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Introduction

The London Eye is a giant wheel on the banks of the River Thames in England. Its location is strategic: it is located in the capital city of England. It is one of the major tourist attraction centres in London (Press pack 2011). It receives over three million visitors annually. This huge number of people place it at the centre of one of the most promising business enterprises in London. In the recent past, several initiatives have been implemented to enhance its performance by ensuring it is more cost-effective and profitable at the same time. Several objectives have been put in place to assess its performance (Press pack, 2011). This paper intends to analyse the performance objectives of the London Eye from the customers’ perspective in relation to the actual performance.

Quality gaps measurement is very important in any business. It offers grounds that can be used for measuring the performance of an organization and inducing measures to manage and minimise on the weak areas (Greve, 2003). There are five quality gaps that can be used to assess customer expectations. These gaps are reliability, tangibles, responsiveness, assurance, and empathy (Neely, 2007). Reliability is based on understanding the market. An organiation understands the market by carrying out a research and interpreting the gathered information about the customer expectations (Neely, 2007).

Assurance, on the other hand, is based on the actual expectations of the customers in relation to what they get. This gap normally results when the organisation has insufficient scheduling and lack of dedication by the management to perfecting service delivery (Neely, 2007). Tangibles is a service delivery gap. It is based on the difference between the customer motivated service plan and the set service delivery design. Cases such as poor internal marketing, collapse of the demand and supply, and limited human resources (Neely, 2007). Lack of efficient customer training and education can also result in this gap.

The forth gap, empathy, occurs when an organization has poor communication strategies in the market. This may happen if an organization gives pledges which are not fulfilled and fails to conform to customer prospects (Greve, 2003). Responsiveness is measured in terms of perceived quality expected by the customer versus the actual quality of the service produced (Neely, 2007). Analysis of these gaps will give a detailed understanding of the performance of the London Eye.

Quality

The concept of quality is a very important aspect of any business entity. In the modern market, quality has been used to differentiate several business entity successes into different market segments. Quality is a major factor that is used by customers when selecting certain goods and services over others (Attorney, 2007). Quality, therefore, is an important factor that determines the performance of the business. The London Eye, a view park, depends greatly on quality in the repositioning of its services (Press pack 2011). What will keep customers coming into the centre is the quality of the services they receive. These services should be worth every penny they spend. Since the size of the giant wheel is enormous, any error in the services can result in catastrophic effects that may even crumble the business. From a customer’s point of view, such a business should ensure quality by providing services in a clean and tidy environment. This has been achieved by the London Eye management. The business has ensured cleanliness by employing a good number of workers who keep the place clean. The Eye does not operate for 24 hours to ensure that time for cleaning the machine and the environment is available.

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Customers are also attracted to the facility by its design and location. Quality should ensure that the location of a business is strategic enough to ensure the services offered are sufficient and satisfying. The location of the London Eye is strategic. In the first place, it is located across the river, which is a place that many tourists would like to see and revisit (Neely, 2007). This location has ensured the quality of the services as pertains location is satisfied. The London Eye provides a bird’s eye view of the London City. The location has enabled it to serve many tourists who prefer to view the city from elevated heights. It is a good location strategy that has kept tourists streaming in for many years.

Product reliability is another important quality assurance for customers. Since its inception, the Eye has never had a serious life-threatening accident. It has been in service for quite some time. Maintaining such high standards of reliability for a long time is a challenge. The London Eye has captured the customers as historically they associate it with reliability. In addition, the London Eye maintains quality services through its helpful, courteous, and friendly staff (Press pack 2011). Therefore, in terms of quality, the London Eye has managed to maintain customers’ expectations. The use of a system that is continuous ensures that time factor and efficiency are dealt with. This has enabled it to provide quality as well as efficient services. The London Eye provides the right services to its customers, in this way minimising complains, which attracts and maintains customers.

Speed

The speed at which services are delivered is an important performance objective that customers use when assessing a product. The London Eye has effectively managed to deal with the speed at which their services are delivered in various ways. Customers are interested to know exactly how long it takes for the service to be executed. They are also interested to know how long it will take before they are served (Attorney, 2007). The London Eye has achieved this by informing the customers that each cabin takes exactly 30 minutes to revolve around the Eye. The Eye is designed with several cabins that carry 25 people in each. This design ensures that a good number of people are served by the cabin at a single instance ensuring that a customer is quickly served within the stipulated time. More so, the Eye does not stop once it is switched on. The continuous movement ensures that time is not wasted during loading and unloading of the customers. This secures speedy delivery of services to them. The thirty-minute duration taken inside the cabins ensures that the customers are served well as the Eye continues to revolve. The separation of the platforms that are used for loading and unloading has also increased efficiency. All these measures help reach speedy service delivery to the customers.

Additionally, the Eye has a time-booking system this ensures that customers arrive on site at the exact time they are needed. This prevents overcrowding. It is also an efficient tool as the tourists are served as soon as their time is due. Such a system has guaranteed that the customers are satisfied with the speed at which the services are provided (Barnes, 2008). The Eye also operates on a daily basis other than Christmas Day, so more customers are served within the shortest period possible.

The speed factor has been a challenge to the Eye as it only takes 6,000 revolutions annually, which understandably limits its capabilities. The increasing number of visitors is greatly straining the resource as its services are fixed for certain periods and hours of the year (Nelson & Quick, 2010). Such a problem can be minimised if the Eye increases the number of hours it operates and expands its infrastructure to accommodate the growing number of visitors to the site (Weiss et al., 2008). Generally, the speed at which the services are delivered is average. However, the Eye has employed a lot of personnel on site to make for efficient supervision, making sure the cabins are filled to capacity before they exit the ground level. This is also a working approach that deals with the speed factor.

