An Analysis of customer service orientation in a New York State QSR chain: A Case study

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Title: An Analysis of customer service orientation in a New York State QSR chain: A Case study
Author: Nabar, Ram
Abstract: This is a case study about a fast food company whose aggressive growth in the past has left it vulnerable and unable to cope with the results of its expansion. This quickservice restaurant chain has been lauded by many business gurus for its innovation, efficiency and its focus on customer service. In the areas with Team Managed Units in place, customer satisfaction went up, and crew turnover went down. The hectic pace of change within the organization, however, is creating uncertainty and insecurity, making it impossible to function without true leadership taking over at the helm of the organization. The mission statement and the values of the organization have now fallen out of alignment, and are creating insecurity in the company leading to high employee turnover, poor service, and low customer satisfaction. Team Managed Units, are a misnomer- empowerment and teamwork are no longer prominent parts of the great service once available in the restaurants. Data show a poor performance in customer rating scores and also in employee turnover. Customers, however, continue to return today- But the question is- "How much longer before the penalty has to be paid for a poor response from management?" The company with a glowing past faces a rather dim future if the basic issues it faces are not addressed immediately and if it fails to rally its staff behind the company vision. The company vision and stated values promote customer focus and integrity- the actions promote closed communication, high employee exploitation and resultant turnover. It talks about institutionalizing self sufficiency but places limitations by not providing adequate training to new hires who are expected to be future mentors for the implementation of that vision. The company's strategic and operational problems are to be analyzed to realize the inherent complications and to bring forth the actual underlying issues by creating a holistic view of the system. Seven problems postulated by Steven Covey (1992) that stand out as the cause of the current situation are analyzed here, tied in with the basic need for reorganization required to create higher staff morale and job satisfaction. The company needs to be wary of the adaptive learning trap that it has fallen into and realize that everything revolves around customer service, and any effort to deliver service in any market initiative must begin at the core- the employee. Systems thinking is the only way to be able to integrate the dynamic, changing variables into the whole, and to create synergy within the organization. Self directed work teams need to be reinstituted into the work concept within this organization- to realize improved quality, productivity and service. Workers are increasingly demanding higher autonomy in the workplace. The ability to retain the best people is enhanced, an important factor to be considered, given that the current rate of turnover is at a huge 162 percent, with 91 percent leaving in the first 3 months! The company has to adopt strategies that will help implement the vision that it wants to achieve, as opposed to continuing down the path that it is currently following.
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Date: 1997

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