Quality in the Service Industry Is Job One – Your Service Must Be Quality

I have long been conflicted about what exactly quality means. Is quality in the eye of the beholder? Is quality impossible to achieve if you manufacture or sell cheap/inexpensive products or services? Is China or Mexico or Taiwan or Russia universally synonymous with poor quality? What does it mean to say, “You get what you pay for”? Is there a market segment where poor quality works? Is a quality product or service more expensive? Is a JD Powers ranking becoming another certification for quality?

Quality is becoming a almost a common theme. It has even become self proclaimed and anointed. Go to most any website or peruse literature and you will note most copy proclaims something to do with quality. Most people are in awe when they see a company producing product under an ISO Certification, but do they know what ISO Certification really means to them? In addition to ISO you find quality certifications for most industries/economic sectors. There is Six Sigma, CRM, TQM, Deming and even variations within these programs.

Frankly, it all boils down to a simple fact: Did the customer get what was expected for the time or money expended; was the client satisfied with the exchange-their time and money for the service or product? Further, satisfaction can also be achieved through quality programs, it’s called Customer Service.

Over the years I have been party to major ISO certification efforts and attended Deming Seminars on achieving quality. In the 1980’s the Navy got involved in quality improvement. The theory was, everybody outside of your department that came to you looking for help had to be looked upon as your ‘customer’. Further, periodically your customers were ask to rate your delivery of services. But, the simple fact remains: Did you give the client/customer at least what was expected relative to value in a product or service? Quality issues are still talked about today, just not as much in your face. Look at the slogans-Job 1, quality goes in before the name goes on, 98.6% customer satisfaction rating. Then look at the success of iPhone built in China. I would compare that quality with any product in the rest of the world relative to quality.

Before we move on let me ask another question, “does the purchase of product or services from the internet limit the consumer’s ability to buy and receive quality?” Let me illustrate with a recent experience. I recently bought a car charger for my cell phone from an on-line seller. The picture of the product looked great, seller advertised it as being quality and all the customer ratings were great. Guess what? It was an absolute disaster relative to the product experience. The quality was poor and it did not work. Sure, I could get a refund but the hassle of filling out forms, time zone issues, no phone contact, etc.; that total experience was just not good!

The father of quality innovation is Dr. Edwards Deming. Dr. Deming is known for his work in Japan following WW II. He was known to General MacArthur and was brought to Japan to help revive Japanese industry. Japan did in fact turn out some very quality war products with exceptional engineering such as the Japanese Zero aircraft. But after WW II the future was in consumer products. Therein was the problem for the Japanese…cheap and volume was their mantra.

He was a statistician by training and that experience was the foundation upon which all industrial quality programs were based. I submit that the philosophy of production quality also applies to the service sector. Dr. Deming’s task was to set a course for Japanese industry to move from cheap and shoddy, to innovative and quality products. It took time before quality was recognized in the Japanese automobile, aviation and consumer electronics. Are names like Toshiba, Sony, Mitsubishi, Honda, Nissan, and Lexus, just to name a few, familiar to you as quality today? I can remember when Datsun (today’s Nissan) was laughed at as a rust bucket automobile.

My point is: Quality matters to the majority, but there is still room for the cheap products. I read a report several years ago that stated that buying cheap products and replacing them with new cheap products was a cycle that was extremely expensive. But obviously, sometimes quality is out of the reach of some people or for even a specific application. For example, I do not need to buy Snap-On tools. A socket set I buy at Wal-Mart is perfect for my applications at about 1/10th the costs.

But let’s ask a simple question: Is quality that much more expensive to produce and deliver? I submit the short answer is- No! This short answer is based on some assumptions in the areas of: volume, product life cycles, designed use, government regulations, automation, and distribution. Even Six Sigma has proven quality improvements in the service sector can save costs. Simply retaining clients because of good service is 5 times cheaper than replacing dissatisfied clients.

I am in the service sector and I want to illustrate why potential clients should look for vendors and service providers that deliver quality. I believe we will discover that it benefits everyone.

