Understanding the Gaps

There are five gaps in the service quality gap model. For a business to be able to close these gaps and deliver excellent customer service, you first need to understand the gaps, what causes them and how to deal with them. Travelling Mystery Guest guides you through these five gaps:

  1. The customer gap: The gap between customer expectations and customer perceptions

Customer expectations are the things customers expect to receive and are influenced by factors such as lifestyle, personality, demographics, advertising and experience with similar products. Customer perceptions are based on the interaction of the customer with the product or service. (Touch points, as discussed in our Customer Journey Mapping workshop). In an ideal world, the customer’s expectation should be exactly the same as their perception. Although customer expectation is largely influenced by things you have no control over, one way to prevent this gap is to avoid false advertising. Do not advertise a service or product you can’t deliver, not only will the customer be disappointed that you can’t provide; they will also be angry that you misled them. Be sure to deliver what you promise.

2. The Knowledge Gap: The gap between consumer expectation and management perception

This gap is basically the difference between what the customer expected to receive and how the management thought they wanted it. Usually this is because companies are trying to meet the wrong needs. This can be solved by going back to the basic step of market research. Your company’s target market should be clearly defined and their needs should be researched extensively. Post-service-research must also be conducted. Management should ask:

“Were our predictions correct?”

“Did we satisfy our customer?”

“If needed, how must we change?”

Only the customer can answer this.

3. The policy gap: The gap between management perceptions and service quality       specification

According to Kasper et al, this gap reflects management’s incorrect translation of the service policy into rules and guidelines (standard operating procedures and training) for employees. A simple example would be that the kitchen staff is not allowed to use their cell phones in the kitchen area, but this rule is not clearly communicated and may result in bad customer service because of hygiene problems. This problem is very unnecessary and management should provide all rules, even if they seem self-explanatory.

4. The delivery gap: The gap between service quality specification and service delivery

This is basically bad employee performance. Management may know what the customers require, but if the employees (who work directly with the customers) are ill equipped to manage customersneeds, bad service comes to light. This is also an unnecessary gap that can be prevented by proper training, which should be implemented from the start. Bad service reflects poorly on management. Having good human resource policies is also very important for regulating your staff.

5. The communication gap: The gap between service delivery and external communications

A good example of this is false advertising. Never promise anything you can’t deliver. The prevention of this gap is solely the responsibility of the business. You are setting a high level of expectations for your business just to create customer disappointment all by yourself. Rather be efficient and subtle when advertising and exceed customers’ expectations. For example: Don’t advertise your pool as a ‘luxury swimming center with temperature control and amazing views’, rather say, we have indoor and outdoor swimming facilities, then provide a photo of both and be sure the pool is clean. Through this you are not setting the customer up for unrealistic expectations. 

Written by: Alicia Redelinghuys

Brainmates [online], also available from: brainmates.com (accessed 25/02/2017)

 

 

 

 

 

How to improve your company’s customer satisfaction

 

Customer service is the main focus of any hospitality business. Whether you manage a hotel, guesthouse or a restaurant, if your customers aren’t happy, they won’t return. Here are some skills required to improve customer service:

  1. Patience

Patience should be exercised on every level when working with customers. Some people are very hard to work with. Nevertheless, handling them with patience enables you to better understand your customer’s problems and needs. One moment of patience can build a lot of respect towards your entity, not only from the person you are currently assisting, but any other observer that sees the way you treat your clients.

  1. Attention

It’s true that you won’t understand your customers if you’re not paying attention to them. When helping a customer, they can clearly see whether you are paying attention to them or not and that is a big indicator of good or bad service. It’s also wise to pay attention to what customers are not telling you verbally. Some people are very shy when it comes to giving feedback, so observing their body language and subtle responses will enable you to determine their true feelings towards your service.

  1. Training

Knowledge is power and when customers come to your business, they expect a certain level of knowledge about the service you provide. Money spent on training will definitely not be wasted. There is, of course, theoretical knowledge that can be learned, but improve your worker’s skills by giving them practical knowledge and skills. Expose them to stress factors and difficult situations before sending them into the industry. This will be very useful when they are facing a difficult client.

