The purpose of this report is help Dave Smith, the General Manager of the Landmark Hotel Auckland to improve the hotel’s current customer satisfaction measurement scheme by comparing a range of survey methods and recommends the most appropriate survey programme for the hotel. The report is broken down to two sections. The first section defines customer satisfaction and articulates the importance of measuring customer satisfaction. Section one also compares the functions of CSQs and TripAdvisor.com and introduces the content analysis method to the Landmark Hotel.
The second part of the report defines measures of central tendency and dispersion and presents calculations from the guest survey spreadsheet provided. Based on summary table 1.1, the report briefly describes what the calculations mean to the hotel and produced a short recommendation. The report is produced with several limitations, which need to be addressed and overcome for future research. The recommendation made to Landmark Hotel under the first part, regarding the most appropriate research method was selected based on one of only two options. Further, since there is no standard ways to perform content analysis, the report simply presented what appeared to be the most logical procedure. Finally, the recommendation regarding internal marketing was much generalised due to word limits.
Defining Customer Satisfaction
Customer satisfaction has been a topic of great importance in business
practices. There is an overwhelming amount of outcome definitions characterising customer satisfaction, many of which have not yet been empirically tested. According to Yi (1993), some academics and practitioners define customer satisfaction from an outcome-based approach. Alternatively, other perceives and defines customer satisfaction as a process.
Engel and Blackwell (1982) defined customer satisfaction as “an evaluation that the chosen alternative is consistent with prior beliefs with respect to the alternative” (p. 501). This definition is comparable with the disconfirmation theory, which proposes that guests are either satisfied or dissatisfied based on their expectations prior and subsequent to the purchase of the actual service experience. In this section, we are particularly concerned with the importance of measuring customer satisfaction. Fortunately, this question can be answered directly using the service-profit chain. The service-profit chain is simply a proposition of a series of linkages between “profitability, customer loyalty, and employee satisfaction, loyalty, and productivity” (Heskett, Jones, Loveman, Sasser & Schlesinger, 1994, p. 164).
Customer satisfaction represents a crucial role in the service-profit chain because satisfaction is essentially a driver of customer loyalty (retention, repeated business and referrals), which directly impacts the profitability of a hospitality firm. Customer satisfaction is extremely important because it produces word-of-mouth, reduces operating overheads and facilitates price premiums (Denove & Power, 2006). Hospitality firms constantly look for more effective ways to measure customer satisfaction. Managers try to achieve greater accuracy in survey outcomes and use them to reliably address the gaps between management’s visions and the customer’s needs.
Comparing Data Collection Methods
Guest Feedback Forms
Guest feedback forms, comment cards or customer satisfaction questionnaires (CSQs) are frequent tools used by most hotels for measuring customer satisfaction. Barsky (1992) stated two major disadvantages of guest comment cards, “poor construct validity… poor statistical validity” (Barsky, 1992,
p. 51). Yesawich (1978) also hypothetically considered CSQs as “more often than not, unreliable and statically invalid” (p, 72). Barsky (1992) further argues that guest comment cards may indicate customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction and related trends, but generally does not provide sufficient information for decision-making. Poria (2004) outlined several key advantages of using CSQs during guest complaints. Poria claimed that asking the guest to fill in CSQ would allow the staff extra time to resolve the problem and calms the guest.
In comparison with CSQs, Tripadvisor.com is an online interaction platform. Unlike the majority of quantitative methods, online customer reviews often articulate psychological changes of the hotel guests. According to Li, Ye and Law (2012), online reviews are more likely to convey guest’s true feelings, which make up for the missing information that was not captured by guest surveys. Tripadvisor.com and other eWOM platforms allow managers to interact with the guests, form one-to-one dialogues and perform qualitative content analysis.
Content analysis is a systematic and objective approach to make inference from written data (Downe‐Wamboldt, 1992). Like all qualitative research methods, content analysis is concerned with meanings and contextual aspects of a service experience. Content analysis can be described as an intensive exploration of a single customer review and typically, managers look for rich and vivid descriptions in the review, rather than generalised knowledge. However, content analysis and comparable qualitative research methods may lack scientific validity. Thus, it is difficult for managers to make reliable generalisations from a confined sample size.
