Understanding Service Quality in the Hospitality Industry
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Understanding Service Quality in the Hospitality Industry
In the hospitality industry, service quality has become an important factor in gaining a sustainable competitive edge. With service quality, the customers gain confidence in a hospitality organization, therefore, the organization gets the chance to differentiate itself from the competition (Ali et al. 2021). Hence, service quality is regarded as a vital key concept and an important factor of success in the hospitality industry. A successful organization delivers an impeccable quality service to its customers and it can achieve many benefits such as customer satisfaction establishment, customer loyalty establishment, contribution to company image, and provision of a competitive edge to the organization. Service quality differs from person to person, for instance, employees can demonstrate higher service quality perception that perceived by the customers. Therefore, both employees and managers would not want to identify any form of deficiency in service quality (Ali et al. 2021). This paper will discuss service quality within the hospitality industry including its characteristics and the factors that makes up a good service quality for hospitality organizations.
Service Quality in the Hospitality Industry
According to Al-Ababneh (2017), service quality is the extent to which services offered within an organization fulfil the customers’ expectations or needs. Service quality is conceptualized as the overall customers’ impression regarding the excellence or weakness of the service. Al-Ababneh (2017) states that service quality is “what the customer is willing to pay for” instead of “what is put in by the supplier.” Thus service quality is perceived as the gap between the actual service as perceived and the expected service. Hospitality organizations that invest in offering quality services are destined to meet the customers’ demands and would remain competitive within the industry (Mmutle & Shonhe, 2017). Improved customer service is measured based on the benefits acquired by the business relative to the expected results.
Key Services Characteristics
The key disparity between a service and product lies in the distinctive attributes of services differentiating them from service to service. They are referred to as the 5 ‘Is’
Services do not have physical existence and are thus, intangible in nature (Ali et al. 2021). They are cannot be held, smelt, touched, or tasted. Therefore, the concept of stocking, transportation, or storing is not easy in this scenario.
Once a service has been used, it cannot be stored, reused, returned, saved, or resold. The moment it has been performed or offered to a person it is difficult for the same service to be delivered to another person (Ali et al. 2021).
This means that services are offered and consumed simultaneously. For instance, when a guest enters a restaurant, the waitress offers her services at the same time the guest receives that same service.
Each service performed at a particular time is unique. This is means that the same service performed the previous time will differ from another service give (Ali et al. 2021). Services tend to vary from person to person, place to place, and from time to time.
For a service transaction to be successful, both providers and consumers must take part in the process of service transaction.
The service sector does not possess a specific technology or product, rather, it is an experience. This makes it difficult for a marketer to create and provide a bundle of utilities which further attracts and retains customers so as to create a sustainable service delivery system (Naderian & Baharun, 2015). Since services are unique, quality cannot be defined as it is done for products. Instead, the perceived service delivery is taken as a parameter for quality assessment. It includes the person, the process, the environment, and the equipment with which the service is delivered. According to Naderian & Baharun (2015), the economy’s future belong to the sector of services such as the hospitality industry. Therefore, the process of service delivery should be seamless, optimized, and excellent so that the services provided to the consumer is of standard and exceed the customers’ expectations. Some of the factors that must be taken into account to ensure the service quality in the hospitality industry include:
The staff members are the primary and vital players in providing quality services within the hospitality sector. Hospitality organizations are advised to use their staff members are experimental tools in order to forecast the service experience before the guests come in (Lee et al. 2016). This would help to identify the gaps as well as the challenges that exists and the hotel will have the chance and time to solve those issues. Every guest and staff should get involved in finding solutions where they should be addressed efficiently and promptly. In any case a guest issues a negative feedback about a specific service, the respective organization can suffer both in the long run and in the short run.
A second way to involve the guests is through various social media platforms. In the Twenty-first Century, everything has become technological. One significant way that hospitality organizations use to interact with customers and potential guests is via social networking sites (Lee et al. 2016). These platforms enable guests to be free to share their feedback on how they thought the services provided were and how the organization can improve. Another way that guests can be involved is through using comment cards. These cards give the guests the chance to share their feedback on how their experience was and if the services received were up to their expectations. The use of reviews and surveys also provides the clients and guests with the opportunity to share their reviews and comment on the services they received whether good or bad (Lee et al. 2016). From there, the management and the staff must take into account all the guests’ feedback both negative and positive. Afterwards, they should work to ensure that the services offered are of high quality.
