Customer Service LTSM by jennyyingdi


									                                            Customer Service LTSM

This Learning and Teaching resource has been sponsored by the National Business Initiative
(NBI). It serves as an introduction to the curriculum topic regarding company and personal
images, as well as aspects of quality service. It will assist you to teach your learners about
different aspects of customer service excellence in the tourism sector and is applicable to the
Grade 10 curriculum.

Learner activities and case studies are included to help learners better understand the
concepts and principles. Learners can do these activities individually or in groups or pairs.

Some of the materials have been adapted, with permission, from the GTTP Passport to the
World curriculum.

This resource may be read in conjunction with the LTSM on Customer Complaints. If you do
not have a copy, you may source this from the GTTP SA website:


1     The Tourism Service Context ......................................................................................... 2
2     A Professional Image in the Tourism Industry ................................................................ 2
    2.1    Company Image and Identity................................................................................... 3
      2.1.1    Enhancing Company Image ............................................................................. 3
      2.1.2    Enhancing Corporate Identity ........................................................................... 4
    2.2    The Image of the Employee .................................................................................... 4
3     What is Service? ............................................................................................................ 6
    3.1    Moments of Truth .................................................................................................... 9
    3.2    Touchpoints ...........................................................................................................10
4     Service Excellence ........................................................................................................10
    4.1    How to improve service delivery .............................................................................13
5     Customer Interaction Cycle ...........................................................................................13
6     Service Initiatives in South Africa ..................................................................................17
    6.1    Tourism Service Excellence Initiative: TSEI ...........................................................18
7     Assessing your Learners ...............................................................................................19
8     Ideas Box ......................................................................................................................20

1 The Tourism Service Context
Tourism is big business internationally. More people are now travelling on business and
leisure than ever before. This means that people who travel can compare the type and level
of service that they receive from one place to another. They often have high expectations of
the type of service that they will receive, and know how they want to be treated when

South Africa is a unique and interesting country to visit, and many tourists from other
countries are venturing here to experience our culture, wildlife, exceptional scenery and
beautiful beaches.

However, these attractions are not that valuable if tourists do not also receive good service
while they are enjoying the wonders of our country. Good service is a critical element of their
overall experience, and one that will most likely determine if they will come back again or not.

In this resource we will look at service in the South
African context and learn more about providing
excellent service to our guests and customers. In this
way we can contribute to creating a national destination
that has magnificent attractions enhanced by the
friendliness and service levels of the South African

  South Africa ranked in the 2007 World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC)
  Competitiveness Report
  South Africa was ranked 62nd out of 124 countries in the 2007 WTTC. Overall, the report
  found that the state of customer service delivery within the country was inconsistent with
  extremes of poor to excellent service being provided.

South African people are usually characterised as being very friendly people. However,
while this is true, often we do not know exactly what to do or the right actions that are
expected of us in the tourism service context.

For example, we may be very friendly and happy to see a guest arriving, but what are the
right things to say and do to ensure that the guests’ needs are met?

For example, instead of just saying hello, we can offer them a drink, carry their luggage,
show them to their room, and so on. These extras, over and above our warm South African
welcome, demonstrate service skills and service excellence. In this LTSM we will learn
practical hints and tips on how to deliver excellent service that can be favourably compared
with service found in other places around the world.

2 A Professional Image in the Tourism Industry

How we present ourselves and how we serve our customers and guests in the tourism
industry goes a long way to ensuring the success of any tourism businesses.

There are two aspects of presentation – these are how the company presents itself to its
clients and customers, and then how the individual employees present themselves to clients
and customers. We need to understand both of these in order to present ourselves
professionally in the industry.

2.1   Company Image and Identity

Businesses in the tourism industry need to project a professional image at all times. They do
this through two aspects:
 The corporate image
 The corporate identity

We need to distinguish between the concepts of ‘corporate image’ and ‘corporate identity’.
According to, they can be defined as follows:

          Corporate Image                                  Corporate Identity
Mental picture that springs up at the          Combination of colour schemes, designs, words,
mention of a firm's name. It is an             etc., that a firm employs to make a visual
impression that continually changes with       statement about itself and to communicate its
the firm's circumstances, press coverage,      business philosophy.
performance, etc. It is the public             It is an enduring symbol of
perception of the firm rather than a            how a firm views itself,
reflection of its actual state or position.     how it wishes to be viewed by others, and
Unlike corporate identity, it can change        how others recognise and remember it.
overnight from positive to negative or         Corporate identity is conveyed by things such as
neutral. Large firms use various corporate     logo, name, slogan, stationery, uniforms,
advertising techniques to enhance their        buildings and décor, and is not much affected by
image in order to improve their desirability   its financial performance and ups and downs in
as a supplier, employer, customer,             its fortunes.
borrower, etc.                                 Corporate identity is either strong or weak and is
                                               more or less permanent unless changed

2.1.1 Enhancing Company Image

Company image is created by the activities of a company and how it handles the public. If,
for example, an airline or bus company has an accident, its company image will be damaged,
even if it had a perfect safety record before that. How it handles the press and the people
affected by the accident will either enhance or damage its image. This example illustrates
how an image is easily affected by current events and company behaviour. It is not a set
thing like a company identity.

