How to manage service errors effectively in hotels and restaurants

4 December, 2015 Priyanko Guchait Uncategorized, no comments
Priyanko Guchait, PhD, Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, University of Houston, Texas, U.S.A Errors occur in every hospitality organization that often produces negative consequences such as stress, accidents, loss of time, faulty products, quality and performance problems, negative word-of-mouth, customer dissatisfaction, increased costs, and loss of revenue. Therefore, most organizations attempt to prevent errors at all cost. In order to prevent errors, hospitality organizations have introduced sophisticated technologies, developed rigid systems, and enacted strict policies to control employee behavior. However, the truth is “total elimination of errors is impossible.” Errors occur because of several reasons such as a high work load, time pressure, and fatigue. Errors can happen anywhere in a hospitality organization: external errors involving customers – front of house (servers placing wrong orders), back of house (cooks overcooking meat), and internal errors (errors in accounts, finance, and HR departments). Therefore, it is important that organizations not only focus on error prevention but also on error management (i.e., ask the question – what can be done after an error has occurred). Error management is an approach that attempts to deal with errors and their consequences after an error has occurred. Service failure is a common error that occurs in hospitality organizations. Every service organization has delivered a product or a “guest experience” that has fallen short of the consumer’s expectations. These shortfalls are commonly referred to as service errors or a service failure. Given the high “people factor” in the hospitality industry service failures are unavoidable. This makes service recoveries crucial for hospitality organizations. Service recovery refers to the actions taken by an organization to correct and make up for the service failure in the hopes to retain the customer. When properly executed, service recovery can lead to multiple benefits including improved satisfaction, greater customer loyalty, repurchase intent, positive word of mouth, and increased profits. Thus, organizations must ensure that employees are able to deal effectively with service failures. Service recovery performance refers to the extent to which employees have the ability to resolve a service failure to the satisfaction of the customer. This study demonstrated that supervisor support for error management and coworker support for error management results in superior service recovery performance. Supervisor/coworker support for error management involves supervisor/coworker actions that demonstrate support which involves: communicating about errors themselves, encouraging employees to communicate about errors, helping in error situations, sharing error knowledge, supporting quick detecting and handling of errors, and encouraging employees to learn from their own and/or others’ errors. Support for error management from the supervisors and coworkers make employees feel obligated and they reciprocate through engagement in superior service recovery performances. Availability of supervisor and coworker support also make employees believe that they are psychologically safe (i.e., they will not be blamed, ridiculed, or punished when errors occur). In such positive work environments employees trust and respect each other. Employees feel comfortable admitting an error, share error information, and ask for feedback and help as errors occur. These factors result in smooth and quick service recoveries (i.e., effective service recovery performances). Additionally, in such work environments, people learn from errors so that such service failures can be avoided in future. Therefore, hospitality organizations can use the findings of this study to improve service recovery performances, customer satisfaction, and consequently organizational performance. Original Article Perceived supervisor and co-worker support for error management: Impact on perceived psychological safety and service recovery performance.

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