Customers Rock!

A blog about customers, their experiences, and how businesses can make sure their customer experiences rock!

Defining 5-Star Service

Posted by Becky Carroll on June 11, 2008

 I recently conducted a customer service workshop for a high-end salon and spa.  We discussed the importance of 5-Star Service in a tough economy.  But what does 5-Star Service really mean?  In order to give that level of service, it is important to understand what customers think it means.

I did a poll via LinkedIn, Twitter, and my blog so I could review the breadth of viewpoints on this subject.  I would like to share some of those responses with you for today’s post.

  • Impeccable customer service.

  • Helpful staff at your beck and call.

  • An Unparalleled Experience that you feel good about, even entertained with, and you find value in the service or product rendered.


  • (In the restaurant industry) Top-notch servers don’t just respond to what you asked for. They unobtrusively understand you on an intimate level, and they adapt their service to reflect that understanding so that it seems at times that they are reading our minds.


  • 1 star for making you feel special [personal attention]
    1 star for resolving any issues immediately
    1 star for genuine friendliness, smiles and personality
    1 star for getting your money’s worth
    1 star for rewarding your customer loyalty


  • I believe it is to go above and beyond what the most finicky person might expect. It is to know your client well enough to anticipate their needs and deliver before they have the chance to ask. Every individual is different, therefore everyone’s expectations are different.  When giving such a high quality of service, you have to anticipate them all. Always deliver the unexpected.


  • The fundamental key in providing the best service is the ability to read the guest accurately. You can solve all the problems, offer everything possible, be personable and attentive, but some patrons will not like you because they found you bothersome and in their space.


  • Here is a scale for service:

5 – Delighted, Amazed, Extraordinary, “Walks on Water” etc.
4 – Very satisfied, Above Average, Exceeded Expectations, etc.
3 – Average, Fair, “The Usual”, Satisfied, Expected, etc.
2 – Below average, Poor, Dissatisfied, etc.
1 – Extremely displeasurable, Hurtful, Harmful, Bad, “The Pits!” “Etc.”

Also, in “The Loyalty Factor” and in research at Harvard, only reaching Extraordinary developed loyalty and an increase in profits.   Only at or near 5.0 did customers become loyal and even advocates … impacting profits 25% to 90%. Referrals, repeat sales, and more sales from the same customers grew wonderfully at 5-Star locations/organizations.

  • The most important thing to remember is you have to understand the guest so that you can serve them. You have to recognize their need, be attentive to what they say, and note how they act toward you so you can provide an appropriate response.


  • Trying to give to one’s clients a meaningful experience and not just a product. It’s about being special.


  • Five Star Service…

1) Treats me (the customer) as a human being, and not just as a number (reservation)
2) Anticipates my needs and have them available for me – for example, printing of boarding passes in the Hilton lobby falls into this category, electronically sending my prescription to the pharmacy of my choice so that I don’t have to wait when I get there. Sometimes surprises me by giving me an upgrade – nicer room, business class seat etc. without me asking for it at all.
3) Fixes problems without any fuss that occur even though I maybe at fault – for example, I may have to cancel my trip because of unforeseen reason and even though the hotel (or a doctor’s office for that matter) has a 24 hour cancellation policy, they waive it understanding why I am unable to make the trip – trust/impress me once and I will return the favor next time – I am not trying to fleece you.
4) Remembers me once I have told you my preferences – king size bed, non smoking, room not near the elevator, aisle seat, frequent flyer numbers etc. – without asking me for this information all the time.
5) Provides what was promised.  For example, dry cleaning ready when promised, car ready for pickup as promised, flights on time, contractor showing up on time – or if things go wrong – call me instead of me calling you.  Things happen, but keep me in the loop, provide me options, show me you care about me.


  • Pick the things you would expect, then show me not only their flawless delivery, but surprise me with one thing you might not expect.


  • 1) Exceed your customer’s expectations — BIG TIME!  2) If your procedures do not meet the needs of your customers, CHANGE YOUR PROCEDURES!