The level of service that one receives from a company can affect its image. Good service
will enhance that image, and poor service will damage it in the mind of its customers and the

Service staff, through their behaviour, have a critical role to play in enhancing or protecting
the company image. This is why companies have standard operating procedures for
delivering the same type and level of service, no matter who an employee is dealing with.

In the tourism and hospitality industry, this means that, for example, a guest or customer of a
hotel or restaurant group should be able to expect the same service standards and
procedures in every property or establishment that they may visit in that group.

Policies extend to, for example:
 How the phone is answered
 How a client is greeted
 How complaints are handled
 How a bill or account is presented

These make sure that standards of service are consistently maintained.

2.1.2 Enhancing Corporate Identity

Every company needs a visual ID that makes it different from other companies in the market.
When you have a look at a famous trademark such as Coca-Cola, you can easily indentify it
among other companies by its famous red colour and specific writing style.

The identity is the look of the company which is visible through primarily its logo, the colours
of that logo, and how these are carried through to the rest of its artefacts such as stationery,
uniforms, branding, and so on.

The business logo is the image that gives the first impression of a business to its clients. This
is why prior to starting a business, huge stress is given to the logo design, brochures and

Corporate identity includes a company's name plus its logo and comprehensive colour and
design concepts for all materials that identify and promote this name. For example, Kulula is
known for its funky, bright green corporate identity. Its advertisements and even its aircraft
are often the topic of conversation. It has stayed away from the conventional airline identity,
and stayed true to its name ‘Kulula’ which means “It is simple.”

A business corporate identity is based on three elements:

1. Corporate designs (logo design, brochure design, flyers, business cards, uniforms, and
   corporate website and stationery)
2. Corporate communication (public relations, advertisements)
3. Corporate behaviour (ethics, values and employee behaviour)

Companies usually have very strict guidelines to manage its corporate identity, for example:
 How their logo is used on stationery and other printed items like brochures
 The very specific colours of the logo that are used as corporate colours
 Dress codes or uniforms – these are either supplied by the company or are guidelines
  which can be a dress code that specifies something as simple as wearing black jeans
  and white shirts in a restaurant.

These are usually managed by the corporate affairs or marketing departments of a large

2.2   The Image of the Employee

Professionalism and related concepts are very difficult to describe.           These concepts
generally govern how someone conducts themselves at work. It includes:
    the behaviour you display at work,
    the attitude you have at work,
       how you present yourself physically
       the way you conduct yourself and
       your work ethics and morals.

Professionalism begins with how you look. It is important that anyone working with
customers or guests is presented in the best possible way. It is especially important to
anyone who has direct contact with guests or customers, such as dealing with guests in a
hotel, or accompanying tourists as a tourist guide. In all of these activities, a tourism
professional will be in close contact with guests, and must ensure that they present an
excellent professional image.

Tips for presenting a professional image

   Attitude: Always maintain a professional attitude and be keen, eager and alert at all
   Professional Clothing:
       o    Uniforms or a dress code are a good way to make everyone looks neat, tidy and
            professional. Uniforms, overalls and aprons should be washed regularly, and
            kept clean and in good condition, with no missing buttons, drooping hems, etc..
   Limit excessive make-up, jewellery or perfume.
   Name badges for staff are useful and professional and enable guests to communicate
    more personally with yourself or your staff.
   Personal hygiene is an important part of being professional. Service staff must always
    practice personal cleanliness and:
           shower, bath or wash thoroughly every day and use deodorant
           keep hair and nails neat and clean
           brush teeth at least twice a day
           always wear clean clothes
   Posture: maintain an upright and attentive posture – no slouching or leaning against
    walls or furniture.
   Maintain a quiet tone at all times; don’t talk loudly or shout in the business environment.
   Do not fidget with your body when dealing with guests or colleagues, examples are
    scratching your ear, touching your face or nose, pulling your hair or anything like that.

Learner Activity 1: Checklist of staff appearance

Draw up a checklist for tourism or hospitality staff to ensure that they are
professionally groomed and presented at all times. This may be for tourism guiding, for
cookery, or dealing with guests in a hotel.

