The Aldemar hotel chain in Greece is an example of a hotel chain that set up their own complaint management system by using a data-mining technique called case-based reasoning. Case-based reasoning takes place when: “A new problem situation is sought among previously occurring cases with similar characteristics with a positive or beneficial outcome.” (Peelen & Beltman, 2005/2013). By analysing data in which was described how problems were solved in the past, the Aldemar hotel chain developed specific procedures for handling customer complaints by looking at what had been the most successful way in the past.
In order to develop a complaint management system for a hotel group, the data necessary for case-based reasoning needs to be collected. A method most commonly used to gather complaints is the use of questionnaires. Apart from using questionnaires, data can also be collected at hotel chains when the customers directly contact the hotel chain to complain. Since case-based reasoning in this case requires finding the most effective way to deal with complaints, the data also needs to include information on how the hotel chain dealt with the complaints.
After collecting the data, it is useful to divide the type of complaints in different groups based on their characteristics. The Aldemar hotel chain did this as well. First, they separated complaints based on when the complaint is made (when the customers are still at the hotel or after they check out). The group of complaints made when the customers are still at the hotel was split into minor and serious complaints, while the complaints that were made after the check out, were divided based on who made them and where the complaints were send to. (Fragoulakis & Stavrinoudis, 2010)
For hotel chains, it is also important to look at who should deal with the complaints. Should the employees refer the matter to a supervisor? Or, in case of complaints made after check out, should the main office deal with the complaint? By analysing data that has been collected before, hotel chains are able to connect types of complaints to a specific way of communicating, based on what has proven to be the most effective way of complaint handling before.
While developing a complaint management system through case-based reasoning, it is important for hotel groups to realize that there will still be complaints that cannot be put into a certain group and that it is not possible to create a different procedure for every type of complaint. However, for the complaints that can be put in categories and for which specific procedures can be created, there will be clear guidelines for employees.
Eventually, an effective complain management system that has been designed by using case-based reasoning can lead to resolving issues in a timely and cost-effective way, improvements in the service delivery, and it can improve the reputation of a hotel chain (Ombudsman, 2010). Therefore it is advisable for hotel chains to invest their time in creating a complain management system, just like the Aldemar hotel chain did.
Fragoulakis, V. & Stavrinoudis,T. (Eds.). International Conference on Sustainable Tourism: Issues, Debates and Challenges, Anissaras-Hersonissos, 22-25 April 2010. Retrieved from http://www.researchgate.net/
Gary Hamel: Open source is one of the greatest management innovations of the 21st century [Illustration]. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.flickr.com
Ombudsman Western Australia (November 2010). Effective handling of complaints made to your organisation – An Overview. Retrieved from http://www.ombudsman.wa.gov.au/
Peelen, E. & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management (2nd ed.). Harlow: Pearson Education Limited