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Dependability

Customers prefer products that are dependable. A customer using products and services would choose a provider who has been dependable for a long time (Daft, 2009). A dependable service ensures a customer receives value for his/her money. Dependable products and services are based on reliability of the services as well as delivery system (Neely 2007). London Eye is a service provider that successfully competes by providing services that are dependable since they are based on the view and study of the surrounding scenery. A location that satisfies the customers’ eyes is very important. More so, customers will agree that the services provided by London Eye are dependable if they can be provided in a manner that is secure and efficient.

The London Eye made their services dependable by raising efficiency in time management. It has a continuously revolving system with on-site tour guides that make the services efficient. The location of the services is also well-planned. The business has a perfect history of service delivery with minimal risk factors. Customers are assured that the use of such services has no life-threatening risks. It has a security system well-equipped against external threats that renders the place safe for the customers (Press pack, 2011). A safe place is dependable. With increased threats of terrorism, such areas are risky; providing a security system has enabled it to convince its customers that it is safe.

Flexibility

Customers in the modern day are very flexible when it comes to their choices and preferences. Therefore, flexibility in service provision is important in boosting competitiveness. For any service provider to retain and attract more customers, continuous changes and improvements in the service delivery system are necessary (Barnes, 2008). With regard to the London Eye, customers expect flexibility in various ways. The most important customer expectation is the Eye changing the number of products and services it offers.

These changes should diversify the Eye to an extent that a customer notices continued expansion of the business. Customers also expect to notice a change in the time needed to receive the services. This can be achieved through expansion of the structure to accommodate more customers, increase the speed of revolutions, or enhance the number of loadings per day (Weiss et al., 2008). Additionally, the customers expect changes to be taking place in the products and services offered by the Eye. These changes should result in diversity and more efficient services. Moreover, customers expect to notice innovativeness in the way London Eye executes its services. Innovativeness means continuous introduction of new services and products.

The mission statement of London Eye focuses on flexibility keep it on a par with the current market requirements. As much as its management has witnessed very few changes in its products and services, it has invoked several environmentally friendly changes (Press pack, 2011). Such changes include the reduction of carbon footprint. Customers prefer services that are environmentally friendly. The production and use of green energy are a flexibility option that the management of the London Eye have adopted. The modern world is going green; this approach is substantial enough to keep it going and being more competitive.

The London Eye management have devised a comprehensive educational program as one of the ways to diversify its services. The use of an all-inclusive website has enabled this program to be very effective in attracting more people. Its incorporation of social media links such as Facebook, where users can upload and access photos from the site, has also diversified its marketing strategy (Press pack, 2011). The concept of flexibility has been realised and at the same time the management has maintained its core services (Greve, 2003).

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Cost

Cost is very important for a service provider. From a customer’s point of view, the cost is based on the effectiveness of the services provided. A customer assesses cost by examining the benefits obtained in the service provided (Greve, 2003). A customer prefers services that are provided in a more cost-effective manner that would not affect the quality and price. A customer will assess the London Eye based on the effectiveness of the services provided, namely, their volume, visibility, variety, quality, flexibility, dependability, and speed. A customer will examine all these factors so that he/she can conclude whether the Eye is cost-effective. Based on the discussions above, the Eye has instigated various measures geared towards cost-effectiveness.

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The relative importance of all the indicators described above can be summed up as shown below. Since the general importance of cost is affected by the importance and performance of the other parameters, it has been reduced due to other factors, including flexibility and failures in good performance (Daft, 2009).

The Capacity of the London Eye

The capacity of the London Eye, based on the latest figures available, can be calculated as below:

The total number of hours the machine runs during summer is:

The machine operates 12 hours per day.

Summer lasts five and a half months.

This totals to (12 X 30 X 5.5) = 1,980 hours

During winter the machine operates for 8 hours.

Winter lasts for six and a half months.

This will be = (6.5X 8X 30) = 1,560 hours

The capacity of the machine which is equal to the total number of hours the machine operates annually = winter hours + summer hours = (1,980 + 1,560) hours = 3,540 hours.

The percentage capacity utilization of the machine can be estimated as:

(The normal working hours/ total possible working hours) X 100

The normal working hours = 3,540 hours

Total possible working hours = total number of hours in a year.

= (12 X 30X 24) = 8,640 hours

The percentage capacity utilization = (3,540/8,640) X 100 = 40.97 %

In the calculation above an assumption made is that all months have exactly 30 days.

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Balanced Score Card Concept

In conclusion, the balanced scorecard is based on the measurement of financial, customer, business process, and leaning measures of an organisation (Nair, 2004). The four perspectives are obtained by determining the external and internal measures, subjective and objective measures, and drivers of future performance and current performance (Nair, 2004).

The measures that can be used to assess the London Eye based on the balanced scorecard are operational costs, sustainability of the services, finance, and customer ratings (Niven, 2010). The operational costs will give information on how efficient the business is managed. Since its inception, it has been profitable, which means the cash inflow has never exceeded cash outflow in this organisation. Assessing the customers will provide information on whether the business is appealing to the customer, which is the most important for any stakeholder in the business. In fact, the customer is very important for a stakeholder in any business entity. In the case of the London Eye, the customer will be assessed in terms of satisfaction and how often they use the product. Financial information is the other important part of the scorecard on which the shareholders concentrate their interests (Nair, 2004). This information is used to inform the shareholders on how their investments are performing. Assessing development and sustainability of the Eye is also important. A combination of the four measures will provide a detailed assessment for the London Eye present performance and its future prospects.

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