Error Recovery Performance: A New Component of the Hotel Employee Job Assessment
By Priyanko Guchait, PhD Associate Professor Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, University of Houston | January 26, 2020
Errors are defined as "unintended deviations from plans, goals, or adequate feedback processing as well as an incorrect action that results from lack of knowledge. The unintentional nature of the deviation is one way to differentiate between errors and violations, since violations are intentional deviations from standards, norms, practices, or recommendations.
Errors occur in every hospitality organization and can result in negative consequences such as loss of time, faulty products, production and quality losses, increased costs, loss of revenue, decreased employee performance and morale, loss of clients, and even physical injuries. Even after using sophisticated technologies, developing rigid systems, and enacting strict policies to control employee behavior, errors (especially human errors) will occasionally occur, leading to negative consequences. As such, managing or handling errors effectively is crucial for the success of any hospitality business.
One type of error that has been extensively studied in the service, hospitality, and tourism areas is "service failure". Service failure is defined as service performance that falls below a customer's expectations. Service recovery refers to the actions an organization takes to respond to a service failure. Managing service failures effectively is crucial as well-executed recoveries enhance customer satisfaction while poor recoveries lead to customer defections. Thus, the majority of service failure/recovery research initially focused on customers. Hospitality scholars noticed the importance of frontline employees in service failure and recoveries, and as have extensively focused on service recovery performance of frontline employees.
However, this line of research has not been applied to errors other than direct customer service failures. What about errors that do not directly involve and/or influence customers? For example: What about errors that an accountant in a hotel makes that may affect the overall company's performance? What about an expeditor who notices that a wrong food order is about to be delivered or the food was not cooked properly, and corrects it even before the food reaches the customer? Scholars have mostly ignored such errors and error recoveries.
It is important to be able to evaluate how employees handle or manage errors in general rather than only focusing on errors where a customer is involved. There is a need to focus on these internal errors and recoveries as well, as they can have a long-term and indirect effect on service/product quality, customer satisfaction, and firm performance. A service recovery performance measure may not be applicable to employees who do not regularly interact with customers (e.g., accountants, auditors, cook, dishwasher etc.) but that does not mean these individuals do not make errors/mistakes and do not engage in managing those errors.
Additionally, some errors and their recoveries may be noticeable only to employees, peers, and managers. Therefore, there is a need to evaluate if employees are effective in managing/resolving errors and failures.