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Customer Satisfaction for Chinese Restaurants in the US

Info: 5456 words (22 pages) Dissertation
Published: 11th Dec 2019

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Tagged: TourismHospitalityCustomer Satisfaction


Aim of Project:

  • Perception of Chinese restaurant in the U.S: What affects customer satisfaction and behavioural intentions?


  • To analyse the customer’s behavioural intentions for Chinese restaurant in U.S.
  • To analyse the perception of Chinese restaurant in the U.S.
  • To evaluate and analyse what affects customer satisfaction and behavioural intentions.

The United States is a multicultural and multiethnic nation and this national trend of diversity is expected to consistently increase (Josiam and Monteiro, 2004; Sukalakamala and Boyce, 2007). One reflection of this cultural and ethnic diversity is the variety and prosperity of ethnic restaurants in the American foodservice market. The U.S. ethnic food market generates $75 billion in annual sales, around 65% of which is attributed to the foodservice industry (US ethnic food market, 2005). Yet, the fast growth of ethnic restaurants is not driven entirely by the growing number of new immigrants. In fact, 75% of ethnic food consumption comes from non-ethnic customers (US ethnic food market, 2005). As lifestyles change and dining out becomes more and more commonplace, many customer’s desire new flavours and experiences.

Along with this popularity is the rapid development of Chinese restaurants. According to Chinese restaurants news (2007), there are about 43,139 Chinese restaurants in the United States, which is more than the total number of all McDonalds Wendy’s and burger king domestic outlets combined. Chinese restaurants generate over $17.5 billion annual sales, accounting for about one fourth of overall annual sales generated by ethnic restaurants in the U.S. (Chinese Restaurant News, 2007). Known for its good taste and great value for the price, Chinese cuisine is among the “big three” most popular ethnic cuisines in the U.S. food service market (National Restaurant association, 1995). It is estimated that 90% of the American population has tried Chinese food and 63% of Americans eat Chinese food each month (George, 2001). Facing more sophisticated American consumers and increasing competition in the restaurant industry, Chinese restaurants can no longer succeed by depending on good taste or low price alone. According to National Restaurant Association (2000a,b), due to an increased familiarity with ethnic food. American consumers’ attitudes toward ethnic cuisine have recently changed. Today, an exotic experience is not enough to attract consumers to an ethnic restaurant. Customers are no longer willing to trade off inferior service or atmosphere for an opportunity to try new flavours. They prefer an excellent overall dining experience. Moreover,

Chinese restaurants are facing increasing challenges from other emerging Asian restaurants and from the changing tastes of American customers who prefer healthy or spicy food. Therefore, a better understanding of the key attributes influencing customer satisfaction and post dining behavioural intentions in Chinese restaurants will provide important practical implications for Chinese restaurants operators.

Literature review:

At all stages in the elaboration of a dissertation, the author must exert control over both the content and the way it is organised. The literature review is what shows that the author understand the chosen topic and keeps to the aim. ‘In researching for your dissertation or project, you will generally be expected to source material for yourself’ says MacMillan (2007, p.61). Meanwhile, Swetnam (2005, p.76) gives examples and his definition is that ‘the literature review is central to the dissertation and in all styles of work. It has a number of functions, for example, it shows that you have read widely around your chosen topic, it demonstrates your critical understanding of the theory; it informs and modifies your own research. White (2006, p.83) gives a newer definition that the literature review ‘will help you to discuss the dissertation in its relevant context, together with any theoretical frameworks which may be involved. It may also trigger your imagination and help you set the work in a new and different light’ because the author learns and understands more, which can stimulate further analysis.

Research Method:

The researcher need way to get the data will be from books, magazines, newspaper and through internet. As there are so many websites, no. of books, newspaper and magazines from where researcher will get updated information regarding the research. Through qualitative method the researcher will be able to find out easier way for doing research and by getting direct information related with the research. And the other thing is that in qualitative method accuracy rate is good not all time but, mostly.Quantitative method also very helpful to do the research.

