Service Sector Doctrine, “The Customer is King”

Service Sector Doctrine, “The Customer is King”

FLASH: Customer satisfaction; the concept is not new, as triving for customer satisfaction is no different than good marketing.

Marshall Field used slogans such as “Give the lady what she wants” in his Chicago department store.

“The customer is always right” is a doctrine which exhorts service staff to give a high priority to customer satisfaction. It was popularized by pioneering and successful retailers such as Harry Gordon SelfridgeJohn Wanamaker and Marshall Field. They advocated that customer complaints should be treated seriously so that customers do not feel cheated or deceived.

This attitude was novel and influential at a time when misrepresentation was rife and caveat emptor, or buyer beware a common legal maxim.

Variations include “le client n’a jamais tort” or the customer is never wrong which was the slogan of hotelier César Ritz who said, “If a diner complains about a dish or the wine, immediately remove it and replace it, no questions asked”.

A variation frequently used in Germany is “der Kunde ist König“, or customer is King, while in Japan the motto “okyakusama wa kamisama desu” (お客様は神様です) meaning “the customer is a God”, is common.

It was, however, pointed out as early as Y 1914 that this view ignores that customers may be dishonest, and/or try to misuse a product in ways that void the guarantee.

Notably, service marketers have embraced the “gap model,” which suggests that consumers will judge a service encounter as high quality if the experience exceeds his or her expectations. This concept is simple and intuitively appealing, and it is consistent with our own experiences as consumers who have been frustrated by service that did not meet our expectations or pleasantly surprised by the service provider who “went the extra mile” for us and performed “above and beyond the call of duty.”

Have a terrific weekend

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