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January 8
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Service Excellence: Four Lessons ALL Businesses can
Learn from a Five-Star Resort

by: Bryan K. Williams, D.M.
November 2, 2012

Have you ever experienced service so pure that you could literally feel it? Service that is unpretentious, unrestrictive, unscripted, yet seamless and professional all at the same time. Even as a service consultant, it would have been difficult for me to imagine that such a caliber of service could exist so flawlessly and naturally. I am referring to a recent memorable experience during a trip to the Ayana Resort & Spa in Bali. I wish that I could pack up a few of the staff and take them around the world with me so they can show everyone what excellence, humility and professionalism look like. Everything from the shuttle driver offering chilled face cloths, to a framed photo (of my family) in the villa, the attention-to-detail was inspiring. Here are four quick lessons that anyone, in any industry, can learn from them.

Expect Perfection

There is no question in my mind that the staff at Ayana is very proud of their property and the service that they provide. Since the team has so much pride in what they do, it makes sense that, for them, good is never good enough. Even if 99 out of 100 guests have a stellar service experience, the staff will  listen, empathize, fix, and follow-up to ensure that the disappointed guest is happy from that moment on. Striving to be perfect is not a disappointing activity (that some cynical observers may label as “pointless”). On the contrary, there is an obvious difference in how diligently one prepares, when the goal is to score 100%. Think about students who are studying for a test. Those students who have made up their mind to get every question correct actually score 100% more often than students who study just to pass. In fact, students who study for, and expect to receive a 100% are actually quite disappointed (even shocked), if they receive anything less.

*Takeaway: Develop the habit of preparing for and expecting a 100% flawless service experience every day, for every customer, at every touchpoint. You and your team might be astonished at the results.

Be Thankful

To understand the Ayana Resort & Spa’s service quality, it is important to appreciate the “thankful” nature of the Balinese culture. Balinese people are used to giving thanks multiple times per day for such things as food, shelter, health, and life. Most people I know take those things for granted and have a sense of entitlement, as if such things are owed to them. I believe that there is a strong linkage between being thankful and delivering great service. I am not inferring that being thankful is the ultimate panacea to cure the world’s customer service woes, but I do see a strong relationship between the two.

Start your day (everyday) by being genuinely thankful for life, food, shelter, and clothing. Being thankful and appreciative removes the entitlement factor that can dilute the ability to genuinely be of service to others. Entitlement is a selfish characteristic because the focus is on yourself. It is difficult to be focused on yourself AND give engaging service to others at the same time. So, regularly ask yourself, “What am I thankful for?” and “What would life be like if I did not have those things?

*Takeaway: Always be appreciative of the opportunity to be of service and to positively impact someone else’s day (or life).

Connect the Touchpoints…Seamlessly

As you will recall from my earlier articles, a touchpoint is any interaction between the customer and the business. The Ayana team did an amazing job of connecting the touchpoints so there was never a moment where I felt lost or not taken care of. For example, allow me to share my spa experience at the resort.
  • As I approached the front desk, the staff was smiling, as if they had been waiting all day just to see me (keep in mind that the resort was 98% full at the time).
  • I was warmly greeted, then was escorted to the spa’s open-air welcome lounge, where I was offered a seat and a delicious “welcome” drink (a cold hibiscus beverage).
  • Shortly thereafter, another attendant brought me a short form to complete (standard spa questionnaire that covers health concerns, past spa visits, allergies, etc).
  • Next, I was taken to the locker room entrance, where another attendant eagerly awaited. He directed me to my assigned locker, explained the locker operation and asked me to change into my spa gear (robe, slippers).
  • I was then escorted out of the locker room to meet the massage therapist, who was smiling of course (seriously… I have never seen so many happy and smiling people in the same place at the same time).
  • As the therapist brought me to the massage room, he confirmed which massage I was scheduled for and then gave me an articulate overview of that massage’s health benefits.
  • The rest of the spa experience flowed along the same lines.
  *Takeaway: Map out the customer experience from start to finish, per department.