If you are committed to having and maintaining a reputation for quality of service, you should strive to work with clients who want, understand and appreciate quality. Conversely, if you are a client demanding quality look to providers that have processes in place that will deliver on your quality goals. It is a fact that in a ‘high touch’ industry the quality of service is expensive to deliver. Therefore, knowing what the client expects will dictate the level of quality all parties agree upon.

My definition of Quality, in the service arena, is delivering services that satisfy the client’s expectations. Part of the satisfaction equation is managing expectations and that means not over committing and/or under delivering. Do not compromise an ability to deliver quality bu lowering the price for the sake of getting a client.

To ensure you are constantly improving on your quality commitment:

  • Always strive to improve processes and communication throughout.
  • Match the right vendors and employees with the delivery of service.
  • Partner with vendors who have the same quality motives.
  • Document informal agreements and discussions where practical.
  • Take actions to support quality, it speaks volumes.
  • Seek out clients who appreciate and demand quality because those are the relationships that build your reputation.
  • Pleasantly surprise clients in anticipating conflicts and quickly address issues.
  • Use checklists for a project; never rely on memory
  • Debrief with all vendors and the client. This will ensure that the client can air concerns and it gives you the chance to resolve problems. After all, satisfying the client is the goal.

In the service arena 96% of unhappy clients/customers do not complain to the provider of the service. But, they are 3 times more likely to give a poor recommendation versus those clients that did complain.

Whether it is a vendor or client, be inordinately fair and respectful throughout the process. I work with a vendor that refuses to address anyone by their first name or nickname. Familiarity deprecates the client’s perception of professionalism.

This sector is more ‘touchy feely’ and by definition is very labor/time intensive. It requires a high level of personal interactions. To be successful it must be based on personal reputation, trust/relationships, and an unspoken contract of-“I will trust you to do what you say you will.” There are many stories in business about people who did deals on handshakes alone. Today however, we need contracts to provide continuity as people move from job to job and position to position. Wouldn’t be nice for people to say about your service company; I got more than I expected and contracted to receive.

There are some similarities between the product (manufacturing/goods) sector and service sector. For example, there is a perceived value of quality relative to the specific price of goods or services, and both have an element of customer service value that adds to the quality experience. Availability is a critical element to the perception of quality in separating a premier provider versus also ran.

In essence, if you are a client look for providers who present well organized plans and suggestions, listen well to your stated and even unspoken requirements, offer ‘wow factor’ alternatives, have a reputation of excellent delivery and a group that you can easily relate with.

Service Industry Woes Will Affect Teenagers Seeking Jobs

Teenagers are going to have a difficult time in the coming year finding jobs for many reasons. As teens have little to no job experience, they will either be the first to get laid off or never hired. Teens are usually in the bracket of minimum wage earners and employers will have to cut more of that group first.

The service industry is where many teens get their first employment opportunities and that area is being hit just as hard or harder as any other sector. People are cutting back in all areas of their spending and especially so in areas such as eating out and entertainment. With fewer people willing to spend money, restaurants, bowling alleys, movie theaters, and other such service industry businesses are being hit hard. People are choosing and will continue to choose to stay in instead of go out for that evening on the town.

Other areas where teenagers traditionally get jobs are in a similar situation. Babysitting jobs will be fewer and more people will choose to mow their own lawns just because they don’t have the money they once did to have the teens in the neighborhood do it. Everybody will be holding back and unfortunately teens are going to find it rough going in the job finding departments.

If there was ever a time to get creative to find ways to make money and find a job it is now. It seems that those who work the hardest to get that job will have the upper hand. No one is going have a job handed to them as the demand for jobs is too high. Teens who are willing to do something extra and/or work a little harder than the next guy will be first in line to get hired. Those that are lazy in nature will be the losers and that may be one of the first life lessons they get.

Hospitality Service Industries Are Going the Geek Way

Companies in the hospitality business are under constant pressure to service their clients without any complaints and this nature of the business has given rise to the necessity of catching up with the enterprise mobility technology. With these days all the businesses embracing mobile solutions at the enterprise level, hospitality industry too has a lot of scope to grow with mobile enterprise.

