World Airlines, or Trans World Airlines, was one of the largest commercial airlines in the United States up until its merger with American Airlines in 2001. Preceding the 1980s, World Airlines maintained a strong position in both national and international markets, being the first to introduce in-flight movies in 1961. Following poor decisions and as a result of deregulation of the commercial aviation industry, World Airlines declared bankruptcy in 1992. After several reorganisations, World Airlines expanded its routes and flights through the largest acquisition in its history in 1998 (Siddiqi, 2003).
This essay will examine World Airlines will through a case study (Engdahl & Hoffman, 1993), in light of a complaint made by J. Q. Customer, regarding his connecting flights between Charlotte and Munich. After establishing key definitions, this essay will identify and evaluate each service failure expressed by J. Q. Customer, assess its attribution of blame and identify how they could have been prevented. The service failures identified will be evaluated with the assistance of differing theories and models, including: attribution theory, the Gaps model, Total Service Product Concept, and the Zone of Tolerance. Each model will be defined within the context of each failure. Furthermore, each failure will be assessed in relation to the five service quality dimensions: reliability, assurance, responsiveness, empathy and tangibles.
This essay will then evaluate the service recovery strategy of World Airlines. The efforts of World Airlines in response to the complaint will be assessed based on distributive, procedural and interactional justice considerations; and it will be established whether these efforts would have restored the customers trust.
Service failures are defined as incidences when customer expectations are not met, when there is a breakdown in the service delivery (Hoffman, Bateson, Elliot & Birch, 2010). Service failures occur during actual interaction by the customer with the organisation, at critical incidents (Hoffman et al., 2010). Through voice behaviour, J. Q. Customer outlined the service failures that he experienced in a complaint letter, which gave World Airlines the opportunity to respond, retain the customer and avoid negative word-of mouth.
Service Failure 1:
The issues arise during J. Q. Customer and his wife's first flight with World Airlines. A customer's zone of tolerance refers to the difference that exists between adequate service, the quality of service a customer is willing to accept, and the desired service, the quality that the customer wants from the service (Hoffman et al., 2010). Having booked first class tickets for this flight, J .Q. Customer's zone of tolerance would have been narrower due to the premium price, and therefore willing to accept minimal variation in the service required. On Flight 3072, J. Q. Customer and his wife were served a seafood salad that was warm and following this, on their next flight with World Airlines, they both suffered food poisoning. The customer's wife consequently passed out and hit her head, resulting in head and back injuries. The flight attendants immediately attempted to assist, but could do nothing but aid in cleaning up (Engdahl & Hoffman, 1993). This is the first service failure that occurred, falling below the customers' expectations of an adequate service, resulting in dissatisfaction.