To Mālama, Address the Basics

When it comes to customer service we tend to make things much more difficult than they have to be. Customers have a set of basic needs, and when we practice the value of Mālama we address those needs in ensuring that we are taking care of them.

At first reading, this list may read pretty basic to you too. However can you imagine how thrilled we’d all be if this was the customer service we always received? Basic is a good thing to strive for;

The Six Basic Needs of Customers

1. Friendliness

Friendliness is the most basic of all customers needs, usually associated with being greeted politely, graciously, and with aloha. We all want to be acknowledged and welcomed by someone who sincerely is glad to see us. A customer shouldn’t feel they are an intrusion on our work day!

2. Understanding and empathy

Customers need to feel that we understand and appreciate their desires, circumstances and feelings without criticism or judgment.  Customers have simple expectations that we who serve them can put ourselves in their shoes, understanding what it is they came to us for in the first place; we identify that need and fulfill it.

3. Fairness

We all need to feel we are being treated fairly. Customers get very annoyed and defensive when they feel they are subject to any class distinctions. No one wants to be treated as if they fall into a certain category, left wondering if “the grass is greener on the other side” and if they only received second best.

4. Control

Control represents the customers’ need to feel they have an impact on the way things turn out.  Our ability to meet this need for them comes from our own willingness to say “yes” much more than we say “no.” Customers don’t care about policies and rules; they want to deal with us in all our reasonableness.

5. Options and alternatives

Customers need to feel that other avenues are available to getting what they want accomplished.  They realize that they don’t have all the answers, and they depend on us to be “in the know” and provide them with the “inside scoop.”  They get pretty upset when they feel they have spun their wheels getting something done, and we knew all along a better way, but never made the suggestion.

6. Information

“Tell me, show me ”“ everything!” Customers need to be educated and informed about our products and services, and they don’t want us leaving anything out! They don’t want to waste precious time doing homework ”“ they look to us for the answers.

As part of our MWA Jumpstart program, I talk more about how this list was something which became a Retail Campaign, and how we would use as full week’s lesson plan on Mālama for the customer:

Teaching and Coaching Mālama

Read more there about these Pocket Cards:

The Six Basic Needs of our Customers

How we can express our Mālama for them.

1. Friendliness: Greet and treat with aloha. It’s about who we are.

2. Understanding and empathy: Identify our guest needs and fulfill them.

3. Fairness and beyond: Give them our best, always.

4. Control: We’ll say “yes” way more than we say “no.” Policies and rules don’t “care” we do.

5. Options and alternatives: We’ll offer all we CAN do, and before they have to ask.

6. Information: We’ll offer all we know, all we have, and more than they thought they needed!

We are Mea Ho‘okipa.

This is part of our Ho‘ohana this month:

Our April Ho‘ohana is Mālama: What is Caring in business and at work?

There’s a movement brewing”

Ho‘ohana with us, and Manage with Aloha— Rosa


  1. says

    Teaching and Coaching Mālama

    In this month’s MWA Jumpstart, the 5 Steps I suggested you break your study of the Chapter on Mālama into, mostly had to do with your employees. However Mālama is for everyone; you want to care for, honor, protect and