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Achieve Stellar Customer Service with the Aloha Principle

By Natalie Smith

stellar customer service

Hawaiians have a reputation for delivering stellar customer service.

They seem to always maintain a genuinely warm and friendly manner when dealing with their clients, making it virtually impossible to feel dissatisfied even after experiencing some sort of service failure.

The secret may be that they have a sunny outlook on life that comes from living in a tropical paradise. After all, there’s no question that your environment in both work and personal lives impacts health, personality and attitude.

However, this is only part of the reason.

In business, as well as in their private lives, Hawaiians adhere to something we might call the aloha principle. The aloha principle is a central part of the Hawaiian culture and everyday life, so it naturally extends to dealing with customers. It’s a complete philosophy for interacting with each other and the guiding principle behind all of their customer service interactions.

Let’s see what the aloha principle entails and how you can use it to provide stellar customer service.

stellar customer service

Components of the aloha principle

The aloha principle consists of five ideas that correlate to each of the word’s five letters:

Ala: Be aware

The first letter in the word aloha stands for ala, which suggests the state of being watchful and alert. The first principle in customer service, upon which everything else rests, is always remaining alert to your customers’ desires, needs and expectations.

Only when you have an extensive understanding of your customers can you begin to shape a process of customer service delivery that will be customer-centric in the real sense of the word. And when customers recognize that their needs take priority, not the company agenda, you will be able to direct the flow of interactions towards positive resolutions.

Lokahi: Work in harmony

The second letter in the word aloha refers to lokahi, which means working in a unified, harmonious effort. For customer service to be effective, it’s crucial that all the staff in the company think and function as a team, not a collection of individuals who are disconnected in their approaches to resolving customer issues. Customer satisfaction requires a coordinated effort to be consistently effective.

In other words, all employees, from recent hires to managers, need to know how healthy customer dialogues are conducted, and understand that mutual help and support best ensure that customer issues are resolved smoothly. This is also aligned with the perceptions of most customers that they are not dealing with independent agents, but a single corporate entity.

Oiaio: Be truthful and honest

The next letter in aloha stands for oiaio, or the combined virtues of honesty and truthfulness. Fair and truthful treatment naturally increases customer satisfaction and makes customers more open to building a strong relationship with your business.

Establishing a relationship instilled with trust also plays an important part in gaining and maintaining customer loyalty. While it is virtually impossible to retain customers who don’t have confidence in your company, loyal customers will often become brand advocates who share their positive experiences among friends and family. The trust you’ve built will then act as a free marketing tool that enhances the overall perception of your brand.

stellar customer service

Haahaa: Be humble and modest

Haahaa corresponds to the fourth letter in the word aloha, and indicates the ideals of humble and modest behavior. Humility is essential in showing genuine interest and empathy for customers’ predicaments, as well as building solid relationships that increase the reputation of your business.

When customer service representatives are genuinely modest and humble, they are more likely to speak naturally, listen better, and work harder to resolve customer inquiries. Nobody likes to deal with self-involved staff that demonstrates arrogance or false compassion. Customers expect the person they interact with to have enough modesty to respect their time and value them as both purchasers and individuals.

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Ahonui: Be patient and persistent

The final letter of the word aloha stands for ahonui, which means patience and persistence. These two qualities are extremely important in customer service.

Responding to emotionally charged customers with patience and perseverance helps them to become calmer. This is important for achieving a productive dialogue. On the flip side, having a combative or resentful attitude only guarantees that customers won’t make another purchase from you.

What’s more, confused, frustrated and angry customers are likely to spread the word about their unpleasant experiences and thus cause businesses even more damage. The best way to deal with these situations is to be patient and willing to stick with the customer until the matter is resolved.


The aloha principle summarizes the qualities of being alert, working as a team, exhibiting patience and humility, and being honest, transparent and persistent.

Even though it originated in Hawaii, this principle is universal enough to be used by any company around the world who would like to improve their customer service procedures. Making interactions with customers more positive and productive is a great way to improve brand image and gain advantage over the competition.

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