  • To earn 5 stars, you have to be pro-active, not re-active. No matter what the situation, remain calm, collected, and keep a professional demeanor.


  • Doing everything possible to delight the customer.


  • Personalized (but non-intrusive) customer service with extra attention to the smallest of details, continuously served straight from the heart (genuine).


  • Per Scott Ginsberg, “All the policies, processes and tactics won’t mean a hill of beans if those in any kind of customer contact position aren’t *approachable.”


  • An important thing to remember for any company is that “5-Star Service” is not limited to luxury or high cost goods.It is similar to great speakers:
    1. Illustrate/Tell your clients and prospects what they can expect from you.
    2. Deliver at or ABOVE what you have promised.
    3. Report back to your client how you delivered.An addition to this as “3a” would be to ask/survey your client to see if their perception of your service is the same as yours. Use that feedback as a teaching tool for future relationships.     


This one is my favorite, as every customer/client/member/donor/patient is different:



  • Client service excellence, just as with beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. For that reason, 5-star service is more of a frame of mind aimed at the individual than a goal for the masses. It’s not about being all things to all people; it is about being specific things to specific people.

In order to really deliver 5-Star Service to our customers, whether business or consumer, we need to understand them first.  What are their expectations?  What is their perspective, based on where they are today?  What would make this interaction perfect for them?  Whenever we take the customer’s viewpoint, we are that much closer to success in building up that customer’s relationship – and ultimately their loyalty and positive word of mouth.

Who gives 5-Star Service?

I also had several suggestions of companies who deliver 5-Star Service:

Ritz Carlton

Singapore Airlines

The Inn at Little Washington


Burj-Al-Arab Hotel

Oberoi Udaivilas

Many thanks to everyone who contributed to this exercise. 

There were answers from people with various backgrounds and from all around the world – even Santa!  I loved the different perspectives – because customers all have different perspectives.  Please join in the discussion!

Here are the contributors:


Eric Brown

Gary Clarke

Kimm Viebrock

Pam Brown

Kellie Stotsky

Kristin Norris

R. Scott Frothingham

Rick Beets

Marietta Baglieri

John Chilson (Santa!)

Krishnan Venkatram

Steve Garvin

Lance Cooper

Steve Woodruff

Leo Bottary

Ajay Merchant

Gopal Shenoy

Christy Brewer

Jason Moore

(Photo credit: Hamster3d)


12 Responses to “Defining 5-Star Service”

  1. Of course, Becky, you always give 5-star service as a blogger. Just sayin’…!

  2. Eric Brown said

    Becky, Nicely Done; Five Star Service can sometimes be confused with quality, which can be confused with expensive, luxurious, lush, etc. however,as defined by the great quality expert Phil Crosby, quality is “Conformance to Requirements” From my corporate days, I would fly weekly from Detroit to Chicago via Southwest every Tuesday morning, conduct business that day in Chicago, then fly Northwest from Chicago to Minneapolis. Southwest has the cattle call lines, no assigned seats, no frills, sometimes even a middle row seat. Northwest has First Class, almost every flight, however, I liked, I enjoyed, I laughed with, I had a favorable experience with, Southwest. Herb Kelleher somehow figured out how to deliver a consistent, remarkable experience, and permitted his employees to fix it when it wasn’t. That is amazing, and, they are highly profitable. This isn’t new news, and lots has been written about the Southwest greatness, but, there are lots of folks who would never fly Southwest, so to the point of one of the comments above, “Client service excellence, just as with beauty, is in the eye of the beholder”!

  3. Steve, thank you very much. I am honored that you feel I give 5-Star Blogging Service! 🙂

    Eric, thanks for adding to the conversation. I agree that this can easily be confused with “quality” or “high price”; certainly most of the examples given were from these types of companies. While it is true that many companies of luxury products require 5-Star Service (their clients expect it for the money!), others who prioritize it will come out ahead (like the examples given above, plus your Southwest example or Lands’ End). Especially in this economy!

  4. Jack russel said

    Excellent. Send this to UBER.

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