Learner Activity 2: Checklist for staff appearance: Suggested checklist

The learners may develop any checklist, but it should be in a table and should look
something along the lines of:

Staff Presentation Checklist:

Item                                      Yes No       Comments/ideas for improvement
Hair, neat, tidy, clean
Uniform: clean, ironed, good repair
Shoes shines
Nails: short and clean
Hygiene: pleasant smelling, teeth
brushed, showered

Other tips about professional behaviour:
 Always be polite and courteous toward all guests, customers or clients.
 Punctuality: Be on time for any business engagements such as meetings, workshops,
   and other business activities.
 Phone etiquette:
     o     Do not have your family or friends phone you while you are conducting business
           unless it is an emergency.
     o     Do not conduct personal conversations on the telephone during business,
           especially not in front of guests or customers.

Behaviours that should be avoided

Sometimes people do not realise they are not being professional. The following behaviours
are not professional and create a poor impression at work. Staff should not:
     Chew gum
     Kick off shoes at work and walk barefoot
     Slouch or lean on counters or desks while talking to clients or colleagues
     Eat in public or guest areas
     Sit on the floor in public or staff areas
     Talk too loudly with colleagues or friends: talking, shouting, laughing in public or staff
     Wear T-shirts (especially coloured T-shirts or with pictures or logos) under formal
     Be over-friendly with guests – using terms of endearment to guests like ‘my dear’,
       ‘darling’, ‘sweetie’ or other terms like that.
     Amend their work uniform by, for example adding decorations, shortening skirts and
       so on.
     Wear inappropriate underwear such as a black bra under a white shirt, or have any
       undergarments showing.
     Staff should not be huddled together talking to each other when they should be
       watching and serving guests.

3 What is Service?

Learner Activity 2: Dictionary Search

Look up the word ‘service’ in dictionaries in the classroom or on the Internet. Your teacher
may even give you a sheet of explanations. From these, make up your own short definition
of the concept of ‘customer service’. You may do this on your own, in pairs or groups.

Learner Activity 2: Teacher Instructions: provide copies of dictionary pages containing
the word ‘service’ to the learners, or make a copy of the list provided below.

Not all the definitions supplied pertain to customer service. The learners must read all of
them and decide which ones are relevant, then formulate their own description of service
from the definitions they have been given.

Definitions of ‘service’ from the Internet:
 work done by one person or group that benefits another
   an act of help or assistance; "he did them a service"
   the act of public worship following prescribed rules; "the Sunday service"
   a company or agency that performs a public service; subject to government regulation
   employment in or work for another; "he retired after 30 years of service"
   military service: a force that is a branch of the armed forces
   Canadian writer who wrote about life in the Yukon Territory (1874-1958)
   tableware consisting of a complete set of articles (silver or dishware) for use at table
   servicing: the act of mating by male animals; "the bull was worth good money in servicing
   serve: (sports) a stroke that puts the ball in play; "his powerful serves won the game"
   be used by; as of a utility; "The sewage plant served the neighbouring communities";
    "The garage served to shelter his horses"
   the act of delivering a writ or summons upon someone; "he accepted service of the
   make fit for use; "service my truck"; "the washing machine needs to be serviced"

Defining service: Customer service is the provision of service to customers before, during
and after a purchase. The customer may purchase goods or services:

   Goods are items that we can touch, hold or feel, e.g. food, clothing, books, TV’s etc
   Services are things that cannot be physically felt. Services include those of doctors,
    teachers, waiters, travel agents, nurses, government officials, etc

The tourism and hospitality industries are service industries. We are not selling a product
that is tangible – in other words, you cannot really feel or touch it – it is not a bag of chips
that you can eat, an item that you can wear or something you can buy to use and enjoy in the
future. A service is something that is provided for and then disappears – it is not something
you can keep. Our products are more about experiences, and these are provided with the
element of service.

This is important to understand because how we deliver our products – a tour, a night of
accommodation or a tourism experience – is the service delivery aspect of our industry.

The process of how the customer is handled before, during and after they buy their goods or
services, is the process of customer service. How well a customer is treated during this
process is the quality of the service experience for the customer.

                                         Service Ethic:
      Taking pride in serving others to the best of your ability and so that they enjoy the
               experience. Being competent, attentive, friendly and available.

Learner Activity 3: Products of the Tourism Industry

Brainstorm in small groups and list as many of the services that are offered by all sectors of
the tourism industry as you can think of. Remember that our products are really our services!

Learner Activity 3: Products of the Tourism Industry: Answers
The answers below provide some guidance on answers to this activity. These are not the
only answers, and learners may come up with more.
Sector                                       Product
Tour operators                               Tours
Restaurants/food and beverage                Meals, drinks, functions and events
Hotels and short stay accommodation               Beds/rooms, short stay accommodation
Car rental                                        Short term vehicle rentals
Airlines                                          Passenger transport – long or short haul

Why is good customer service important?

In today's competitive marketplace, service is the most important thing a business has to sell.
It creates an important difference between businesses that all sell the same basic product
like, for example, a hamburger, a hotel room or a rental car.

Excellent customer service can yield good profits for a business, while bad service may
actually damage the business. Let’s look at some numbers that tell us more about this.

