A subcommittee of the board of directors of Hampton Inns has made a bold proposal that customers be given a guarantee of “complete satisfaction or your night’s stay is free”. Employees will be permitted to make good on this guarantee without the approval of managers. But although the proposed guarantee would show great confidence in the hotels’ quality and would give Hampton Inns a competitive advantage, most of the hotel’s managers oppose the plan. Why would they not want to guarantee customer satisfaction? What are the possible customer reactions to such a guarantee? What controls can be introduced to reduce customer abuse? A service guarantee (i.e. complete satisfaction or your night’s stay is free) makes the customer a meaningful promise and specifies a payout and an invocation procedure in case the promise is not kept (Van Looy, Gemmel & Dierdonck, 2003).
Why would they (hotel managers) not want to guarantee customer satisfaction? In our opinion, it is unfair to suggest that the managers do not want to guarantee customer satisfaction. After all, that is the only guarantee of staying in business. We think that their main concern is really about the amount of leverage the employees have in the decision process because they may make decisions that lack transparency and accountability. In addition, this empowerment may also usurp the authority of the managers. It might be their opinion that communication first between employees and managers before decisions are made would be more acceptable. Hotel managers may also think that total customer satisfaction is not achievable in the hotel and that offering this would be a set up for failure. It would be important for the hotel to have improvement projects which focus on the guaranteed promise, and boost the confidence of hotel managers and employees. Employees working under a service guarantee programme may find it increasingly difficult to meet organisational and customer expectations given their limited...
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