Everyone loves to get a surprise gift.
So if your staff are working hard on a summer day, how about turning up to work with a bag full of ice creams to hand out to them, or after work take them out for a quick cold drink at the local bar.

Customers too will be pleasantly shocked if you turn up and offer them an ice cream, or a wee gift hamper from you - "just to say thank you for being a customer of ours".

I bet you that customer will tell a whole lot of their friends about how they love to use your company or service!

For the small cost of these surprise gifts, you wll reap dividends in loyalty many companies would envy.


Service is the currency that keeps our economy moving. I serve you in one business, you serve me in another. When either of us improves, the economy gets a little better. When both of us improve, people are sure to take notice. When everyone improves, the whole world grows stronger and closer together.


The idea of having a creche at the workplace is nothing new, many big corporations and some big retailers have been running them for employees and customers for years.

The problem is that most people in employment are in medium sized or small businesses. These employers nearly always recoil with horror when faced with the cost of having such a care facility for their employees. They may like the idea, but rarely implement one because of cost.

This attitude needs to change, for it is the mothers and care givers of this world we live in who are nurturing our next generation. These people are already proven in their ability to love, and care and think of someone else first, and not themselves. Are these not the same qualities we would love to show to our customers?
Think about it. Think too about how you could make it possible to have a child caring facility in your workplace - when the will is strong enough.... the way shows itself.
Who sets your standards - your industry, your ego or your customers?- Harry Beckwith


If you are running a service based industry, such as hospitality or retail, then somewhere online there is a web based review site waiting for your customers to post an online critical appraisal on you.

That could be a good thing. Mainly because you want to hear about how they feel in order to gauge what is important to them. You also will need to see how your competition is being talked about, be it good or bad.
In short - these online reviews can be used as just another tool for you to use in constantly improving. With the pursuit of excellence at your central focus, these reviews should be both observed and used in your decision making.


No matter about the rights or wrongs of my following is a fact that you are judged by others after only a few fleeting seconds of visual contact.

The same is true of both a person to person encounter, and also of the first time a customer is seeing your business. For this reason alone it is of vital importance that you keep your signage, entrance ways and reception area in immaculate condition.
Also true to ensure that the personnel on the front desk or near a business entrance are the best you have and looking fabulous all the time.

All too often, I walk into a business and see deliveries still waiting to be moved, or signage damaged and not fixed, bulbs missing in light fittings. Small details which indicate that nobody cares.

Look at your business with first impressions in mind.


Everyone is in service.
It is not just the hospitality people or retail workers. A dentist is there to serve, as is a surgeon, a street sweeper and the school teacher.
There is no end either in opportunities WHEN you can serve, it can be done at home with your children. It can be in the street to a stranger, and it can be done in the community or for your country.

Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.- Martin Luther King
One machine can do the work of 50 ordinary people. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary person.
- Elbert Hubbard


If your training sessions are in front of a whiteboard, or include lots of paper handouts, then you need a rethink.

Many of your staff have grown up in the internet age and are not used to reading lots of script or holding their attention on one thing for too long.

Try and tune in to their new way of learning, make a few 3 minute training videos or find existing ones which you can fit into your training needs. Play them in brief sessions, not half day training periods like the 'old' days. Show them onsite, before their work times in small groups, or let them view them on a laptop in their own time. Keep it flexible.
Drip feed this training with add on pieces of information or short quiz sessions and role plays.

The old training methods will not improve todays work force so move with the times or the new breed of employees will take their attention (and skills) elsewhere.


People love being in a place which has energy and vitality.
The way to pump up your workplace is by setting an example, if you really LOVE being at work and can duplicate that enthusiasm in colleagues then you are half way there.

I say half way because it takes more to KEEP that energy on a long term basis.

Take a look at the fish market guys at the famous Pike Place, Seattle. Now, selling fish is not the most glamourous way to earn a living but these guys go over and above the norm, to make every visitor love being there as much as they do. Look it up on video and watch their energy at work, then try and do the same at your venue. Imagine how our world would be if a few more places were like Pike Place Fish Market!


One common theme shouts at me every time I work with large corporations being run by a Head Office or a Head Quarters.

They invariably have taken every bit of control (down to the tiniest detail) away from the frontline operatives.
The head office mentality is often along the lines of "we know best, we are the experts and we are in control".

Truth is, the experts are the ones at the business end of customer service, the workers often know more, and also are more astute at knowing what is needed in the business than many of the executives taking a wage at head office.

