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Service Superstars: Work like you own it!

Years ago, when I reported for my first day of work as a restaurant busboy, the maitre’d said something to me that I have never forgotten. He said, “I want you to work in this restaurant like you own it”. I remember thinking…”what on earth does he mean by that?” Not long thereafter, the implication hit me, and I never looked at a job the same again. Working like you own it means that you take pride in your work, and will never allow yourself to give anything less than excellence every time. In “The Greatest Bellman I Ever Met”, I wrote about a bellman who took immense pride in his job. His service not only made you feel like royalty, but his genuine passion for his job was very obvious. As we begin 2010, let us examine the specific qualities that allow such service superstars to shine.

  • Service superstars take pride in their personal appearance. If you look impeccable, you feel impeccable, and if you feel impeccable, you serve impeccably. It’s as simple as that. Although many businesses have a dress code, it is always evident which employees takes pride in how they look (regardless if the uniform is a t-shirt & jeans or a suit).

  • When service superstars begin their shift, the fundamental question they ask themselves is…”how and who will I wow today?” One housekeeping room attendant took it upon herself to frame the personal pictures of a guest who was staying in the hotel for close to one month. A doorman decided to research and find a book that he overheard a guest had been looking for (for several years). A front desk agent ordered a birthday cake for a business traveler who was traveling alone.

  • They identify customer preferences, act on them, and share them with teammates. Service superstars know that it is not enough for only them to know preferences, they want everyone on their team to know. Whether it’s a preferred name or a food/beverage choice, acting on preferences helps to personalize the service experience.

  • They give teammates recognition for when they serve with excellence. Superstars love to work with other superstars.

  • Superstars have personal service standards that articulate their individual approach to service. Whether it is standing up from behind a desk to shake hands, offering to escort a customer, or sending a personal follow-up note card, the personal service standards are a key piece to the service excellence puzzle.

  • When they receive a complaint, they take ownership of the complaint, ensure it gets fixed and follows-through until its resolved (to the customer’s satisfaction). They don’t hope that the customers complain to someone else, and they definitely don’t blame other departments. Service superstars take ownership.


Above all, “taking ownership” means you have vested interest in the business. You make suggestions, you identify common service errors, you take initiative, and you think of innovative ways to attract & retain customers. In short, you are NOT just a warm body taking up space and collecting a paycheck. You are more than that. You are a service superstar.

Action Steps



  • Make a list of 3 things to do over the next week to “Wow” your customers. Then make another list of 3 things to “Wow” your team mates. Start “Wowing”!

  • Identify a customer preference, act on it, and share it with your team. Be sure to challenge your team to act on the preference as well.

  • Recognize a team mate for a job well done. For recognition to matter, the key is to find out how that specific person likes to be recognized.

  • Write 3 personal service standards and share with your immediate supervisor and your team.


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