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Diploma in Hospitality Management
Unit Number and Title
Unit 3 Customer Service
Customers play the most significant role in hospitality industry. It is very important to make sure that the customers’ requirements are met and they return back from the hotel or the restaurants satisfied and happy. In order to ensure that almost all the industries of the hospitality like hotels, restaurants, pubs, membership clubs etc. have their own customer service policies. In the essay below there will be detailed analysis of the customer service policies in hospitality industry and also its importance. It is very important that all these policies are also known to the staff members, for which communication is very important. The next section of the essay will focus on different types of communication methods and its’ uses. Then there will discussion about various methods and sources which could be used to measure the requirements of the customers so that they could be satisfied with the services. Last segment is a self-evaluation section where the role of a trainee at a fast food company will evaluated.
Customer services play a very significant role in hospitality industry. It is one of the important factors which give a competitive edge to the hospitality industry. In any sub-sector of hospitality like restaurants, hotels, pubs, membership clubs etc. the customers have special expectations in terms of customer services as it is believed that these industries survive due to their customer services. There is no industry within the hospitality industry which has not got its own customer service policies. These policies are made in order to ensure that the customers do not face any problem during their trip (Andaleeb & Conway, 2006). Whether the customer is on a business trip or a holiday trip he expects it to be a comfortable and a relaxing trip.
The customer service policies are designed so that the customers could know about the point of view of hotel towards the customers. The main objective of any customer care policy is to make sure that all the customers are satisfied and they prefer to come back again. Hence it is very important that the staff and the employees of the hotel must be aware of the policies of the hotel. Almost all the hotels arrange training sessions for their employees so that they could understand the importance of customer services and also could know about the policies at the hotel.
The important reasons because of which all the hotels have their own customer service policies are as follows:
As an example, let us talk about some customer care policies at Hotel Hilton London Green Park, which is one of the most famous and renowned hotel. Some of the customer care policies of the hotel are as following:
Customer Service Policies
Importance to the Customers
Quick and Fast
To all the business clients’ express check-in and check-out facilities is provided.Given early breakfast options as they might have to leave for meetings quite early in comparison to other guests.
Feel like Home
The guests are asked for their preferences of room i.e. whether they want city facing, park facing or closed rooms. Choice varies for customers, depending on their type of visit.Local and nearby excursions are arranged.The rooms are designed well enough to accommodate a family along with the kids.
All children of the age 18yrs or below enjoy a free stay with their parents and the kids of age 10yrs and below gets even their meals and beverages free of cost.
Feel like a King
This is very special policy at Hilton. The hotel maintains the details of the customers and if any customers stays at the hotel on their special days like birthdays or anniversaries, surprise arrangements like card, cakes etc. are made by the hotel. This really gives a special feeling to the guest.
Under this policy all the frequent guests of the hotels ate contacted and told about the special offers at the hotel.
Purpose of Evaluation: Whenever the policies are designed and implemented it is very important to evaluate and assess the effectiveness of those policies. For a hotel or any other hospitality industry it is very important to know whether the policies implemented by them are really working or not. There are various ways with the help of which this evaluation could be done. Some of the methods of evaluation are customer feedback, polls and opinion surveys. With the help of these methods, the hotels come to know about the customers’ point of view towards the services which they provide. The organization comes to know about their weaknesses and the areas for improvement (Hu et al, 2009).
There are various methods adopted by various hotels to know about the services. Hilton Hotel also designed few methods to get feedback from the customers. The first program is known as Hilton Honors through which they get to know about the reactions of the guests and also about their anticipations from the hotels and hospitality industries. One of the other programs is Satisfaction and Loyalty Tracking (SALT). With the help of this program they keep a record of the number of guests who return back to the hotel again and again because of the services provided to them. In order to make sure that the feedbacks are correct and reliable it is important that the data collected should be correct and there are no alterations made in them at any level. Strict and standard procedures should be followed to maintain the authenticity of the feedback given by the customers.
