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Title: From service problem to service failure : assessing resort hotel customers' perceptions of acceptability
Author: Zainol, Noor Azimin
ISNI:       0000 0004 2690 8041
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2010
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This study seeks to explore the current understanding of the nature of failure in relation to an individual’s zone of tolerance in the resort hotel context. Specifically, it aims to explore the acceptability of service problems based on the influence of attributes extracted from critically reviewing the service failure and zone of tolerance literatures. The main approach of the study involves developing a conceptual framework, based on a preliminary study and the previously reviewed literatures. These results show that different individuals have different perceptions with different variability in their zone of tolerance. Failure is seen as a difficult concept to judge as individuals have diverse perceptions of what constitutes a failure and when it starts. In addition, an initial negative encounter will predispose customers to future negative encounters. The research used two different approaches in the main study. The first used a qualitative study involving Critical Incident Technique (CIT), with the purpose of verifying the constructs identified in the proposed conceptual framework. The results confirmed the constructs tested and also identified a number of newly emergent constructs. This led to a revised conceptual framework to be tested in a larger scale, quantitative study. The quantitative study applied choice-based conjoint analysis via problematic scenarios where respondents performed a calculus in identifying which factors were perceived as the most important in leading to failure in resort hotels. The most significant findings are the identification of the salience of the attributes that have been shown to influence individuals’ determination of the unacceptability of service problems, hence contributing to what is seen as failure. These are identified as issues relating to employee errors, problems being attributed internally, problems encountered in the later stage of the service experience, problems concerning high value for money, negative incidents encountered - especially on a repeat visit, for guests staying for more than six nights and travelling with a spouse or friends. In addition, interaction effects between attributes and demographic segmentation analysis were also generated. This study has surfaced a number of contributions. Firstly, this study has forwarded a robust research framework consisting of the attributes which influence an individual’s determination of the unacceptability of service problems in resort hotels. Secondly, this study has empirically defined service failure as the (tipping) point where something is considered as being unacceptable and below the adequate expectation level in an individual’s zone of tolerance. Thirdly, the findings have generated four groups of failure categories with twelve sub-categories in the resort hotel context. Fourthly, it has provided strong supporting evidence that a prior negative incident is likely to predispose individuals to see subsequent encounters as negative. The application of conjoint analysis serves to provide a contribution towards the methodological stance in a way that the method is decompositional in nature and thus considered practical in studying failure identification. The result has also offered practical guidance to resort hotels in general. The study has contributed to failure identification, whilst also assisting in identifying potential fail points. Thus, service operations managers could act on problems that need prioritising for their corrective efforts that are central to customers’ quality perceptions.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available