We can learn much from the Ritz-Carlton Gold Standard and their exceptional customer service philosophy and orientation. “Putting on the Ritz” has always meant top-quality, the best of the best. Where did they acquire this reputation? From their customers – and it is well deserved.
The Ritz-Carlton focuses on taking care of their customers and employees and this creates an amazing standard of customer service. In a recent independent survey, 99 percent of guests said they were satisfied with their Ritz-Carlton hotel experience and over 80 percent stated they extremely satisfied. The key to impressive customer service is to create loyal customers. Loyal customers return again and again to spend there money and are less price sensitive. Satisfied customers might return, but are equally likely to go anywhere else and seek out the lowest price. Therefore, satisfaction is virtually meaningless and only customer loyalty truly counts.
The Ritz-Carlton approach to employee and customer relations can teach us a lot about exceptional customer service. How could you apply these within your company?
o Ritz-Carlton lets customers know that they are valued and encourages them to make the client and customer service their top priority. Trainers and managers focus on making sure the staff is well versed in the Ritz-Carlton Gold Standards. For the Ritz-Carlton these Gold Standards are not a procedure, they are philosophy and a way of life.
o The Ritz Carlton provides managers and employees with 250 to 300 hours of training in their first year
o The Ritz-Carlton philosophy is that any employee who receives a complaint from a guest owns that complaint. First-line employees such as desk clerks, bellboys and housekeepers are empowered to spend up to $2000 to handle any customer complaints and managers can spend up to $5,000 without additional authorization.
o The Ritz-Carlton has a manual for quality improvement and problem-solving procedures. The manual contains approximately 1000 potential problems that a client could have during their stay and the appropriate procedure(s) for dealing with each of these challenges so that the client is exceptionally pleased with the outcome.
With businesses typically losing 20% of their customers each year, we should clearly be spending more time, money and energy on customer service and retention than we are on marketing to new customers. The typical business spends 90% or more of their funding and focus on marketing to new customers and 10% or less on retaining old customers. These numbers from a profit-perspective should look a lot more like 50-50 if you want to have the best reputation and the largest increase in customers and profits year-over-year.
– Make sure your managers and leaders are teaching, practicing, promoting and living a customer service oriented philosophy/lifestyle.
– Clearly define your customer service standards and train your employees to follow through at the highest level
– Make exceptional customer service an important item on employee evaluations.
– Make sure your staff has the ability to resolve small customer complaints/challenges on their own – and train them to do this well.
– Identify specific problem areas that you are having in your company, brainstorm solutions and then provide additional training and support.
– Edward Deming once said “What doesn’t get measured, doesn’t get done.” How do you measure your results?
– Customer questionnaires and surveys are key. Make sure you are asking open-ended questions that focus on customer Loyalty – Not satisfaction.
The Ritz-Carlton senior management knows that when employees are well trained they do a great job. And when employees feel they are doing a great job – they feel great at their job. This results in lower staff turnover, creates a positive environment and is a win-win for employees, management, clients, and keeps profits climbing. The Ritz-Carlton is a wonderful example of what a well run customer service focused organization can do when they create a customer service mindset and win-win philosophy at every level of the organization.
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