These office types at HQ should be as a support mechanism for the frontline staff, and running around looking after their needs to keep the customers happy, not the other way around.

So if you are one of these head office types, do your company a favour and turn it all upside down with HQ at the bottom and the customer service operatives at the top, being supported by everyone else. There is often the risk that Head Office becomes too detached from the core business and are too focused on spreadsheets and searching for their next bonus.

If you want growth and customer satisfaction, then customers should be the ones in control, not head office.


In this age of multiple distractions, it has become all too common to try and multitask.
However, if you are actively serving a customer or in conversation with them, please remember to make them your sole focus of attention.
Do not feel that you need to answer that phone ringing, read that text which just bleeped or respond to somebody else calling your name.
The customer expects your focus and assistance and rightly so. To try and multitask in front of them is very rude and will be rewarded with their money being spent elsewhere.

The same story applies when it comes to managers talking to employees, make the employee feel important by listening to them properly. Do not read memos in front of them whilst they are trying to talk to you or any other task! To do so only says to them that they are not important and not worthy of your attention. That is a fast way to lose your team.


Too often in business I see employees tossed aside due to not fitting in with current management plans. I see managers not taking an interest in their staff, and I witness extra workloads being heaped on workers and their resources cut.

We all must learn to work with each other with compassion and empathy. Treat each other as a lovable colleague and a fellow human soul on earth.
We all go to work to support ourselves and family, and it makes the day much better and rewarding for all if we excercise compassion and love to one another, instead of as numbers on the payroll to be shunted about and cut back when business is lean.


"Hire people who are better than you are, then leave them to get on with it. Look for people who will aim for the remarkable, who will not settle for the routine."

- David Ogilvy


With your regular clients and customers you should be developing a relationship and know their needs and preferences.
Once you get a feel of who they are and what excites them, you can customise their surroundings to please them.
For example if you are in the hotel sector or hospitality, and one regular client is really into place the latest sailing magazines in their room as a gift to take away. ( substitute golf, riding, gardening etc for others).

If you own a bar or restaurant then you can emboss a glass or plate with a customers initials - it's theirs and by default their bar/restaurant too.

Similarly with any business you can repay your customers loyalty to you by tailoring small things to please them and reward them to make the bond and loyalty even stronger. In turn I'm willing to bet that they will increase your customer base for you without you even asking.


It astounds me how often I see new business ventures or expanding companies invest millions of dollars on premises and plush venues, then at the last minute rush through recruitment and appointments of key staff.

It does'nt matter a jot about the architecture or wall coverings when the customer gets a sub-standard level of service when making a transaction or experiencing your service.

Invest proportionately in your key personnel, and you will recoup that investment in later dividends. Otherwise you will just become 'another average company'.

Motivate them, train them, care about them and make winners out of them. We know if we treat our employees right, they'll treat the customers right. And if customers are treated right, they'll come back.
- J.W. Marriot, Jr


Every promotion or advertisement for your business needs to shout out the benefits to the customer. There is no use telling people about how many awards you have won, or about how large your corporation is. The customer is only focused on what's in it for them.
The benefits for the customer need to be front and centre.
Only after the customer has chosen you do they then need all the facts and figures about your business, which are used in their mind to then justify their choice after the decision has been made to choose you.

So beware about how you are describing yourself to the wider world, just remember its all about them first, not you.


A customer can read through insencerity. So you need to be sincere in all that you do, and that means examining if the work that you do is really what's best for you.
If you wake up each day with no motivation to go back and do another day at that place, then change. It is your choice to go and find something that fires you up each day. Only then can you give sincere and meaningful service to others.
The other bonus is that you are doing something which keeps you alive and makes you feel glad to be a part of this wondrous universe.
So....go and find what you want to do and do it to the best of your ability, then you are serving both yourself and the world.


Just doing the right thing, and saying the right thing, is becoming harder to find.
Customers just want to be treated right - and with honesty. So if you as an individual can hold on to the virtue that is integrity, then you already have an advantage. An advantage that is huge because so few others can make the extra effort which comes from living with integrity as a core philosophy.

The man who will use his skill and constructive imagination to see how much he can give for a dollar, instead of how little he can give for a dollar, is bound to succeed.
- Henry Ford


There is a well known phrase about the one bad apple which starts to spoil, and thereby ruins the whole barrel of good apples.

