What are the connections between theatre and T.G.I. Friday’s? Is the dramaturgical analogy a good one? Why?
T.G.I Fridays is a global food chain providing American style food and service in a number of countries including Brazil, Canada, Germany and Japan. The company was founded in 1965 and is currently based in Carrollton, Texas. (Businessweek.com Accessed 12 Nov 2012). One of the primary attractions of the T.G.I Fridays restaurants is it’s over the top, theatrical dining experience that it provides to the customers. With reference to the case study, it is shown that ambience is one of the four key philosophies of the company, an ideal that is enhanced on their website through the statement, ‘At Friday’s®, we like the good times to roll smoothly. Our team isn’t just in high spirits and having fun, they’re also at the top of their game. Big personalities and a willingness to go the extra mile means our team aim to make every visit to Friday’s® is a memorable one’ (t.g.ifridays.co.uk Accessed 12th November 2012).
The theatrical feel provided by the staff uniforms, which normally consist of red and white stripe t-shirts resembling a classic barber quartet. The bar being placed in the centre of the dining area, means that customers can observe the theatrical style cocktail making, giving a circus like element to the dining experience. Reports from Mintel state that ‘T.G.I. Friday’s added five new outlets and achieved a 7.7% uplift in like-for-like sales in 2011 with reports that it is planning on opening a further seven outlets in 2012’.
These facts and figures emphasise that a greater number of consumers are choosing to dine at T.G.I Friday’s restaurant, showing that the theatrical service and atmosphere are an attractive element to the public. By expanding the company and adding extra restaurants, it is clear that there is a demand for T.G.I Friday’s food, service and all round dining experience. If the theatrical analogy was to be removed from the restaurants, T.G.I Fridays would lose its USP, resulting in increased competition from other burger bars such as Ed’s Diner and other American style diners. What is meant by a critical incident? How can TGI Friday’s identify what constitutes a critical incident and assess whether it has achieved customer satisfaction?
A critical incident in the case of TGI Fridays is ‘one that makes a significant contribution, either positively or negatively, to an activity or phenomenon’ (Gremler 2004, p.66) from what the customer expects or considers normal in the service encounter. Consider a time when you had a particularly satisfying or dissatisfying experience with (brand, product or organization) in our case with TGI Friday’s:
1. When did the incident happen, or what comprised the experience?
2. What specific circumstances led up to this situation?
3. Exactly what did TGI Friday’s employees say or do?
4. What resulted that made you feel particularly satisfied or dissatisfied?
TGI Friday’s can assess whether it has achieved customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction by reviewing customer feedbacks, complaints, ratings and special events or moments which have led customers to satisfaction with the company. ‘A glance of the customer review site www.ciao.co.uk provides an insight into customers’ experience of the service encounter. There are 3 broad groups of critical incidents:
* Employee responses to service delivery systems failures
* Employee reactions to customer needs and requests.
* Unprompted and unsolicited employee actions.
Unprompted and unsolicited employee actions incorporated actions which were outside of the customer’s expectations of the service encounter. Where employee performance is beyond the customer’s expectation of the service, the incident can produce satisfaction- exceeding customer expectations may involve the details of their performance. Employees in TGI Fridays are encouraged to perform in a way that underpins the brand’s offer to customers that involves humour and a ‘fun’ atmosphere.
This often involves providing balloons or singing songs at a birthday celebration (C.Lasley; L.A.Schreier) TGI Fridays has a book of WOW’s (Walk on Water) for staff, which lists extras that staff can offer customers, such as lighting their cigarette, and which is almost a game entered into by all staff. (C.Williams; J.Buswell). Analyse the service interaction process at T.G.I. Friday’s based on the following concepts/models: ‘blueprinting’, ‘servicescapes’,’ cyberscape’ ’Servuction’, ‘service experience’, ‘service quality’ and ‘service failure/recovery’. Servuction
The Servuction Model used to illustrate factors that influence service experience, including those that are visible and invisible to the customer.
Visible factors that have an effect are the physical environment, the frontline employees and other customers. Whatever customer A does has an effect on customer B or C. For example at TGI Fridays if you’re a couple, being placed near a family with kids at a birthday gathering may affect your service experience in a negative manner. This suggests that participation maybe passive or active but is always present. Invisible factors what affects consumers at TGI’s are the background work by kitchen staff, and the coordination of the management system by managers.
“A crucial aspect of defining a successful customer experience lies in understanding individuals’ emotion states before, during and after the service encounter” (Palmer 20011) The philosophy at TGI is to “treat every customer as an honoured house guest’. T.G.I. Friday’s offers ‘mass customisation’ in which the company provides a basically standard service to all customers, but the customers can personalise their meal through an extensive range of menu permutations. (Case study 2011) The employees have a direct affect on the customer experience as they are first contact to the consumer; the way they act and carry out tasks has direct influence on the consumer’s experience. Employees: expected to “provide both the behaviours and emotional displays, to match with customer wants & feelings” (TGI Fridays)
Service quality at TGI Friday is affected by 3 elements; People, Physical evidence and processes. The employees at TGI Friday have an effect on the service quality as they are empowered by management to control the customer to employee interaction. A mistake on their behalf and it could be detrimental. The processes at TGI Fridays also have an impact on service quality, for example to ensure timely delivery of food and drink. Finally physical evidence also has an impact on TGI Fridays; for example stains on table cloths, dishes, and cutlery may make the consumer assume the restaurant is unclean.