Kaizen is a Japanese term that means “improvement”. In the business sense, it is often referred to as having continuous, incremental improvement over time.  Essentially, next month you should be better than you were this month, and next year you should be better than you were this year. In 2010, Ayana Resort’s spa (Thermes Marins Spa) was voted as the #1 spa in the world by Conde Nast Traveller Magazine. Their staff is amazing. In all of my travels, their spa team is second to none; yet, they are constantly looking for ways to improve.  Many people and organizations believe that once you’ve reached a certain level, then there is no longer a need to aggressively learn or seek improvement opportunities. Interestingly, I have found that the people and organizations that are the most eager to  improve, are the ones who are currently the best.  Olympic gold medalists often train harder to win additional gold medals in future Olympics. They believe that anyone can be world-class on any given day. Almost like a fluke. However, it takes dedication, passion, and a strong vision for excellence to create consistent world-class performance.

*Takeaway: Excellence is not a destination, but an ongoing journey.

Be bold enough to expect perfection, be thankful, connect the touchpoints, and strive for continuous improvement on a daily basis. Don’t try to keep up with the competition, but rather strive to become the benchmark in everything you do. Encourage your team to dream…and dream big. As you assess your team’s current service acumen, it is important to appreciate where you are, but imagine where you could be.


Special Update! Take advantage of our current online store promotion, and get 35% off any item (excluding shipping). If you have not already received any of our books, now is a great time to purchase them for yourself or as a gift for your team members. Just use the following code during checkout: 5QG7KXVJ (Offer expires on November 8, 2012.)

Recent Testimonials:

“I have attended more of these conferences over the years than I would care to even think about and I am an ‘old dog’. New tricks and change often make me cringe but your presentation had just the opposite effect.  It was as motivating and stimulating as anything I have ever been privileged to participate in and I wanted to thank you. I took more notes during your presentation than I did during some of my college courses!” Thomas Randall Smith, General Manager (St. James Place at Beaver Creek)

“I wanted to thank you for the excellent presentation my Tasting Room Staff attended in Sonoma this past Spring!  We are true “double platinum” believers and still feel energized by your positive messaging.  We are entering high season this month and I see the extra bit of effort each server extends when they step out on the floor.  Engaged, Own it, and Double Platinum is all we have to say to each other to step it up.  Very powerful!” –Kristin Wastell, Visitor Center Manager (Ravenswood Winery)

About Bryan K. Williams
Dr. Bryan K. Williams is the Chief Service Officer of B.Williams Enterprise, and the author of Engaging Service: 22 Ways to Become a Service Superstar and Work Like You Own It! 20 Ways to Go From Meeting to Exceeding Your Customers’ Expectations. Bryan’s passion is world-class customer service, and has facilitated workshops and delivered keynotes all over the world for various companies.  He speaks on a variety of topics related to service excellence, employee engagement, and organizational improvement.  As a consultant, Bryan works closely with companies to design, develop, and implement sustainable service strategies. His company’s online store includes a growing collection of customer service products that are well-suited for your training library.

Find more resources relating to service excellence at

Also on the website, you can subscribe to the official B.Williams Enterprise emailing list.  You will receive announcements, newsletters and other excellent resources.

-We exist to serve others so they may better serve the world ®.-

Both of Bryan’s books can be purchased at 



B. Williams Enterprise, LLC 

Facebook: BWEnterprise
Twitter: @bwenterprise
Phone: 240-401-6958

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Also See: Customer Service Week - WOW Stories to Inspire Your Team / Bryan K. Williams, D.M. / October 2012

Service Excellence: Three Tips to Drive Repeat Business / Bryan K. Williams, D.M. / October 2012

The LOVE Business / Bryan K. Williams / June 2012

The Next Level in Service Excellence: Give. Share. Teach. / Bryan K. Williams / April 2012

Service Excellence 101: Earn Your Customers' Confidence and Reap the Rewards / Bryan K. Williams / March 2012

Customer Service WOW Stories to Inspire Your Team! / Bryan K. Williams / February 2012

Lead Me: Help Me to Become More Than I Realize I Can Be / Bryan K. Williams / February 2012

Complimentary Teleseminar with Dr. Bryan K. Williams! 10 Things To Improve Service In Your Business / January 2012

Earn and Re-Earn Your Customers' Loyalty / Bryan K. Williams, D.M. / December 2011

Honor Your Customers / Bryan K. Williams, D.M. / October 2011

Work Like You Own It! 20 Ways to Go From Meeting to Exceeding Your Customers' Expectations: New Book by Dr. Bryan K. Williams / October 2011

Service Excellence 101: Be Welcoming / Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM / September 2011

The Three Ingredients of Engaging Service: Humility, Reverence & Professionalism / Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM / August 2011