Efforts put in standing upto guest satisfaction without proper technology upgrade is not even remotely tangential with the hospitality business. The major area where the hospitality centers fail to impress is during the maintenance of the equipment and scheduling of the servicing times of the clients. It is under these circumstances that MEAP or Mobile Enterprise Application Platform will be the best service operation that will ensure effective efforts in keeping the guests elated.

Accepting MEAP for hospitality will aim at improving operational activities without any glitches in the routine of the health clubs. Smooth functioning of these institutions is also influenced by the coordination standards between the management and the staff that is responsible for executing various tasks within the hospitality lounge. The MEAP suite will be able to give the mobile professionals the chance to write apps that effectively targets employees of the spa or the associates that covers a high intensity of the users.

The proliferation of the types of the devices is very large and sure is expected to rise in the every year to come and with MEAP, the hospitality center owners can have worry free head as MEAP solutions cater to the varied mobile OS like Android, iPhone, Window Phone 7 and Blackberry.

Key Efficacies of the MEAP services

Transparency and Real-time approach: Any business is smooth running when the strategic model is well understood and known to the workforce. Spa or health club workforces will be aware of the prior appointments of the clients, maintenance staff duty and the intensity of the clients during the holidays seasons etc. This kind of information can we streamlined to allocate the work to the employees without any confusions relating to schedules mix-ups or room occupancy.

Intelligent Workflows: With connectivity comes the effective workflow model. And MEAP suite just enhances connectivity with apps that are compatible on all leading mobile platforms. The managers are alerted on the mobile devices in case of any appointment cancellations or re-schedules.

Flexile Integration: MEAP offers instant mobile messaging environment that catches up with real time communication and action plan.

Effective Collaboration: The enterprise data sources like the ERP, CRM, and Web-content are integrated with no hitches.

Benefits of MEAP on the Hospitality Industry:

  1. Any paper documentation and recording is the most complicated and time consuming process in any industry. The MEAP introduces the digital paperless recording of the ongoing activities and enables radio communications.
  2. Real time accessing and updating of work orders and service requesting too are recorded digitally on the wireless devices which can be viewed by the authorized personnel of the health club.
  3. With the capability to handle automatic escalations and alerts for no response, the delay time is almost nil enabling effective work flow of the organization.

Safe Nutrition Principles in Food Service Industry

Nutritionists and dietitians constantly send out alarming signals about the risks we assume when eating over processed food. Irrespective of health concerns, many cannot stop eating unhealthy food products. The threat is everywhere in supermarkets, fast-food lines, and even restaurants. No one in the business pays attention to this menace, ever since manufacturers have found the magic formula to raise profit. Moreover, the secret lies in tasty recipes based on an endless list of artificial ingredients that make food taste delicious, but, in the mean time, jeopardize our health, all this happening because food manufacturers have been gradually giving up safety and health principles.

Thus, over the years, this tendency has turned into a real threat, whose side effects are really hard to fight against. Ignoring many ethics-based principles in food service work, unfortunately, nowadays, we find it really difficult to combat obesity. Moreover, infant obesity is definitely one of the major national concerns, yet, we are still helpless when it comes to initiating major changes and directing eating habits towards a safer area. This national inability has so many causes, yet food additives abuse is one of the major factors. Implicitly, food manufacturers carry the guilt for having provoked the disaster, as the side effects did not emerge immediately afterwards. Even though food experts were very much aware of their impact on health, they still kept it a secret.

The same approach was obvious for all who performed various food industry jobs. Initially, this menace was taboo, yet when we all came to realize its dangers, no one was afraid to speak out. Nonetheless, this reaction was somehow late, considering that consequences had been registered on several plans. Besides high obesity risks, food additives, toxins and all chemical ingredients, used to make food products last longer and excessively tasty, are believed to considerably increase the risks of suffering from colon cancer and stomach cancer. And the dangers do not stop here.

Recent laboratory tests provide relevant evidence that many food additives might cause addiction, meaning that, you will no longer be able to control your eating habits and food consumption. The best example in this sense is definitely monosodium glutamate, also responsible for the Umani phenomenon. Even though this element has a natural origin, these days, food processing make use of synthetic MNSG. Actually, this chemical component can add savor even tough the food does not contain any natural flavor. So, it is highly recommended to pay attention to the way food is processed and mainly to all ingredients the food products contain.