Peter Moore, Managing Director, Center Parcs UK, says the following, ‘Quality is the very lifeblood of our organisation, the very essence of the success and I’m talking here about total quality: quality of environment, quality of the facilities and quality of service. Now the first two, I think, we can provide, but the third one, the quality of service, is one of the most difficult ones to achieve in any organisation and the reason is actually because quality of service means different things to different people.’
Peter Moore identifies four steps to quality: selection of staff with the ‘right’ personality, ‘the willingness to realise that they’re looking after people’; establishing quality standards; training staff; and management.
Center Parcs UK have used two methods to assess customer response to the park. The first was a market research survey to identify the type of customer coming to the park, the second is a questionnaire that every guest is asked to complete at the end of their stay. From these, and the occupancy rates, Center Pares UK can assess their customers’ satisfaction.
Specification (What can I expect?) is measured by monitoring the characteristics of the guests against the expected characteristics of guests. If discrepancies are found, the advertising for the following year is ‘tweaked’ so that expectations and product are more closely matched. Repeat business is also a measure of whether the specification is approved by customers.
Conformance (Is it what I expected?) is measured by the use of a guest questionnaire. Interestingly, ‘moderate’ ratings are seen as a complaint, which suggests an interest in delighting rather than satisfying customers.
Reliability (Does it continue to do what I expected?) and cost (value) (How much do I have to pay?) are both analysed by analysis of repeat business. To some extent the trophies and quality certificates reward those who have produced a reliable service.
Delivery (When can I have it?) is, perhaps, less relevant than other elements. That said 100% occupancy rates might, in itself, be a customer satisfaction problem in the making. If guests are unable to get in when they want, it might cause dissatisfaction and lead to guests trying out competitors’ products. Then, again, customers are concerned about the delivery of the component parts of the Center Pares experience: seats at their chosen restaurant, queues in the shop, availability of tennis courts and so on. These are monitored via the guest questionnaire.