FiveStar Customer Service Strategies Focuses on Front Line to Grow the Bottom Line

Barbara Kieker

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

Every company needs customers to stay in business.  Rita Suiter built FiveStar Customer Service Strategies from scratch over the last 12 years by focusing on that one commonality for all businesses. Suiter provides customized training to a diverse client base with an approach that helps employees upgrade interpersonal skills, improve attitudes and develop positive "customer service" habits.

"I’ve worked in 16 states in 12 years and my business has been built solely on referrals.  Most of my clients invite me back multiple times which causes me to stay current and fresh with industry trends and techniques," Suiter said.

Based in Valdosta, Suiter has helped clients in a variety of industries including hospitality and tourism, health care, education, finance, utility, retail, government and nonprofits.  Suiter conducts all training classes onsite for clients, which is a major cost-savings and convenience.

Improving Service by Respecting Employees

A common mistake many businesses make is to assume that customer service starts at the first point of customer contact.  According to Suiter, customer service starts internally with how a company treats its employees. 

"Employees treat customers in the same way that they are treated internally.  If they are treated professionally with respect, then they will reflect that in their interactions with customers," Suiter said.

Suiter believes most businesses could benefit by soliciting and acting on more direct feedback from their front-line employees.  Ignoring or downplaying this source of customer information is a missed opportunity.

"Walt Disney said when he wanted to know how guests were feeling about his theme parks he would go talk with the ticket takers.  They spend their day listening to guests," Suiter said.  

Investing in employee training is another opportunity for most businesses, Suiter believes, as it makes employees feel more valued.  Suiter customizes the training for each client by interviewing employees and supervisors, and developing presentations that address identified opportunities for improvement.

A Shift to Health Care

In recent years, Suiter has worked extensively in the health care industry.  Recent policy changes by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will link reimbursements for health care providers to patient satisfaction in addition to medical outcomes.  The changes were announced in October 2012 and will go into effective in October 2013.

"Hospitals and other health care providers are so task-driven with processes and procedures that focusing on the patient experience is a big change.  When patients are filling out the survey that measures satisfaction they may not remember the tasks you did but they sure remember how it made them feel," Suiter said.

"Every interaction during a patient's stay is part of the patient experience, so everyone – physicians, nurses, technicians and other staff members – needs to be sure they are dealing with patients in a compassionate and caring way."

Suiter is well versed in the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Survey or HCAHPS.  Survey results are transparent and available online at  In order to be reimbursed, providers must earn "always" or "strongly agree" scores on the survey when patients rank their experiences.

"Family members are an integral part of the patient experience.  And that's important to remember because they are often the ones who are completing the survey," Suiter said.

More information on FiveStar Customer Service Strategies is available at or call Rita Suiter at (229) 563-7482.

About Barbara Kieker

Barbara Kieker is a freelance writer who writes on business-related topics for a number of web-based properties. She also provides communications services to Fortune 500 corporations, small businesses and nonprofit organizations.