ATD Blog

Aloha Customer Service

Monday, October 1, 2012

Customer service training is especially challenging in Hawaii, I learned from one of our ASTD Hawaii Chapter leaders while visiting over the summer. She explained that there is an added dimension in their training—it’s not just regular customer service, but Aloha customer service. “Think about it,” she said. “People save up for years. Hawaii is their dream vacation. We can’t be responsible for ruining their dream.”

Most people know that the word “aloha” means “hello” and “good-bye” in Hawaiian, but the concept of “aloha” is more than just a greeting. It encompasses love, affection, peace, and more. In Hawaii, it is a way of life, often referred to as the “Aloha Spirit.” I witnessed aloha customer service during my entire stay in Hawaii. All service professionals smiled and greeted me. Several went way beyond any expectation I had. For example, one morning I inquired of the breakfast bar server what kind of bread we were having, and she promptly wrapped up an entire loaf “to go” for me. I especially enjoyed being called “cousin” by all the tour guides.

We’re celebrating Customer Service Week here at ASTD and we are also working to improve our customer service training. We have four new reps—no one is a career customer service professional—and as their senior leader I’ve been struggling to clearly articulate my expectations for customer service attitude.


I think I’ve found the answer: even though we’re here in Virginia, there’s no reason why we can’t provide aloha customer service.

About the Author

Gina Urgena is the senior leader at ATD supporting Customer Care, chapters, and the higher education community. She is currently a student in the OD/KM master’s program at George Mason University in Virginia. A graduate of Harvard University, Gina’s previous work experience was in managing the learning function at associations.

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