TQM Total Quality Management a Look Into Essay

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TQM

Total Quality Management

A Look into how the Ritz Carlton Hotel Chain uses Total Quality Management to Address Quality of Service Issues

Company Background

Level of Service Required for World Class Service

Total Quality Management in a Service Environment

Human Resource Role in Service TQM

The Ritz Carlton's hotels are focused on a rather narrow target market that expects world class facilities as well as world class service by the hotels staff. While constructing world class facilities is one matter, maintain a staff that consistently can provide world class service is no easy endeavor. To meet this challenge the Ritz Carlton organization has implemented many of the concepts embodied in the Total Quality Management body of research. They provide their staff both the training and the resources that empower them to maintain quality standards on the spot without having to navigate layers of organizational bureaucracy. This allows the hotel staff the means to provide the hotels clients with not only world class service but they also have systems in place to ensure this level of service is maintained consistently throughout the entire network of hotels. This paper examines some of the quality issues that arise in service management in the luxury hotel industry and how the Ritz Carlton uses Total Quality Management practices to overcome these challenges.

Company Background

The Ritz Carlton is a high end hotel chain that spans the globe and operates in over twenty four different countries in over seventy different locations. Their staff consists of rough forty thousand employees and operates as a completely independent division of the Marriott International parent organization. There hotels are often positioned in conjunction with other amenities such as spa treatments, golf facilities, as well as luxury condominiums. Their mission, vision, and operational metrics all include providing their customers the highest quality service in the industry. Furthermore, the target markets expectations for what top quality service might entail is extremely high compared to other target markets. Since there were not any ready-made industry benchmarks available to the Ritz Carlton they had to design their own and in doing so they based much of their total quality management (TQM) ideas (Partlow, 1993).

Level of Service Required for World Class Service

One of the human resource slogans at the Ritz Carlton is that "We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen," which symbolizes much of the outlook that the business expects its employees to exhibit themselves as well as the level of respect that they show their customers. The concept of a gentleman generally is perceived as someone who is of a superior class or someone who possesses refined manners and politeness. Hence, they are expected to convey a high standard of behavior than that could be expected of the average citizen or some other concept of a layman. If you could image the total of all the types of behaviors that would represent the total public were compiled, a gentleman, or a lady, would represent the top tier of whatever these collective behaviors might deem the most desirable. Although the concept certainly isn't well defined, it does give some indication of how the organization expects their employees to view themselves and treat the guests.

Furthermore the concept provides insights to the types of people that are members of the target market that the Ritz Carlton caters too. The target market consists of professionals and wealthy individuals who are adapted to a high level of service that is far beyond what an average organization could provide on a consistent basis. To maintain this level of service the employees must act as professionals and behave appropriately at all times. They must be polite and respectful and cannot show any level of frustration whatsoever or express any other emotion that could be perceived as undesirable from a customer's perspective. To achieve this level of professionalism it is necessary something of an actor or wear an exterior mask to hide any negative emotional responses and project a very calm and polite exterior in order to maintain professional standards.

The customers' perceptions of the performance of the hotel will determine their loyalty of the customers to the individual hotel and the brand in general. Therefore the performance objectives, quality, speed, and dependability, are going to represent some portion of the basis by which the customers form their opinions. Therefore, the whole of the human capital that the hotel employs will serve as the first line of defense in terms of the constructing the customers perceptions of service. Thus if the staff at the Ritz Carlton can meet the performance objectives, which are set at a higher bar than most of the industry, then they will likely increase customer loyalty. This was recognized to be the problem that management addressed in the implementation of a TQM approach to customer service (Zairi, 1995).

One story about the quality of service that the Ritz Carlton can uphold using their TQM strategies was provided by a female business traveler who missed a flight in Chicago and as a result arrived at a Ritz Carlton with little time to spare before having to rush to a business meeting (Robinson, 2008). The customer was complaining about the events to the Ritz Carlton employee who escorted her and her belongings to her room. The employee made several offers to help her cope with her bad day such as booking a spa visit or massage for her, however the customer didn't have the time for such luxuries. The employee was dedicated to finding a way to reduce the customers stress and made a last effort to help her by providing a complimentary scented candle to the customer. This simple act made a big impression on the customer. As a result, the customer praised the employee at the front desk who consequently entered the customers experience into their global database. Now when the customer returns to any Ritz Carlton location around the world she is always greeted by a scented candle. Therefore not only did the service by the one individual go above and beyond normal expectations but now they repeat that experience for the customer in all of her subsequent trips.

Not only does this example serve as a testament to the level of quality that the Ritz Carlton organization can provide using a TQM-based strategy, but it also can provide insights to the speed of service as well as the dependability of service. The employee who escorted the customer to her room did not have to stop and ask permission from a manager to provide the complimentary candle; they were empowered as well as motivated to make these decisions by themselves and on the fly. If the employee had to pause at any time during their service to the customer then the opportunity to excel would have been lost. However, since the employee was able to identify an opportunity and take advantage of it on the spot then this made a long lasting impression on the customer and made her experience a memorable one. Employee empowerment ideas in order to deal with quality issues are one of the fundamental notions of the TQM strategies in other industries such as in manufacturing (Thamizhmanii, 2010). Those who are closest to the problem are nearly always the ones who can appreciate the nuances the best.

As if this instance of superior service was not quite enough, the Ritz Carlton staff was able to collect such data about the customer's experience so that it could repeat this experience at any Ritz Carlton location worldwide. As previously mentioned, now when the customer visits a Ritz Carlton at any location a crossed the globe she is always greeted with a candle at the desk. Therefore not only did the employee provide superior service but the service she experienced in which she provided positive feedback for was entered into the customer database and replicated for future visits. Thus the Ritz Carlton creates customized service for each customers based on the individual customer profiles they construct. This is the ideal model of service dependability. Since the period in which Ritz Carlton developed such an approach another version of it has also been introduced into the parent company, Hilton Hotels as well (Maxwell & Lyle, 2002).

Total Quality Management in a Service Environment

Providing a defect free experience is a rather ambitious goal especially when humans are involved. However, at the same time the mere pursuit of such a goal can serve as a good strategy in terms of devising a strategy of total quality improvement. For example, having zero defects may be somewhat unpractical to achieve in reality but by pursuing such a goal this challenges employees on all levels to improve their individual and collective performances. When a defect arises it should be subsequently subject to some form of analysis, such as a root cause analysis, that is then used to improve future performances. It has been found by researchers that TQM practices are positively correlated with customer satisfaction…[continue]

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