Latest empirical researches in service industry have conclusively established that there is direct link between customer satisfaction and quality of service being offered. On the same note, restaurant businesses are no exception and as a result, researchers have identified several elements that customers use to gauge the quality of service provided by respective restaurants. This research project aims at quantitatively measuring the level of customer satisfaction among Sumo Sushi & Bento restaurant customers. Elements such as timeliness, pricing, employee responsiveness, food quality, and responsiveness of the restaurant to customer complaints were investigated. Results for this study positively conclude that customers are more concerned with the above elements when gauging the quality of service delivery. Further analysis highlights that Sumo Sushi & Bento restaurant customers would be delighted it the restaurant improved on its services based on the above operating parameters, with more emphasis on timeliness and pricing. Furthermore, the report winds up with recommendations on how restaurant managers can work towards improving customer satisfaction.
Data Collection and Findings
To be able to gather information on customer satisfaction on services offered by Sumo Sushi & Bento restaurant, primary data was collected using questionnaires and interviews. Participants in the study were employees from one known organization who were identified as regular customers of the restaurant services. Due to constraints of time, employees from a single organization only were involved in the survey.
This research project used self administered questionnaires and a total of 15 questionnaires were distributed. However, only 13 customers submitted their completed questionnaires. In addition, 5 follow up interviews were conducted to gather more information. The survey questionnaire/interview consists of several questions. The aim of each question is to obtain specific information relevant to the research problem.
Survey Questions and Responses
When did you first use the outside catering services of Sumo Sushi & Bento restaurant?
This question was crucial to establish whether the customers had interacted with the services of the restaurant to be able to gauge the quality of their services. Out of 13 respondents 50% had their first encounter with the restaurant for a period of not more than two years, while the rest had been using the services for the last two to five years.
Is there any time, during the time you have been a customer at Sumo Sushi & Bento Restaurant, when you sought the outside catering services of another restaurant?
The above question aimed at gauging whether the respondents were die-hard customers. The answer was ‘yes’ from all respondents. A positive answer to the above question required a respondent to answer a directly related question below
If yes, was the reason for seeking services elsewhere related to the quality of services given by Sumo Sushi & Bento Restaurant?
All the respondents answered No to the above question. A positive answer to this question would have required the respondent to answer a related question highlighted below.
If yes, give a brief explanation of what Sumo Sushi & Bento Restaurant could have done to avoid this.
Since question 2a generated a negative response, there was no need to answer this question.
Rate Sumo Sushi & Bento Restaurant on the following aspects in the given scale
Respondents were required to rate food quality either as poor, fair, good or very good. They were also requested to explain their choice of a particular entity. 46.1 % of the respondents rated the services of the restaurant as very good with each of these supplying an explanation to justify their choice. Similarly, 30.7 % rated the services as Good, 15.4 % as poor and 12.8% perceived the services to be fair.
Similarly, respondents were asked to their perception of the restaurant employee’s responsiveness towards their orders or queries using the scale of very good, good, fair and poor. In addition, they were required to provide a brief explanation to support their rating. 30.7% of the respondents rated staff responsiveness as very good, 46.15% as good and 23.07 as fair. No respondent answered for poor.
Under this aspect of service delivery, the respondents were required to rate the above element using a similar scale as the one used to gauge the two elements above. The ratings were as follows, 23.07 % very good, 53.8% good, 23.13 fair, and 0% poor.
The rating on the same scale was as follows; 23.07% very good, 46.15% good, 30.78% fair, and 0% poor.
Response to complaints
The results were as follows; 23.07% very good, 53.9% good, 23.03% fair.
Since the above elements are directly interrelated and are basics in gauging quality of service delivery, it is necessary that they are incorporated in a graphical representation as shown below;
Among the aspects of customer satisfaction you have rated in 3 above, which aspect does the restaurant need to put more efforts in improving, and why?
