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At Your Service

Kelli Abe Trifonovitch

I had a major headache after giving a talk to the local chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, recently. It wasn't the PRSA members' fault. They were warm and hospitable and seemed truly eager to hear what advice I and other panelists had to give about how to pitch stories. The major hassle I had just getting to the event, held at a major Waikiki hotel, made my head hurt.

I spiraled up the hotel's parking garage, found a space along the third floor and pulled in. Then I pulled out. The sign said it was reserved for valet parking. I went all the way to the top, then came all the way back down and realized the space I had pulled out of was the last open space in the garage. I spoke to the parking attendant on the way out, telling him I was expected to speak at an event at the hotel in a few minutes. "You should have taken the valet parking stall," he said.

My next stop was the valet. The sign said they were full and no amount of pleading would convince them to park my soccer mom van, even though it was time for the event to start. The only advice they could give me was to park at a neighboring shopping center. "They might take the hotel's validation," they said, hopefully.

Rather than chance that, I tried the hotel's garage, again. This time another parking attendant listened sympathetically on the way out and said, "I want to tell you to park at the shopping center, but I'm not sure they'll take our validation." I had no choice, at that point. I was late. I found parking on the top floor of the shopping center's parking lot. Don't even get me started about how long it took me to get out after the event.

That experience just reinforced the need for good customer service. It touches every area of our lives. I'm sure you have heard the saying that the customer is always your next interaction. You are aware that customers drive the top lines of our businesses and contribute to the bottom. This is why I know you will enjoy Managing Editor Jacy Youn's look at seven customer-service gems in Hawaii, in businesses that range from the fine jewelry of The Wedding Ring Shop to a service station in Kahala. These are examples from which we can all learn.

Editor-at-Large David Choo has the flip side of the story, in a tongue-in-cheek look at businesses we hate to love. Think the Soup Nazi in "Seinfeld." It should give you a chuckle. Lord knows I needed one on that fateful parking day.

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