Try Mind Tools for 7 days FREE Start Trial
Gain essential management and leadership skills
Busy schedule? No problem. Learn anytime, anywhere.
Subscribe to unlimited access to meticulously researched, evidence-based resources.
Join today!
Join Mind Tools

Sign-up to our newsletter

Subscribing to the Mind Tools newsletter will keep you up-to-date with our latest updates and newest resources.

Working on it...
Successfully subscribed to the newsletter
Sorry, something went wrong
June 25, 2019

Seeking to Serve – #MTtalk Roundup

Yolande Conradie

Share this post:
©© Getty Images/jacoblund

"Fastidious attention to detail makes the difference between an OK service and first class service.”

Ben Elliot, English Businessman

"I can't believe how amazing the service was!"

"Before we could look around for someone to serve us, a waiter would appear as if by magic."

"They seemed to know what we wanted even before we did!"

These are the words of a colleague after returning from a trip abroad recently.

Service That Delights

I've had similar experiences at safari lodges in South Africa, most notably when I got married a few years ago.

My (now) husband and I knew we wanted to get married at a safari destination but were struggling to pick one. South Africa isn't exactly short of picturesque lodges after all. However, the make-or-break factors are the quality of service and attention to detail.

Finally, we settled on a destination at the recommendation of a good friend. Now all that was left – besides moving in at the gym and getting a pretty dress – was to arrange a wedding at a lodge that I'd never seen with a person I didn't know, 600 kilometers away. Simple!

The lodge was in a "Big Five" area, with no fences. But despite the distinct threat of roaming lions, the lodge manager was intent on fulfilling all of our requests, down to the finest details. When I spoke to her, it seemed as if anything was possible, even in their remote spot in the African bush.

Upon our arrival, we got nothing less than we expected. The suite was beyond romantic, complete with complimentary sweets and a leopard feeding in a tree outside our room. But it was the people who gave us the experience of a lifetime.

Attention to Detail

After an evening game drive, we returned to find that the butler had run us a bath. Next to the bath were two steaming mugs of hot chocolate, each bearing our initials. Mine contained a dark chocolate concoction while a milk chocolate alternative had been made especially for my husband. How did the butler know?

It turned out that he had observed our reactions to the chocolate tray when he showed us our suite. While looking at the tray I exclaimed my happiness about the dark chocolate, while my husband said that he'd leave that to me and concentrate on the milk chocolate. Our beady-eyed butler listened and made a mental note.

If I had to write about each little gesture during the few days we were there, I'd probably fill up 20 pages. But what I can say is that I felt just like my colleague: wow-ed, delighted, special, and ready to go back for more.

During a discussion with my colleague, we realized that the two venues had the following factors in common:

  • They appointed people who wanted to serve, not just to earn a living.
  • Management and staff paid meticulous attention to detail.
  • They were always present and focused from the moment their guests stepped through the door.
  • Because of their focus, they were able to anticipate their guests' needs.
  • The staff was exceptionally observant. They could identify each guests' tastes in food and drink. Not only were they able to "sense" the best moments to make small talk, but also when to leave their guests alone.

Seeking to Provide Exceptional Service

During last Friday's #MTtalk, we discussed exceptional service and what makes it so. Here are the questions we asked, and some of the responses:

Q1 What does "service" mean to you?

@Midgie_MT Service means doing something to help others, to make a positive difference, to support someone in doing something.

@TwinkleTutoring To me, service is responding to another’s needs and putting those needs above your own – however temporarily. This could be to an individual or a cause.

Q2 What do people who intentionally seek to serve do differently?

@hibbikay Serve effortlessly and with great interest and passion.

@WonderPix Focus on others' needs and what is important to them.   

Q3 What's the one element that distinguishes "great" from "exceptional service?

@SanabriaJav Explaining the pros and cons based on the consumer's circumstance (and not generalized) makes for exceptional customer service. It means a person listened and can empathize.

@lg217 I think the key factors between great and exceptional service is the heart and passion you put into the service. Paying attention to detail, doing things right the first time and finally, being there from start to finish.

Q4 Can you learn to intentionally seek to serve, and if so, how?

@MapDorcas I believe you can learn by observing the great impact of those who serve well. And remember the impact great service has had on you – emulate it. It often costs nothing, but usually has a ripple effect!

