Service excellence, vital in business | Sunday Observer

Service excellence, vital in business

11 July, 2021

It is a known and widely accepted factor in business circles that great service delivery is one of the most important assets for every organisation regardless of the size. Hence, the difference between an excellent, mediocre, or poor service to the customer is one of the deciding factors in the success or failure of a business. The subject is so important; business leaders confer undivided attention and focus on service quality in their respective ventures. It is understood that every person in the workforce must continuously add value for the customer’s experience after a product is sold to them. 

 With the easily available market information, customers are more demanding on service factors in today’s business environment. They need the whole package from the beginning to the end.   The competitive advantage created through the service attributes makes a key differentiator in the current fiercely competitive market. Organisations are therefore forced to offer service levels above the standard norms. 

It was revealed that over 70% of customers would share their satisfying experience with an average of six outsiders. Similarly, the vast majority of customers consider word-of-mouth as the best and the most credible reference they can obtain about a product, service, or business. In reality, the impact of word-of-mouth marketing can supersede any number of advertisements or other marketing campaigns due to the personal engagement and experience of the customer with the service of an organisation.   

The practice of most small and medium businesses is to provide the maximum attention to the customer before the purchase. Companies spend substantial amounts of money to train sales staff members and teach them how nice and polite one should be to convert a prospect to a customer. 

Customer service

However, most often companies conveniently turn a blind eye to training staff on customer service, perhaps due to a lack of understanding about the adverse effects of poor service. Regrettably, the most common experience in Sri Lanka with most of the small organisations is that the service after the purchase is less than mediocre. However, most large-scale organisations offer better service quality where they educate the overall staff on customer service.  

However, ultimately, the rise in service competition and rivalry indicates that all organisations should take a service perspective when formulating competitive strategies and value propositions. Particularly, businesses such as hotels, restaurants, banks, supermarkets, and facility services should consider more on the value proposition related to service superiority in their strategies. 

Service to customers consists of tangible and intangible aspects. For example, physical features of a restaurant such as interior arrangements, furniture, live music and menus are tangible elements whereas the courteous behaviour of the staff, friendliness and speed of delivery are intangible aspects. Similarly, the cleanliness of a hotel room can be measured physically and objectively but the effectiveness of the service is subjective and difficult to measure.   

 There are many levels of service quality; excellent, good, average, and poor. Any organisation falls into one of these categories. In today’s market, companies are struggling to minimise customer complaints and to avoid calls to the help desk by delivering the best possible customer service. 

There is no magical formula for providing excellent service. In my long career in business, I have realised that it ultimately is the attitude of the deliverer. No matter how much a company spends to train the staff even with the best available trainers, one disgruntled employee with a bad attitude can drive a customer away forever. Attempting to create rules and regulations or describe ways to manage customers is effective only as long as the attitude of the staff member is sensible towards the customer.   

What is excellence? Service is the extent that makes the customer feel satisfied compared to the level of expectation. Excellent service is to go beyond the level of expectation that surpasses the average satisfaction. This happens when the customer feels that they have received an unexpectedly good service reception. 

This extra can be simple acts such as a smile, a positive remark, an act of kindness, or even extra attention. However, the staff has to be educated that a simple mistake or an unwarranted act can spoil a perfectly delivered service effort.

For example, even when an employee gives maximum attention to a customer, if he or she answers an outside telephone call, the customer can get irritated and blow away all that had already been done.   

Customers evaluate the service quality by comparing the service offered by the provider and their perception of what they think it would be. This is the basic psychology of customers. A good organisation understands this principle and strategises its service quality on this. Therefore, the consumer needs of a  business have to be evaluated by the decision-makers and delivered to customers through the staff that understands the importance of such needs.   


Experienced and successful business leaders know that customer loyalty has a direct influence on the financial result of their organisations. Apart from customer retention, they understand that loyalty can increase the profits of the organisation. The service quality generates a direct impact on revenue as customers become flexible and lenient, and favourable even in a bad situation.

On the contrary, bad service rendered to customers makes them move away from the organisation for good. This is the reason for the famous quote ‘If you don’t look after your customers, your competitors will’ is accepted as serious in business

There are reasons why organisations cannot afford to ignore good service quality any longer. A poor or mediocre service offered can result in the loss of a loyal customer. It can obstruct word-of-mouth marketing that is one of the best methods of promoting a business or brand. Attracting new customers is a long and tedious procedure that costs money and bad service can prevent this important process.

The damage to the image of an organisation due to poor service can last forever and the impression communicated to others by an irritated customer can be immensely destructive. In such a situation, an organisation can suffer losses, financial and non-financial. 

The factors discussed above on service excellence clearly indicate the losses or gains an organisation can suffer or achieve in the long run. However, the pertinent question is whether the expenditure incurred on training staff is less than the benefits by offering a better service delivery through trained staff. The answer from this writer’s personal experience and much research conducted around the world is a firm affirmative. The gains and benefits for the business compared to the cost of training can be enormously high in financial and non-financial aspects. 


As discussed earlier in this article, the most important aspect of service excellence is employee attitude. Irrespective of the strategies, expenditure, training, and other inputs, it is ultimately the staff of the organisation that practically delivers it to the customer.

Hence, motivating employees appropriately and constantly monitoring the delivery levels are the key elements of the service quality of an organisation.  It is also important to involve and engage employees in deciding strategies for customer service.  

In conclusion, achieving excellence in service and earning customer appreciation is not difficult by any means. However, genuine commitment and focus from top to bottom of the organisation with the right decisions are required to achieve the best in service from the customer’s perspective. Everyone in the business must be motivated to focus on the customer and place them on the centre stage. Customers offer an opportunity to strengthen the image of the organisation whenever they walk into the business.