       Business statistics
   •   The average business loses 15 to 35% of its customers each year.
   •   It costs five to ten times more to acquire a new customer than to keep and grow an
       existing customer.
   •   A guest who had a good experience will tell three people; a guest that had a bad
       experience will tell ten people (and today, guests will post their experiences on the
       Internet and inform thousands in one click of the mouse).
   •   Reducing lost customers by 5% boosts profits by at least 25%.

The graph below provides some interesting statistics regarding the reasons why businesses
lose customers.

Losing customers is the ultimate consequence of poor service!

Learner Activity 4: Class Discussion

Your teacher will present a graph to you on why businesses lose customers. Discuss in
class the reasons why businesses lose customers, how to prevent this, and the
consequences of losing customers on the business.

Learner Activity 4: Class Discussion: Teacher Guidelines and Answers
Make copies of the above graph and hand these to your learners. Facilitate class discussion
with a view to interpreting the information on the graph and developing an appreciation of
why it is so important that businesses provide good service.

Service Standards

In the tourism industry the following standards of service are recognised just about
everywhere in the world today:
 A welcoming smile
 Sincerity and warmth
 Introducing one's self and using the person's surname (Mr/Mrs/Ms) or the words 'sir' and
   'ma'am' or 'madam'
 Having a neat appearance, and smelling pleasant
 Using polite language
 Having great listening skills (talk, be quiet, listen carefully)
 Being relaxed and natural but being attentive
 Making good eye contact when addressing someone
 Speaking in a way that a person can be easily understood (clearly and slowly enough to
   accommodate accents)
 Excellent knowledge of the services and products that you and the general tourism
   industry in your area offer
 Being able to direct people to the right place first time round
 Total efficiency – being quick and competent at doing your job
 Anticipate guest’s needs and act on them before they have to ask
 Willingness to exceed guest or tourists’ expectations

3.1   Moments of Truth

Any time a customer comes into contact with a business and forms an opinion about the
quality of its product or service is called a ‘moment of truth’. These are moments when the
customer makes a decision as to whether or not their expectations have been met, and
whether their impression of the business is a good one or a bad one.

The first moment of truth takes place as soon as the client, customer or guest comes in touch
with the business, its product or service.

1. Customer or Guest arrives:
 Having a clean business image and premises
 Creating a welcoming environment, appropriate music, lighting
 Friendly, approachable, well groomed staff following full dress code

2. First Contact:
 Giving the customer a genuine friendly greeting with a smile, such as "hello how are you
 Develop the art of listening and always speak clearly
 Build rapport with your customer, e.g. "How was your weekend?"
 Be efficient, know your services and facilities

3.2     Touchpoints

Moments of Truth happen at touchpoints. Customers form impressions of the business
when he or she meets the service that is offered by the business. These points of contact
are the touchpoints.

It is important to understand that this can happen before, during and after a customer buys
the product or uses the service. It refers to the experience before the sale (like making a
reservation) or afterward (like sending an account).

Let’s look at some examples of the touchpoints in a car rental agency where the client comes
into contact with the business.

Example of touchpoints for car rental:

•     Website: how the website is presented, how quickly it loads, how easy it is to navigate
      and find information, are there any spelling or grammar mistakes in the content, etc, will
      all create impressions
•     Reservations agent: how friendly, informed, confident was the agent, and how were
      they dressed and presented?
•     Location: is the pick up and drop off point well signposted, well lit, clear, neat and tidy?
      Is it in a good, safe area?
•     Counter transaction: how fast was the transaction? Did the agent have a reservation
      for the client, and were all the documents and keys ready?
•     Vehicle: what is the condition and cleanliness of the car? Are any complimentary items
      like mints, water, maps, etc, offered in the car?
•     Leaving the location: is the exit well signposted onto public roads? Is it easy to get out
      of? Is there enough space to turn the vehicle? Does the rental agency provide maps of
      the area to help the customer?
•     Returning the vehicle: how easy is this? Is it well signposted with clear bays to leave
      the vehicle? Is there anyone there who can check the vehicle and accept the keys?
•     Invoice: how neatly is the invoice presented? It is typed or hand written? Is it accurate?

Controlling the touchpoints: a business can assess the quality of the guest experience by
identifying each of its service touchpoints. Once this is done, they can make changes to
improve the experience of the service they offer.

4 Service Excellence

As we now understand, the tourism and hospitality industries are service industries. This is
important to understand because how we deliver our products – a tour, a night of
accommodation or a tourism experience – is the service delivery aspect of our businesses.

Guests, Clients, Tourists and Customers

The tourism industry uses various names for the users of our services and products.
Examples from different sectors are:

     In tourism services such as tour operations, we call our customers tourists.
     In the car rental business, our customers are called clients.
     In the airline industry, customers are called passengers
     In retail such as craft markets and curio shops, we call them customers.

