Consumers more satisfied with F&B, tourism sectors

Consumers more satisfied with F&B, tourism sectors
Reuters file photo
Published: 4:00 AM, November 30, 2016

SINGAPORE — Consumers were more satisfied with the food and beverage (F&B) sector in the third quarter, with the ability of service staff to meet special requests, explain menu items, as well as the order-taking process cited as important in driving satisfaction.

Satisfaction levels increased 4.4 per cent against the same quarter last year, according to the Customer Satisfaction Index of Singapore (CSISG).

The report, released by the Institute of Service Excellence (ISES) at the Singapore Management University, however, also showed that customers had lower expectations for service quality in the F&B sector amid constrained manpower at eateries.

“Despite a general uptrend in customer satisfaction, we are seeing a decrease in expected quality among locals particularly in food courts, bars and pubs, as well as cafes and snack bars, possibly signalling a mindset adjustment within the manpower-constrained environment that businesses are operating in,” said Ms Neeta Lachmandas, executive director of ISES.

“In the short term, it may seem that since consumer expectations are not high, performance is good and that it need not improve. But in the long run, it simply means customers will not come back as no one would want to patronise establishments where quality expectations are down,” Ms Lachmandas added.

The F&B sector incorporates five sub-sectors: Bars and pubs, cafes and snack bars, fast-food restaurants, food courts, and restaurants. In the cafes and snack bars sub-sector, Starbucks, Delifrance and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf took top spots with their focus on their easy order-taking process, ability to accommodate special requests and attentiveness of service staff.

In the restaurants sub-sector, Fish & Co, Boon Tong Kee and Din Tai Fung bagged the top three positions, with reservation bookings and how long customers waited to be seated emerging as important differentiators.

Meanwhile, within the tourism sector, satisfaction levels rose 2.4 per cent during the third quarter this year against the corresponding period last year. This was largely driven by the attractions and hotels sub-sectors.

Under the attractions segment, Sentosa, the Singapore Zoo and Universal Studios came out tops, with the ease of getting around, food and beverage options and cleanliness the key drivers of perceived quality and loyalty.

For hotels, Marina Bay Sands, Shangri-La and The Ritz-Carlton ranked highest, with intuitive hygiene factors, hotel facilities, in-room amenities, Internet connectivity, efficiency of check-in and check-out processes as well as the ability to accommodate special requests among the key attributes.

“The very definition of service is changing in the face of technological disruption and adoption. The traditional understanding of service in terms of staff responsiveness and customer-oriented dispositions, while still important, has now expanded to include a greater emphasis on service process design,” said Ms Lachmandas. A total of 8,563 surveys were completed for the CSISG 2016 third-quarter study.

Meanwhile, industry experts said that while the manpower shortage continues to be a challenge for the F&B and tourism sectors, changing consumer preferences and increased social media influence also affected their businesses and workforce.

Hotelier and restaurateur Loh Lik Peng, founder of The Unlisted Collection, said: “We cannot look at staff as digits. We fit the millennials into our workforce according to what they want to do, and how they want to fit into the organisation. We need to be agile and open to changes with (the) changing times.”