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Customer Satisfaction through Value Management

This study provides information about the relationships between customer satisfaction, perceived value and quality of service provided. Competitive advantage is based on these variables. There have been very less number of studies in which these variables are examined simultaneously. The relationship of these variables with post-purchase behaviour is also examined in this study. Data were collected from customers who were entering Vail Marriott hotel. An integrative framework was developed to test the data.

It is found from the results that post-purchase behaviour is dependent on perceived value and customer satisfaction. Post-Purchase Behaviour: It is the behaviour of customers that shows their intentions for future purchase. Quality of Service: It is the way in which the service of provided to the customers because the satisfaction or dissatisfaction of customers is dependent on it. Customer Satisfaction: It is the extent to which the requirements of a customer are met through a service or product. Consumer Behaviour: It is the behaviour that shows what consumers buy, why consumers buy and how consumers buy.

Customer Value: It is obtained when perceived benefits are subtracted from waiting time. Competitive Advantage: It is a difference of a business from its competitor on the basis of skills, resources, strategies, knowledge and competencies. The F&B department of the Vail Marriott hotel receives a monthly average of 70% GSS scores (Guest Satisfaction Survey). Compared to year 2005, the scores have gotten higher by about 10%. These results are taken daily from guests comment cards, through internet responses, emails and word of mouth.

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They are analyzed on a weekly and monthly basis, from which comparisons are made with previous years. This action shows how there is a high focus on guest needs in terms of services and product experience. A lot of prominence is on continued high guest satisfaction. Reaching this aspect is done through training of all associates in the department, gaining more expertise, knowledge and skills at all levels. Management is focused on ensuring that all staff are continuously trained, well informed on the products and services existing not only within the department but also in the hotel at large.

Being that Marriott hotels are focused on hands on management, this way it is ensured that Marriott’s service standards are performed and reached at all levels. Statement of the Problem During the month of June 2006 the GSS score was below 50%. During one of the weeks, it reached 0%. These scores were due to the new employees that had just joined the department joining the department and so value and quality drastically go down because they are still in learning process. Other times are when guest expectations or demands are met with high pricing of products and services.

As of July 2006, the scores had picked up and reached 80% after all new and old staff had picked up on getting to work together and focusing on company goals and objectives. With all the action into reaching a high customer satisfaction and retention, still yet, challenge that exists for all managers is to reach high revenues and profitability within the department, maintaining the total quality and getting more guests. The food and beverage department is focused on providing the best service to guests.

However, not only that is the focus; there is a lot of importance on providing healthy food that is 100% organically grown food products. This is however changing due to the very high food costs that do not enable more profit gains within the department. Purpose of the Study In highly competitive markets, firms are increasingly concerned with customers’ post-purchase behaviour. It is recognised that merely satisfying customers is not sufficient to secure customer loyalty (Jones and Sasser 181-193). Studies have shown that satisfied customers also express a tendency to switch to competitors (Mittal and Lasser 343-521).

In the past decade, quality has been recognised as a strategic tool to strengthen a firm’s competitive position and improve its profitability (Reicheld and Sasser 53-74). However, as customers become more demanding, competition further intensifies, and economic and industrials growth slows down, quality might not be an adequate source of a competitive advantage. Woodruff (24-76) believes that customer value is the next underlying source for competitive advantage. Consistent with this view, Weinstein and Johnson (373-393) consider that customer value is the strategic driver that differentiates a firm’s offering in the crowded marketplace.

Customer satisfaction, quality and perceived value are three prominent marketing constructs, and their relationships with post-purchase behaviour have drawn considerable interest and attention from practitioners and academics (Sweeney et al. 233-543; Bloemer et al. 347-464; Brady and Robertson 623-745; McDougall and Levesque 121-318; Cronin et al. 54-85). Parasuraman and Grewal (454-645) suggest that quality enhances perceived value, which in turn, contributes to customer loyalty.

This quality-value-loyalty model accords with Heskett et al’s (335-542) service-profit chain which places perceived value at the centre of the chain linking employee satisfaction, loyalty, productivity and output quality with customer satisfaction, loyalty and profitability. Heskett et al. (334-564) define perceived value as the ratio of process quality and results delivered to customers relative to the price and the other costs incurred in acquiring the service. According to the chain model, satisfied and loyal employees create output quality, which contributes to perceived value, and in turn directly influences customer satisfaction and loyalty, which in turn drive profit performance and growth.

There is some empirical support for some of the links in the service-profit chain model (Loveman 131-142; Silvestro and Cross 313-425; Bernhardt et al. 34-64). However, most studies have neglected the contribution of customer perceived costs to perceived value. Ravald and Gronroos (79-97) consider that studies have not explicitly included customers’ perceived costs may be a shortcoming as this variable plays a significant role in determining satisfaction.

In order to design effective strategies to enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty, it is imperative to understand the role of quality and costs in customer value assessment and their relationships with satisfaction and post-purchase behaviour. Thus, the present study extends the prior research by integrating quality, perceived costs, perceived value, customer satisfaction and post-purchase behaviour into a coherent model and by empirically assessing the interrelationships among them.

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