Customer Satisfaction Research Report Executive Summary Rockin’ Rubies is a well known national chain restaurant with a loyal customer base, which is known for its business style atmosphere and family dining flair. In the past year, the corporation has seen a marked decline in sales. The decline in sales is exponentially increasing as every fiscal quarter passes by. The reason for the decline in sales is unknown to the corporation at this time. The restaurant has not changed locations or menu options within the past several years. The theorized root cause of the problem is poor customer satisfaction.
Customer satisfaction is the key to customer retention, new customer development and increased sales for the corporation. The objective of the research is to determine whether or not customer satisfaction is the issue, and if so, to define what customer satisfaction means to Rockin’ Rubies clientele, and develop a plan for improvement and increased sales. The research team has defined the problem, outlined the focus of the research, and thoroughly reviewed the 10 articles on customer satisfaction that encompassed the research literature.
The team then determined the design and methodology of the plan to investigate the hypothesis, using 11 key indicators derived from the research literature. A survey was developed and distributed via various media outlets and several focus groups were orchestrated. There has been a high level of participant response to the research inquiries. While the data is currently under review by the team of six researchers, the expected outcome is that the original hypothesis of poor customer satisfaction will be confirmed.
The team is also proactively developing a list of recommendations to improve the overall satisfaction of Rockin’ Rubies customers and ultimately increase profits to the corporation’s bottom line. Introduction The research for this report is focusing on customer satisfaction within the restaurant business. The restaurant is Rockin’ Rubies; Rockin’ Rubies was established in 1995 and is an American style restaurant chain with over 500 locations throughout the United States.
Rockin’ Rubies is known for a business style atmosphere and family dining flair. While dinning at Rockin’ Rubies it would not be uncommon to see a business meeting at one table and a family celebrating a birthday across the room. The reason the research is currently being conducted on customer satisfaction is due to the decrease in sales. The sales are down in the last quarter 2008, compared to third quarter 2008, and compared to last quarter 2007.
Management of Rockin’ Rubies is concerned and has requested help to determine the cause of the decrease in sales. The hypothesis is that an increase in customer satisfaction will lead to an increase in repeat customers, which will lead to an increase in sales (Gupta, McLaughlin, Gomez, 2007). Customer satisfaction is crucial in retaining the current customers and luring new customers into the restaurants, thus increasing sales. This paper will discuss potential ways to increase and maintain a high level of customer satisfaction.
The process used to create the data from customer surveys and focus groups from current as well as potential customers will be explained. The data will be analyzed to determine if sales have decreased due to customer satisfaction and describe the steps recommended to management in order to increase customer satisfaction thus increasing sales. Statement of the Problem Sales are down in last quarter 2008 compared to third quarter 2008, and compared to last quarter 2007, for Rockin’ Rubies restaurant chains and management has expressed a concern.
The menu and locations of the restaurants have remained the same and do not appear to be the cause of the decrease in sales. The focus is now on customer satisfaction. Research must be done in order to determine if this is the cause of the decrease in sales. A qualitative research technique using a focus group will be used along with the distribution of surveys to current and potential restaurateurs in an effort to increase customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction is vital to Rockin’ Rubies and the affect on sales.
The results of the research conducted will identify concerns related to customer satisfaction, and propose techniques that shall be incorporated into Rockin’ Rubies in an effort to increase customer satisfaction, thus increasing repeat customers, gaining new customers, and increasing sales. Literature Review The design and implementation of our focus groups and customer surveys has to be based on solid research. As a research team, we need to know what work has been done by others in terms of understanding and improving upon customer satisfaction. An article found on Entrepreneur. om written by Sachin Gupta, Edward McLaughlin and Miguel Gomez meets the criteria in its exploration of the link between customer satisfaction with performance, and customer satisfaction with repeat-purchase intentions. Gupta, McLaughlin and Gomez (2007) “…set out to determine the principal drivers of customer satisfaction in a restaurant chain and, subsequently, to determine how customer satisfaction data can be most effectively used to improve the chain’s performance. ” Their goals, therefore, were very similar to our own. The researcher’s constructed two separate models for analysis and interpretation of both perceived links.
Data for the first model was obtained from the results of an intricately designed guest-satisfaction survey. Data for the second model was obtained by calculating a “comeback score” and comparing that with guest counts. The results of their research had several important implications for manager’s as well as providing direction for future research such as our own. Those results could be summarized in the following statement: “The chief implication for this chain’s three restaurant concepts is that manager’s need to stick to the knitting.
The factors that had the greatest influence on whether a guest would return are those at the core of the restaurant operation, namely, delicious food, an appropriate cost, a cheerful greeting, and attentive service. Doing well on these factors, particularly serving delicious food at an appropriate cost, has the almost certain effect of encouraging your guests to return. Failure on these does not seem fatal but will certainly diminish the likelihood that a guest will return” (Gupta, McLaughlin, Gomez, 2007).