The same is true in the service industry. If you have one stale employee, they can undo so much of the good work done by others that you may as well have no good staff at all.

You need to weed out the stale ones and improve them or move them.

" One hundred minus one can't be ninety-nine in the hotel business. It may be zero. If one employee out of hundreds gives a bad impression to a certain customer, it will be one hundred percent damage for our hotel image for that customer" - Ichiro Inumaru - President Imperial Hotel Japan.


Through our daily commitments we often have a little turbulence. Be it from the boss, or a family argument or just staff giving us a hard time.

Whatever the cause, we do need to keep our minds in a good place. That way we are resilient enough to keep our core values intact no matter what the day throws our way.

I keep a string of wise quotes in my diary to inspire me, which spring open each time I use it. On the front page I also have in bold print a few trigger words to jolt me into the correct attitude. My words are simply :- Integrity, honesty, kindness, and character.

Find your own inspiration of course and use these to just act like a frequent push button method of keeping your mind and outlook on track through the day.

" Revolve your world around the customer and more customers will revolve around you. "
Heather Williams


Behind all great service lies the mindset of giving. True service in any form is merely kindness and empathy to your fellows.
By wanting to give out your hand to make their day better, or by wanting to make someones life a little easier - we not only make the world a better place, but we also nourish our own spiritual being.

I do not know of a better way to spend my day than by following this tenet. Give a little to someone else today and see how your own life starts to change for the better.
" We shall serve for the joy of serving. Prosperity shall flow to us and through us in unending streams of plenty. "
Charles Fillmore. 1854 - 1948


There will be times when staff are sick or are held up.
When that happens, are your customers going to be inconvenienced, or do you have a back up plan?
It is quite unacceptable to offer inferior service or expect customers to wait because your staffing levels have dropped. Each customer pays the same price for your service so it is essential for you to operate adequate contingency plans.

In the restaurant trade we have staff on standby on busy nights so that if there are staff no shows, we can still operate with a full floor staff, and our service levels are not compromised.

In other industries gaps in staffing levels can have knock on effects across extended front line areas so that many departments and many more customers are indirectly affected.

The solution :- have a back up plan.

" Quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten. "


There really is nothing sweeter to another persons ears than their own name.
If it is a customer or a colleague, the same rule applies, know their name and use it. I keep a little address book with me with the names of all the people I generally meet in a given week. Noted with these names are also the names of their children or wives or other close associates .
Once I have quickly glanced at these notes before I ring them or see them, it gives me a memory jog to enquire about their children / partner / boss or others.
If you do it in a natural and conversational way people remember you for caring about the welfare of not just them but their life too.


On the rare occasion that things do go wrong, have you got in place a service recovery strategy?

Not only can this management method help retain an upset customer, but when done right - you may be in a position to convert that customer to a raving and loyal fan.

The trick is to train your staff and managers to recognise when a customer has been upset or is not content. Then the strategy you have in place needs to wow back that client by going over the top to please them again. This can be done in some innovative and smart ways, but ensure that top management are involved in the apology so that the customer realises that the company does really care about the mistake they have made.
Indeed you can use the mistake as an excellent learning tool, just remember to find the source of the error and ensure that lessons were learned with those individuals.



By showing your job applicant that their job is of great worth to the business, you are setting up an amicable and long term relationship which will show dividends and benefits later on. This is the most important time to get the process right, and it is imperative to do all you can at this early stage to make the applicant welcome, and to feel of value.
Too often I see this process rushed through and carried out by junior team members. The recruitment process should be considered by everyone as of great importance. Ideally a General Manager or Director should be present for part of the process to underline your opinion that this process is important.

Too often the simple act of offering interviewees some basic hospitality is overlooked by companies, or they have not even bothered to read an applicants CV properly before the interview. Instead of being properly welcomed, they are dumped in a corner and told to fill out a form, and then kept waiting for ages.

Get it right and the business will grow.


The internet can be used as a great time waster if you allow it, but also offers an immense resource of learning materials. Apart from online reports and articles on excellence in customer service, there are countless videos by professional speakers. Many of these people are paid thousands of dollars a time to present speeches and lectures in the corporate world. Yet they are generous enough to share these nuggets of wisdom online FOR FREE!

So instead of catching up on the latest gossip or news reports online, go and do a little studying on service skills - it is fun and interesting. Whats more it sure beats being bombarded by rubbish on the TV.