Service failure / Recovery
Service Failure occurs when a service fails to meet the expectation of the consumer. Service failure at TGI Fridays can be anything from badly behaved staff, too loud music, cold food. At TGI Fridays they try to avoid failures rather than recover from them. For example employees are given team briefings at the beginning of each shift to remind them of expectations which encourages staff to adhere to. The management also use systems in order to ensure food order times are quick. They also monitor employee performance on the spot with an experienced staff member observing. If they can’t avoid a service failure they provide recovery.
For example cold food would be as a service failure would be compensated for by replacement, discounts, coupons etc; of course this would be backed up by a sincere apology. Recovery strategies that are used by TGI include consumer feedback to ensure complaints are all heard and tracked; this builds trust and can help formulate long term relationships. They acknowledge if an error has being made and own up straight away which makes the consumer feel happier.
Evaluate the different types of service technologies used by T.G.I. Friday’s. How successful was T.G.I. Friday’s Social Media Campaign?
Technology services are ‘professional services designed to facilitate the use of technology by enterprises and end users’ (Cory Janssen, 2010). Evaluating the different types of services orientated around technology, TGI Fridays, facility the use of: * Software/Networking integration, management and maintenance * Information security (IS)
* Mobile services
Given the clear importance of time, T.G.I utilise computer programs to help managers monitor the achievement of service times. The introduction of wireless card payment and microelectronic point of sales (EPoS) systems enables staff member the preference of swiping their employee card into mobile terminals and selecting tables to collect payments from. Industry experts found that wireless payments are commonly used in restaurants and accept all major credit cards from a 100ft range adding benefit to company services (Stephanie Carter, 2010). In terms of payment, the chip & pin system offers a safe and secure payment protection, enabling customers the option of splitting bill payments by cash and card and processing gift cards. Joan Wexler commented “TGI Fridays, go mobile to pare down customer wait time” in 1995 (Joan Wexley, 1995, p.22). Waiting customers at TGI are issued with pagers that alert them when a table is ready. Furthermore TGI Friday facilitate the use of innovative applications allowing customers to browse the menu, track their tab and pay their bills on iOS and Android phones.
The most outstanding and awarded social media campaign was the Woody campaign in 2009. Following the recession, dining restaurants had lost up to 7% of business, (Vivaki, 2010) T.G.I.’s have launched a very innovative social media campaign with a character named Woody, someone the younger generation could relate to in an attempt to re-energise the brand and retrieve their younger target audience group. The campaign consisted on helping Woody, T.G.I. Friday’s number one fan to win the bet of creating 500,000 Facebook fans by the end of the September 2009. In order to motivate fans to participate, the first 500,000 fans were offered a free Jack Daniels burger or a Chicken Sandwich. (YouTube, 2009) This activity generated not just fans and brand awareness but also brought foot traffic to their actual physical business, by giving free burgers. The success of the campaign from the Marketing perspective was a complete hit to market their brand, however, some flaws existed.
On one side the spectrum, the campaign exceeded its goals of generating 500,000 contact email database, which means that through viral social campaign TGI Fridays could reach to the massive public and refresh them about the brand’s existence. However, due to lack of planning and unexpected consequences they hit this number by day 12 of the campaign leaving themselves unprepared for the next 2 weeks. (Tomorrow, 2009) Failing to have a contingency or backup plan a high number of the fans were left upset. This is completely fair as the campaign clearly stated that only the first 500,000 would get a free burger.
Following the uproar of upset fans, this was soon implemented and a prize of 6 spicy wings or burgers the following Monday was active, yet only a small number of fans were pleased. By using a fan rather than a brand spokesman being seen as one of ‘the people’, had a remarkable outcome of over 100,000 wall posts via Facebook, over 200,000 views of the campaign video. 980,000 fans and TGI’s loyalty card scheme increased by 33% following the campaign. (Vivaki, 2010)
Also TGI Fridays has increased B2C and C2C interaction through Facebook videos uploads and dialogues from the character Woody. Woody’s account was deleted without any of the fans being linked back to the TGI Friday’s Facebook page. This meant that all relationships built up also removed. An attempt to regenerate the fan relationship from scratch would prove to be very difficult. Once again, the campaign in itself was a success as TGI’s obtained what primarily set out to obtain, however they have hindered their chances of carrying on from the original Woody as this would have been a simpler and smoother transaction of customers database.
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