Assist future staff training: The success of the customers’ services depends on the employees and the staff of the hotel. With the help of evaluation and feedback, when the weak areas are known, the next step is to ensure that the same mistakes are not repeated again. With the help of the feedbacks, a training plan could be developed which would assist the employees and staff to improve their services and know the areas where they failed to serve (Kandampully, 2007). It is very important to give the training to staff as they are the one who would be in direct contact with the customers and will make sure that all the customer care policies are implemented properly.
Even the new employees and the staff joining the hotel must be trained and informed about all the policies and procedures. There should be a provision so that the staff could get a continuous on job training. With the help of this kind of training, it will be much easier for them to learn the things and implement them immediately on the job. As mentioned earlier, the customer service policies should be given utmost importance and it should be well communicated to all the staff. This is could be done in the training sessions too, as all the members will be available together. One of the other methods of training the staff with the help of feedback is to make arrangements where the employees or the staff members could exchange their experiences with each other. Many a times, customers gives some feedbacks to the staff orally and do not give the same in written. In such cases exchange session will really be helpful for all the staff members (Kazlauskaite et al, 2006).
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Effective communication is very important in any industry. Hospitality industry is no exception. There are ways of communication which are adopted in different situations.
The communication method is broadly divided into two categories:
Oral or Listening Communication:This is the most common and widely used method for communicating. In this method, speaking as well as listening plays a very significant role. The speaker should make sure that he uses simple and easy words so that everyone could understand it and the listener should make sure that he not only hears the words but also understands those (Matzler et al, 2006).
There are different methods of oral or listening communication like:
Face to face communication: In this method two individuals are involved and they communicate exclusively to each other. In face to face communication there are more chances that the message is delivered clearly and understood by the person. It gives a personal touch in the communication which is very important in the hospitality industry.
Meetings:In this type of communication a group of people communicate. Everyone gets chance to speak but no one can assure that how many of the listeners are listening carefully and sincerely (Nasution et al, 2008). This method is helpful only when any point is to be discussed with everyone in the organization.
Presentations:This is a method in which only one person speaks and others listen to him. After the presentation is over, sometimes the listeners get the chance to ask questions. This method is best used when some important change in the industry is to be communicated to all.
Training:Training is the type of communication, where trainer gives the important information to the trainees. After the session there all get involved in a discussion where everyone is allowed to communicate and put his point (Olorunniwo et al, 2006). As mentioned earlier, it is best method to communicate about the policies and the required improvements to the staff.
Written Communication:Written communication is the process, in which the facts and the information are typed or hand written. This type of communication process could be helpful when the same information is needed for future reference. The different methods of written communication are through letters, emails, the training material etc. One should be very careful while making any written communication as it will always remain in records for future reference.
Body Language:Body language comes under the non-verbal communication. In any industry or the organizations, half of the work will be done if the staff is able to understand the body language of each other as well as customers. Many a times, customers also tell their expectations with the help of their body language. But while communicating through body language one must need to be very careful because if understood in a wrong way could lead to negative results (Ryu et al, 2008). The body language includes hand gestures, head movement, facial expression etc.
The above means of communication can be divided into two categories:
Formal Communication:The communication is said to be formal when it is done at the officially. In this method, the information flow is very precise. The formal communication could be either upward i.e. from employees to the management or downwards i.e. from management to the employees. For example, the MD of the hotel gives a presentation to the staff, it will be a downward formal communication.
Informal Communication:There are some communications which takes place inside the industry on the topic related to work but the communication is not formal, it is known as informal communication (Torres & Kline, 2006). Like the communication happening between the manager and the staff near the swimming pool related to cleanliness of the pool.