   In the hospitality industry we like to call our customers ‘guests’. It makes us feel more
    like we are hosts to friends and family, and that is how we should treat them – with the
    care and consideration that we show people who are dear to us. This will reflect on our
    service levels, and makes our guests feel special and important.

Defining Service Excellence

Definition: we can best describe Service Excellence as understanding our customers' needs
and expectations and going way beyond meeting them. In other words, service excellence is
all about going the extra mile.

We must meet and exceed our guests’ needs and expectations.

Good service is to offer something before it has to be asked for – like offering another drink,
a condiment, a map or directions. If you anticipate someone’s needs, they will be delighted!

It is really simple to do and can be practiced at home. For example, when you are sitting
down for a family meal, and someone looks around the table – you can pass them the salt/
sauce/bread before they have to ask for it. This is service excellence, and goes beyond
basic service to being a wonderful host, which is what we would like to be known for in South

The reverse is true. If a guest or tourist has to ask for something over and over again and
doesn’t get it, he or she will become annoyed and frustrated and will not remember that
establishment with any goodwill.

Three Types of Service

It is useful to identify three types of service, namely:

           Poor Service                          Adequate Service                         Excellent Service
Customers' expectations are not       Customers' expectations are met, but     Customers' expectations are not
met so they will not come back        not in any distinctive way. Here the     only met but well and truly
again and will not recommend          customer would have no reason to         exceeded. The customer is very
your products or services. In fact,   complain, but your business and          impressed because they got more
people who get bad service often      service would not be memorable.          than they asked for or expected. It
tell 10 – 15 people about it, which   Customers are unlikely to be very        is more than likely that the
is very bad for business.             loyal to your business or refer you to   customer will not only bring repeat
                                      others. This is not because they         business to your door but will help
                                      were disappointed but because you        market your business by ‘word of
                                      would be forgotten as you blend in       mouth' – telling others about their
                                      with all the other ordinary businesses   happy experience and
                                      in the market.                           recommending you to others.
Example:                              Example:                                 Example:
A guest asks for information          A guest asks for information about       A guest asks for information about
about where to eat in the area,       where to eat in the area, and you        where to eat in the area, and you
and you do not get back to them       simply tell them where they can go.      tell them where they can go, offer to
with the information.                                                          make a reservation, provide a map
                                                                               and directions and possibly call a
                                                                               taxi for them.

Learner Activity 5: Examples of poor and excellent service

Write down an example of where you have received bad service as a customer. How
could the situation be put right? What was your reaction to the poor service and how
did it make you feel?

Now write down an example of where you have received excellent service as a customer.
What exactly made it excellent service? What was your reaction to the great service
and how did it make you feel?

Learner Activity 6: Exceeding Expectations

Think up ideas to exceed the guests’ expectation in the following cases:
Expectation/request                          Service excellence
A guest asks you where they can go for
dinner near your B&B
A tourist on your tour asks about what
local newspapers are available to read.
A guest in the B&B wants to know how to
get to the nearest bank or shopping mall
Guests that have booked to stay in your
B&B are bringing their baby.
The tourists on your coach want to know
where they can buy cold drinks and snacks
A guest remarks on the lovely painting by
a local artist that is hanging in the dining

Learner Activity 6: Exceeding Expectations: Teacher Instructions

Make copies of the learner activity above, or write each of the situations on slips of
paper and hand these out to the learners. Select learners to give suggestions as to how
they would prode service excellence in their given scenario. Make up others if you can.
Guide the learners on what is appropriate if their suggestions are off the mark. There
can be many creative answers to these scenarios, and the examples given below serve as
a guideline only.
Expectation/request                          Service excellence
A guest asks you where they can go for       Make recommendations and offer to make a
dinner near your B&B                         reservation or arrange transport – e.g. taxi.
A tourist on your tour asks about what       Obtain copies of local newspapers for the
local newspapers are available to read.      tourist.
A guest in the B&B wants to know how to      Provide a map and highlight the route, or
get to the nearest bank or shopping mall     offer to call a taxi. Take them there
                                             personally if it is not far away.
Guests that have booked to stay in your      Offer to arrange babysitting services, offer
B&B are bringing their baby.                 a cot and other baby facilities.
The tourists on your coach want to know      Provide bottles of water and small snacks
where they can buy cold drinks and snacks       such as peanuts and raisins on the coach
A guest remarks on the lovely painting by       Offer to contact the artist to see if they
a local artist that is hanging in the dining    have any other artworks available for
room                                            viewing or sale.

