Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Ritz-Carlton customer service

It's certainly the gold standard for hotel customer service, and if you've never stayed there, you have no idea what I am talking about (unless you've heard stories from friends, colleagues, or in magazines). Ritz-Carlton has one of the best customer service programs around. This month'sBusiness 2.0 has an article about Ritz Carlton customer service and the various companies that are sending their people to Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center (to the tune of $2,000 per person). As is usual, the "secrets" of Ritz-Carlton's success are fairly easily duplicable by any company in any industry, but it's always the rolling out and implementation of these secrets that seem to trip people up.

Here is a brief overview of some of the main secrets:

1. Make Customer Service an Elite Club (ask the right questions when interviewing)
2. Once You Have the Right People, Indoctrinate Them (spend the on training the, Ritz-Carlton spends around $5K per employee; how much do you spend?)
3. Treat Staffers the Way They Should Treat Customers (in the words of Tom Peters: ". . . if you genuinely want to put customers first, you must put employees more first.")
4. Offer Memorable Service (complaints = opportunities; it's just that simple and just that hard)
5. Talk About Values and Stoke Enthusiasm (reinforce core values . . . daily)
6. Eschew Technology, Except Where It Improves Service (automation doesn't always equal better experiences; it's finding the perfect balance between high tech and high touch)

There's a great little blurb on the article regarding the card that each Ritz employee receives, you should check it out. One of my favorite "basics" is listed as "Basic 14" in the article:

"Use words such as 'Good Morning,' 'Certainly,' 'I'll be happy to' and 'My pleasure.' Do not use words such as 'O.K.,' 'Sure,' 'Hi/Hello,' 'Folks,' and 'No problem.'"

I've been trying to do this all day and the response it very interesting -- conversations become a bit more formal.

In the words of Tom Peters (again): "If you want to achieve excellence, you can get there today. As of this second, quit doing less than excellent work."

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