I came along a very interesting article today that discussed and compared the level of customer service in Asia and around the world. It seems that there is no universal definition of good customer service and that the meaning of it is different depending on where we are and the cultures that we have grown with. Many frequent European travellers for instance, would understand the pain of visiting a local restaurant where the waiters think their customers are invisible. From stories that I’ve heard, the situation worsens in France where you are expected to understand their language and they are protected by labour laws. Everything takes twice as long, whether it be checking into a hotel or opening a bank account. Don’t get me wrong, Europe is a wonderful place with its high-end fashion schemes and beautiful landscapes. Most importantly, the idea of “equality” is highly valued which is why it is considered normal for a waitress to tell you, “hold on” or “can’t you see I’m busy!” Everyone is treated as an equal and the one taking orders has the same amount of respect as the one sitting down sipping champagne.
Across the ocean in America, the picture is a whole lot different. Changed your mind about that purse you bought last week? Refund it. Waited too long for your orders? Sorry about that, today’s meal is on the house. On this side of the Earth, the customer is always right – no matter what. There’s always going to be someone rushing to your table to fill your glass of water and you’ll constantly wonder if their cheeks hurt from smiling 9 hours straight. The level and style of service is completely different here but on the other hand, it all comes down to the tips. Tips play a big role in the service industry and people are always confused as to how much should be given. There’s the taxi drivers, doormen, the coat checkers, restroom attendants, and don’t forget the bellboy. In New York for instance, the minimum is 15%. Sure, the customer is always right in this country but try giving them 10% tips, she’ll literally come up to you and ask you for a valid reason.
Next stop, Asia.
Believe it or not, Asia is the home of airlines, hotels, and airports that are rated the best in the world. Making their customers happy is first priority and most importantly, they don’t expect tips. A cultural difference is noticed when one uses a bit of attitude and raises their voice – you can find you can get more than what you were first told. There are customers who take advantage of this cultural difference and often raise their voices to see how far they can get. A lot of expat friends joke about it. It is quite upsetting but unfortunately true.
Here in Hong Kong, a great change has been noticed in the quality of customer service ever since the government created an advertising campaign a few years ago with Hong Kong celebrity Andy Lau. The advertisement promoted and encouraged higher standards in customer service in Hong Kong. Since then, even just from buying a drink at 7-Eleven we would hear the cashier say, “Thank you and please come again,” or a friendly smile followed by a “Welcome” when we walked through the entrance.
The quality of customer service plays a big part in every business. According to research studies, most customers would rather choose to have a great customer experience that they would remember and tell their friends about rather than fast service.
So customer service is really important. How about your business? How would you rate your level of service?