Examples to Exceed Customer Expectations

     A guest asks a hotel receptionist to recommend a local restaurant that serves a good
      steak. The receptionist not only recommends a restaurant, but also offers to phone and
      make a reservation and to call a taxi for the guest.
     An airport transfer company picks guests up at the airport and during the drive to their
      hotel, provides them with a drink in the car, and gives them a folder of information about
      the city, town or area.
     A tourist guide accompanies a group of tourists for a week-long tour. During that week
      they want to buy postage stamps to send postcards home. The tourist guide has a stock
      of stamps to give/sell to them so that they don’t have to go to a post office to buy them
     Front line staff know words of greeting in different languages and can use these with
      guests from different countries.
     A family checks into a hotel with a baby, and requests a cot. The hotel provides the cot,
      but adds a travel kit of baby products at the same time, and informs the guest that they
      have a baby-sitting service.

4.1     How to improve service delivery

There are a number of simple things that can be done to improve the quality of service in a
business. These include:

     Training staff on aspects of service and professionalism
     Developing and/or enforcing company procedures such as greetings, answering the
      telephone, etc.
     Surveys on what customers like and dislike about the service they receive – and using
      the feedback to build on the good aspects and improve the bad ones.
     Identify touchpoints where service excellence can be delivered

5 Customer Interaction Cycle
The interaction with a customer can be described as a cyclic activity. The interaction starts
with the first impressions the customer has about the service and the people who provide it
and ends when he or she steps out from the purchase situation, leaving the “counter”.

                            The Customer Interaction Cycle

                                                                 2. SURPRISE &
     1. FIRST IMPRESSIONS                                           DELIGHT

        Be Ready                                               Observe
        Welcome                                                Ask & Clarify
        Build Rapport                                          Listen & Respond

                                   3. BE MEMORABLE

                                   Check for satisfaction
                                   Show Appreciation

1. First impressions
The cycle starts with the first impression. First impressions happen before the customer
actually enters the business premises. A customer will start to form an opinion of the business
based on many factors such as their experience of the process of finding information about the
company or its products and services, listening to other customers who have had experience
with the business, noticing how clean and tidy the business premises are, etc. Most customers
don’t realize that they are using these impressions to create an opinion as this is not a
conscious process. It only takes 3-4 seconds to make a first impression. These 3-4 seconds
may be the most important in your relationship with a customer. Your customers’ first
impressions are the most lasting.

Creating a good first impression is really important as you only get one chance to get it right!
It is very difficult to undo a bad first impression.

The big question is just how do we make sure that we create the best possible first
impression for our guests and customers? Here are some ideas:

 Be ready – it all starts inside!
When it comes to making a good first impression you have to keep in mind what the
customer wants (see above). You have to show that you will be able to live up to their
expectations. There are three key elements in preparing yourself for a customer interaction
           o How you feel – your attitude
           o What you know
           o How you look

The customer wants to see a person who is confident, friendly and happy. This is why it is
important that anyone who is working with customers does not let any personal problems
affect their mood at work. Nobody wants to be served by an upset or unhappy person. We
all have bad days when we are not feeling cheerful and energetic, but the rule is that this
should not show in a professional situation. A professional service agent is enthusiastic
about his work and always presents a positive, cheerful, attitude even when they may be
miserable on the inside for some reason.

Remember that in order to make a good first impression you need one more thing: to look
good and present a professional appearance as we have already discussed.

 Welcome
How a customer is first greeted, and how quickly this happens is part of creating a good
impression. Even if a service agent is busy with another customer, if they acknowledge that
they have noticed the next customer waiting for their attention, the customer feels welcomed.

Customers should be welcomed quickly with a smile and an appreciate greeting such as
‘Good morning, how can I help you today?”

 Building rapport
To build rapport means to build a harmonious understanding relationship – to make a
personal connection with another human being. When we are comfortable with another
person it means that we trust them and when we trust a service provider we will come back
time and time again. On the other hand if our customers don’t like us they won’t like our
service and they won’t come back.

The responsibility for building rapport with our customers lies with us as individuals. We can
easily do this by making conversation with them while we serve them. There are many
comments we can make to open a conversation with a guest, such as ‘is this your first visit?’,
‘where are you from?’, etc.

2. Surprise and Delight
When we provide service that is better than the customer expects, this is the opportunity to
surprise and delight them. There are many ways to do this in the travel and tourism industry,
and this is what distinguishes an ordinary business from a truly great one.

Going beyond the basics provides the opportunity to surprise and delight our customers. We
can do this by:
 Watching the customer – they will often indicate that they need something by looking
   around, being uncomfortable, etc.
 Ask them and clarify their needs – offer if you can get them anything, find out what they
   want or are looking for
 Listen and respond to their requests – and give them more that they have asked for if
   possible – exceed their expectations.

                                                                   Go the extra (S)mile!
3.   Be Memorable

       Check   for satisfaction
       Show   Appreciation

Satisfying customer expectations is not enough to memorable.
Not only do you have to meet and exceed expectations, but
also check for satisfaction and show appreciation of the
business that you have received from the customer.

Make sure that the guest is happy with the service or
experience that they are having by checking with them. Show
appreciation that they have given you their business. For example, thank you for staying at
our hotel, thanks you for dining in our restaurant, etc.

