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Due to COVID-19 Pandemic, the complete business environment was hampered, especially the service sector. When the pandemic knocked on the service industry's doors, I was working as an attendant at Monica's at Iowa province of the UK. This restaurant offers Italian and American cuisine and is very famous for its Pizza. Due to the closing of the restaurants and eateries in the initial days of the pandemic, my restaurant too had to close down (de Freitas and Stedefeldt, 2020).
After the government allowed the opening of the restaurants, the scenario and the protocols had completely changed. Food preparation techniques, delivery protocols, packaging style, everything completely changed. The major components of service, delivery, and dine-in were severely affected, especially the delivery system. It has been identified that as the popularity of delivery options grew, most of the restaurants and cafes that were earlier reluctant to deliver their food also started takeaway and delivery options (Hobbs, 2020).
The number of people who switched to food delivery when to dine out wasn't possible stood at peaks. As per the data, people between 18-34 years of age who ordered food rose to 60% compared to pre-COVID data. Even old age people who are very health conscious also food ordered by 34% compared to pre-COVID. This clearly shows that even a pandemic ahs befall the globe; people won't stop eating their favourite dishes.
In the initial days, delivery at Monica's was severely affected. People wanted to ensure that are we following safety standards; we didn't know how to cater to them. Although we had thoroughly sanitized the premises and were doing temperature checks daily, the major issues were ensuring that the delivery is safe enough. The delivery boys, too, were reluctant to go places as the risk of catching the virus was more when deliberately coming in contact with people.
The service quality of the delivery was hampered, as it was difficult to adapt to the norms of the new normal straightaway. Monica's satisfaction of the customer holds very high importance. It has been found that the concept of service quality is very abstract and elusive; that is why it isn't easy to measure the level of that. Customer satisfaction and service quality are directly proportional to each other (Cai and Leung, 2020.
As Monica's has maintained its service quality for a long period, it has witnessed changes in the buying behaviour of the customers. The restaurant has gained a significant competitive advantage, which has added to the reputation of the company. In addition to this, retention of the customers and repeat purchases could also be seen.
Due to the COVID-19 gap in the service quality pre and post-pandemic is very evident. Five types of gaps identified in the current scenario are the knowledge gap, service gap, delivery gap, standards gaps, and communication gap. These gaps have diminished the service quality of Monica's and have also affected the customer base.
A mega gap in the delivery operations of the venture has also been identified. This means a wide difference in the standards assured for delivery, and the actual standards followed. These standards are influenced by many factors, viz. willingness of the employee to deliver, dispersion of control, improper support, and mal-functioning fit of employee and the job of delivery.
Due to gaps in the delivery, and the overall gap in the restaurants' service has been witnessed. Monica's has made efforts to narrow the service gap so that the customer satisfaction level could rise. A clear difference between successful and unsuccessful experiences could be understood and acted upon (Rizou, et al., 2020).
As there are certain gaps due to the pandemic, customer retention has also become a tedious task. Even though Monica's brand image and reputation are positive in the market, customers became reluctant due to the current scenario. It has been difficult because customers are very hard to please, and loyal customers are reluctant. Failures in the services are happening, such as late delivery, breakdown in the delivery system, and that the service has given doesn't match the customer's expectations.
Along with this, Monica's is making efforts and paving its way for the recovery of service by reacting to the complaints efficiently and appropriately, and secondly, by provocatively using business management tools so that more new customers could be attracted.
Different characteristics of the service failure are identified as per the complaints made by the customers for improper delivery service. At first, the complaints of the customer seemed very annoying and reduced the morale of the team, but we all understood that these are not complaints rather valuable suggestions which we could implement to refine the quality of service provided. The characteristics of the complaint are Intangibility, Heterogeneity, Perishability, and Inseparability (Olaimat, et al., 2020).
The intangibility of the service failure can be referred to as the comparison between the service expectation and the actual service delivered. This kind of dissatisfaction is highly subjective, as not all of the customers are satisfied with the same kind of service. Heterogeneity means that every delivery would be different from the last because determining the success would differ each time.
Perishability can be defined as the difference between a certain dish and its supply. This could lead to failure of service as customers do not like waiting or getting dejected. Lastly, Inseparability can be explained as the moment of contact with the customer and the critical moment of handling the complaint (Nicola, et al., 2020).
The major complaints which came in via food delivery were improper packaging and late service. When asked by the employees, they said that they are doing their best to provide the best service they could.
After carefully analysing the complaints made by the customers, packaging was narrowed to the absence of multilayer packaging, and late service was different for everybody. The customer said that multilayer packaging is essential to ensure that the food is safe to consume. For delivery, they said that the food which reached them was cold and had already lost its best taste.
When the activities of the staff were monitored, especially was delivery, the root cause of the complaints came into the highlight. It has found that the kitchen staff was wrapping plasticine and taping to secure the food, and the delivery boys weren't aware of the shortcuts of the city and only took the way which they were familiar with, but was long.
By analysing the presented scenario, it can be recommended to Monica's to follow the mentioned protocols of delivery and work for aligning the expected delivery standards and the actual delivery.
Protocols for delivery amidst the pandemic are contactless delivery, cashless payment, sanitized kitchens, temperature check, and spray sanitization of the delivery person as well as the staff of the restaurant. These protocols are mentioned by the World Health Organization and are mandatory to follow for operating and delivering amidst the pandemic.
In addition to this, it can be recommended that Monica's pack their food in multilayer packaging, which includes the first layer of plasticine, then tape to secure the food contents, and then placing this packet/box in a paper bag, which add another layer. This will new multilayered packet would be easier to carry, transport, and could be left at the delivery address, just like that.
For dealing with the late deliveries, Monica's has to address the issues faced by both the delivery person and the customer. The delivery should be given a voice GPS, which could give them directions while driving so that they won't have to stop again and again to refer to the maps. The restaurant would also have to communicate with the customers to have patience and trust in the venture. They should also tell them prior that the delivery person might' get a bit late due to some factors, and the delivery person will try his best to reach the location as soon as possible.
From the analysis of the case study, it can be concluded that the trends of food delivery have changed due to pandemic and are harder to keep up with. Even though the rate of people ordering food in the UK has increased, the restaurants are taking time to adjust to the new normal. Major gaps have been identified in the service and delivery of the restaurants. Due to these gaps, the overall quality of the service has diminished, and the expectations of the customers are not being met. Major issues at Monica's are of packaging and late delivery. For mitigating these issues, it has been recommended that the restaurant should pack the food in a multilayer of plasticine, tape a paper bag. For fast delivery, a voice GPS should be provided to the delivery person so that they can choose the shortest route.
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