Code of Ethics:

The world tourism organisation developed a code of ethics. This is recognition of the need to enshrine many of the principles of global action on the environment and the rights of tourists and workers. The basic principles inherit in the code are: 2

Table of contents

  • Implementation of the principles of the code of ethics of hospitality.
  • Mutual understanding and respect between peoples and societies.
  • Restaurant as a beneficial activity for host countries and communities.


This work will introduced the conceptual issues associated with the research of “customer satisfaction from Chinese restaurant in US” and also demonstrate what is happening with people of the local community.

Chapter: 2 Literature Review

Literature Review: An Introduction

At all stages in the elaboration of a dissertation, the author must exert control over both the content and the way it is organised. The literature review is what shows that the author understand the chosen topic and keeps to the aim. ‘In researching for your dissertation or project, you will generally be expected to source material for yourself’ says MacMillan (2007, p.61). Meanwhile, Swetnam (2005, p.76) gives examples and his definition is that ‘the literature review is central to the dissertation and in all styles of work. It has a number of functions, for example, it shows that you have read widely around your chosen topic, it demonstrates your critical understanding of the theory, it informs and modifies your own research. White (2006, p.83) gives a newer definition that the literature review ‘will help you to discuss the dissertation in its relevant context, together with any theoretical frameworks which may be involved. It may also trigger your imagination and help you set the work in a new and different light’ because the author learns and understands more, which can stimulate further analysis.

Chapter: 1 Ethnic cuisine development and Chinese restaurants in the US.

In the past few decades, with the influx of new immigrants as well as diversifying tastes of Americans, ethnic foods have become widely available and increasingly popular in the U.S. food service market (Josiam and monteiro, 2004). Traditional ethnic cuisines such as Italian, Mexican and Cantonese Chinese have become so familiar to American customer that they are perceived as mainstream American foods (Mills, 2000). In the meanwhile, many emerging ethnic cuisines such as Caribbean, Mediterranean and Pan – Asian have also gained wide acceptance in recent years (US ethnic food market, 2005).

Chinese cuisine arrived in the U.S. with the first railroad construction workers brought over to the west coast of the U.S. in the nineteenth century (Freeman, 2008). From the first Cantonese style Chinese restaurant opened in San Francisco in 1849, it rapidly penetrated towns and cities all over the U.S. and became part of the American experience (Chen and Bowen, 2001). Cantonese style cuisine, characterised by its light sweet and sour flavours, is the most popular Chinese cuisine in the U.S. In the recent years, other styles of Chinese cuisine have also become familiar to American customers, such as Szechwan, Hunan and Mandarin styles. The first two styles are famous for their hot and spicy flavours, while the last one is characterised by light, elegant and mildly seasoned foods (George, 2001). According to the National Restaurant Association (1995), customer perceived Chinese cuisine as a great value for the price, good for carryout, rich in flavour and difficult to prepare at home.

Although there a few Chinese restaurant chains operating in the U.S. such as P. F. Chang’s China Bistro and Panda Express, most Chinese restaurant has a Chinese name outside, is decorated with Chinese styled pictures and artifacts, such as Chinese brush landscape paintings red lanterns, offers a menu printed in both Chinese and English, and provides Chinese characterised tableware, such as chopsticks and Chinese restaurants have been facing intense competition among themselves due to fast development and expansion in the U.S., as well as from other emerging Asian restaurants such as Indian, Japanese, Korean, Thai and Vietnamese ( Jang et al., 2009). Thus, maintaining customer satisfaction and repeat patronage may be more important for Chinese restaurants than ever before.

