Operations and Service Quality

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Critical Analysis of Quality Management Between “Four Seasons Canary Wharf hotel” and “The Tea and Sympathy Restaurant and Café”

This essay will focus on the different approaches to quality management of two well-known organizations, the “Four Seasons Canary Wharf hotel” and “The Tea and Sympathy Restaurant and Café” situated in New York City’s west village. By analyzing both cases with the workings of Total Quality Management (TQM) and Service Quality. The Four Seasons first hotel was opened 40 years ago and they have come a long way, currently one of the highest-ranking hotel chains internationally. Their golden rule is “Do to others (guest and staff) as you would wish others to do to you”. They follow this along with the guiding principle of making quality their competitive advantage. Tea and Sympathy is the only British restaurant and cafe’ in the heart of New York City and has become a fashionable landmark of the city over the past 10 years. It has a rather unorthodox service quality which is known as Nicky’s (an owner) rules, wherein if the customers don't follow them, they are thrown out rather aggressively (Slack, Chambers and Johnston, 2007).

Quality management is best defined by International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO), or ISO9000, which describes quality management as any activity the organization does to meet customer expectations and requirements, while aiming to enhance their experience and continuously trying to improve the performance of the company to meet these requirements and expectations. Quality management gave rise to the much debated quality management process of Total Quality Management (TQM).

TQM can be summarized as a management philosophy, which incorporates certain fundamental strategies such as customer focus, continuous improvement, process orientation, full commitment of organization, direct response and result oriented strategies (Hellsten and Klefsjö, 2000). Two broad approaches can be identified, one being the hard approach which is about continuous improvement. This has been associated with the approaches of the early gurus aim to improve productivity and profits. This approach can be clearly seen in Four Seasons management but not in Tea and Sympathy, details of which will be given further on. The second approach i.e. the soft approach, focuses on leadership, employee commitment and change in culture. This approach was emphasized by the late American gurus to achieve a strong organizational culture for aligned customer needs (Kelemen, 2003). Four Seasons and Tea and Sympathy both exhibit these characteristics. Hence, it can be identified that the three fundamental bases of TQM are top management commitment, continuous improvement and employee involvement (Hill, 1991)

Majority of authors believe that top management involvement and commitment to TQM is the most important factor in assuring the successful implementation of TQM (Coulson-Thomas, 1991; Doyle, 1992 cited in Kelemen, 2003). They help provide employees with an understanding of what is quality and why it is essential for the organization, as well as setting quality standards and providing the necessary training for the employees. However past evidence suggests that TQM implementation has failed because the success factors were not in place. Hence it is important for the top managers to identify which success factors are critical in order to successfully implement TQM (Tari, 2005). Top management commitment to create a culture that empowers employees and also focuses on customer satisfaction is essential to TQM (Ugboro, and Obeying, 2000). In retrospect, top management involvement by Four Seasons is quite impressive. The General Manager of Sour Seasons London Canary Wharf Hotel, Karen Earp, has been voted as the Hotelier of the year. Karen has mentioned that they treat guests with courtesy and intelligence, and...
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