15.38% of respondents were comfortable with the above elements and saw no need for improvement. However, food quality, response to complaints, and staff responsiveness received most attention as 69.24% of the respondents suggested they be improved. In addition, 15.38% suggested that the restaurants prices needed some adjustment.
Among the aspects of customer satisfaction you have rated in 3 above, which aspect has the restaurant performed exceptionally well in the past.
The response was amazing since 69.39% observed that the prices were affordable in the past. On Timelines, food quality and response to complaints 23.07% of the respondents affirmed that the above elements were good, while 7.54% felt that all the above aspects of service delivery were good in the past.
Which other areas of service delivery do you think the restaurant can work on to better satisfy its customers?
Most of the answers for this question were a reinforcement of answers given in question 4. However, 15.68% felt that the restaurant would benefit it they added more options in their menu.
Briefly comment on the best outside catering service you have ever received from Sumo Sushi & Bento Restaurant. What could have been done to make the services even better?
It was disheartening to note that over 70% of the respondents had no past memory of service delight. However, the rest liked the food provided by the restaurant.
Briefly comment on the worst outside catering service you have ever received from Sumo Sushi & Bento Restaurant. What could have been done to make the service more satisfying to you?
It is interesting to note that over 65% of the respondents did not recall of any worst experience while 25% were not happy when staff forgot to bring sauce along with sushi. The rest were not happy when their orders were delayed.
In your opinion, does the quality of service delivery affect customer satisfaction?
100% answered the above question in the affirmative.
If your answer in question 10 above is yes, give a brief explanation of the extent to which you think the quality of services may affect customer satisfaction.
All the respondents agreed that quality of services was the greatest determinant for customer satisfaction.
Discussion and Analysis
The study used both the qualitative and quantitative method of data collection and analysis. The research findings are unanimous with previous researches that the quality of services affects customer satisfaction. Generally, results showed that customers focus on three to four major elements in gauging the quality of service by a service provider. Empirical researches in restaurant service industry have positively indicated that customers are concerned with timeliness, staff responsiveness, food quality, pricing and response to complaints when gauging quality of service delivery. A specific case study in a dinning restaurant showed that customers placed timeliness at the top of list when it came to quality delivery (Chen & Hu, 2010, p.537). The current research reinforces the above findings since 69.24% of the respondents interviewed suggested that the element of timeliness was essential and the restaurant under study needed to improve on the same. The respondents were also asked to gauge staff responsiveness in relation to service delivery and the fact that only 23.07% rated the element to be very good shows that the customers wanted more. Most of them explained that the employees were friendly but they were either ignorant or too forgetful in fulfilling specific order requests.
Similarly, customers are concerned with the kind of personal attention they receive from employees during service delivery (Chen & Hu, 2010, p.538). Closely related is the element of customer complaints’ response. According to Hallowell (1996, p.46), customers want to feel appreciated and are satisfied whenever their complaints are addressed in a timely manner. The current research unanimously agrees with this notion since more than 69% of respondents felt that the restaurant needed to improve on this aspect. The current research rated the response to complaint as 53.9% good, while very good and fair operated on the same scale of approximately 23%. Additionally, pricing was found to be an important element that customers used to gauge quality of service delivery. From the results, it was observed that 69.395 of the respondents were satisfied about the restaurant prices in the past. However, they felt that the current prices do not reflect improve food quality, and should be adjusted to suit the quality of food. The results are in agreement with findings of prior customer surveys that identified pricing expectation to be interconnected with customer satisfaction. Chen & Hu (2010, p.539) explains that if the prices exceeded what customer expected, it was likely to affect their satisfaction level negatively. Secondary research showed that customers have internalized the expectations about prices in their memories; hence a negative deviation will affect customer satisfaction.
