Customer service remains a core function of those involved in the hospitality industry.
This is according to Nozuko Ngozi from the Kwazulu-Natal department of environmental affairs.
She was speaking on Tuesday night at the 2009 Service Excellence Awards Ceremony organised by Tourism KwaZulu-Natal in conjunction with the department of arts, culture and tourism.
"According to the 2007 Skills Audit, it emerged that customer service was an area we need to improve on as a country," she said.
The main aim of the awards is to honour those in the tourism sector that have excelled.
Ngozi said that the people of SA should use the 2010 soccer tournament to demonstrate how best the country is able to service the world.
She also said it was essential for every South African to become the ambassador of the country.
KwaZulu-Natal MEC for arts, culture and tourism Weziwe Thusi shared Ngozi's sentiments.
"In fact, over the past few years, we have made significant progress in building the Zulu Kingdom brand," she said.
Thusi explained that despite the global downturn, the KwaZulu-Natal tourism industry had been resilient and had overcome difficulties. The latest figures showed that the province had performed better than the national average.
Tholakele Dlamini, chairperson of Tourism KZN, said good service was only about meeting customer's expectations.
"It takes five times as much time and effort to attract new customers as it does to keep current ones.
"It is said that 96 percent of unhappy customers won't complain, but nine out of 10 won't come back.
"Each unhappy customer will tell nine others about their experience and 13 percent of them will tell as many as 20 others about your poor service," she said.
Among the winners was young Nkosikhona Manqele, who was voted chef of the year.