1. Introduction of Hospitality Service Setting
Theme parks and Amusement parks are one of the key players in the tourism industry. They are the main motivators for tourism trips to many destinations and core elements of a tourism product. The primary foundation of the hospitality industry is built upon customer service. Service standards in Amusement and Theme parks are often viewed as one of the most important factor in attracting guests, as the service crews are the first contact point for visitors.
Customers in today context expects more than just an apology for a poor service encounter. Service recovery became an important element in the service line, especially in a theme park setting. In order to provide service to customers, there has to be communication (Samoszuk, 2015). Therefore, hospitality industry players must be prepared to modify their communication approach by using different interpersonal communication strategies and going the extra mile to meet the service expectations of guests. For example, providing a VIP access pass for an unpleasant encounter at a ride.
1.1 Theme Parks and Amusement Parks
In an international context, Universal Studios Singapore (USS) is a theme park located within Resorts World Sentosa. It is a major component in one of Singapore’s biggest and most anticipated tourism projects. USS successfully attracted more than two million visitors within nine months of its opening. It brings a wonderful experience to many tourists and locals with its 24 movie-themed rides and seven themed zones to create several different settings within the theme park.
In a local context, Uncle Ringo is an amusement park which is well-known to all families. It offers a variety of carnival games and thrill rides at different timings and locations, to cater to a wide range of audience.
Both attractions aim to maintain service quality and entertainment to create a positive overall experience for visitors. This will generate positive word of mouth and attract more visitors. Therefore, Amusement and Theme parks play an important role in generating tourism demand and increasing in profits.
2. Significance of Service Delivery
It is important to have a standard measurement of service within the organisation because the perception of service quality is restricted to past experience subjective cognition (Klaus, 1985). One excellent service encounter can change the perception of the organisation and the visitor decision to return to the theme park (Enzo Baglieri, 2014). Conversely, one negative service encounter can deter the guest from returning again. Although meeting the visitors’ expectations are important, the organisation and the service providers need to realise that retaining existing customers is as important. In order to do this, interpersonal skills and communication skills are essential in order to show empathy, respond promptly and to provide excellent service recovery. This can help to turn a service failure into a favourable service encounter thus achieving customer satisfaction. A service recovery paradox may also occur where the level of satisfaction of customers who received excellent service recoveries are higher than those of customers who have not experienced any problem (Maxham & Netemeyer, 2002). In addition, attracting new customers may cost more time and effort than retaining existing customers.
3. Introduction of Problem Statement
In the tourism and hospitality industry, service delivery failure is common and it is likely to occur at some point in time due to the complexity and heterogeneity of the consumer’s needs and expectations. Service providers, therefore, need to look at complaints or other unpleasant situation as an opportunity to do well and turn that customer into a loyal fan. This ensures businesses have a great flow of loyal customers to keep the business afloat and when people have a positive experience, positive word of mouth is generated and more customers are gained. Although implementing service recovery strategies seem to increase costs, such strategies can improve the service system and result in relational benefits (Brown, Cowles, & Tuten, 1995). Hence, winning back an angry guest is important as every customer lost will most likely give an opportunity to the competitors.
Since the focus is on theme park service, where most visitors would visit, our team will explore this topic in an amusement park setting by tapping on our personal working experience, observing actions of the service providers and research for professional advice and ideas.
4. Possible solutions and implementations
4.1 Management Team Support and Employee Training
Services varies from one another, making it hard for a firm to standardise the quality of service. It can be observed that service crew nowadays are not as well trained as before to perform professional service recovery or approach customers professionally. They may undergo induction training or on-the-job training on service operations. However, there is still insufficient training on ways to interact with guests professionally due to a lack of emphasis and focus on customer service. Organisations therefore need to realise the importance of service recovery and respond effectively and efficiently if a service failure occurs.
The support of the management team is essential to ensure that quality service standard is conducted through employee training. The management team would need to have efficient customer service programs in place in order for service providers to provide the high standard of service that customers would expect from visiting the theme park. For example, all employees are require to undergo a training to attain a certificate by Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications on how to interact with guest appropriately.
In addition, organisations can construct a service recovery policy and standard operating procedures manual to guide the employees on providing proper service recovery to enhance guest experience and exceed guest expectations. This service recovery knowledge can be disseminated to the rest of the organisation. Furthermore, role play scenarios can be re-enacted for the employees to better understand the potential situations that could happen in a theme park context and how to handle the situations. The management should also give employees empowerment to handle these issues instead of relying on the team leads to resolve the issues. They should only inform the team leads only when the situation is out of hand. With empowerment, employees would feel the sense of importance and belonging to the organization. As such, it increases staff motivation and dedication to handle guest issues and provide a positive service experience wholeheartedly.
4.2 Steps to perform service recovery
Based on personal working experience in USS along with professional advice and ideas, four service recovery steps have been identified.
Firstly, service provider needs to pay attention by listening to the guests’ problem attentively. Secondly, thank the guest for bringing the matter to attention. Service provider needs to remain calm and composed as high level of service should always be the top priority in the hospitality industry. Thirdly, service provider needs to show compassion to the guest by empathizing with them. Lastly, service provider can offer a solution to meet the customer needs. This shows that the guests’ well-being is genuinely cared for.
5. Benefits of solutions
With the above solutions and implementations, employees are more well-educated on the appropriate steps to handle guest issues and provide service recovery. The service recovery knowledge can be disseminated to the rest of the organisation which serves as a guideline to all employees to provide consistent service delivery. As a result, there may be an increase in guest loyalty, repeat visits and ultimately increased revenue and visitorship. In addition, it could also increase branding and its reputation due to good customer service.
In conclusion, organisation needs to realise that effective and prompt service recovery is important as it brings about positive impacts to the company such as customer loyalty and customer satisfaction (Chihyung, 2004). On the other hand, one bad experience can cause customer dissatisfaction and ruins the customer’s lifetime value. On top of the intangible elements, companies might face possible losses in profits due to the loss of existing and potential customers. Therefore, service recovery strategies play a crucial role in the companies’ growth and survival.
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