This past weekend my wife and I had a 24 hour ‘stay-cation’ for our anniversary at the beautiful Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman. My companies Massive Equipment Rental & Sales Ltd and Fireworks Ltd work on property often, but it is always nice to unplug for a bit and stay as a guest. The act of unplugging from the daily routine is powerful psychologically as a reset, a recharge, and a preparation for the next big push in our personal or business lives. While there I saw so many aspects of service – I call it ‘Perfection, Perfected’ – that went above and beyond the norm. The thought came to me that the best way to thank the team at the Ritz-Carlton for the wonderful service my wife and I experienced was to write about it, and to illustrate how this service can help you in your business. The 12 points are not the proverbial rocket science, but they work. As a leader of an entrepreneurial organization you would do well to read on.
Service is EVERYTHING to the Ritz-Carlton. It is what defines the chain in their very competitive niche. This is not to say that other firms that offer similar products do not have as a goal top-level customer service. They do. But few execute this as well as the Ritz-Carlton.
It starts with their Three Steps of Service. These are:
- A warm and sincere greeting. Use the guest’s name. As you walk about you are surprised by the number of times you are actually referred to by your name. Super simple idea that is sales or marketing 101. It is, however, very hard to execute on this. The Ritz-Carlton does this very well. Find a way to incorporate this into the approach of your staff to your clients. No one ever heard a better word spoken than their own name.
- Anticipation and fulfillment of each guest’s needs. Your needs are anticipated in advance through questions, and the answers and preferences are recorded for future use. Don’t like a high floor? You will probably never be assigned one again. But this is the easy CRM type stuff. The difference is a rooms attendant seeing that champagne is in a container with mostly melted ice and immediately returning with ice to refill… anticipation of the need, with no management intervention.
- Fond farewell. Give a warm good-bye and use the guest’s name. As you leave you are graciously thanked by everyone in the lobby area for your stay, and sent on with wishes to see you back as a guest soon. Who am I fooling… this happens at every hotel as you check out. True. But when this comes from the two other reception staff, from the two executives that are in the lobby awaiting arriving guests, from the many other staff, out the door to the bellman and valet driver, you are experiencing the delivery of an entirely different level of service.
How do the management drill this level of engagement down so that it is authentically delivered without prompting by the entire team? What gives the staff, the Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen as they are referred to, the ok to boldly step out with imaginative service in ways that seem held at bay with other companies despite their best intentions?
I am sure there are many more points but this list of 12 ‘Service Values‘ give clues. Read this list and where it says ‘Ritz-Carlton’ change that name for your company or personal brand. Change also the word ‘guest’ to client or customer, as for most readers that is probably more relevant anyway. The list of 12 starts with a declaration of the corporate mindset that you, the employee, are proud TO BE Ritz-Carlton. The brand, the experience, IS YOU. This is reinforced by the following:
- I build strong relationships and create Ritz-Carlton guests for life.
- I am always responsive to the expressed and unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests.
- I am empowered to create unique, memorable and personal experiences for our guests.
- I understand my role in achieving the Key Success Factors, embracing Community Footprints and creating The Ritz-Carlton Mystique.
- I continuously seek opportunities to innovate and improve The Ritz-Carlton experience.
- I own and immediately resolve guest problems.
- I create a work environment of teamwork and lateral service so that the needs of our guests and each other are met.
- I have the opportunity to continuously learn and grow.
- I am involved in the planning of the work that affects me.
- I am proud of my professional appearance, language and behavior.
- I protect the privacy and security of our guests, my fellow employees and the company’s confidential information and assets.
- I am responsible for uncompromising levels of cleanliness and creating a safe and accident-free environment.
These are reviewed continually. It is not enough, as most companies do, to have an orientation meeting or two, give the employee the manual, and think the job is done. Daily focus is paid to one of these service values. It is as if the life of the company depends on it. Guess what? It does! Without this the Ritz-Carlton is just another luxury brand chain, defining itself by the facilities, the amenities, the plushness of the bed. Wisely, this is not the direction the board decided to go. Years ago the decision was made to OWN the niche of GUEST SERVICE, and to have their brand be defined by that. All else will follow. You can read more about it here.
How is your brand defined? Are you competing with others in your industry using the same bag of tricks as everyone else? Why not be disruptive in an area that you can make a real and defined name for yourself Share your experiences in a comment if you wish. I would love to know how others have experiences brand breakout or ownership of an area in an otherwise developed industry.
Most of all, thank you to the outstanding Ladies and Gentlemen of the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman and their counterparts at so many properties around the world who daily deliver industry leading service in hospitality, the most variable and challenging of business environments.