Chapter: 2 Customer satisfaction and related theories

The topic of “customer satisfaction” has held a significant position in the marketing literature over the decades since satisfied customers can be generate long-term benefits for companies, including customer loyalty and sustained profitability (Homburg et al., 2006). Researchers have explained the mechanism of customer satisfaction with number of distinct theories, such as expectancy-disconfirmation theory (Oliver, 1981), contrast theory (Howard and Sheth, 1969), assimilation or cognitive dissonance theory (Anderson, 1973), equity theory (Oliver and Swan, 1989), and value percept theory (Westbrook and Reilly, 1983). Among them, the most widely accepted theory is the expectancy – disconfirmation theory. According to this theory, customers’ satisfaction judgements are the results of comparisons between customers’ expectations and perceived performance. If the perceived performance exceeds the expectation, the expectation is positively disconfirmed and the customer is satisfied. On the contrary, if the perceived performance falls short of the expectation, the expectation is negatively disconfirmed and the customer is dissatisfied. Another influential theory for customer satisfaction is the equity theory. This theory suggests that satisfaction occurs when customers perceived that they have obtained more benefits compared to their cost (e.g. money, time and effort) and perceived value is an appropriate factor in measuring satisfaction (Oliver and Swan, 1989; Yuan and Jang, 2008).

Another commonly used theory, the three factor theory, provides a basic explanation for the structure of customer satisfaction. This theory claims that three independent satisfaction factors influence customer satisfaction in different ways (Kano, 1984; Matzler and Sauerwein, 2002). Basic factors are minimum requirement for satisfaction. Failure to fulfil the minimum requirements causes dissatisfaction, whereas fulfilling or exceeding them does not necessarily lead to satisfaction. Excitement factors increase customer satisfaction if delivered but do not cause dissatisfaction if not delivered. Performance factors lead to satisfaction if performance is high and to dissatisfaction if performance is low (Fuller and Matzler, 2008). This theory has been validated empirical studies (e.g. Fuchs, 2004; Matzler et al., 2006) and could provide an additional perspective for understanding the effects of restaurant attributes on customer satisfaction. Basic factors can be seen as the prerequisites for the satisfaction, signifying that customer take that for granted. Performance factors are a critical competitive area and directly related to customers’ explicit needs and wants. Excitement factors are unexpected by customers, so they can be a “surprise gift” that generates extra delight (Fuller and Matzler, 2008).

Chapter: 3 Behavioural Intentions

Behavioural intention can be defined as the degree to which a person has formulated conscious plans to perform or not perform some specified future behaviour (Ajzen and Fishbein, 1980). According to the theory of reasoned action (Fishbein and Ajzen, 1975), behavioural intention is the motivational component of a volitional behavioural and is highly correlated with behaviour itself (Jang and Feng, 2007). Although there are still arguments about the level of correlation between behavioural intentions and actual actions, it seems to be generally agreed that behavioural intention is a reasonable variable for predicting future behaviour (Quelette and Wood, 1988). Thus, a good understanding of the determinants of favourable post-dinning behavioural intentions such as saying positive things about the restaurant, recommending the restaurant to others, and repeat purchasing can provide practical guidance for restaurant practitioners.

Another construct that is highly related to behavioural intentions is customer satisfaction. It is regarded as one of the key antecedents of post purchase behavioural intentions because customer satisfaction has a positive effect on the customer’s attitude towards the product or service and can reinforce the customer’s conscious effort to purchase the product or service again in the future (Oliver, 1989, 1999). However, previous studies have also suggested that factors that influence customer satisfaction are not always in accordance with factors influencing customer behavioural intention, for example, Sulek and Hensley (2004) found that food, atmosphere, and fairness of the seating order were all significant predictors of a customer’s overall dining satisfaction, but only food quality predicted post-dining behavioural intention. In examining food quality in restaurants, Namkung and Jang (2007) reported that food temperature had a significant effect on customer satisfaction but no effect on behavioural intention. Conversely, healthy options were a direct determinant of behavioural intentions but did not influence customer satisfaction. Therefore, there is a practical need to investigate the effects of restaurant attributes on both customer satisfaction and behavioural intentions.

Chapter: 4 Factors influencing customer satisfaction and behavioural intentions in restaurants

Reuland et al. (1985) suggested that hospitality services consist of a harmonious mixture of three elements: the material product, the behaviour and attitude of the employees, and the environment. Berry et al. (2002) also proposed three categories of cues that present themselves in the service experience: functional cues (technical quality of service), mechanic cues (nonhuman elements in the service environment) and humanic cues (behaviour of service employees). Based on these propositions, the basic restaurant attributes can be said to be include food, service and environment. Though a literature review of dining satisfaction and behaviour intention, all three basic elements were found to directly or indirectly contribute to customer’s overall satisfaction with a restaurant experience and their post dining behavioural intentions.