Service standards to meet the expectations of customers
Desired and sufficient are two satisfaction levels that hospitality organizations use in measuring service quality. Desired satisfaction is that which the guest wishes to get when seeking the services of a hospitality organization (Wang & Tseng, 2019). On the other hand, sufficient satisfaction is one which the guests find as sufficient and it accepted by them. The perception of all guests is that the higher the amount paid for any services in a hospitality facility, the higher the service quality level they receive. With this in mind, hospitality facilities tend to take caution when they set their prices and that is why they avoid exaggeration instances. Hotels and other hospitality facilities should ensure that the services provided are what is expected by every guest (Wang & Tseng, 2019). If the service quality is good, many guests will be loyal to the facility.
Secondly, another way tom ensure that guests are satisfied is by empowering the members of the staff. The staff members are the ones that offer the majority of the services. Therefore, the staff getting the confidence they deserve and being encouraged to dedicate themselves to delivering quality services is an advantage to the facility (Wang & Tseng, 2019). When members of the staff are empowered, negative instances like customer neglect and frustrated guests becomes minimal. Hospitality organizations should give its staff the freedom to decide on the best service delivery and should motivate them (Lee et al. 2016). In turn, this motivation is directed to service providers who deliver quality services to the guests living them satisfied. If the organization fails to empower and motivate its staff members, the latter might become reluctant in their daily activities. This is risky to service quality delivery and customer satisfaction achievement. There would also be an increased possibility of receiving complaints from customers.
Offering quality services to the guests should be accompanied by the provision of adequate information on the part of the hospitality organization. More than 50% of the guests that seek hospitality services are new to the respective facility and lack knowledge about the surrounding and the way things operate (Tabaku & Cerri, 2016). Guests are supposed to get this kind of information from the staff members who are trained and have the right communication skills. With that, it is easy for the staff members to provide adequate information to the guests on whatever the issue they are facing within the facility. It is also important for the management to hire employees from different backgrounds and diversities especially in facilities that accommodate guests from different countries across the globe (Ali et al. 2021). Provision of information and communication would be easier in this case especially when a guest is attended to by a staff member who is familiar with their culture or language.
An important way that hospitality organizations can adapt to information provision to their customers is through the internet and the media alike. This takes several ways in which media sources can be used during advertisement (Ali et al. 2021). In addition, the organization’s website can be used to share every detail and information about the facility and avail it to all the potential guests who would want to know more about the services offered by the hospitality organization. Blogs and social networking sites can be used to pass information to the guests. These mediums reach a lot of people at the same time, so they are considered efficient. Word of mouth is another effective ways to share information to the guests. If the guests are impressed by the quality of service they receive, they may refer their friends and families to the respective hospitality facility.
Ways to ensure a proper service quality management
The satisfaction of guests is what drives the management to ensure they receive quality services in the best way possible (Alauddin et al. 2019). Because customer feedback determines service quality in the hospitality industry, it is important to devise strategies to measure the level of service quality.
Through measurement, hospitality organizations can identify the standards of their services and determine any potential issues that relate to the quality of services. Service quality measurement as well as customer satisfaction measurement benefits the respective hospitality business both qualitatively and quantitatively (Yeng, Jusoh, & Ishak, 2018). As a result, customer loyalty is boosted, Return on Investment increased, costs are reduced, and employees are satisfied.
Thousands of hospitality facilities aim to secure top positions on the ranking indexes in the hospitality industry. Ranking indexes officially certify the service quality levels that a reputable organization offers (Faraj et al. 2021). Travelers who are searching for hotels tend to visit such sites and conduct index analysis to filter out the best facilities and choose their preferred hotel. Getting ranked on the hotel index’s first page gains a facility a competitive advantage. With higher ratings, hotel managers are motivated to not only improve their operations but also to offer optimum service quality level.
In order to ensure that guests are satisfied, most hospitality organizations adapt to the benchmarking strategy. Benchmarking helps hotel managers to determine their competitors and the strategies to employ to ensure that they stand out (Yeng, Jusoh, & Ishak, 2018). What makes the difference between good performing organization and the poor performing ones is hotel inventiveness. Therefore, to ensure a proper management of service quality, benchmarking should be adopted as a performance tool.
Service quality plays a vital role is most industries and as seen, the hospitality industry benefits a lot from it. Hospitality is an industry that strives to create a high level and better rapport with its customers because service is a unique factor strongly affecting perception. At times, it is considered as the only factor differentiating competitors. The hospitality industry is very competitive so service quality management is vital to gaining customer confidence and competitive edge. In all aspects, hospitality organizations should maintain both technical and functional qualities to enhance reliability, assurance, tangibility, empathy, and responsiveness. The relationship between customer satisfaction and service quality helps the management to determine the meaning of service quality dimensions to the organization and the guests alike. The management can also examine the reasons behind negative factors resulting in less satisfied guests and improve the service quality to ensure that the expectations and needs of the guests are met. The service quality factors should be constantly adjusted to enable hotels to provide their guests with the best services and value.
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