Learner Activity 7: Case Study: One Day in Cape Town

Read the following article and answer the questions that follow.

Mr and Mrs McDougal are visiting South Africa from Scotland. They were particularly
looking forward to visiting Cape Town as Table Mountain as one of the highlights they
were excited about.

The McDougals are used to a very high standard of tourist facilities in Scotland, a
country that is renowned for its excellent tourism attractions and its professional
approach to tourism.

The fist day that they were in Cape Town, they decided to go up Table Mountain in the

They got to the lower cable station, bought their tickets, and took the cable car trip to
the top of the mountain. When they got there, they marvelled at the wonderful view
of Cape Town and surrounds at their feet. However, they were not sure what they
were looking at in each direction from the top of the mountain, and wanted more
information to orientate themselves. They asked for more information at the
Information Kiosk on top of the mountain, and were told to buy a book at the gift shop
at the lower cable station on the way out, which did not really help them at that time.

They then decided to stop for a refreshment at the restaurant. When they got there,
they battled to get into the restaurant because there were crates of cold drinks piled
up outside the entrance. When they walked in, the first thing they saw were fruit
juice dispensers, all caked up with dirty ice.

They decided to go to the coffee shop instead. When they got there, they got a table
that was smeared with cake crumbs and icing from a previous customer. They were
served by a waiter in a dirty apron, and a careless attitude. When they paid for their
coffee they were given incorrect change.

Unimpressed with all this, they made their way down the mountain, and went back to t
heir hotel. While the McDougals had enjoyed the trip, the sights and the experience,
they hoped that the rest of their trip would give them better service.

1. What were the issues that the McDougals were unhappy about?
2. How would these have been prevented?
3. What effect does this have on the tourism industry?
4. What would you recommend to improve the situation?
5. If the McDougals told you this story while they were guests or tourists of yours,
   what would you do to improve their impression of South African service

6 Service Initiatives in South Africa
       Initiative                                            Description
     SA Welcome           The SA Welcome Campaign was launched in late 1999 to spearhead the building of a
                          tourism nation. It aimed to increase South African awareness about the importance of
                          tourism to the growth of our economy.

                          It is a national general-awareness campaign, through roadshows and community-
                          outreach programmes. Another facet of the campaign is the celebration of Tourism
                          Month. This annual promotion, held in September, aims to promote a culture of tourism
                          among all South Africans.
                          Target audience: It encourages all South Africans to make visitors feel safe and

          SA Host           SA Host, a national customer-service training programme, was introduced in late 2001.
                            The programme aims to develop and promote a culture of customer service in South
                            Africa by creating awareness of the importance of the individual’s role in delivering
                            superior customer service in their place of work and their community.
                            The programme was originally developed in Canada and has been successfully run in 14
                            Successful workshop participants become South African hosts, get a certificate and a
                            lapel pin identifying them as people who are committed to excellent service and who are
                            ambassadors for their community and South Africa.
                            The objectives of SA Host programme are to:
                             improve service-delivery standards through training
                             change attitudes towards visitors by creating an awareness of the value of the
                                 visitor industry to the country and the role played by every resident
                             elevate national pride.
                            SA Host is managed by THETA.
                            Target Audience: SA Host is for any business that has customers and for all people in
                            the service industry. It is not just for the “front line”. It is particularly important for people
                            working in accounts, administration, reception and sales as well as for supervisors and

                            Those who have trained as SA Hosts include retailers, hoteliers, restaurateurs, tour
                            operators, hairdressers, taxi drivers, coach drivers, members of the police force,
                            students, government employees and employment brokers.
     Tourism Service        The National Department of Tourism (NDT) crafted the Tourism Service Excellence
                            Strategy in 2010 to improve overall customer service in the Tourism industry in
    Excellence Initiative   anticipation of the thousands of guests coming to attend the FIFA World Cup matches.

                            Target Audience: frontline employers and employees in the tourism sector who engage
                            with tourists international and domestic tourists from both the public and private sector
                             Private Sector: Travel and tourism, hospitality, fuel retail – petrol stations
                                  attendants, transport, banking
                             Public Sector: Immigration, customs, SAPS and traffic police, local Government,
                                  Tourism Officials

6.1     Tourism Service Excellence Initiative: TSEI

In 2010, as the host country for the FIFA World Cup, South Africa sought to improve overall
customer service in the country in anticipation of the millions of guests attending the games.

The National Department of Tourism (NDT) commissioned the Disney Institute to develop
and deliver the Tourism Service Excellence Initiative. The Disney Institute developed
Service Excellence Seminars which were designed and focused on creating a culture of
service excellence. These seminars were delivered across the country before the 2010
World Cup, and dozens of trainers in the industry were also trained on the principles of
service excellence so that they could use these principles in their own customer service
training courses and material.

