Services and tourism go hand in hand. Many service organizations rightly believe they can be successful only if they satisfy their customers; however, everyday practices within their organizations undermine this belief. Why?
A critical look at the operational systems, service policies and procedures, indicates the tendency in some service organizations to design service encounters to lean toward their convenience rather than for the satisfaction of their customers. How?
There are also questions concerning employees’ responsibilities in service organizations:
Why do employees have such negative reactions to some training programs while managers see the training as an attempt to ‘help’ the employees?
Why does overtime work bother employees so much when, to the top management, the need for overtime work is so obvious?
How can one enforce necessary rules when employees refuse to be ‘informers’ and supervisors ‘look the other way’ during violations of rules?
In this series on customer service, I intend to limit myself to the hospitality and tourism industry, focusing on the hotel industry where the customer is perceived as a guest!
Is there a difference between a “customer” and a “guest”?
A Marketing strategist, Mark Mehlan, says, ‘Not much.’
Different businesses use different terms to describe those who give money for a product or service.
- Airlines have passengers.
- The medical community has patients.
- Hotels have guests.
- Attorneys have clients.
- A museum has visitors.
- A retail store has customers.
‘Guest’ vs. ‘Customer- Does it Really Matter?
For more than a thousand years, “guest” has meant “one who is entertained at the house or table of another,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary.
Here’s what some leading dictionaries include among their definitions of “guest”:
“Someone who is paying to stay at a hotel or eat in a restaurant,” from Macmillan Dictionaries online;
“a person who pays for the services of an establishment (as a hotel or restaurant),” Merriam-Webster‘s Collegiate Dictionary (11th ed.);
“One who pays for meals or accommodations at a restaurant, hotel, or other establishment; a patron,” The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (5th ed.);
“A patron of a hotel, boarding house, restaurant, etc.” (Collins Dictionaries online);
“Any paying customer of a hotel, restaurant, etc.,” Webster’s New World College Dictionary (4th ed.).
Definition of a Customer
A customer is an individual or business that purchases another company’s goods or services. – Investopedia
Do you see any clear relationship differences?
A customer is someone who gives you money in exchange for a product or service. A client (the customer of an attorney) is someone you have a relationship of trust.
How you treat those who give you their money will determine how well your business will survive and grow. The key is, when you cause any of them to FEEL SERVED as opposed to simply BEING SERVED, it is likely that whatever term you use to describe them will not matter, because they will FEEL like guests AND that is what really matters!
Watch out for next week’s feature on the hospitality service environment.