Following chart shows the distribution of impact of various types of communication:
It is a known fact that services provided to customers are the key to the success for the hotel or any other hospitality industry. Hence it is very important to involve the customer’s outlooks, sentiments and perceptions too in order to achieve a sustainable growth and competitive edge. There are various factors which have a direct impact on the customers’ perception and since the perception of a customer is too dynamic in nature it changes with the time and experience. All the customers who come to any hotel do a proper research before making the bookings. The research are done based on the information available on the website of the hotel or various other feedback sites. After going through all the details, customers develop some expectations and perceptions about the hotel and its customer service policies. Once the customer reaches to the hotel, it the expectations do not match the perception then, it gives a negative impact on the reputation of the hotel and if it matches, then customers gets a positive impact. Hence it could be said that customers service provision do have a very strong influence on the customers perceptions (Wu & Liang, 2009).
The hotels must always try to be realistic and reasonable while putting the information on the websites. If a hotel is 3 star, it should be told the same and not as the 5 star, so that the customers develops the same perception. There are various benefits if the customer’s perceptions are met up with the services provided. The customer will be satisfied with the services and hence he will become a loyal customer for the hotel. He will prefer to come again to the same hotel. In return, hotel’s reputation will increase as the satisfied customer would give positive feedbacks about the hotel and hence the business and the profits of the hotel will increase.
In order to make sure that the customers are satisfied and their expectations are met, it is very important to collect all the required information about the customers. Until and unless the customers’ requirements and the expectations are known it will be very difficult to serve the customers in an appropriate manner. Hence investigating about the customers’ requirement and the expectations is very important (Andaleeb & Conway, 2006). There are broadly two type of methods with the help of which the information could be gathered.
Primary Data Collection:This is a process of collecting the new information which is very specific for the purpose. In this case, the information collected will be specifically to meet the needs and satisfaction level of the customers at the hotel. The data in the primary data collection method is collected with the help of surveys and interviews. In order to do so, a set of target customers is chosen and then they are interviewed and surveyed to get the details. The surveys are done with the help of the questionnaires which consist of both closed and open ended questions. The open ended questions are included so that the customers could give their point of view (Dominici & Guzzo, 2010). The group which is being decided is known as sample. The sample size should be chosen correctly in order to get better results. The interviews could be either personal or telephonic. In the focus group method there are eight to ten people who discuss about the topic and a moderator makes a note of all the required details.
In case of hotels or any other hospitality industry the source of primary data would be group or the sample from the customers, staffs, management etc. The primary data collection is advantageous as it is designed specifically to get details about the research. The other advantage of primary data is that the information is latest and also the source of the information is known. But there are some disadvantages as well like it is time consuming, costly and the quality of the information goes down if the questionnaire or the interview process is too lengthy (Han & Ryu, 2009).
Secondary Data:The other method is secondary data collection method. This is the data which is been already collected previously for some other research but could be of help for the current research too. There are different types of secondary data like the internal secondary data and the external secondary data. The internal secondary data is the one which are obtained from Sales records, Client/Customer databases, Yield data, financial information etc. The external secondary data are Government Publications, Trade Journals, Periodicals, Professional associations, National Organizations, Commercial data etc.
In the case of hotels the source of secondary data would be customer records and past information from the feedbacks of the customers. The advantages of secondary data is that it takes less time and cost. It also involves less effort in comparison to primary data collection (Hu et al, 2009). But it too have its disadvantages like the collected information may not be useful for the current research, the data may be out-of-date, accuracy is not known etc. So both the information processes have their positives and negatives. Hence there are several factors on which the method will depend like the time in hand for collecting information, the budget, resources etc. The best result could be achieved with the help of a balanced mix of both the methods.
Introduction: For the research of customer requirements and customer satisfaction level, the sample chosen is the group of 15 restaurants in London. The main objective of this research is to find the customer requirements and satisfaction levels for the restaurants. In the process I also came to know about some drawbacks in the restaurants which spoil the mood or make the customers less satisfied.