Service Excellence: The MOST Important Thing To Create a Service Culture! / Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM / July 2011

Service Excellence 101: How to Serve a VIP / Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM / June 2011

The 1st Step of Service: Be Eager to Serve / Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM / May 2011

World-Class Service: The Double-Platinum Rule 2.0 / Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM / April 2011

Customer Problem Resolution: The 100% Principle / Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM / March 2011

World-Class Service 102: Be memorable / Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM / February 2011

Take your service to the next level: Only BIG WOW’s…No bow-wow’s / Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM / February 2011

Service Excellence: Inspect What You Expect / Bryan K. Williams, D.M. / November 2010

Work Like You Own It 2.0; Energize it. Recognize it. Celebrate it. / Bryan K. Williams, D.M. / September 2010

World-Class Service 101: Know the difference between meeting and exceeding expectations / Dr. Bryan K. Williams / July 2010

Service Superstars Part 2: Treat them like they own it! / Dr. Bryan K. Williams / June 2010

Make each touchpoint memorable: Cha-Ching! / Dr. Bryan K. Williams / April 2010

Service Superstars: Work like you own it! / Bryan Williams / February 2010

Complimentary resources from Bryan K. Williams and B.Williams Enterprise! Begin 2010 with a focus on world-class service. / January 2010

Service Ambassadors: The Key to Providing World-Class Service / Bryan K. Williams / November 2009

5-Star Employees - Part 3 / Bryan K. Williams / September 2009

5-Star Employees - Part 2 / Bryan K. Williams / August 2009

5-Star Employees - Part 1/ Bryan K. Williams / July 2009

Engaging Service: 22 Ways to Become a Service Superstar / Bryan K. Williams / July 2009

Complimentary tele-seminars with Bryan K. Williams in July! / July 2009

Building a Team of Living It Employees / Bryan K. Williams / June 2009

World-Class Service: What if every employee served like a concierge? / Byran K Williams / March 2009

5 Star Leadership: What Does It Take to Be a 5-star Leader? / Byran Williams / February 2009

5 Stars vs. 4 Stars: What’s the Difference? / Byran Williams / January 2009

Complimentary training with Bryan Williams / January 2009

The 7 Principles of EngageMeTM is now available! / Bryan K. Williams / November 2008

Hiring and Engaging a World-Class Team / Bryan K. Williams / October 2008

Great Ideas for National Customer Service Week 2008 / Bryan K. Williams / September 2008

Delivering World-Class Service Part 3: Company Service Standards / Bryan K. Williams / September 2008

Delivering World-Class Service Pt. 2: Personal Service Standards / Bryan K. Williams / September 2008

Delivering World-Class Service: Function vs. Purpose / Bryan K. Williams / August 2008

Guest Problem Resolution 101: Power of the Follow-Up / Bryan K. Williams / June 2008

7 Principles to Fully Engage Your Customers – Part 2 / Bryan K. Williams / May 2008

7 Principles to Fully Engage Your Customers / Bryan K. Williams / April 2008

I Am a Service Professional™ / Bryan K. Williams / March 2008

Engage Every Customer…One Touchpoint at a Time / Bryan K. Williams / January 2008

Engaging Service Part 2: It’s All About the Culture / Bryan K. Williams / December 2007

Engaging Service Part 1: Not Just for the Chic / Bryan K. Williams / November 2007

Service Excellence: A Destination or a Journey? / Bryan K. Williams / October 2007

National Customer Service Week is Coming Soon - October 1-5, 2007 / September 2007

National Customer Service Week is Coming Soon - October 1-5, 2007 / September 2007

Engage Me…the Voice of Your Customer / September 2007

Customer Engagement: Where do we begin? / Byran K Williams / August 2007

Engage Me…the Voice of Your Customer / / August 2007

B. Williams Enterprise, LLC Launches Engage Me…  the Voice of Your Customer / August 2007

To Engage…Listen to the Voice of Your Customer / Byran K Williams / August 2007

To Engage the Guest, You Must Engage Those Who Directly Serve the Guest / Byran K Williams / July 2007

Three Service Rules: The Golden Rule, Platinum Rule, and Double Platinum Rule/ Byran K Williams / June 2007

The Greatest Bellman I Ever Met… / Bryan K. Williams / April 2006

Sorry to Say…But Some People Should Not be Serving Other Human Beings / Bryan K Williams / October 2006

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