Based on the findings of the aforementioned research, delicious food, appropriate cost, cheerful greeting and attentive service are the top four indicators we shall tailor our questions on our survey towards and use to measure how well we are doing. Additional research uncovered seven other possible dimensions to tailor our focus group and survey towards. According to the National Business Research Institute (2009) Web site, “…standardized survey questions ensure that you will collect the same information from everyone. They listed the following additional dimensions to add to our top four indicators: 1.
Quality of service 2. Speed of service 3. Complaints or problems 4. Trust in your employers 5. The closeness of the relationship with contacts in your firm 6. Types of other services needed 7. Your positioning in clients’ minds (National Business Research Institute, 2009) Our research uncovered 11 solid indicators with which to mold our questions, including the previously mentioned top four indicators. One of the indicators mentioned quality. According to Chris Taylor (1995), “Quality…is about exceeding customer expectations.
You have to keep getting better. You go to a restaurant, order a nice meal, and you are brought a complimentary sorbet to freshen your palate between courses. That is great, and you will remember it. The problem is that the next time it will not exceed your expectations-you will be waiting for it, and disappointed if it doesn’t turn up. There has to be something new. (Taylor, 1995, 13)The message of this quote is that an additional measure in customer satisfaction is how well can we create an atmosphere of perpetual improvement? Research Design
Research design is used for greater understanding of a current situation. Through the current situation at Rockin’ Rubies, production has decreased over a small period that has led to concern from management. Gaining a better understanding of what the causes are that have created a decrease in production is essential to understand in order to re-establish a satisfactory and productive restaurant. “Research design is the plan and structure of investigation so conceived as to obtain answers to research questions. The plan is the overall scheme or program of the research.
It includes an outline of what the investigator will do from writing hypotheses and their operational implications to the final analysis of data. ” (Cooper & Schindler, 1976, p. 138) Proper preparation is essential to gain a true understanding of problems that are causing the decrease in production. This is a descriptive study that is targeted towards understanding customer satisfaction and the affects of the recent changes made by the restaurant. A focus group has been implemented, focusing on the customer satisfaction being expressed at the restaurant on a daily basis.
The focus group can see the affects of the basic treatment carried out by the restaurants employees on a daily basis towards customers. Through the group, management has acquired basic understandings of how the restaurant is being ran, what aspects have changed, problems that have arose, and whom the organization can trust in the carrying out of a new management plan. A self-administered questionnaire will be available to customers after eating meals within the restaurant. A small punch card worth one free ice cream cone will be rewarded to any participants.
This incentive will drive people towards being willing to participate. The questionnaire will entail a rating system that will rate the level of service they felt they received at the meal they had just paid for. Questions such as rating the level of service they felt the employees displayed, quality of food, and basic overall rate of satisfaction they felt at their meal. Methodology For this research project eight to 10 articles that dealt with customer satisfaction was used to base the methodology used.
The retrieved data from the aforesaid articles was used to present indications of what type of methods whose use should provide to increase customer sales and encourage customer satisfaction. The methods of choice for conducting the research are surveying and focus groups. Surveying makes the most of a single type of survey, transactional. Each time a customer interacts with a Rockin’ Rubies is a transaction whether a call, purchase or service provided. Focus groups, being other method chosen, are for obtaining in-depth information from customers and consumers regarding the motivations and explanations behind their behavior.
Focus groups involved a number of people identified as highly involved with consumption, service, and branding decisions of Rockin’ Rubies. The sessions lasted about two hours; “researchers probe the participants’ attitudes toward brands, services, new products and ideas, advertising, and a host of other issues. Focus groups being used when Rockin’ Rubies wants to know how consumers perceive service, why they behave in certain ways, what issues are important to their customers, and what issues should be the focus of further research. (Michael, 2007). Team A’s research data gathered from the aforementioned articles sought “3-phase process for implementing written customer satisfaction surveys that can be adjusted depending on an Rockin’ Rubies objectives, the measurement method it chooses, and the design of its feedback. First, the project includes review of survey objectives and scope, development of the survey content, testing the survey guide and collection process, and identifying the source and availability of customer names and addresses under anonymity.
Second in the survey implementation phase, the Rockin’ Rubies conducts a live pretest of the survey, distributes the survey instrument, monitors progress, and distributes reminder notifications. Third, the results collection and reporting stage is when the Rockin’ Rubies collects the survey results and builds a results database, eliminates duplicates, analyzes survey results, produces a final report, and provides feedback on the process for improvements with the next measurement” (Perseus Survey Solutions, 2004, pp. 3-4).
