The Customer is the Purpose of Our Work

photo of poster with Gandhi quote

Quote from Gandhi on customer focus at the Chakra restaurant

A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.

Mahatma Gandhi [his authorship of the quote is disputed, and likely it isn’t a quote by him, see comments]

A snapped this photo at the Chakra restaurant in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. Ironically the food is great but the service isn’t what I would like. But I will gladly go back many times. I’d like a bit more attentive service but I love the food and that is more important to me.

I think service at restaurants is one of the tricker things to do well: different customers have different desires. I basically want great food, my water to be filled up and my bill to be given to me before I finish so I don’t have to wait around to pay. But lots of people will find it annoying to get a bill early, feeling that they are being rushed out the door.

Still there is a certain standard I share with lots of people for things like not having to wait around for a long time to get the bill after I am done. Getting water filled up as needed, pleasant decor, etc..

In Johor Bahru there are a fair number of Japanese restaurants (the food is very good and the service is also good). Several of these restaurants have buzzers on your table to press when you want service. I love Indian food. I must say I like the Japanese service (it did take me a bit to warm up the buzzer idea – it is very practical). It do believe some of the things I would see as weaknesses in customer service are partially a cultural difference (it is interesting to see the different customer service experiences at the different restaurants here).

The quote from Gandhi is great. “He is the purpose of it” is something we would all benefit from taking to heart. To do so, I think we are wise look at how we can better meet customer desires every day.

Related: Delighting Customersquotes by Mahatma GandhiPaying New Employees to Quit

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6 Responses to The Customer is the Purpose of Our Work

  1. Ian DeWeerd says:

    Our cultural differences also have a huge impact on our customer service expectations. My wife and I went to Europe last year and were shocked at how long it took to eat a meal. The wait staff was pretty much M.I.A. For the whole meal, so it was impossible to get refills, napkins, or condiments. But like you said, each customer’s expectation is different. The experience in Europe definitely made me appreciate the high customer service standards we’ve got here in the US.

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  3. Vinaya Kadam says:

    Dear Sir,

    I want same photograph to hang in my office premises, please suggest me from where I can get it.

    Please please please

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  6. John Hunter says:

    Comments via Linked In

    ===== by Chuck Gartland =======
    I love this quote. I had it mounted on the wall in a past life and would often answer questions or complaints about the customer by pointing to the quote.

    There is no evidence that Mahatma Gandhi ever said this. I mention this not to be a jerk but I think the backstory is interesting. [quote from that site]

    In conclusion, the earliest evidence currently points to Kenneth B. Elliott as the crafter of these principles. But this suggestion is tentative because a cluster of different attributions is present in the 1940s. The ascription to Leon Leonwood Bean in 1955 is rather late, and based on current evidence it is unlikely that he formulated the principles. The attributions to Gandhi in the 1970s are unconvincing.

    ===== by Ben Wiant =======
    this is such an important reminder of who we truly work for. I borrowed the following from a mentor and use it when appropriate: “Thank you for allowing me to be of service to you.”

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