Assessment of Quality Management in IHG

1: Introduction
Quality is a dynamic state associated with products, services, people, processes and environments that meets or exceeds expectations and helps produce superior value (Goetsch & Davis, 2013). This essay critically evaluates the above statement and provides the example IHG (Intercontinental Hotel Group), one of the largest continental hotel chains, serving in tourism and hospitality industry around the globe. This essay critically evaluates the basic quality views, quality drivers and organisational issues regarding quality in IHG Australian hotel chain. In Australia, IHG has been offering its 3 brands out of 12 brands (Seek, 2014) serving the customer with their expectations.

2: Quality—A Dynamic State
According to Goetsch & Davis (2013) quality is a dynamic state which can either fulfill consumer expectations or even exceed the expectations or generate greater values for consumers. They also stated that quality is related to environments, procedures, persons, products and services which fulfills above mentioned criteria. This shows that quality is not a static state but it is process of continual improvements and each and above mentioned factors are responsible for its dynamic nature. Even in today’s electronic era where almost every business has transformed into e-commerce, quality is a central issue. In online businesses quality is also measured through its processing times and throughput (Ye et al., 2010). Quality is also dynamic because it is associated with fulfilling of customer expectations which varies with the passage of time and fulfilling those varying needs turn the quality into dynamic nature. As IHG Australia has been offering its service for online booking as well with real time data so customers has the convenience to choose the facility and package according to their desire which shows that company is following the dynamic nature of quality very well.

3: Purpose of Quality
According to Goetsch & David (2013) the basic purpose of quality is either to meet or exceed customer’s expectations and this purpose makes the quality dynamic. According to Juran & Godfrey (1999) quality is all about satisfying the customer by fulfilling customer needs through its products. This also confirms the basic purpose of quality mentioned above. Juran was the pioneer who introduced the concept of quality department within an organisation and he stated that organisations must have a department which can monitor quality issues in production (Juran, 2003). Juran presented this idea for production departments only but with the passage of time this idea further flourished and in today’s era no organisation can survive without maintaining a certain level of quality. Juran presented this idea just to prevent the delivery of bad products to customers so that customers may not have bad experiences with company’s products and customers may gain the product according to expectations. As IHG is one of the leading global hotel chain so it better understands the sensitivity of customer expectations and offers them different services packages i.e. business travelers, tourists, ambassador member offers and many more (IHG Plc., 2014). All these offers and packages have been designed in response to customer expectations.

4: Quality Views—Organisational Perspective
Quality has different meanings and views under different situations and opinions (Business Excellence, 2014). The view of quality is different for products and services and varies with time and situation (Business Excellence, 2014). Quality is considered as fit for use (Business Excellence, 2014). Meeting and exceeding customer needs are also termed as quality (Business Excellence, 2014). Moreover, quality has become a source of competitive advantage as well in today’s competitive age (Business Excellence, 2014). Different quality characteristics are used for products and services. Some of these characteristics are identical for both and some are different. For example performance, reliability, affordable price, usage easiness, durability, maintainability and availability are the main quality characteristics related to products while communication, timeliness, completeness, accuracy, competency, reliability and responsiveness are the major quality characteristics for services (Business Excellence, 2014). As IHG Australia is service oriented organisation so its major focus is on quality service with affordable price for its guests where guests perceive more values than their expectations.

5: Quality Views—Customer Perspective
The most critical task for service companies is service quality management (SQM) because it determines the success course for service companies (Rao, 2011). Researcher has already presented different meanings of quality with the context of organisations and now it is necessary to understand the concept of quality with customer perspective. For customer, quality is measured in terms of service excellence (Rao, 2011). Customers have their own comparison criteria for quality service in which customers first experience a product/serve and then compare it with their expectations, if that particular product/service meet or exceed their expectation then that product/service is considered as high quality and vice versa (Rao, 2011). High quality service enhance the customer retention for service organisations (Rao, 2011). Understanding the quality with customer perspective can help organisations develop effective strategies for high quality delivery to customers (Rao, 2011). IHG keep improving its quality management procedures through innovation and service excellence programme, during 2009 IHG expanded its EMEA Quality Assurance Programme to ensure the quality guest service (LRA Press Release, 2009). This initiative by IHG reveals that IHG has been taking its customers quality service seriously and heavily investing in its improvement programmes.

6: Quality Drivers
Customers, products/services, employee satisfaction and organisational focus are considered as the key driver of quality (Business Excellence, 2014). It justifies the quality definition put forward by Goetsch & Davis (2013) which suggests that quality is related to people (either customers or employees), procedures, products and services and environments (organisational focus).

6.1: Role of Customer Experience in Quality
Customer experience is a one of the major key driver of quality and an oraganisation’s success can be evaluated through customer experience (IBF Management LLC, 2004). It is essential for organisations that they understand their customers well, anticipate their expectations & demands, and guarantees that they have the resources, procedures, services and organisational structure to fulfill those expectations (IBF Management LLC, 2004). In IHG customers have been given different facilities such as IHG reward programme and fitness clubs to improve customer experience with the organisation (IHG Annual Report, 2011). IHG has the strategic goal of becoming industry leading hotel in terms of guests’ experience through its best quality delivery system (IHG Annual Report, 2011).

