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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Service Quality Metrics in the Food and Beverage Industry



Food & Beverage Services within the hotel and restaurant industry are important for maintaining customer loyalty and increase sales. Yet service quality can be perceptual by nature making it difficult for managers to define precisely what factors are contributing to customer satisfaction. Understanding how to view service and evaluate the quality of service requires the use of a model that can be broken down and analyzed.  Through breaking apart the various aspects of complex organizational-customer interfaces helps to define and improve upon key areas of weaknesses.

Quality service can raise the perceptual value of the organization. Research has shown that quality service from food and beverage departments is an important consideration for guests (Crick & Spencer, 2011). Without this quality service customers may not feel as though they received adequate attention for the amount of money they have spent. Customers that feel that they did not receive equity may not return.

Even though models of customer service can be separated it is generally the entire perception of the organizations that makes the difference. Customers make a global evaluation when assessing the quality of service (Zeithaml, et. al, 1996). This means they can accept a mistake as long as it is promptly handled. They look toward the entire equity-value relationship to complete their informal evaluation and make decisions to return.

Customers should feel as though the service exceeded their expectations (Antony & Ghosh, 2004). For example, if a customer expected to have their beverage within 10 minutes but you bring it within 6 minutes their service impression will rise. The opposite can also be true. If a customer expected to find seating at a local lounge, but needed to wait for over a half hour, the perceived value of their experience decreases. 

There are a number of different models that can be used to break apart and assess the quality of service. One of the more common tools is the SERQUAL method. According to Parasuraman, et. al. this includes the following concepts (1986):

Tangibles: The physical facilities, appearance, and equipment.

Reliability: The ability to reliability provide the service.

Responsiveness: The ability to provide prompt services and interactions with customers.

Assurance: The ability to convey trust and make good on mistakes.

Empathy: Individualized attention to guests. 

One can perceive SERQUAL in action through a short story. If Jane enters a lounge, she immediately gets an impression from the building, chairs, design and look of the establishment (Tangibles). Since Jane has attended the place a few times before she is expecting that she will have fun and  professional service tonight in the same way she has in the past (Reliability). However, tonight they were busier and a number of staff called out sick. The service was poor and it took much longer for her to receive her beverages (Responsiveness). When she found a mistake on her bill, she decided to talk to the bar tender who told her there wasn’t much he could do about it (Assurance). Finally, after repeated pleadings he gave her a form and told her to fill it out and call back in a few days (Empathy).

How do you think Jane filled out the customer survey card? Will she feel as though she has strong service? Which aspects were strongly or poorly evaluated via SERQUAL?

Antony, J. & Ghosh, S. (2004). Evaluating service qua]ify in a UK hotel chain: a case study. International
Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 16(6), 380-384

Crick, A. & Spencer, A. (2011). Hospitalify qualify: new directions and new challenges. International
Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 25(4),

Oliver. (1999). Whence Consumer Loyalty? International Journal of Marketing, 63, 33-44.

Parasuraman, A., Zeithaml, V., & Beny, L. (1985). A conceptual model of service quality and its
implications for futtire research. Journal of Marketing, 49

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