Chapter: 5 Food Quality

As the core product of a restaurant, food plays a pivotal role in the restaurant experience. Food quality has been generally accepted as major factor influencing customer satisfaction and post dining behavioural intention. For example, Dube et al. (1994) measured the relative importance of seven restaurant attributes in repeat purchase intention in an upscale restaurant setting and found that food quality was far more important to restaurant customers than all others attributes, Sulek and Hensley (2004) investigated the relative importance of food and physical setting, and service in a full-service restaurant and found that food quality was the most important factor influencing satisfaction and the only factor predicting behavioural intention. Namkung and Jang (2007) evaluated the relationship of individual attributes that constitute food quality (e.g. food presentation, menu variety, healthy options, taste, food freshness and temperature) with customer satisfaction and behavioural intentions. The findings indicated that food presentation, taste and temperature were significantly related to customer satisfaction whereas food presentation, taste and healthy options (instead of temperature) were significant predictors of behavioural intention. Besides the above- mentioned six individual attributes, “food safety” is also an important cue for evaluating food quality. “Although food-safety defects are not always immediately apparent, customers do tend to notice undercooked food, food with an off taste, or foreign material in their food” (Sulek and Hensley, 2004). Thus, food may serve as the most basic and lowest standard when judging quality.

Service Quality:

In the service literature, perceived service quality is defined as the customer’s judgement of the overall excellence or superiority of the service (Zeithaml, 2008). It is the customer’s subjective evaluation, resulting from a comparison of expectations and perceived performance. SERVQUAL (Parasuraman et al, 2008) is the instrument most often used for measuring perceived service quality in the marketing literature. It consists of five service dimension, namely, tangibles (physical facilities, equipment, and appearance of personnel), reliability (ability to perform the promised service dependably and accurately), and responsiveness (willingness to help customers and provide prompt service), assurance (knowledge and courtesy of employees and their ability to inspire trust and confidence) and empathy (caring, individualized attention the firm provides its customers). To adapt SERVQUAL to the restaurant industry, Stevens et al. (2005) modified several items from the original SERVQUAL and developed DINESERV to measure perceived service quality in restaurants. In the restaurant industry, since customers not only evaluate the quality of food but also the service encounters during their dining experience, perceived service quality is seen as another core determinant of customers satisfaction and behavioural intention. For example Kivela et al. (2009) proposed a comprehensive model for dining satisfaction and return patronage. Their study indicated that the probability of return patronage was dependent on customer’s satisfaction with five aspects of a restaurant: first the last impressions, service quality, and ambience quality, food quality and feeling comfortable eating there and reservation and parking. Ladhari et al. (2008) investigated determinants of dining satisfaction and post-dining behavioural intentions, and concluded that perceived service quality influenced customer satisfaction through both positive and negative emotions, Customer satisfaction, in turn, influenced recommendations, customer loyalty and willingness to pay more. Their results suggested that compared with food quality/reliability, physical design and price, service responsiveness was the most important contributor to customer satisfaction.


Atmospherics is perceived as the quality of the surroundings space. According to Kotler (2006) it is the conscious designing of space to produce specific emotional effects in buyers that enhance their purchase probability. Atmospherics is made up of a set of elements, such as music, lighting, colour and scent.

Research in environmental psychology has suggested that atmospherics has a powerful impact on people’s emotions, attitude and behaviour. Mehrabian and Russell (2005) first introduced a theoretical model to explain the impact of environmental stimuli on individual behaviour. The model claims that the physical environment could influence people’s emotional response (such as pleasure and arousal), which in turn elicits approach or avoidance behaviour toward the environment. The model has gained consistent support from the numerous empirical studies in different service settings, such as retail stores and hotels (Baker and Cameroon, 2006). In the restaurant context, Ryu and Jang (2007) explored the combined effect of multiple atmospheric variables on behavioural intentions in upscale restaurants. Their findings supported that ambience (example music, aroma, and temperature) and employee appearance had the most important influence n customer’s post dining behavioural intentions.