Research Methods:The research method which has been used for this research is both the primary data collection methods as well as the secondary data collection. I also collected the secondary data from various books available on hospitality industry and the restaurants (Kandampully, 2007). In case of primary data collection, after collecting the data both quantitative and qualitative analysis of the data is done. The tools used for measuring the customer satisfaction in case of primary data collection are as following:
Types of Customers
It is used with the customers with whom the restaurant has got strong bonding i.e. those are the regular customers
Face to Face Interviews
Used with customers present at the restaurant to know the instant reactions and expectations
Mainly used for the staff so that they can fill it whenever they are free
Things to be measured:In order to get the exact result there are various factors which needs to be measured. The satisfaction level of the customers depends on various components and same is the case with the requirements. I conducted the research keeping the following components in mind.
Limitations of the research:Following are some of the limitations of the research:
Result:After all the research and analyzing the collected data the qualitative analysis shows that the customers always prefer to have the best food with good taste and prepared with hygiene. Even if the number of items are less, it is fine but the available items must be of excellent quality. They expect all the staff members to have knowledge about the items available and also about their preparation. The expectations on waiting time varied and depended on the kind of outing. Surprisingly the customers were ready to pay a bit high amount but they want the best value for their money.
Recommendations:The following recommendations could be given based on the research done above:
In a fast food company, the jobs are divided into customer service and the food preparation positions. The customer service includes the role of cashier and order takers. Many a times, the cashier and the order takers are same and they have to perform both the roles. Also one needs to be excellent with computer basics and communication skills. The person should be able to give all the information about the available items to the customers (Kazlauskaite et al, 2006). The fast food counters usually remain too busy and hence the person at the counter should be quick and cheerful. He should not get tensed and irritated by the hectic work schedule. The most important skill required at Fast Food Company is to have management and the organizing skills so as to insure that the customers get their orders on time.
In the role play, I played the role of a trainee whose job was to manage the cash counter and the orders for both dine in as well as take away. Since I had enough knowledge of computer I didn’t face any problem in taking the orders. I was able to take the orders and make the bills at a good speed. The next job was to get all the items and arrange them for the customer. I was quick and accurate in that too. I was able to collect various items and deliver the order to the customer. At my counter, the waiting time for the customers was less in comparison to others (Matzler et al, 2006).
Although I was able to perform my job and deliver a satisfactory service but since there is always scope for improvement I would like to make a recommendation for improvement. The quality of the service will even improve more if there will be more co-ordination in the food preparation team and the front team. There should be proper training to ensure that required co-ordination. The other recommendation is to give training to the workers at front desk on the methods with the help of which they can keep the customers engaged till the time their order is being delivered. Some of them could be like to interact with the customers and ask them about their feedback about the food and services. This will also help in getting the opinion from customers about the food and the services.
At the end it could be concluded that customer’s satisfaction is the key to success for the hospitality industry. The hotels or any other hospitality industry do have their customers’ service policies just to make sure that they are able to serve the customers as per their need and requirement. The loyalty of the customers will increase if their requirements would be fulfilled by the hotel. It is also very important to evaluate the customer’s services so that the gap could be filled with the help of training sessions. There are different types of communication like verbal, non-verbal or the body language. They all have got their own importance, it is very important to choose the right method at the right time. In order to satisfy the customer and meet its requirement it is important to collect enough information about them. It could be done by primary data collection method or the secondary data collection method. Both methods used together and properly could give the best results.
Andaleeb, S. S., & Conway, C. (2006). Customer satisfaction in the restaurant industry: an examination of the transaction-specific model. Journal of Services Marketing, 20(1), 3-11
Dominici, G., & Guzzo, R. (2010). Customer satisfaction in the hotel industry: A case study from Sicily. International Journal of Marketing Studies, 2(2), p3
Han, H., & Ryu, K. (2009). The roles of the physical environment, price perception, and customer satisfaction in determining customer loyalty in the restaurant industry. Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research, 33(4), 487-510
Hu, H. H., Kandampully, J., & Juwaheer, T. D. (2009). Relationships and impacts of service quality, perceived value, customer satisfaction, and image: an empirical study. The Service Industries Journal, 29(2), 111-125
Kazlauskaite, R., Buciuniene, I., & Turauskas, L. (2006). Building employee commitment in the hospitality industry. Baltic Journal of Management, 1(3), 300-314