  1. Communication

From personal experience, it is really upsetting when a customer informs a staff member about a problem and the staff member refrains from responding immediately. When staff members discuss the problem with one another in a language the customer can’t understand and only give explanations 10 minutes later, the customer feels uncomfortable and uninformed. Every minute you leave the customer wondering what is going on, is a minute for them to decide they are never coming back. Teach your staff to communicate clearly and within the required time. Even when they don’t have the solution, they should keep the customer informed by indicating that they will make an effort to find out.

  1. Determination

Customer service is not something you can slack on. If a customer walks away from your business saying “the product we received was great, but the service was terrible”, then they are not satisfied even though you partially fulfilled their requirements. Bad service is something the customer always remembers and which inevitably determines their final experience. If something goes wrong in your daily schedule, customer service is what will save you from bad reviews.

Written by: Alicia Redelinghuys

 

Ciotti, G. 2016, 15 Customer Service Skills that Every Employee Needs, [online] also available from: www.helpscout.net, accessed 13/02/2017

 

 

 

Prices for 2015

It’s exciting to say that 2015 is Travelling Mystery Guest’s second year of existence and we have been blessed with some great clients thus far. It is also a privilege to say that some of these clients have hired Travelling Mystery Guest on a long term basis, to evaluate their service standards monthly or quarterly.

Contact us today

Contact us today

 
Customer Journey Evaluations
(Similar to Mystery Guest Visits)
Restaurants R1500 (Including meals up to R500, excluding travel costs outside of Gauteng)
Guesthouses R2000 (Including accommodation and meals up to R750, excluding travel costs outside of Gauteng)
Hotels R2500 (Including accommodation and meals up to R1000, excluding travel costs outside of Gauteng)

 
Social Media Management
(Includes planning, scheduling and management of up to 4 social media platforms)
Monthly Planning & Scheduling R375.00 per hour (minimum 4 hours per month)

 
Training Sessions & Workshops
(We come to you)
Communicate with Customers R500.00 per person per half-day session (minimum 2 delegates)
The Hotel Wheel R500.00 per person per half-day session (minimum 2 delegates)
The Restaurant Wheel R500.00 per person per half-day session (minimum 2 delegates)
The Basics of Social Media R500.00 per person per half-day session (minimum 2 delegates)

 
If you are interested in getting to know more about what we do, feel free to contact Renate on 082 336 1562 / enquire@travellingmystery.co.za.

Looking for a part-time lecturer / training?

Freelance Lecturer

Freelance Lecturer

Challenges in the hospitality industry

Any industry has its ups and downs and so the hospitality industry in South Africa also has certain challenges to face.

Hospitality Solutions

Hospitality Solutions

Travelling Mystery Guest has been observing a few challenges which need to be addressed – let us know if you agree and what your thoughts are:

  • Economy: South Africa’s economy has taken a knock and local business has decreased tremendously. But, this gives us the opportunity to look at other possibilities like targeting international tourists. Have you given that any thought yet?
  • Working hours: The hospitality industry has always been known as one of the industries with long and irregular working hours. Have you ever given thought as to how we can change this or work around it? I know of one restaurant that has decided to reduce is operating hours to ensure that its staff get enough personal time. This ensures that they have more energy and loyalty to the company, allowing for great customer service. Yes, it’s less time to make money, but trust me, with such loyalty from staff you can move mountains!
  • Shift work: Staff working different shifts makes it difficult to arrange staff meetings, etcetera. How do you work around this?
  • Transport for staff: Most staff working in South Africa’s hospitality sector use public transport. Do you as a hotel, guesthouse or restaurant provide staff with additional options like on-site accommodation, transport allowances or in-house transport options?
  • In-house training: Many of the smaller hospitality establishments and even some of the larger companies neglect to pay attention to training their staff on a regular basis. Training not only forms part of basic customer service, it also provides staff with the feeling of belonging and self actualization. If you, as a manager, can’t find the time to train staff, get someone to do it for you. Travelling Mystery Guest offers customized workshops and presents the workshops at your establishment. No effort, no need to organize additional staff, no need to plan transport – we come to you.
  • Bad customer service: Is this due to the lack of training or is it just attitude? Either way – something’s got to be done. If it’s a lack of training, make a plan and train your staff. Lack of attitude – if you hired them, you have the right to fire them. Make this clear and don’t just say it – act on it.
  • The lack of loyalty: I’ve noticed that many people are not in the hospitality industry for the love of it, but merely because that’s the only job they could get. We need to find a way to make our staff love the industry. We will never be able to exceed customers’ expectations if our staff don’t have the right attitude. Management needs to find a way to make staff love what they do. Get to know your staff, place them in the right departments, train them on things they are interested in and build on their strengths rather than focusing on what they can’t do right.