Besides food, service and atmospherics, perceived price fairness could be another factor that influences the customer satisfaction and behavioural intentions (Bei and Chiao, 2007). It is based on consumer internal reference prices, which could be generated by the last price paid, the price most frequently paid and the market prices in similar transactions (Kahneman et al.2006). This principle posits that firms are entitled to a reasonable profit and customers are entitled to a reasonable price. An increase in price is preserved to be fair if it is due to a cost increase. Otherwise, it is preserved to be unfair if the price is increased without any underlying cost increase. Perceived fairness of price is found to be positively related to customer satisfaction and loyalty (Bei and Chiao, 2007), whereas perceived unfairness of price can lead to immediate negative attitudinal and behavioural responses such as dissatisfaction, complaining and switching to other providers (Xia et al. 2005).

Authenticity is an attribute that could be specifically relevant to ethnic restaurants. Authenticity refers to whether the food and ethnic origin. In other words, the environment and cuisines are not adjusted to meet local tastes and customers who are familiar with the culture of the ethnic origin can be judging its authenticity (Ebster and Guist 2006). Compared with Americans restaurants, ethnic restaurants usually make use of ethnic art, decor, music and customers. Some scholars even describe ethnic restaurants as cultural ambassadors of the home country and the dining experience in an ethnic as culinary tourism (Wood and Munoz, 2006).


Based on the literature review, this study investigated customer perception of Chinese restaurant in terms of food related attributes service related attributes, atmosphere related attributes and other attributes (price and authenticity), and identified the key attributes affecting customer satisfaction and behavioural intentions.

Research Method

Chapter: 3 Research Method

Research Method


Methodology is the study of methods and it raises all sorts of philosophical questions about what it is possible for researcher to know and how valid their claims to knowledge might be (Fisher, 2007, p.40) The researcher has to consider the nature of the setting being studied or the ‘question’ being asked, as well as any possible limitations on the study, such as time and resources. Resources may be human being or monetary resources, or research tools such as computers or computer assisted telephone interviewing laboratories. There also needs to be to be a match between the study topic and methodology. For example, a research question that seeks to determine the size of the visiting friends and relatives market in an area would use a quantitative methodology, not a qualitative methodology, because the focus is on quantification.

A methodology is a systematic and orderly approach taken towards the collection and analysis of data so that information can be obtained from those data. Data are raw, specific, undigested and therefore largely meaningless; information, in contrast, is what you get when data have been arranged in such a way that uncertainty is lessened, queries resolved, and questions answered. In the words of Jankowicz (2005, p.220) “Everything you do in your empirical work should be directed to the one end of gathering and presenting data from which information can be easily and simply derived”. Veal (2006, p. 125)

The research approach:

The author will use primary sources in the dissertation. Two interviews will be conducted:

– with one member of Dancing Dragon, Teesside (one of manager )

– with one regular customer of Dancing Dragon restaurant

The two chosen people one from Dancing Dragon and another from a regular customer of Chinese restaurant. Therefore, that customer will be capable of answering all questions and give new examples. The experience for the author is important because the answers will be based on true stories, examples and theories that are necessary for the dissertation. The interviews will be done by email and telephone, which could give the author an opportunity to gain some extra information if the interview exceeds the prepared questions and some new information will come from the interviews.

Practicality of research:

The interviews are a very good research method and are also practical. The information gained in the process is something new because it is primary source, then from secondary source, which must be checked. Primary source data can help the help to avoid incorrect or approximate information to learn and present further on, there is no need for the author to check it before including it in the dissertation.

Also, Face to face interview can also help the author to conduct the interviews on time. The appointments must be made on time and dates are set, interviewees will not have chance to put off the interviews.

Finally, it is an interesting process for the author. Sitting with a lot of books or magazine articles in the learning centre sometimes does not arise any interest in the author and the creativity in this case is poor, but to go out and to speak with people makes impressive ideas and final work can differ a lot.

