Using the House of quality tool isn’t difficulty but you will need to spend some time, to learn how. Assuming a hotel owner manager wishes to develop a guest relations program. The objective being to reduce customer frustration and complaint.
The first step collect customer complaints, (ask customers, research internet review sites) then categorise complaints into
service attributes (SAs). Service attributes are phrases customers use to describe dissatisfaction see diagram below.
Developing service attitudes: Identify what frustrates customers.
Group service attributes to form an overall compliant referring to the example, service attributes are check in and check out. Use customers own words to maintain significance.
Weight service attributes.
Determine importance of service attributes by the number of complaints. From each service attribute identify the most problematic SA.To calculate SA importance weight by applying a percentage calculation to the total number complaints. Using the example, 9 percent of the total complaints were made about long check-in lines. If safety and or security are elements of the service attribute then increase the weighting to reflect the importance.
Perceived Current Performance
To be able to judge whether your service matches or exceeds your competitors you must know what your competitors offer. Form a customer focus group, ask them to evaluate each service attribute. Also collect perceived competitor performance. You’re after opinions not facts. Turn the collected perceptions, into perceptual maps. Maps enable you to compare customer complaints to your strategic position. For example, long check-in queues are perceived to be worse at your hotel than a direct competitors.
Operational Characteristics: Developing the Service to minimise complaints
To convert service attributes into operational characteristics OC (actions) identify the relationship. For example check-in processing (service attribute) time is measured in minutes. The length of the check-in queue (operational characteristic) directly relates to the perceived time a customer waits. To resolve failing service attributes form a heads of department, action team.
Look at the Front Desk diagram. You would add the objective measures you calculated to the bottom of the chart (the firm’s current performance level for each of the OCs). If possible add competitor measures. If this information isn’t directly available use industry averages or estimate averages. Visit competitors businesses and observe, arrange for someone to meet you, when they arrive, purchase a beverage, observe staff client interactions.
Your research should provide enough data and spark ideas to make improvements for your hotel. Looking at the example the average check-in time is five minutes, competitors are a minute quicker. Referring to the diagram room servicing, twenty seven minutes competitors take three minutes more. Reservation accuracy 87% compared to competitors estimated 90%. The exercises illustrates business strengths and weaknesses.
The central body of the matrix illustrates the relationships between Operational Characteristics and Service Attributes. Note the plus signs, pluses indicate positive relationships. Look at ‘Check-in lines too long’ then the number ‘9’ to indicate, compliant importance and the plus sign to indicate reduced check-in time will reduce complaints.
A minus indicates a negative customer experience, if you reduce front desk costs for example reduce the number of staff this is likely to led to an increase in check-in time and an increasing number of complaints. Another example, reservation accuracy directly impacts reservation mistakes. Reservation mistakes take longer to resolve consequently check-in times increase.
In addition, reservation accuracy affects billing errors since some of the billing mistakes are the result of reservation inaccuracies that are not identified until check-out. Note, not all SA are actionable. Some service attributes cannot be impacted by operation characteristics referring to the matrix the SA row shows no pluses or minuses.
Relationships between Operation Characteristics
Looking at the top of the diagram relationship between operational characteristics are illustrated by the pluses and minuses. In the example, check-in process time is positively related to reservation accuracy. This indicates that as reservation accuracy is improved, average check-in processing time is reduced owing to the fact that fewer reservation problems arise. Minuses indicate negative interactive relationships.
Referring to the diagram late check-out time is negatively related to room servicing time. A later check-out time would result in slower room servicing times because housekeepers would be forced to hand over rooms to reception much later. Blank spaces represent no identified relationship. Using the example, 16 of 36 possible relationships were identified. This suggests many SA’s are interdependent. These interactive relationships must be considered whenever an operation change is being considered.
Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 8 No. 4,1994, pp. 50-60 © MCB University Press
Open University Business Library