The TSEI provides the following Service Excellence Guidelines and Behaviours:

     I present a positive attitude at all times
        o   Smile naturally and make eye contact with customers
        o   Address each customer in a friendly manner
        o   Use a positive tone when speaking with customers and colleagues

     I am considerate and respectful to all customers

       o    Greet and welcome each customer as they approach – be warm and friendly
       o    Start a conversation (build rapport) with customers and offer assistance. Can use
            any conversation starter – clothes, accent, jewellery, etc. Avoid yes/no questions,
            use open ended questions, use anything as a talking point.
       o    Use pleasantries with all customers (small talk, good-natured remarks, friendly
            chat) make them feel special

     I go the extra mile
            Delight customers by anticipating their needs and wants, and exceed these.
            Deliver each service interaction with a can-do attitude
            Offer timely and appropriate service recovery – if a mistake is made, this must be

7     Assessing your Learners

1. How will poor customer service affect a business. Name SIX effects of poor
customer service.                                                                                 [6]

Question 1. Answer: Any six of the following:
 Decrease in sales ()
 Lower profits ()
 Poor reputation ()
 Fewer customers ()
 Negative word of mouth ()
 Poor organisational image ()
 Unhappy employees ()
 Dissatisfied customers ()                                                                      [6]

2. Test Questions:

2.1        What is service excellence?                                                            (2)
2.2        What makes tourism a service industry?                                                 (2)
2.3        “Service is the vital ingredient in tourism.” Explain what is meant by this
           sentence.                                                                              (2)
2.4        What would the result be for any company if they provide service excellence
           to their customers?                                                                    (6)

Question 2: Answer: Test Questions

2.1        Service excellence means meeting  and exceeding customer
           expectations                                                                          (2)
2.2        People who make money out of tourism provide services i.e. they perform
           actions for tourists, rather than sell products to tourists                          (2)
2.3        If you do not provide good service you will have no customers  and with no
           customers, no profit. Service is all about how we deliver our product.               (2)
2.4         Satisfied customers 
            Greater job satisfaction for staff 
            Repeat business 
            Customer loyalty 
            Improved public image 
            More customers and increased sales/profit/turnover                                  (6)

8 Ideas Box

Learner Activity 8: Customer Care Role Plays: Teacher Instructions
The time needed for the activity:
Each 2 minute role play will take about 15 minutes to prepare.
2 to 3 role plays can be performed in a 45 minute class
Materials needed:
Props can add to the enjoyment of this activity. For example, maps, hotel brochures, a
language dictionary, dishes and silverware can add to the realism of sketches below.

Steps in the activity:
   1. Following are several typical scenarios where the interaction between a
      customer –the tourist or business traveller- and the company employee can
      result in good customer service or bad. Assign scenarios to groups of students
      and give them a few minutes to think about the situation. Then ask them to role
      play the scenarios for their classmates. Between them, the learners must play
      the role of both the customer and the service agent.
   a. An American tourist looking for directions to the nearest local park at the
      reception desk of a centrally located hotel in your city.
   b. A family booking into a 4-star hotel and, on arrival, being told by management
      that the advertised indoor swimming pool has not been built.
   c. A physically handicapped person phoning a local tourist facility to see whether it
      is practical and worthwhile trying to plan a visit there.
   d. A guide in a museum/historical castle witnessing a group of tourists tampering
      with items of historical value despite notices asking people not to touch.
   e. A noisy group of people complaining to the manager and the waiter about a meal
      they just had in the restaurant.
   f. A travel agent explaining to a customer why his pre-booked holiday had to be
      cancelled while trying at the same time to convince him that an alternate
      package is equally worthwhile.
   2.      At the end of the role plays, students should discuss how they felt in the
      situation and how they think the other side felt. Then ask the students to
      discuss factors that affected the interaction. They should note the following
      kinds of factors:
           Whether or not the service person listened sympathetically
           Whether body language affected the interaction’s success or failure
           Whether the service provider knew what he or she was talking about
           Whether the customer was prepared to listen
           Whether the service provider was interested in solving the problem

In summarising the activity, some of the things students may cite as key elements are
the willingness to really listen to what the other party is saying and that the manner in
which a message is given can affect the reaction; even bad news, if nicely given, can be
acceptable to a customer.

1. Collect a number of guest satisfaction surveys from a range of outlets such as hotels and
   restaurants. Keep these on file to show your learners real examples from the world of
2. Ask one of your industry partners for a copy of their employee code of conduct or their
   dress code. Try to collect a few of these and read excerpts of these to your learners to
   emphasise what industry expects of their employees in terms of how they should behave
   and dress at work.
3. Invite a guest speaker to come and talk about how their business defines and practices
   service excellence. Examples of who to ask are a hotelier from a reputable hotel group
   like Southern Sun hotels, Avis car rental (their slogan is ‘We try harder” – what does this
   mean in terms of service?) and a fast food outlet such as Nando’s.


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