Five Codes of Ethics:

The author of this dissertation will comply with five codes of ethics, and they will also be the limitations:

  • will not collect information in such a way that participants are not aware of it
  • will explain for what purpose information is required
  • will choose to interview random individuals and will not exert pressure of any kind on them
  • will not change information provided by participants
  • will maintain confidentially at the request of participants

The author will strictly follow the Five Codes of Ethics to avoid unnecessary misunderstanding that could develop between the author and interviewees. It is important to respect the interviewees’ wishes if they have them. It is the best way to say “Thank You” to respect for the time they have devoted and the knowledge for the author.


‘Methodology is the philosophical framework with which the research is conducted or the foundation upon which the research is based. To word it differently, methodology is the rationale for the particular methods you use in your researching and in that type of research in general’ says Berman (2006, p. 12). That means that methodology is needed to provide the author with the means to find the research needed for the written dissertation.

For the purpose of this research, the primary data will consist of two interviews and they will cover all three objectives, first, with one regular customer of ‘Dancing dragon restaurant’ and the second with one member of the Chinese restaurant. The interviews will be conducted through email and telephone , and will be formal. There will be 10 questions. The interviews will give advice from people who have substantial experience in the industry.

Primary and Secondary Data:

Data can be drawn from both primary and secondary sources. A secondary source of information already exists and has been gathered by someone else. Official statistics, previous studies, journal, magazine and newspapers articles are all sources of secondary information, and will be used in the research project for findings, analysis and recommendations.

There are many styles of primary research – experiments, ethnographic research and surveys. Bedford (2006, p.61) defines ‘primary data which comes from the source at the time of the event; it may be a report, newspaper article, film footage, or a live or recorded interview.’ That means that primary data are something that is not from sources that are already available to each student, but what he/she has studied or gained from the information by doing some research on his /her own. Many courses of study require students to engage in some form of primary research activity. In this dissertation, there will be questionnaires for people selected for the research. An advantage is that information which will be found is something new and unreached, but the limitations may be about the confidentiality of the interviewees if they ask for it.

Quantitative and Qualitative Data:

Quantitative data encompass a group of methods focusing on quantities and on numbers, ‘scientific research relies heavily on quantitative data. This means it focuses on changes or differences that can be measured. Standardised measurements are used – such as number, time, weight, and length, says Cottrell (2008, p.206), so that results are easy to compare unbiased. This source of data is very important and is well appropriate for the project, but at the end ‘check and verify the results, looking for errors and odd results’ adds Moore (2006, p.139). However, qualitative research can also enhance the rigour and credibility of quantitative research. Qualitative research is ‘founded on the belief that social phenomenon (belief and experiences) can be explained with reference to the wider contexts of lived lives’ adds Burns (2008, p.231). He adopts the stance that people have knowledge of their own lives and that they can talk about those.

Questionnaire and Interview Design:

There are two types of interviews, which are classified according to the degree of flexibility. One is unstructured and the second one is structured. ‘The strength of unstructured interview is the almost complete freedom they provide in terms of content and structure. You may formulate questions and raise issues on the spur of the moment, depending upon what occurs to you in the context of the discussion’ explains Kumar (2005, p.123). A structured interview, continues Kumar (2005, p.126), is when ‘the researcher asks a predetermined set of questions, using the same wording and order of questions, using the same wording and order of questions as specified in the interview schedule is a written list of questions, open – ended or close – ended, prepared for use by an interviewer in a person – to – person interaction.’ In this project, there will be structured interviews with open ended questions, because there are only 20 questions to gain the information needed for the project. This means that the research methods for this project are qualitative.


Basically methodology is the rationale for the particular methods the researcher uses in the research to gather the needed information. For this report, author will obtain information from these methods – primary


Chapter: 5 Research Findings




Demographic profile of respondents:

Source: mintel 2007

Table one show the results of the respondents’ demographic and dining profiles. Among the 284 valid respondents, females accounted for 52.5% of diners. The average respondent was 37 years old. The majority of respondents were Caucasian (60.2%), followed by Asian (32%) and other (7.8%). Respondents were most likely to go to a Chinese restaurant with their family (47.6%), followed by friends (27.1%) and relatives (15.2%) and were less likely to dine with business colleagues (2.1%) or by themsel

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