Thumb rule of Customer Service: The Customer is King

By Irfan Mirza

IrfanMirza USEMANY OF today’s youngsters are keen to make a career in the hospitality industry and customer service segments of various corporate entities. Customer service is critical to the success of a business. Yet, it is often ignored.- Prof. Irfan Mirza,- Director,-V.M. Salgaocar Institute of International Hospitality Education shares insights and learnings on making a successful career in the customer service industry.

In the hospitality industry the thumb rule is:-

Rule no. 1: The customer is always right

Rule no. 2: If the customer is ever wrong, reread rule no. 1

The five essential needs of every customer are good service, an appropriate approach, action oriented, quality and value for money.

As per a survey done, 68% of the customers said that they do not go back to the same organisation due to indifferent attitude by the staff towards the customer. A happy customer on the other hand, will always return.

Customer service is anything that we do for the customer that is reliable, reassuring, courteous, looks good, empathetic and responsive. A quality service provided to the customer helps to make and keep a business successful, increases profit and also attracts new customers. It also helps to survive amongst competition with other establishments. It is very important that the customers are welcomed warmly but sometimes the farewell accorded to a guest is just as or even more important.

Unlike other industries, hospitality industry is a very complex industry because of the nature of the product and service. In most industries, production happens in one place and delivery can be made anywhere on the globe but in hospitality the products are not produced in advance and here the production and delivery happens at the same place.

Variability is the biggest challenge in the industry due to non-availability of fresh products, technology malfunctions and food not prepared by the same person always. All this makes the industry very complex compared to any other. Here is where the factor of customer care plays a vital role.

When you spend money to buy products such as a car or a mobile, in return you get a product which you can take home, touch it, feel it and see it. Whereas, when you spend money for a holiday to stay in hotels and eat at restaurants, we do not take anything home other than the experience. In order to get the value for money, the experience has to be a pleasant one, if not you go back home with a feeling of money and time wasted. This will prevent the customer from returning again. He/She will also talk about his/her bad experience to others thus giving bad publicity to the establishment. This is why the customer is always a king and customer satisfaction translates to job satisfaction.

There are two types of customers. One is a regular customer and the other an occasional customer. The challenge of a hospitality personnel is to turn the occasional customer into a regular customer. In order to give an excellent service and a ’wow’ factor, the hospitality personnel should have a pleasant personality, good communication skills, eye for detail, concern for the guests and be a mind reader to understand what the guest wants and needs. Excellent service also means exceeding the customer expectations.

Whenever a customer complains, we should look at it as an opportunity rather than a problem. Try to solve the problem and satisfy the customers’ needs to make him happy, which will ensure that the customer comes back for our services. This way the customer knows that you really care for him.

It is always better that the customer complains about the problems rather than he goes out and tells others because this will give us an opportunity to solve the issues. Different customers have different expectations that is why individual attention is important and one has to know how to anticipate such expectations.

A good service person will immediately understand the customer’s problems and will try to do things from the customer’s perspective because a good hospitality personnel knows how to serve the customer without being asked.

Every individual who are keen to make a career in the hospitality industry should strive to achieve this.


The author is Director,-V.M. Salgaocar Institute of International Hospitality Education, Goa.


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