Surveys and focus groups were administered in a variety of ways: mail, telephone, internet, with product orders, and at restaurants. Using the stratified sampling design method the targeted population or cohorts, existing and potential customers with the elements of customer satisfaction, Rockin’ Rubies could survey and conduct focus groups retrieving adequate customer satisfaction. The retrieved data suggests that customer satisfaction research should be standard practice for all organizations that provide goods or services. Expected Results and Analysis
Customer surveys were sent out to both preferred and random customers in order to obtain accurate information. The results concluded that overall customer satisfaction is non favorable due to two major contributing factors, menu prices and service provided by the server. The surveys provided the customer with an opportunity to break down the different aspects of levels of service versus summing their experience with simply one opinion. This breakdown allowed us to receive more detailed feedback and input as to why financial gain was an opportunity on the last recorded quarter.
Over 60% of customers stated that they were not pleased with the level of service that was provided by Rockin’ Rubies and the atmosphere. The survey continued by indicating that menu prices were another area in which opportunity presented itself, which in turn made their menu choices minimal. The focus group allowed for a more in depth discussion pertaining to menu prices concerns. Participants of the focus group were asked whether it was the taste of the food or the variety of the menu.
The response had a similar theme, the food had good taste and customers enjoyed their meals, however, the prices swayed them to only order certain meals causing their choices to be minimal. Focus group participants further stated that due to current economic standings, they found it more difficult to order higher dollar dishes. Participants further explained that they felt the prices were not reasonable and that Rockin’ Rubies should take into consideration that people are tightening their belts and saving pennies.
When asked about customer’s service the results were at 40% favorable towards Rockin’ Rubies. Focus group participants stated that Rockin’ Rubies employees were not always pleasant and did not made them feel welcomed. They further stated that employees lacked attention to detail with food orders and only randomly presented themselves in a friendly and professional manner. Focus group participant concerns regarding customer service stated that they felt the employee was being inattentive, meaning that they felt as if they were trouble the employee when placing orders.
The focus group provided Rockin’ Rubies with its strongest results which will be evaluated and improved going forward in order to see financial gain in the coming quarters. Expected Conclusion and Recommendations Based on the feedback received from the surveys and the focus groups Rockin’ Rubies has concluded that the level of service must be improved. A refocus will be made when handling meal prices. Rockin’ Rubies understands that economic times are difficult and the majority of people have been affected, therefore, Rockin’ Rubies will re-evaluate meal prices.
Leadership will make meal prices comparable to the economy, which in turn will allow the customer to have a wider variety. In order to provide better prices for our customers, Rockin’ Rubies will perform further research in order to determine what meal prices would be comparable to current economic standings. Research will be performed in comparison to similar companies to determine if the competitor is offering better prices. The goal is to gain a stronger grasp on the on economical challenges, in order to meet the needs of the guest.
In order to for customers to continue to give their business to Rockin’ Rubies, employees will be retrained in customer service. With the results only coming in at 40% favorable, it was concluded that this aspect of the business kept the customer from coming through the doors; therefore, Rockin’ Rubies has a goal of 100% versus 40%. A menu can be substituted but an experience is difficult to forget. Rockin’ Rubies is committed that when a customer leaves, they leave enjoying the meal and the overall experience.
A follow up survey and focus group will be developed in order to ensure that customer’s satisfaction has increased. Focus groups will ask in depth questions regarding different aspects of customer service. Do customers feel welcomed? Was the server friendly and attentive? In order to improve on customer satisfaction the difficult questions have to be asked, regardless of the response. The focus group should include former participants to determine if their experience has improved, and new participants to obtain a fresh perspective.
The survey will provide the participants will multiple boxes for them to expand on their responses. Why was the experience favorable or not favorable? Please expand on the service that you received, was your server attentive and friendly? Would you return to Rockin’ Rubies? Customer satisfaction is crucial in retaining the current customers and luring new customers into the restaurants, thus increasing sales. Rockin’ Rubies should see an improvement in customer satisfaction and ultimately an increase in profits to the bottom line, once the recommendations are implemented.
Overall, this should alleviate managements concern regarding the recent decline in sales. Reference Cooper, D. & Schindler, P. (2006). Business Research Methods, (9th Ed. ). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill/ Irwin Gupta, Sachin. , McLaughlin, Edward. , & Gomez, Miguel. (2007). Guest satisfaction and restaurant performance. Cornell Hotel & Restaurant Administration Quarterly. Retrieved from http://www. entrepreneur. com/tradejournals/article/167388298. html Michael. (2007). What the Research Tells Us. In Customer Satisfaction. Center for the Study of Social Policy.
Retrieved from http://www. cssp. org/What The Research Tells Us. pdf National Business Research Institute. (2009). Why and How to Measure Customer Satisfaction. Retrieved July 1, 2009, from http://ww. nbrii. com/Customer_Surveys/Measure_Satisfaction. html Perseus Survey Solutions. (2004). Perseus Customer Satisfaction: A Web Methodology (pp. 3-4). Mass. : Perseus Development Corporation. Retrieved from http://www. webmarketingassociation. org/QCF. pdf Taylor, Chris. (1995). The case for customer satisfaction. Managing Service Quality, 5(1), 11-14.