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Wow your customers the Ritz-Carlton way

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in Management Training,Office Communication

by Carmine Gallo

As customer satisfaction scores continue to decline, take a page from the Ritz-Carlton playbook to motivate your team and to improve the service you offer your customers. I recently gave a presentation on the topic of innovation for a conference of landscaping professionals at a Ritz-Carlton in Amelia Island, Fla. I reminded the audience that innovation isn’t limited to creative ideas that are turned into breakthrough products. Don’t forget to innovate around the customer service experience as well, using the Ritz-Carlton as a model.

Customer satisfaction is in bad shape as measured by the American Customer Satisfaction Index.  The organization released a survey in February that shows the biggest decline in the index in two years.  The poor economy has led to layoffs forcing the employees who are left to do more with fewer resources. Yet the Ritz-Carlton continues to delight its guests by focusing on integral communication skills—educating its staff and keeping them motivated. When I interviewed the Marriott International President for Asia Pacific, Simon Cooper, he told me that the Ritz-Carlton accomplishes these twin feats (educated and motivated employees) largely by holding unique staff meetings called “line-ups.” The 15-minute meeting focuses on motivation and education. Here’s how:

1. Share “wow” stories. Every day in every department at every Ritz-Carlton hotel around the world the staff meets for these 15-minute meetings to share “wow” stories. These are stories of real employees offering exceptional customer service. Cooper told me these stories accomplish two things. First, they offer people “local fame” in front of their peers. Second, the wow stories serve to reinforce the values each employee is expected to demonstrate as a Ritz-Carlton ambassador. Ambassador is a key word. A Ritz-Carlton housekeeper doesn’t see herself as a housekeeper. She sees herself as part of the brand experience.

2. Educate your staff. During the 15-minute lineups, the manager of each department tells the staff about groups or, in some cases, individuals who are staying at the hotel or holding a meeting in one of the rooms. Just by knowing a little about you or your group, staff can personalize the experience, leading to highly satisfied guests. This takes place every day and for every department.

I attended a meeting for the housekeeping department when I was invited to the San Francisco Ritz-Carlton. I have rarely met a more engaged group of employees. They were committed to offering each guest an exceptional experience. Five-star service begins with your employees. Take every opportunity to communicate your company’s values with them. Even 15 minutes a day will do.


Carmine Gallo is a communication skills coach, television anchor, keynote speaker and author of The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs.


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