Today at DeMoss, Mark brought in Horst Schulze to speak to the rest of the team. If you aren't familiar (I wasn't before today actually), Schulze used to be President of the Ritz-Carlton hotels from the group's early beginnings. The Ritz has built its entire brand on the idea of service and revolutionized the luxury line of hotels in doing so. Even the "it's my pleasure" you hear from Chick-fil-A employees was inspired by the Ritz-Carlton's service mantra.
One of the most famous things about the Ritz is how they empower all of their employees to make any decision to do whatever they can, in the moment, to make a guest happy. To reinforce that, the company allots up to $2,000 for the employee to make a decision to spend to satisfy a guest concern, without needing approval from a manager. It's a big deal but it's paid off for them in the long run.
As one example, at a Cancun location, a honeymooning husband lost his new wedding ring in the sand. This is an event that could make a happy vacation turn sour quickly. After their shift, the beach attendees used their allotment from the company and bought four metal detectors. By the end of the day, they had recovered the lost wedding band.
While the employees had spent maybe $400 bucks on equipment, the story of that extra mile service helped them gain what Schulze estimated to be millions in free advertising as it was picked up in various news outlets across the country. The best publicity often starts with great service.
How do you produce service?
Schulze said that the Ritz did not build hotels - they managed them. So the only thing that they really "produced" was service.
Out of the gate, he said that every new relationship starts with distrust. People do not trust something that they don't know. Part of the Ritz's strategy was building trust with their guests over time.
Schulze said that every customer, no matter if their renting a hotel suite or simply buying a bottle of water at a service station, has three subconscious expectations:
1. They expect the product to be defect free
2. Timeliness - they want to receive the product in a certain timeframe
3. They want the people selling to be nice to them.
Schulze narrowed the focus of the Ritz's customer service on the third item: being nice. He noted that most guests who had a positive/warm encounter with the bellboy, valet and front desk person almost always rated the hotel higher. However, if there was an issue with someone in those first few touch points, or if an employee wasn't as warm, the ratings were almost always lower than average.
Crazy how much friendliness and just being nice to people impacts business, right?
We are all in service
In Schulze's words "If you have clients, you're in service. Period."
Even if you don't have clients, you are in service.
You may be a client-side marketing manager. However, your clients are the company and/or the sales staff you're supporting.
You could be a janitor. You don't have "clients" but the building and the tenants you serve are really your clients.
Everyone has clients, they just aren't always called clients.
After learning more about Schulze's lessons from running the Ritz Carlton and building a high-profile luxury brand, how could you incorporate more of a servant mindset into your job? How could service further build the brand you work for?