@APhotoStudios I struggle with this a lot. As a teacher, it's been ingrained in me since childhood. I ponder this. Can it be learned? Of course. But how? By doing. Many folks started with WIIFM and came out far better.

Q5 How can "seeking to serve" become part of your workplace culture?

@itstamaragt Set expectations and educate everyone in the workplace on proper procedures relative to "seeking to serve."

@_TomGReid One way is to follow the adage, "What gets measured, gets done." Put a metric on service; make it a game or a competition. People will respond and learn new habits.

Q6 What role does training play in service?

@BrainBlenderTec Depends. Are you training to be a human or for a specific task? Anyone can learn the steps but to feel the music is a different story.

@WanderingIan Training should set the minimum expected standard for everyone. If individuals exceed that, then you know they're doing a good job.

Q7 What can be the positive ripple effects when people seek to serve?

@KrisGiere By creating a culture of service we are creating a communal culture that uplifts others and honors their humanity.

@jojacob_uk It is usually nicer to work with service-oriented colleagues rather than self-serving ones!

Q8 How might seeking to serve develop leaders?

@Ganesh_Sabari The one with the intent to serve gains empathy. Empathy is a critical quality that nurtures and maintains a well-knit team of people for their professional abilities.

@YEPBusiness Leadership through collaboration is a gift in any business. Early adoption requires investment. Where ego is put aside for the greater good, more will leap to execute. The leader of a project becomes the leader of a team and momentum. LET PEOPLE SHINE!

Q9 What do you do if there's a conflict between serving a team member and serving your boss? Or between serving your clients and serving your shareholders?

@harrisonia This could be a tough call but you have to: put feelings aside, focus on laws, contractual obligations, and policies first, be clear about the conflict and sources and how your role is involved, stick with the facts, keep open communication.

@MicheleDD_MT Between clients & shareholders – my values guide me. When it is the right thing to do, I’ll do it, as along as the risk to the business can be managed.

Q10 What everyday things can you do in the workplace to better serve your colleagues and/or your customers?

@Yolande_MT Always serve to serve. Don't serve to be rewarded, noticed or praised, or to self-promote. Just serve from the heart in a pure and authentic way. 

@hibbikay Help me to help you! Provide solutions, give ideas if you can, be positive, be an example, dutiful and ready to make team members feel confident and ready to help at most times. Give room to chill out when exhausted.

To read all the tweets, have a look at the Wakelet collection of this chat over here.

Coming Up

The best athletes will give their all to win a race. We've all seen those final few seconds before they cross the line, just as you think fatigue will get the best of them when they dig down and find the energy for one last push – and win.

Next time on #MTtalk we're going to talk about "Superhuman Effort – One Last Push." We'd like to know what you think gives people the ability to put in that superhuman effort. Please vote in our Twitter poll over here.


In the meantime, here are some resources relating to the topic we discussed this time:


Customer Experience Mapping

Customer Intimacy

Mindful Listening

Servant Leadership

Encouraging Attention to Detail

8 Ways to Improve Your Powers of Observation

How Good Is Your Customer Service?

Customer Service Mindset


The RATER Model

Developing Good Customer Relationships

Working in a Public-Facing Role

Share this post:

Gain essential management and leadership skills

Busy schedule? No problem. Learn anytime, anywhere. Subscribe to unlimited access to meticulously researched, evidence-based resources. Join today!
Join Mind Tools

You may also like...

November 16, 2023

Digging Into Conflict: How to "Play Nice" at Work

"It leads to what the author calls “assertive play” – not brick-on-skull assertive, but self-confident engagement, where people know they have things to contribute, and stake their claim."- Jonathan Hancock

, ,

October 11, 2023

Accepting Praise – How to Own Your Achievements

There's a lot of advice on giving praise, but how can we accept it gracefully? Mind Tools' Assistant Content Editor, Alice Gledhill, explores why accepting praise can be so difficult.

, ,

September 28, 2023

How to Find a Right-Fit Job: My Expert Interview With André Martin 

For a long-lasting, fulfilling experience at work, it pays to think carefully before applying for a job.


© Mind Tools Ltd 2024. All rights reserved. "Mind Tools" is a registered trademark of Mind Tools Ltd.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram