What’s the first thing you think of when you hear Ritz-Carlton? Luxury? Sprawling red-carpeted staircases under chandeliers? Supreme customer service that goes above and beyond?
At a convention held by one of our clients, Goldfish Swim School, Atlanta Ritz-Carlton general manager Manuel Diesen gave a compelling presentation on how to celebrate your customers by using examples of how his hotel does this.
The brand’s Golden Standards are the foundation for how it operates and how it instills into its employees the values and philosophy that make Ritz-Carlton what it is. Creating a motto, mission or set of guidelines that gives your employees some sort of direction when working with and celebrating your customers will set you up for long-term success.
It’s something to think about when developing a strategy celebrate your customers. For the Ritz-Carlton The Golden Standard is just that. It’s made up of six different pillars: The Credo, Motto, Three Steps of Service, Service Values, The 6th Diamond, and The Employee Promise. Each pillar gives guidance to employees on how they should work with their customers and represent the brand.
What does this translate into? First of all, Ritz-Carlton Hotels don’t advertise, which is kind of crazy in this day and age with all the advertorial noise going on. It seems everywhere we turn some company is selling or advertising something. You won’t hear about the Ritz-Carlton in all that hubbub. They rely on being “Recommended” and on “Relationships.” Instead of putting money into advertising, the Ritz focuses resources on empowering employees to build relationships with their customers as opposed to selling to their customers. Just one way to celebrate your customers.
We aren’t suggesting you cancel all of your advertising. We are just saying that instead of seeing your customers as a hard sell remember that relationship building is a more genuine process that often creates a higher volume of return clientele. Celebrate your customers by getting to know them, understanding them and going above and beyond their expectations. It’s things like that, that will keep them coming back.
Diesen brought up some other examples that you may be able to build on when you think about how to celebrate your customers.
Each Ritz-Carlton employee can spend up to $2,000 to fix a customer's problem before having to alert a manager. 2,000 bucks can go a long way! That could nearly furnish a living room with some nice pieces or buy a whole lot of lightbulbs in the event one goes out.
That being said, Ritz-Carlton enforces the “15-minute rule.” Employees have 15 minutes to solve a customer’s room issue; that’s pretty quick, especially considering you may need to travel to the 25th floor of the hotel. If it can’t be fixed in that time, the whole team will come to the rescue, constantly communicating with each other to make sure the issue is resolved while keeping the client informed.
Also, when a new customer arrives at a Ritz-Carlton Hotel, whoever greets them first will make sure to notice the customer’s name on their luggage. They then radio that information to the front desk so they can greet the customer by name when they arrive… that’s celebrating your customers!
And this one seems like a no-brainer when you celebrate your customer, but is easily lost when working with them, “Is there anything else I can assist you with?” Always make sure you’ve taken care of your customer’s needs in that minute and make them aware that you are ready to continue serving them.
Another thing to consider when thinking about how to celebrate your customers is how to celebrate your employees. Remember, happy employees with meaningful work reflects in their customer service. The Ritz-Carlton celebrates employee successes as a team.
They also check in on their employee engagement. On the 21st day of working, after they’ve been trained to the Ritz-Carlton standard, the employees can speak their mind at an open forum where they talk about their training experience, whether or not they’ve been given the tools for success, and their overall sentiment of the job. Further, the Ritz continually measures employee engagement by providing their employees with the Gallup Q12, a survey for measuring employee metrics (they also use loads of Gallup surveys to gather information on customers satisfaction).
If you want to celebrate your customers, you must start by developing your employees and refining your customer service process and mission into one that builds relationships with your customers instead of just selling to them.
In his presentation, Diesen sets a scene that seems to sum up the quality of service the Ritz-Carlton is known for—a prime example for how you can start to celebrate your customers better: A man staying at a Ritz-Carlton is celebrating his wedding anniversary with his wife. He orders flowers with his dinner arrangements. Sounds nice right? Well not nice enough for the Ritz-Carlton staff! Instead of just dinner and flowers, Ritz employees deliver a complimentary bottle of champagne. And at some point along the way, they learned the couple’s wedding song and play it in the restaurant during dinner.
Diesen said that if the staff had just delivered flowers and served a nice meal, that would have been expected. However, Ritz-Carlton doesn’t do “expected”; they go above and beyond. They take orders, and then take them to the next level because it’s stuff like that, that will give their clients a memorable experience and keep them coming back again and again.
In another story (not one of Diesen’s) a woman arrived to her Ritz-Carlton room seven hours late after her flight was delayed over and over again and she missed all kinds of work meetings. She was in no good mood.
The Ritz-Carlton attendant helping the guest to her room asked the woman how her day was going. She sure did tell him. Instead of shrugging or just saying sorry or even getting defensive himself, the attendant offered her some time at the spa, to send a masseur up to her room, or to draw a rose petal bath. While the guest appreciated the sentiment she had no time for any of that. So the attendant ran off to get her a scented candle for the room—just a touch of comfort for a trying day. The woman was touched. She said it was something a friend would have done, not a hotel employee. She was so grateful she called the desk to let them know and now, every time she books a room at the Ritz, there is a scented candle waiting for her.
This is a prime example of how it pays off to empower employees to celebrate your customers. One of the mottos of the Ritz is “Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen.” This is great because there is an equality factor in this statement. Ritz-Carlton employees are not servants or customer service reps. While they are there to serve customers, they are equals with the customers, friends with them as the woman felt they were, friends waiting for their return with their room set up just how they like it.
Here’s another story from the web: A man was on a business trip giving a keynote speech. He had arrived a few days earlier to enjoy his trip. While he was stand-up paddling boarding with his girlfriend he lost his balance and his glasses too.
Later when they returned to the hotel an employee asked the guests about their glasses. The guest had never told anybody about losing his glasses. Nevertheless, the attendant had found the guests glasses and returned them. Apparently someone had gone snorkeling specifically to find the man’s glasses. That’s above and beyond, that’s celebrating your customers.
Any hotel employee or manager could recognize that it was a special night for that man celebrating his wedding anniversary, that the woman was having a rough day, or even relate to losing a pair of sunglasses. However, not every hotel manager or employee would think to makes special night extra memorable or turn a bad day into a lifetime relationship. That’s what we’re getting at here: every transaction is a chance to celebrate your customers, to turn a one-time instance into a lifetime relationship that brings them back again and again. Don’t stop at what your customers expect. Take it to the next level and wow them with amazing customer experience.