Customer loyalty is a vital component in the operation of businesses. One of the ways through which a firm can develop customer loyalty is by ensuring effective service delivery. In order to achieve this, the firm must have a well implemented service delivery system.
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According to Bennett and Strydom (210), service delivery system entails a number of components which include people, processes and elements. The firm’s management team must ensure that there is creation of an optimal service encounter. Bennett and Strydom (211) defines system encounter as the moment of interaction between the customer and the service firm.
The service delivery system entails a framework of activities referred to as the service encounter cascade. This is mainly common amongst firms offering services such as tourism and travel firms. Southwest Airlines is a firm which operates within the airline industry in the United States.
Over the years it has been in operation, the firm has managed to attain a substantial performance. The firm has a well designed service encounter sequence in an effort to ensure a high level of customer satisfaction. The paper is aimed at evaluating the service encounter cascade in relation to Southwest Airlines.
Southwest Airlines service encounter cascade
Ensuring customer satisfaction within the airline industry is challenging. During service delivery, it is paramount for a firm’s management team to ensure a positive impression is created during the first contact. In addition, firms must ensure that a high level of customer experience is attained.
This arises from the fact that a small degree customer encounter can result into a high level of customer dissatisfaction. In order to develop a comprehensive service encounter, a firm’s management team must develop a comprehensive understanding of the various types of encounters which are necessary in the delivery of a certain service.
In addition, a high degree of collaboration between the employees and the management team is necessary. This ensures that there is effective formulation of service standards. Southwest Airline service encounter cascade entails a number of activities as outlined below.
- Making reservations
- Checking in
- Security check point
- Customs clearance
- Clearance through the boarding gate
- Meeting the ground hostess
- Meeting the air hostess
- Serving the customers with a meal and drink during the flight
- Greeting the air hostess upon dismemberment
- Meeting the ground hostess
As an entrepreneur, I have on several occasions travelled using Southwest Airlines in an effort to scan the environment for business opportunities. As a result of their high level of expertise, I was very pleased by their service delivery. For example, Southwest Airlines has a well implemented reservation system.
This is attained through implementation of the Amadeus technology which is a travel technology. The technology ensures that there is a high degree of efficiency when making travel reservations. This arises from the fact that a customer is able to make travel reservations online. Through the firm’s online reservation system, I was able to obtain information about the firm’s fare tariffs, and airlines schedules.
Not only does the firm’s reservation system enable a customer to book a flight but also to make a reservation on the best hotels and restaurants. This arises from the fact that the Airlines Reservation System (ARS) is connected to the Global Distribution System (GDS). As a result, I was able to attain a high degree of effectiveness with regard to time and financial management.
The customers consider the airline to be effective with regard to a number of aspects as discussed below.
In its operation, the firm has considered airline security to be of paramount importance, as a result, the firm has implemented a comprehensive security check.
The firm has recruited well experienced airhostesses who ensure that there is a high level of in-flight services. The firm serves diverse meals so as to cater for the customers’ tastes and preferences.
The customers also consider the airline’s price system to be cost effective compared to other airlines. This is arises from the firm’s low cost strategy.
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The firm has a well developed flight schedule. This has been achieved through integration of flexibility.
According to findings of a study regarding the level of customer satisfaction conducted on the employees, it was revealed that the firm has managed to develop a substantial performance as a result of high level of customer satisfaction. The employees interviewed obtained the information from the firm’s customer relationship software.
A large number of customers are of the opinion that Southwest Airlines brand is the best small and midsized airline brand in US. According to the employees, the high level of customer satisfaction has been attained as a result of effective and efficient management. This ensures that there is efficiency in the implementation of customer satisfaction strategy.
Dealing with service delivery failure
In certain occasions, the firm experiences customer complaints with regard to customer satisfaction. In order to deal with the failure, the firm has implemented an employee training program. The program ensures that the employees are acquainted with skills necessary to ensure effectiveness in service delivery. Considering the fact that customers are dynamic in their consumption pattern, training ensures that the employees are acquainted with the changes. The resultant effect is that the firm is able to move with industry changes.
Service encounter can result into a high degree of customer satisfaction. During this period, the customer develops a certain perception regarding the service being offered. Through service encounter, a firm has an opportunity to build trust, reinforce quality and to build brand identity.
This arises from the fact that the first impression created results into development of either a positive or negative attitude. By creating a positive attitude, the firm is able to develop customer loyalty. This means that service encounter is a building block with regard to customer satisfaction.
Bennett, Alf and Strydom, Joham. Introduction to travel and tourism marketing. New York: Jute and Company Limited, 2001.Print.