contact when a customer is talking.

The waiters will be required to maintain a good knowledge of all the food they serve such that they readily offer extra information to the customers in case a customer asks for the same. In this manner, the customers will feel assured of the restaurant services when they readily get answered well by the waiters.

The waiters will also be in charge of ensuring that customer-customer interaction is a positive one. Customers who behave in manners that may annoy other customers will have to be kindly requested to mind the welfare of others.

There will be a need to ensure that when waiters request customers who might be behaving in rowdy manners to calm themselves, they will have to do that in very polite ways.

Chefs

Chefs play a very huge role in enhancing a dining experience for customers. It has already been pointed above that freshness and temperature of the food are big factors in satisfying customers’ expectations. The taste of the food and its quality also matters a lot especially when such food is highly priced.

The training of the chefs will therefore go a long way in ensuring that the price and quality of food are reconciled such that the customers do not feel ripped off.

The chefs are also significant in ensuring that what is promised on the menu is what gets served. In this manner, the nation-wide restaurant chain will earn itself a good image for delivering on its promises.

Internal designer

There is a need to introduce an internal designer in the human resource department. Physical outlook, both the external and internal, enhances the experience that a customer has in a restaurant. The internal designing forms part of the tangible dimension of service quality as per the DINESERV instrument.

An internal designer will be in charge of redesigning the internal arrangement of the chain restaurant to make it more appealing. This internal physical restructuring may include changing the lighting systems and sitting arrangement including the type of furniture in use.

Restaurant Managers

The restaurant managers will be very crucial in ensuring that quality is maintained. A restaurant manager will be allowed to make changes in the operations of a branch restaurant as long as such a move can be substantiated to increase the quality of service that is provided by the branch.

The manager should also be charged with determining the priority of the quality dimensions as illustrated by DINESERV tool. According to Shaikh and Khan (2011 p. 354), different people may have different perception on which quality dimension is most important.

The restaurant in question with regard to this report is a nation-wide chain therefore implying the possibility of different customers in different parts of the nation having different perceptions.

Internal Marketing

Apart from undertaking training based on the findings of DINESERV, another tool that may also be very fruitful in enhancing the quality of service offered by the chain restaurant is Internal Marketing. Internal marketing focuses on the internal customers with the aim of benefiting the external customers.

It has been shown that internal marketing helps employees of an organization to be more committed (Esfahan, Taleghani & Rajaee 2006).

Internal marketing takes two aspects: customer-focused and employee-focused. Customer-focused aspect views ‘all employees of the organization as de facto marketers’ (Kale 2006, p. 3).

In this regard, whenever there is an interaction between the service employees and customers, business is created, sustained or broken depending on how the customers perceive the interaction (Kale 2006, p. 3). On the other hand, the employee-focused aspect aims at promoting a company to the employees.

In general, internal marketing aims at ensuring that employees are satisfied working in an organization. With satisfaction, employees are more likely to be market oriented in offering their services. The effect of this orientation is creation of a positive organizational image (Chen & Hsieh 2009).

Internal marketing also reduces the rate of turnover. High rates of turnover can be very costly to a restaurant as it implies that new employees have to undergo training to ensure that the quality of service provided is not compromised. By engaging in aggressive internal marketing, employee turnover can be greatly reduced (Chang & Chang 2008).

Conclusion

The service industry is continuously growing competitive. This is especially true for the hotel industry. Customer tastes and preferences keep on changing everyday and this has made this industry quite complicated. Unlike in the past, customers in the present time are looking for comprehensive services of high quality.

In the restaurant industry, it has been observed that customer satisfaction is obtained when a great dining experience is created. This experience takes more than just the taste of a great meal. It includes the physical surrounding and the nature of people around both the employees and fellow customers.

This report suggested that DINESERV instrument should be used to find the position of the restaurant in question and then use the gap indentified to make some improvements on the dimensions of quality services.

Internal marketing was also proposed as an ideal way of ensuring the employees are motivated and committed to the restaurant. This was shown to greatly reduce the costs of training and as well ensure that the quality of service offered is not comprised.

References

Alroub, AS, Alsaleem, AM & Daoud, AA 2012, ‘Service Quality and its Impact on Customer Satisfaction Tourist Restaurants’, Interdisciplinary Journal of Contemporary Research in Business, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 364-379.

Andaleeb, SS & Conway, C 2006, ‘Customer Satisfaction in the restaurant industry: an examination of the transaction-specific model’, The Journal of Services Marketing, vol. 20, no. 1, pp. 3-11.

Chang, C & Chang W ‘Internal Marketing Practices and Employees’ Turnover Intentions in Tourism and Leisure Hotels’, The Journal of Human Resource and Adult Learning, vol. 4, no. 2, pp. 161-172.

Chen, Y & Hsieh, T 2009, ‘Study on Relationship among International Customer Orientation, Market Orientation and Organization Performance of Theme Restaurant’, The Journal of International management Studies, vol. 4, no. 2, pp. 165-175.

Esfahan, MR, Taleghani, M & Rajaee, MB 2013, ‘The Effect of Internal Marketing on Outcomes and Factors Organizational Commitment (Case Study: Hotels in Esfahan)’, Journal of Basic and Applied Scientific Research, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 429-435.

Irfan, SM, Mohsin, M & Yousaf, I 2009, ‘Achieving Service through its Valuable Human Resources: An Empirical Study of Banking Sector of Pakistan’, World Applied Sciences Journal, vol. 7, no. 10, pp. 1222-1230.

Kale, SH 2006, ‘Internal Marketing: An Antidote for Macau’s labor Shortage’, UNLV Gaming Research & Review Journal, vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 1-12.

Kim, WG, Nee, YC & Kim, Y 2009, ‘Influence of institutional DINESERV on customer satisfaction, return intention, and word-of mouth’, International Journal of Hospitality Management, vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 10-17.

Markovic, S, Raspor, S & Segaric, K 2010, ‘Does Restaurant Performance meet Customers’ Expectations? AN Assessment of Restaurant Service Quality using a Modified DINESERV Approach’, Tourism and Hospitality Management, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 181-195.

Shaikh, AA & Khan, NR 2011, ‘Impact of Service Quality on Customer Satisfaction: Evidence from the Restaurant Industry in Pakistan’, Management & Marketing, vol. IX, no. 2, pp. 343-355.

Wu, CH & Liang, R 2009, ‘Effect of experiential value on customer satisfaction with service encounters in luxury-hotel restaurants’, International Journal of Hospitality management, vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 586-593.

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