Hallowell (1996, p. 38) asserts that any business in the hotel service industry willing to survive in cut throat competition must strive to improve the elements that determine the quality of service. As stated above, customer satisfaction is directly linked to the quality of service. The customer satisfaction level is dependent on a customer’s preconceived ideas of what a particular service encounter should entail. The preconceived ideas are dependent with past experiences either with the same or a different but directly related service (Chen & Hu, 2010, p.540). If the quality of the service received exceeds the expected outcomes, the customer is usually satisfied. However, if the encountered quality of service falls below the expected, dissatisfaction is inevitable (Chen & Hu, 2010, p.546).
It is against this reason that management at Sumo Sushi & Bento restaurant should use these research findings to improve elements that affect quality service delivery. Research has shown that a satisfied customer base increases an organizations success, since customer satisfaction breeds customer loyalty and by extension customer retention (Hallowell, 1996, p. 30). As an extension of previous researches findings, this research confirmed that customer satisfaction is dependent on service delivery. The respondents under study unanimously agreed that quality of service which is determined by factors such as timeliness, pricing, staff responsiveness and response to complaints is very crucial in determining the level of customer satisfaction.
Conclusion and Recommendations
According to Hallowell (1996, p.42) time factor should be considered as the most important aspect that determines customer satisfaction. Therefore, restaurant managers should take positive measures to improve timeliness of their services. Respondents interviewed observed that the delay was evident when the restaurant receptionist got the wrong address.
On responsiveness, it is evident from the research findings that some of the employees were not adequately responding to customers’ queries. An alarming number or respondents confessed that Sumo Sushi & Bento restaurant staff forgot to include sauce in sushi even after regular requests were made. Chen and Hu (2010, p.538) exemplifies that customers tend to gauge the level of employee competence and professionalism depending on how the said employees handle their queries or solves whatever problem that may arise. The results showed that 69% of the respondents were concerned about staff responsiveness. This should be a wakeup call to the restaurant managers to ensure they trained their employees on how to positively respond to customer’s needs. The restaurant should improve on the measures on handling customer queries. From the research finding it is evident that the method and channels of handling complaints are wanting. For instance, one customer confessed that despite airing a complaint that his sushi was delivered without sauce, it did happen again within a short period of time. This is a bad picture to the company as it leads to dissatisfaction, a situation every serious business should strive to eliminate. Chen and Hun (2010, p. 542) explains that customer dissatisfaction can have far reaching negative effects on business. This is because dissatisfied customer hardly complain to the business, but to their friend and family, thus creating a negative corporate image.
It was also noted that some customers were not comfortable eating Asian food. Therefore, the restaurant managers should consider increasing food varieties in their menu. Additionally, most customers were comfortable with the quality of food offered Sumo Sushi & Bento, but felt that their pricing was misguided. This information was obtained when respondents were asked to name one element of service delivery they liked in the past, and is lacking in the present. The issue of price has been found to influence customers either negatively of positively. Price as an indicator of quality has the capability to attract or repel customers (Hallowell, 1996, p.39). Therefore, the managers should determine whether their food quality matched their prices so as to attract more customers.
To recap it all, it is imperative to note that this research project was guided by a research objective that sought to determine the level of customer satisfaction among Sumo Sushi & Bento restaurant customers. Following successful data collection process, the available data was analyzed. The latter was then used to reinforce previous research studies that demonstrated that customer satisfaction was dependent on quality of service delivery. Although this research study was limited in terms of representative sample, it confirmed that customers consider the elements of timeliness, food quality, staff responsiveness, response to complaints and pricing to gauge quality of services being offered. In a nutshell, there is need for comparative research in order to find out how Sumo Sushi & Bento restaurant services rated when gauged against similar businesses offering similar services.
Chen, P. & Hu, H. 2010. “How determinant attributes of service quality influence customer-perceived value: An empirical investigation of the Australian coffee outlet industry”, International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 22 (4): 535 – 551.
Hallowell, R. 1996. “The relationships of customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, and profitability: an empirical study”, International Journal of Service Industry Management, 7 (4): 27-42.