Do you have any comments or ideas? Would you like to add other challenges to the above? Feel free to comment below.

Travelling Mystery Guest is planning a brainstorming session on the challenges in South Africa’s hospitality industry and solutions to consider for the end of May. Let us know if you would be interested in attending, and we’ll add you to our contact list for further details. Contact Renate on 082 336 1562 or enquire@travellingmystery.co.za. Follow the hashtag #HospitalitySolutionsSA and let’s encourage South Africa to overcome the challenges we face in the hospitality industry.

Upcoming Travelling Mystery Workshops

TMG Workshops for April

TMG Workshops for April

With April slowly, but surely approaching, Renate is planning some really fun, interactive workshops for you and your staff. Here are the topics to look forward to in April:

1.       Creating your own hotel wheel

In this workshop you will learn how to identify the different touch points between hotel staff and guests. It is ideal for managers and lower level employees as you will be able to understand the complete customer journey and the different areas of interaction where you have an opportunity to engage and impress. Bring pencils, paper and creativity and let’s roll out the hotel wheel!

2.       Creating your own customer journey map

In addition to the hotel wheel, we also learn a bit more about the customer’s journey. We identify different target markets and their different touch points. We also identify areas which might need some attention within the customer’s journey, and some advantages and opportunities we might have missed in between. This is a great way to review your customer service delivery and current engagement with guests. The workshop will assist you to take a look at things from another angle – put your thinking caps on and let’s think outside the box for a while.

3.       What are the customer service issues in SA’s Hospitality Industry?

Take a look at the different challenges faced in South African hospitality with regards to customer service. Renate gives you an outline of Travelling Mystery Guest‘s observations and experiences, after which some interactive brainstorming and discussions will guide you to ideas and solutions to overcome some of the customer service challenges you face within your hotel, guesthouse or restaurant.

4.       How to increase customer service in South Africa

This is a follow up on the workshop above, looking at case studies and research done on the customer service challenges faced and considering possible solutions and the outcomes thereof. This workshop will also give you some tools to use with regards to staff management and training, as well as establishing a feeling of loyalty and trust among all staff members within your hotel, guesthouse or restaurant structure.

Remember that Travelling Mystery has made it easy for you by presenting these workshops at your establishment. For bookings, contact Renate on 082 336 1562 / enquire@travellingmystery.co.za.

Some inspiration found on our Pinterest page

For those of us working with customers and guests on a regular basis:

 

“The best portion of your life will be the small, nameless moments you spend smiling with someone who matters to you.” – Unknown

See it on Pinterest

 

“Past customer service stories can be a great training tool that creates best practice examples for employees to learn from.” –Shep Hyken

See it on Pinterest

 

“Many companies have proven that if you treat the employees well, they will return the favour by treating your customers well.” –Shep Hyken

See it on Pinterest

 

And just for the fun of it all…

 

“Live simply, dream big, be grateful, give love, laugh lots.” 

See it on Pinterest

 

“You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

See it on Pinterest

 

“Life is like photography – we develop from the negatives.” 

See it on Pinterest

 

Follow Travelling Mystery Guest on Pinterest for more of the above and also for other interesting pins.