Critically Reflect on the Statement “Management of the Employee/ Customer Interaction Presents a Challenge to the Manager of a Service Operation That Is Absent in the Field of Production/Manufacturing” (Yeoman, 2004)”

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In order to critically reflect on the statement “Management of the employee/ customer interaction presents a challenge to the manager of a service operation that is absent in the field of production/manufacturing” (Yeoman, 2004)” it is necessary to understand what customer interaction is. Heskett, Sasser and Hart (1990) define how at the heart of the service is the service exchange – when the customer comes in direct contact with the business employees and whilst Muhlemann, Oakland and Lockyer (1992) agree with the statement, they continue to refer to the presence of customers as a “mixed blessing” as they are highly unpredictable, but without them there would be no business. Generally, the main difference between the Leisure industry and the Manufacturing industry is how they sell their products. Whilst the leisure industry tends to sell directly to the customer, manufacturing will often use a 3rd party / selling on mass. This means that the leisure industry employees will have to deal with a larger and broader range of custom and therefore must be trained for all eventualities. It is the duty of the manger of the leisure industry business to ensure that all staff are trained appropriately; whereas the manufacturing industry managers will not be presented with this customer interaction challenge. Kotler, (1996) defines a product as “anything that can be offered to a market for attention, acquisition, use or consumption that might satisfy a want or need. It includes physical objects, services, organizations and ideas.” Therefore, all industries provide a product to sell, however, the leisure industry is unique and unlike any other. Instead of providing a physical product to sell, it provides a service. This service is heterogeneous, meaning it is unique to every individual, whereas, in contrast, the manufacturing industry is standardized as it is selling the same physical item(s). As the product that the leisure industry offer is actually a service, the way in which the service is delivered is what separates one leisure business from another. “In today’s environment of ever more sophisticated consumers – those who deliver memorable customer experiences consistently create superior value and competitive advantage” (Voss, 2003). Voss here has explained that if managers sucessfully train their employees to to have a positive experience with the customers then it will give them a competitive edge over other comapines who are also providing a similar service. T.G.I Fridays is a resturant chain firm which is highly focused on staff / customer interaction. Customers will dine their not based on the food or the price, but on the overall experience. Staff are trained to be enegentic, excitable and waiter in an ‘upbeat manner’. Through this they have proven to be highly sucessfull, opening over 1000 restaurats in the 45 years they’ve been open for (T.G.I. Firdays, 2009). Because of the service industry being intangible, people opinions on the business will vary depending on how their service encounter was. Torkildsen, (2005) supports this by stating “Leisure services and facilities depend on satisfied customers or they go out of business.” This shows that without positive employee / customer interaction the leisure services will fail. In a hotel, such as a Hilton hotel, the first 3 encounters that any customer will have will all be with employees; before even reaching their room. Jan Carlzon identified these interactions as “moments of truth”. The first moment of truth for a Hilton hotel customer is the telephone booking, followed by meeting the hotel porter to carry the bags and finally the check in at reception where the room will be allocated. However, these moments of truth partially contradict what McMahon-Beattie and Yeoman have stated as they can all be standardized. Either an automated telephone can be installed or the operator can have a script that they are told to follow. The same applies for both porters and...
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