Service Quality at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company

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GUEST SATISFACTION

CUSTOMER SERVICEXX

Customer Satisfaction:
Applying Concepts to Industry-w ide M easures
Hotel customers’ emotions can cement their loyalty to your operation, but those emotions are slightly different for each hotel segment. BY

JONATHAN BARSKY AND LEONARD NASH

W

e began our research on customer satisfaction nearly 20 years ago, believing that customer satisfaction plays a fundamental role in achieving customer loyalty and profitability. Co-author Barsky and various associates published a number of their findings in five Cornell Quarterly articles since 1990, each of which addressed a different customer-satisfaction issue (see the list overleaf). To test and advance the research thread in those articles, we decided several years ago to create an ongoing national survey and online database to study customer satisfaction with hotels and other hospitality industries in the United States. We drew upon critical issues relating to customer satisfaction raised and answered in this series of Cornell Quarterly articles

and on our experience with various hotel chains. Using this research we devised a national survey system based on theoretical advances central to measuring satisfaction (e.g., disconfirmation paradigm, consumer emotions) and other more applied issues affecting survey construction (e.g., scaling, sampling, question selection, reporting).1 Each quarter 35,000 new interviews are added to this database. To our knowledge, the Market Metrix Hospitality In1 Jonathan D. Barsky and Leonard Nash, “Evoking Emotion: Affective Keys to Hotel Loyalty,” Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly, Vol. 43, No. 2 (February 2002), pp. 39–46.

© 2003, CORNELL UNIVERSITY

OCTOBER–DECEM BER 2003

Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Adm inistration Quarterly 173

CUSTOMER SERVICE

GUEST SATISFACTION

Selected Cornell Quarterly Articles on Aspects of Customer Satisfaction (1) Jonathan D. Barsky and Susan Dittman, “Theory S: Total Customer Service,” Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly, Vol. 31, No. 1 (May 1990), pp. 88–95. (2) Jonathan D. Barsky and Richard Labagh, “A Strategy for Customer Satisfaction,” Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly, Vol. 33, No. 5 (October 1992), pp. 32–40. (3) Jonathan D. Barsky and Stephen J. Huxley, “A Customer-Survey Tool: Using the ‘Quality Sample,’” Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly, Vol. 33, No. 6 (December 1992), pp. 18–25. (4) Jonathan D. Barsky, “Building a Program for World-Class Service,” Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly, Vol. 37, No. 1 (February 1996), pp. 17–27. (5) Jonathan D. Barsky and Leonard Nash, “Evoking Emotion: Affective Keys to Hotel Loyalty,” Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly, Vol. 43, No. 2 (February 2002), pp. 39–46.

dex (MMHI) is the largest in-depth industry-wide measure of hotel performance based on guest evaluations (see the box on page 78 for a description of the MMHI). The scope of this project continues to offer unprecedented opportunity for new research. For example, the MMHI is able to spotlight industry trends such as the dip in satisfaction scores after September 11, 2001. This article highlights research findings obtained in the initial two years of the MMHI.2 These highlights, presented below, include an overview of customer-satisfaction trends, recent insights regarding the emotions that affect the guest experience, an overview of a customersegmentation model of the U.S. hotel industry, and insights into hotel loyalty programs and customer-loyalty behavior.

Overall Industry Trends
The events of 9/11 and the worsening economy forced the hotel industry to reduce costs, including staffing cutbacks and reductions in services and amenities, which exacted a toll on the guest experience. After 9/11, the combined effects of the Iraqi war, the SARS virus, and a weak economy further challenged the hotel industry. Customer...
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