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Importance of Customer Service in Global Tourism and Hospitality Environment
Services are deeds, processes and performances provided or coproduced by one entity or person for another entity or person. Customer service is the overall activity of identifying and satisfying customer needs. High quality customer service helps to create customer loyalty. Customer service can occur on site e.g. When a person helps the customer to find a desired item or services can be pre-set e.g. service given to a customer in a restaurant or it can occur over the phone e.g. If a customer is not able to install a wireless internet connection at home he just calls the customer service and they assist him. The service industry is the face of any organization, be it the technical support division of a computer company or the staff of a restaurant. If a customer's queries are not answered by a friendly representative, he might think twice, before calling them back again. In hospitality environment, delivering a good quality service is important to solve the problem of customer gap. Customer gap is the difference between customer's expectations and perceptions. Basically services are of 2 types:-
a. Tangible services which can be seen,felt,touched or heard.
b. Intangible services which cannot be seen,felt,touched or heard
The Tech.Support representative(TSR) represents the company far more than the CEO himself. At least for the customer, he is far more important. If the TSR provides efficient service, he virtually doubles up the chances of the company acquiring future customers and retaining the existing ones. Every customer expectations vary largely based on his environment. Familiar environment equals comfort for most of the customers and tourists are normal people in an unfamiliar environment. They don't know what will greet them in the new place, but its only human nature to hope for only the best. For example :- A friendly salesperson smiling at a cranky child can instantly calm a hassled mom and child, making them linger longer instead of just dashing out. Similarly a friendly server in a restaurant can make the guests feel at home. A little attention to detail, a casual suggestion from the menu, asking after their travel plans and answering their queries about local attractions may be a good way to start. Good ambience and presentation, friendly servers, make even regular fare taste grand. Its small things like these that make an ever-lasting impression. When a customer walks away happy, not only is likely to remember an establishment but he is also likely to recommend it, when asked.
Now days every manager's are concentrating in building a positive customer relationship. Many organizations have proposed that only customer satisfaction is important but it is also important to delight the customers. Customer satisfaction is nothing but understanding every individual's own perceptions and expectations (schiffman and kanuk, 2004).However the perception and expectations might differ from person to person. Every individual has his or her own perceptions. (Nightingale, 1985).
Studies have identified atmosphere as a most important part for explaining customer satisfaction among hotel guest. The hotel guests can be from different country also.(Troyes and Heidi 1987).Bitner concludes that atmosphere is important part in any service organization because the customers will happy and are satisfied. (Bitner 1995).It is important to understand the customer expectations properly so that the customers are satisfied. Now a day's many organizations are not only focusing on customer satisfaction but instead they are also focusing on customer delight. According to Patterson (1997) customer delight is going beyond satisfaction to give the best experience to the customer so that he gets satisfied. Although joy plays a major role in delight, it is seen that more people are happy and excited (Kumar et al., 2001).Customer satisfaction is nothing but giving what the customers expect but customer delight involves exceeding the customer expectations. If customers have experienced a bad service or are dissatisfied, they will tell everyone with whom they will come in contact with. In any organization service plays a vital role in satisfying customers. Since services are tangible goods customers can feel, taste, see, and hear so services should be executed in a proper way.
It is difficult with services to give the customer an error free experience because of the human factor involved in service transactions. Services are not mass produced on a factory line but are delivered. The first impression is the last impression. So it is the duty of all staff to give the guests a good experience. If the guest experiences a good service he is satisfied he spreads the same experience to 10 more people by word of mouth. Since guest is staying at the hotel he is home away from home so a good service should be provided to him so that the guest feels comfortable and he is satisfied and it is a good service which makes him feel that he is taken care off.(alastair.m.morrison, hospitality and travel marketing, fourth edition).
Tourism is an activity where tourist travels to any place besides their usual environment either for pleasure, relaxation or business purposes. People travel for many reasons, but they usually travel either for pleasure or for business purposes. From a social and cultural perspective, tourism can have both positive and negative impact on communities. Physical needs, the desire to experience other cultures and an interest in meeting new people are some of the motives of travelers. Service is important to meet the guest's expectations and to satisfy his needs and wants. Proper training should be given to all staff about services. If all staff members perform the services properly, the guests are satisfied and the hotel gets repeat business. Instead of advertising and spending lot of money, if services are given properly to the guests, the guest advertises by word of mouth (john.r.walker, 2008, introduction to hospitality, fifth edition).Among all customer demands, service quality has been increasingly recognized as a critical factor in the success of any business (GrÃ¶nroos, 1990; Parasuraman etal., 1988).
Customer satisfaction and service quality have become important aspects for the researchers. Both concepts have strong impact on business performance and customer behavior. Service quality leads to higher profitability (Gundersen et al., 1996).Customer satisfaction has been a popular topic in marketing practice and academic research since initial study of customer effort, expectations and satisfaction (Cardozo's, 1965).A customer is satisfied if the services experienced by him exceeds his expectations on the other hand he is dissatisfied if he experiences a poor service or the services experienced by him do not meet to his expectations. Studies show that customer satisfaction may have direct and indirect impact on business results.
Anderson et al. (1994), Yeung et al. (2002), and Luo and Homburg (2007) concludes that customer satisfaction positively affects business profitability. According to the world travel n tourism council(2003)(wtc),travel n tourism is the biggest industry in the world which helps the country in different ways such as employment,
tax contribution, stable financial conditions. Meis(1992) points outs that the tourism industry involves concepts that have remained amorphous to both analysts and decision makers. Over the past few years, studies have been written on how to improve global tourism behaviour.The research shows the work associated with the management of culture and cultural differences including the nature and role of organizational cultures within a services environment. (Hoecklin, 1996; Joynt and Warner (Eds), 1996; Cushier and Brisling (Eds), 1997; Usunier, 1993; Samli, 1995; Harris and Moran, 1979; Wilson, 1996)Because of cultural analysis the culture and cultural differences helps in explaining customer behavior which in return helps as a base for planning effective strategic tools in satisfied customers. ( Usinier, 1993; Keegan, 1984).Hall(1976) concludes culture as the pattern of assumptions of different people think,act,feel or behave in their daily routine life. Customers purchases and consumes a wide range of services and based on their experiences they judge the quality and satisfaction of the services. Customers in new environments with different cultures find it hard to interact with the local people and therefore they lack social support so the customers get dissatisfied and it often forms the basis for disappointment, fear and loneliness which can result in culture conflict. (Cushner and Brislin, 1997, p. 11).
When the tourist visits a hotel it is the responsibility of the hotel staff to make him feel comfortable. When the customer goes to other country he doesn't know the social and cultural values of that country and he even faces language barrier, so it becomes difficult for him to communicate with the people. The staff should help the customers with transition being patient in helping them understand their local language. Customer service is nothing but understanding customers needs, wants and satisfying them. Good quality customer service results in satisfied customer and the customers are delighted.
In the global tourism and hospitality environment the major input is the customer seeking satisfaction of certain needs. The desired output is a satisfied customer. If the customer is satisfied the hotel or any organization gets repeat business. It is important for any organization to ensure that their staff gives the best service to customers.
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