Research Methods and Design
The Landmark Hotel needs to go beyond measuring performances and begin to understand perceptions and gain practical and context-dependent knowledge relating to specific guest experiences. I recommend the Landmark Hotel to focus on qualitative content analysis. Content analysis can be performed on online guest reviews as well as guest comment cards. Additionally, I recommend the use of open-ended question in guest comment cards in order to provide greater insights to the guest’s feelings (Lukas, Hair, Bush & Ortinau, 2005). According to Guthrie and Abeysekera (2006), content analysis requires a randomly selected sample, clearly defined criteria of analysis and a systematic data categorisation method, so that statistical analysis of the data can be performed. Downe‐Wamboldt (1992) proposed an eight step procedure that the researcher should follow when conducting content analysis.
These steps can be briefly described as 1) selecting unit of analysis, 2) defining the categories, 3) defining the categories, 4) testing for reliability and validity, 5) define or revise coding rules, 6) pre-testing the revised category schemes 7) data coding and 8) reassessing reliability and validity. According Marković and Raspor (2010), reliability of content analysis can be improved by developing coders for similar contents. Data coding allow researchers to measure frequency and percentage through tabulations, compute measures of central tendency and dispersion, test for difference, association and interdependence by performing t-tests and chi-square analysis using SPSS applications.
After the results have been analysed and interpreted, the researcher can choose to integrate and present the research outcomes within the hotel using an analytical report that is credible and believable. The report clearly defines the research problem/issue and the research methodology, which clearly articulates the objectives of the research, the research design used, descriptions of samples and the sampling methods and the how data are analysed. The results section is the most important section. This section should contain presentations of findings that are relevant to the research problem. The report should also contain a conclusion section, a recommendation and a limitation section which illustrates “extraneous events that place certain restrictions on the report” (Lukas, et al., 2005, p. 557).
Calculations and Definitions of Measurements
Considering the guest survey spreadsheet, I have calculated the measures of central tendency and dispersion for each behavioural intention scale. For measures of central tendency, I have computed the mean, median and mode respectively. These measures are used as data reduction, which describes the set of responses through a single value. The mean is “the arithmetic average of the sample” (Lukas et al., 2005, p. 436). The mean is derived from the sum of all values pertained from the responses and divided by the exact number of valid responses.
The median is “the middle value of a rank-ordered distribution” (Lukas et al., 2005, p. 436). The mode is defined as “the most common value in the set of responses to a question” (Lukas et al., 2005, p. 436). Standard deviation is a measure of dispersion. It is defined as “the average distance of the distribution values from the means” (Lukas et al., 2005, p. 438). The Excel function which I have used to compute the standard deviation of the data given was STDEV.S. STDEV.S estimates standard deviation from a sample rather than the entire population.
The guest survey spreadsheet provided a number of intention statements aimed to obtain some ideas about guest experiences for certain aspects of the hotel. The management hoped to explore the guest’s intended behaviours as much as possible and the likelihood that guests will demonstrate predictable behaviour towards staying at the hotel in the foreseeable future. Table 1.1 shows that first and second rating scale demonstrated a lower average value in comparison with other rating scales. Evidently, service standard and staff competence to make guests feel accustomed during their stays did not meet the required expectations. Question eight also shows that on average, guests would not recommend the Landmark Hotel to others.
I postulate that service quality could be a major contributory factor to declines in booking rates. According to Parasuraman, Zeithaml and Berry (1985), there are ten determinants of service quality – competence, courtesy, reliability, responsiveness and understanding are five relatively important determinants directly influenced by staff. Additionally, empathy and assurance are additional components of service quality directly determined by hotel personnel, as proposed in the SERVQUAL scale (Parasuraman et al., 1988). For the purpose of restoring and improving service quality, I recommend an adjustment of focus onto internal marketing activities.
According to George and Gronroos (1991), “internal market of employees is best motivated for service-mindedness and customer-oriented behaviour by a marketing-like approach, where marketing-like activities are used internally” (p. 86). Internal marketing is essentially a process of building a customer-oriented culture through training and achieving internal satisfaction. Internal marketing implies a number of activities besides training utilisation. Take, for example, regularly assessing internal satisfaction, empowerment, and the provision of adequate supervisory support, open communication policies and the development of a sound reward system all forms part of internal marketing activities that seeks to achieving continuous quality improvements.
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