When I say I travel a lot for business, there’s not an ounce of exaggeration in that statement. There are many weeks when it feels like I’m in the air more than I’m on the ground.

I like to think of myself as a business explorer, observing my surroundings and documenting patterns and idiosyncrasies. I marvel at the number of people traveling every single day by plane, train and automobile – each traveler representing an important opportunity for service providers. Although many consider space the final frontier, my time in transit has taught me otherwise. I believe that customer service is the final frontier. I have hundreds of opportunities each week to experience service and for the most part it all feels absolutely average. But when I do experience great service it jumps out and hugs me.

I’m not alone. Out of a thousand people surveyed, 65% said they have cut ties with a brand over a single poor customer service experience. Thankfully there are a few shining stars in the hospitality galaxy that can teach companies about the importance of excellent consumer service.

Creating an authentic culture of service

One company that stands out is Hampton. They put a high level of commitment into training their employees to create a guest-focused culture. Their model unlocks each staff member’s individuality and strengths, combining them with elements of the Hampton brand to produce genuine hospitality. They call this Hamptonality and you’ll experience it seamlessly from property to property. Hamptonality is a driving factor behind why their service consistency is remarkably high for a franchise-driven organization.

Capella Hotels is another hospitality standout. Visiting their property in Cabo San Lucas recently, I was thrilled by the fulfillment of their promise to provide “service that has no equal”. The staff was genuinely delighted to serve. They carefully attended to our every need and interacted with authentic care. After doing a little research, it’s no surprise that the management team comes from the renowned Ritz-Carlton Group.

Why the departure experience matters

It’s easy for staff to greet people on arrival and make them feel special, but it’s just as important to think about the departure experience. Whether it’s exiting a plane or departing a hotel or restaurant, the way you’re treated as you leave is the very last impression and possibly a key prompter for a return visit. Word of mouth and loyalty are ultimately driven by a leadership culture of service.

Bringing hospitality home

As a company, your quality of service is a direct result of your leadership strategy and your priorities. If serving your guests is not a priority, you’ll never get the credit, satisfaction or the superior business results you’re seeking. Defining what your brand of service looks and feels like, then setting a meaningful and actionable platform to engage every employee with clear expectations is paramount to success. The level of importance you put on genuine customer service will play a major part in determining your company’s sustainable, competitive differentiation.