6.2: Role of Products/Service in Quality
Products/services are the major driver of quality service because customers directly consume products/services and evaluation of quality is determined for these products/services. IHG has been continuously improving its services with the passage of time according to varying customer needs and fulfilling their expectations efficiently.

6.3: Role of Employee Satisfaction and Employee Motivation in Quality
Employee satisfaction and employee motivation has got central attention in recent times for quality service because motivated employees provide better quality services to customers (Solomon, 2014). Moreover, if employees are well motivated then they can turn the business into profits (Solomon, 2014). According to Solomon (2014) organistions can take several steps to ensure employee motivation such as hiring the right person for right job and train them properly about organisational culture and customer quality values. For employee motivation organisations can also take many other steps such as employee empowerment, employee recognition through proper incentives, suitable working hours etc. (Alexander Communication Group Inc., 2014). IHG understands the importance of employee satisfaction very well and this is the reason IHG has aim to attain its competitive advantage through enhanced customer loyalty to its brands which can be achieved through effective team (Margolis, 2012). For this purpose IHG has been investing a lot on its employee learning and development and offering them huge incentives for delivering the quality service to its customers (Margolis, 2012).

7: Quality Problems in Organisations
Quality problems in organisations increased due to advanced technological complex products and services (Evans & Lindsay, 2012). With the passage of time organsiations also realised the importance of quality service for their business survival in severe competition (Evans & Lindsay, 2012). Today many organisations are offering same kind of products and services and only thing which differentiates them is the quality (Evans & Lindsay, 2012). This is the reason that quality is the central focus point for all firms now and is treated as key business driver (Evans & Lindsay, 2012). Quality is related to continuous improvements and continuous improvements are related to effective problem solution methods (Cochran, 2014). Whenever an organisation faces an issue then it identifies its reason first and then takes immediate action to cope with issue effectively (Cochran, 2014). This process of continual improvements seem very easy but practically it is difficult to execute (Cochran, 2014).

Issues regarding quality service can also be well handled through effective handling of customer complaints because effective complaint handling is the basic building block of quality service (Ombudsman Western Australia, 2010). Effective complaints handling procedure ensures the customer satisfaction and in any customer focused organisation the organisation values the customer feedback and takes strategic actions according to feedback (Ombudsman Western Australia, 2010). IHG has an effective complaint and issue handling mechanism. IHG has provided its 24/7 customer care contacts where anybody can present their issue and IHG team resolves the issues on priority basis (IHG Customer Care, 2014). Quality improvements can also be executed with the help of all staff members in any particular organisation so all workers in any orgnisastion must be included in quality debates and organisations must ask their workers to give suggestions on customer quality improvements (NHS Tayside, 2013). IHG has an effective employee engagement programme which has been executed through KPOs (Key Performance Objectives).

Benchmark surveys also play a vital role in customer service evaluation within an organisation (MacKechnie, 2014). With the help of these surveys, organisations can underpin the gaps between preset quality standards and delivered quality to customers and on the basis of the findings organisations can take steps to minimise the gap of quality serive (MacKechnie, 2014). Some organisations have misunderstood the concept of quality and they are continuously trying to please their customers instead of satisfying them (Johnston, 2004). Johnston (2004) further argued that organisations can satisfy and please their customers through service excellence which can be achieve through delivering the promised values to customers, taking extra care of customers through personal touch, doing extra effort for customer satisfaction and resolving customer issues efficiently. IHG has implemented online form submission for any query as shown in below figure (IHG Customer Care, 2014).

Figure 1: Online Form Submission by IHG (Source: IHG Customer Care, 2014)
Above figure clearly shows that a customer can submit the complaint or suggestion through simple online submission form which gives the convenience to customer to communicate their issues to management with ease.
Organisational environment or culture also plays a vital role in quality service. Organisations with strong cultural values tend to show more responsiveness to customer quality issues than organisations with weak cultures (Parikh & Gupta, 2010). According to Charles Handy’s model, organisations can be placed into four categories depending upon their culture known as power culture, task culture, people culture and role culture (Parikh & Gupta, 2010). IHG has been following role culture in its organisation in which specific roles and responsibilities are given to employees on the basis of their expertise (Parikh & Gupta, 2010).

8: Conclusion
So, it is concluded that quality is really a dynamic state which is achieved through continual improvement process just like IHG has been doing around the globe. It is also concluded that quality has different meanings for organisation and for customer. Sometime contradiction between the perception of quality between organisation and customer creates confusion and those organisations fail which are unable to understand consumer quality perspective. It is also concluded that quality is associated with procedures, customers, employees, organisational cultures and products/services offered by an organisation. Moreover, all these attributes are key drivers for quality measurement. In accordance with all above mentioned quality drivers, IHG has been serving with full quality standards and fulfilling the customer expectations with its role culture organisation and trying to achieve higher quality standards through its self-motivated and trained employees which results in positive customer experience and high brand loyalty.

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