Brilliant customer service does not come without risk.

In fact, creating brilliant customer service automatically develops a whole set of new problems.

That’s why organisations that are consistently excellent at delivering 5 Star Service are also excellent at dealing with these 5 barriers:


The Spotlight

The super service spotlight magnifies everything.

Previously minor issues and inconsistencies that wouldn’t be spotted are now noticed and amplified.

I remember on the publication of my book 5 Star Service  there were times when if something went wrong for a customer (normally the smallest of things) we would receive a sarcastic email titled, ‘Not exactly five star service’. Even on our small scale, that felt jarring.


The Cost

There is zero chance of creating five star service without investment. Money is important, but time is essential.

The best organisations make time to teach, share and develop DAILY.


The Humans

Having a team of twenty committed professionals, who want to provide brilliant service, means nothing if your customer is ‘served’ by the one person who doesn’t care or is having an off day.

Stop complaining about how difficult it is to motivate Millennials and connect to what’s important to them. Remember the Baby Boomers thought the same about Generation X and the Gen Z’s will think the same about Gen Alpha*.

*Yes I used The Google and a chart to write that last sentence.


The Speed

What do we want? Brilliant service!

When do we want it? Now!

Not Monday to Friday during office hours. Not if you ‘put that in writing’. Not if your standard turnaround time is 28 days.

As much as you’d like your customers to ‘chill’ they expect you to be on it like Sonic.


The Values

Or should I say the Values Clashes?

It’s easy to have a warm fuzzy company value based on delivering outstanding customer service.

A value normally created at a ‘Senior Team Offsite’ between an excellent lunch and a jolly team-building exercise involving a metaphorical raft, fox, chicken and a bag of corn.

Two weeks later there’s a choice between hitting this quarter’s results (short term) or doing what’s right for the customer (longer term).

And the hidden ‘protect your backside and increase profit no matter what’ unpublished value wins.


Tell me I’m wrong.

In fact, tell me what you think of this whole newsletter.

Do you agree or have I missed the mark? What have I missed?

I’ll send a copy of my book 5 Star Service to our favourite.

Please leave your comment below.

Be Brilliant!


  1. May 11th 2023 by Dawn

    No matter how high you excel with customer service there will always be that one person who wants to pick an argument or dis the service. Quite often it is not the service but the customer. However where 5 star service really does come into its own is when the customer about turns because of the way the complaint/disagreement is dealt with. Take the fight out of the situation and you’ll more often than not win a friend.

  2. May 11th 2023 by David Charles Palmer

    I joined the police in 1986. We were a police force, emphasis on law enforcement and public safety. In the early 200s we started dishing out needles to criminals. It’s been a values waterfall ever since. They also created a nice wooly Code of Ethics – which completely omitted Forgiveness as a heading. As you say – a$£3 covering cmes first, these days.

  3. May 11th 2023 by David Charles Palmer

    Prrof read, son, proof read. 2000s….. (and comes)

  4. May 11th 2023 by John Molley

    definitely hit the mark very hungry to set this up
    i need my team to embrace this
    and sky,s the limit with reputation

  5. May 11th 2023 by John Peters

    I have 6 dogs and a cat. Every day I give them all a treat (biscuits). I grab a handful of biscuits and always give the same dog the first biscuit. He thinks he gets a 5 star service. The others get a biscuit in turn. I keep going round until I run out. They all think they get a 5 star service. Its about setting a routine and setting an expectation. I keep giving out biscuits until I run out. Then I show empty hands. They are then happy as they know it’s over for the day. Expectation set. The cat gets his treat before everyone else in another room. He thinks he gets 5 star service even though he only gets one biscuit. For me 5 star service is being consistent, reliable and making them all feel special. (Fortunately my dogs can’t count, I have no idea how many biscuits were in that handful, not do they).

  6. May 11th 2023 by Phil

    Very true the key to getting the best out of everyone is to understand what motivates them to come to work and deliver for our guests. We take the time to learn about them and put the team before anything becuase a great and cared for team will naturally want to care for our guests

  7. May 12th 2023 by David Spear

    No, you are not wrong, but there is so much more. First, there is a golden rule that appears less relevent in this modern age… by those, usually young who know it all but haven’t lived long enough to make mistakes… the rule being, it’s so hard to get a customer but so easy to loose him/her. The bigger the compant, the less this rule appears to apply. Pretend to be the customer and see if you like the way you are treated. If you don’t, it’s too late because you will have already lost trade. Don’t pretend to care, as to a trained eye, this represents plastic when the customer believes he’s paying for gold. And above all, know your product. Don’t pretend it’s better than it really is and for God’s sake, don’t lie. It’ll catch up to you when you least expect it.

  8. May 12th 2023 by Adrian Caddick

    It is important to have empathy with the customer, and to see their perspective from their experiences. We are all customers of other services so know how we would like to be treated.

  9. May 12th 2023 by James Milne

    For me. Turning up and being yourself is so rewarding. If you feel safe welcomed and appreciated your customers will your time will. Magic happens where you least expect.

    Control isn’t a thing. Who likes to be controlled. Allow genuine freedom not a buzz word. Employees you have yet to meet will be attracted to you and customers will be drawn to you. New and loyal alike.

    Finally. Crating a culture isn’t a thing. Culture is a reflection of behaviours. Lots of little things make a difference to everyone culture is a reflection of who you are, all of you

  10. May 14th 2023 by Claire Nicholas

    Michael, you’re not wrong, but I don’t think this is the whole picture. We also need to consider the connection between customer service and their product.

    For example:

    1. If the product has been marketed well, then customer service may be required more, if we need their intervention to order it, e.g. in store for furniture, or Amazon for online goods. At that point, we are probably happy customers. We have hope, we want that product so we are more likely to be compliant so that we get it. Customer service at this point is all about answering questions to complete our knowledge, or fulfilling any credit or delivery requirements.

    2. Having bought the product, if it fails to meet expectations, then we need customer service again, to handle our complaints. A different level of expertise is required here because we are no longer happy, we demand to be listened to, and we demand action now. We also demand to be understood, without having to keep explaining the problem. As customers, we are now changing from being the supplier’s assets towards becoming a liability. Whether we stay a liability or return to becoming an asset is completely down to customer service, yet all too often this important element is farmed out to another country, or to an agent.

    My niece has often said she would buy appliances from John Lewis because she has always received excellent service from them when needing to return items. I have always responded by saying ‘but why have you needed to return their goods in the first place? At their prices and status, surely their goods should not be faulty.’

    So, if a company provides excellent customer service, are they also admitting their product might not meet expectations?

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