This report is to identify and examine the issues of service quality throughout restaurant industry. Personal survey was carried out in Hong Kong to collect positive and negative expediencies in restaurant. The personal survey categorised into five groups: staff, information, process, food quality and availability. The result will show a range of satisfiers and dissatisfies relating to the experiences in restaurant.
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Nowadays, many customers are more demanding on service quality in service industry such as hospitality and tourism. Since 1880s the service quality was began toward to the worldwide trend, many restaurant companies realised that a quality of food, in itself, is not guaranteed to maintain competitive advantage (Van der wal et al, 2002). The purpose of service quality is to delivery of excellent or superior service relative to customer expectation which is recognised as a multi dimensional construct (Zeithaml and Bitner, 1996). Service quality improvements will lead to customer satisfaction and cost management that result in improved profits (Steveson, 2002). Especially for customer service has major impact in service quality, customer service has become a unique component of both product and service sectors as well as the developments in information technology many businesses found that customer are being more demanding and knowledgeable. Not only has that, according to Moore (1987) shown that many researchers had recognised that service quality could gain competitive advantages for company. Therefore, many companies are increasing attention to improve their service quality (Ghobadian et al, 1994).
This report will investigate the levels of service quality in restaurants. It will examine the importance of service satisfaction and meeting customer expectations and studying the SERVQUAL model and the total quality management model. For the purpose of this study, the service quality in restaurants includes staff, decoration and layout, location, menu and information, food quality, hygiene and food process. Customer experiences in restaurant will be assessed by identifying the experience of satisfaction or dissatisfaction by using the Critical Incident Technique (CIT).
Furthermore, customer to customer experiences is getting more important in todays experience economy, in order make customers are staging memorable, special, and above and beyond service experiences plays an important role. These customer to customer experiences will help company gain a competitive advantage in the competitive service industry.
There are many methods and models of evaluating service quality. SERVQUAL is a model that provides a technique for measuring and managing service quality, this has
According to Parasuraman et al (1988) from Figure 1, SERVQUAL has five features dimension which are tangibles, reliability, responsiveness, empathy and assurance. These components are to measure the gap between customer satisfaction and expectation. SERVQUAL is assuming the service quality is critically determined by the disparity between the expectations and perceptions of the customer and the service actually delivered (Curry and Sinclair. 2002). In addition, service quality can be defined as the extent to which a performance of company meets a customer’s need or expectation (Wisniewski 2001). Consequently, these are to improve and provide service to customer and a strategy to be a loyalty and have a luxury experience at company. Moreover, ‘Service quality is a multilevel construct consisting of the aforementioned three sub dimensions’ studied by Brady and Cronin (2001). The first dimension is interaction quality, it is formed of attitude, behaviour and expertise of the service provider. The second dimension is physical environment quality, it is formed of ambient conditions, design and social factors of the service facilities. Lastly, the outcome quality dimension is formed of waiting time, tangibles and valence.
Secondly, Totally quality service (TQS) is a continuous improvement process, it involved leadership, measurement tools and organisational culture, it is the product delivered to the customer is a service rather than a manufactured object and customer satisfaction is the ultimate goal in both cases (Karen,1997). It is focuses on customer needs and expectations, the company should understand what customer needs and their expectations before designing and implementation, also in order to maintain the competitive edge, the company must to identify their customer’s needs and meet the customer satisfaction (Asher, 1989). In terms of restaurant, they need to understand their target customer eating behaviour in order to design the menu which suit customer expectation.
Moreover, company having a good leadership system, an organisational culture and a team of good commitment employees would improve business process which result in improvements in service quality. This can be an improvement in service performance outcomes or cost based values, high levels of service quality will lead to high levels of customer satisfaction.
Parasuraman et al (1991) conceptualised the Zone of tolerance theory and suggests that service quality perception are dependent upon consumer’s expectations.
Company in order to understanding and measuring the satisfaction of customer, they used Critical incident technique (CIT), it’s provide a starting point and a process for advancing company through a learning experience (Davis, P J 2006). The CIT can provide a powerful data analysis tool to increase knowledge which is relating to company’s performance (Bitner et al, 1990). The purpose of CIT is to investigate any causes of the problem and then advance some solutions to address the problem. Grove and Fisk (1997) used the CIT to investigate how customers get along with each other in entertainment parks. They found that it is appropriate and reasonable behaviour in service situation as well as individual situation.
CIT is a ‘story telling’ method which provides a variety sources of data by allowing respondents to determine which incidents are the most relevant to the phenomenon being investigated (Grewler, 2004). This CIT method has been successfully used in many studies provides and justify of the methodology of this report.
The primary objective of this study is to identify service experiences in restaurant industry. CIT is one of the popular research method in the service literature and it is especially useful when researching phenomenon (Edvardsson and Roos, 2001, Bitner et al, 1990). Furthermore, it involves a classification technique in order to analysis qualitative data.
This research is based on face to face interviews with prepared questionnaires (Appendix 1). This is to collect the past experiences in restaurants from interviewers as well as the average spending in restaurant critical incident were gathered by asking interviewers to recall the most memorable experience of service quality they had in restaurant.
The interviews were carried out in late March 2011 in Hong Kong, China. The reasons of chosen this place was because I am interesting the service quality in my home town as well as Hong Kong is a cosmopolitan city that gathered al kind of different type of restaurants. Interviews were conducted in two days. The interviewers were picked up at random places around Hong Kong. This was to make sure the data I collect could be more accurate as I could.
A total of 55 results were collected from 40 respondents, 31 were female and 9 male. 29 respondents can recall their good experiences when they were in restaurant whereas 26 respondents can also recall their bad experiences when they were in restaurant. The results were sorted into 5 categories, these data would help readers to understand the main issues of service quality in restaurant industry.
Satisfier- the staffs are quite friendly, well explained of the menu and also recommended their popular recipe for us.
Satisfier- I am a vegetarian, the staff recommend some good vegetarian menu to us and she was very patient to answer our requires.
Dissatisfier- the service performance was not as good as I expected, I waited 10 minutes till one of the staff came over or asking order.
Satisfier- the menu display very well and the picture of the recipe from the menu are almost the same to what we had.
Dissatisfier- the restaurant is not easy to find and did not have many advert on magazine or official website. Therefore, it is not easy to find out more about the restaurant.
Satisfier- the process was very efficiency, from taken order fill the food delivery only took 10 minutes.
Dissatisfier- I waited for so long till the food came, even though there were not many customers at that moment
Satisfier- the food taste very nice and well displayed.
Satisfier- I am a big eater and the portion is huge which is suitable for me.
Dissatisfier- the food was very expensive and did not worth for $1000 for four people.
Satisfier- the restaurant location was outskirt of town which was very nice and quiet as well as suitable for gather some friends for a chat and gathering or some business meeting.
Satisfier- in the Valentine ’s Day, me and my girlfriend went to a restaurant, the lighting inside the restaurant was very romantic we had a good time at that restaurant.
Dissatisfier- the tables were very close to each other, we felt very uncomfortable. There were too many people waiting for table so we can not stay in that restaurant for a bit longer.
The graph shows the satisfaction of service quality in Hong Kong restaurants.
The graph shows that the majority of customers are satisfied with the service quality of restaurant. For the most important is staff performance, 19 respondents can recall their experience of staff service quality, 12 of them are satisfied with the staff’s service, they think that staffs are friendly and introduce the popular recipe to customers. On the other hand, 7 respondents are dissatisfied with the staff’s service, they think that the staff have no manner and took long time to take order. These could shown that the staff’ performance are important and have a directive effect on total service quality. Many restaurant companies are trying to increase the attention to improving service quality especially staff performance, some companies consider service quality is more important than product quality as well as good service quality could improve sale performance and improve profit (Ghobadian et al, 1994; Stevenson, 2002). Customer satisfaction depends on workers in the restaurant team knowing their role and working to a common objective (Macanlay, S and Cook, S 1995). Customers think that uniformity is what customer service teams seem to strive for such as standard uniform to all staff and standard greetings, these could improve the company image and professional. Furthermore, restaurant manager should also set a clear service standards and objectives and monitor and jointly review staff performance. For example: how long it takes to process customer calls and orders, letters to customers conforming to company style, use of telephone greeting and handling customer complaints.
Other than staff’s performance, food quality is essential in service quality to restaurant in order to be successful. It is because good food can keep customer return and building up loyalty. 10 respondents can recall their good experience of food quality, they think the taste of the food was very good and well display. Also, customers think that the size of the portion is important as well. However, 5 respondents could recall their bad experience of food quality, some of them think that the food was tasteless and other respondent had a experience that the food was over cooked. Food is the main element in restaurant as it is a purpose that customer coming for. Moreover, food quality is important to restaurant and also should exceed customer expectation. Restaurant should be knowledgeable of what the expectation is and what customer needed from the restaurant in order to provide the best food to their target customer, especially in Hong Kong, there are many different type of curry themed restaurants, they all had different target market of customers and loyalty, it is because the restaurant managers understand that different customer loves different taste and can not fulfil all customers’ taste.
After food quality, process is also important to restaurant operation, its included how long it takes to deliver the food to customer and the whole experience in the restaurant, if the restaurant operation run smoothly, it could gain added value.5 respondents could recall their good experience in the restaurant, most of them were happy with the process and think they are very efficiency. However, 3 respondents could recall their bad experience of process in the restaurant. Most of them were not happy with the delivery time, customer waited over 20 minutes for the food and some of them respondents waited for too long for worker to come and take orders. The process and operation have to be efficiency in the restaurant, these could increase the customer cover in the restaurant and improve in sales.
In addition, information is how customer receives news and information from restaurant, the picture and text of the food from the menu should be accurate to the real food. 4 respondents were satisfied with the information such as menu and leaflet of the restaurant. They think that the menu layout was clear and easy to look. Addition to the restaurant advertised on many food magazine which help customers easy to find the place and fully described what is the theme of the restaurant and what kind of food they do in the restaurant. But 3 respondents were dissatisfied with the information, mainly, they were not happy with the menu, they think that the menu was too simple and without the ingredient inside the menu could case misunderstanding, also the food was not accurate to the picture from the magazine. Information is important to restaurant because it involved the communication and relationship with customers, customers have higher expectations if the restaurant is on the magazine and well promoted. For the most important is the menu design, good menu layout and pictures could attract customer.
Finally, atmosphere inside the restaurant has a direct impact to service quality, atmosphere is including the lighting, personal space and decoration inside the restaurant. 4 respondents could recall their good experience in terms of atmosphere in the restaurant, one of the respondent said the lighting is important if customer are couple for a special meal as well as decoration. However, only 1 respondent was complaining that the table cover was too close to each table which didn’t have enough personal space and can not relax during the dinner. Decoration and atmosphere are essential to restaurant, it can gives a good image to customer and added value to service quality.
This report has examined customer perceptions of service quality in terms of staff’s performance, process, information, food quality and atmosphere in restaurants in Hong Kong using the critical incident technique. Perceived service quality is highly subject to different people, there are many definitions of quality that emphasize this aspect of customer (Juran, 1974). However, there is always an improvement in terms of service quality. The result shown that the customers are more concern and recognise the important on service quality into five main areas: staff, process, information, food quality and atmosphere.
The hospitality industry such as restaurant seems increasing to be acknowledging the message that quality is satisfying the needs and expectations of the customer (Lockwood, 1995). Moreover, it managing quality is a particularly difficult and complex problems, the restaurant needs to face the manufacturing problems of providing a high quality food to satisfy customer, it also needs to counter the problems of service delivery through the high level of interaction between staff and customer (Lockwood, 1995).
The report shown that the majority of respondents were satisfied with the service quality, 64% are satisfied to overall service quality in the restaurant. Especially staff and food quality are the main concern and have a direct impact to service quality, 22 respondents were satisfied with these areas. However, there are 34% are not satisfied with overall service quality in restaurant and mainly 12 respondents were dissatisfied with the staff and food in restaurant. Which has told us that there are improvement in service quality in restaurant.
The results of the report have shown that there are many issues should be improved by manager of restaurant operation and training. This report could provide opportunities to the restaurant management for improvement in order to gain more competitive advantages.
It is clear that much dissatisfaction in staff’s performance and food quality. The respondents in this research though that these two elements are important in service quality. In terms of staff’s performance, in order to provide exceeding service to customer to meet their needs and satisfaction, management should provide regular training to employees. Also in the food quality, the front house staffs should always asking for opinion of food from customers and having regular meeting with kitchen staffs sharing the commends from customers, not only on food quality also on overall performance. For some chain restaurants, they standardise the food quality and staff’s quality, they set a standard of staff’s quality for staff to follow to guideline to serve the guest and as well as on food control.
Process also need to be improved, management need to make sure that the operation runs smoothly and aiming for no mistake in any steps, efficiency service could satisfy customer.
Atmosphere and information are based on their target customer, the management should be understand their customer interest and provide suitable environment for customer.
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