Customer service seems to be headed in the same direction as the Titanic. Why? One reason is most Americans feel customer service jobs are beneath them and of little importance. Secondly, many organizations have eliminated the human element, replacing it with a lower-cost, impersonal conglomeration of voice mail, e-mail and online request forms. For many shortsighted service companies, it is about cutting costs and cutting corners.
The Ritz-Carlton Hotels make customer service an art form. Unlike other places, they know if you treat your customers well and make a special effort to please them, guess what? They come back, tell their friends and maintain a long lasting relationship of loyalty.
My wife and I recently stayed at the Reynolds Plantation Ritz-Carlton at Lake Oconee, Georgia. Upon checking in, we dropped off our bags and took a seat in the lobby to enjoy the view of the lake. A few minutes later a service person named Susan introduced herself and began a friendly conversation. She asked us why we were staying at the hotel. I said,
“We are here for our wedding anniversary.” With a very big smile she told us, “Congratulations. Let me get you some champagne.” Wow! This was the first of two episodes at this hotel that would capture my loyalty as a guest of Ritz-Carlton.
Later that evening a knock at the door caught us by surprise. Greeting us again was Susan. This time she surprised us with a luscious piece of cake carefully presented on a plate. In icing was this inscription, “Happy Anniversary.”
It was not a stroke of luck we stumbled across Susan. She, as well as other Ritz Carlton employees are carefully selected and thoroughly trained in how to identify guests’ unspoken requests. They follow a process called the “Three Steps of Service.”
Step 1: Warm welcome
Step 2: Anticipation and compliance
Step 3: Fond farewell
It is during Step 2 where staff members seek out and discover guests’ needs or wishes. Then they present it in a way to create a “moment of truth.” In our case, it was the champagne and the anniversary cake.
Now, let me make an important point to the critics. I know many of you are saying, “I expect to be treated well at fine hotels — it is what I pay for.” Let’s consider this. The same principles and standards of behavior demonstrated at the Ritz-Carlton can also be applied at your local car dealership, bank or any business, can’t they?
Just imagine driving to your car repair shop. Within 60 minutes they fix it right the first time and deliver it to your door
cleaner than when you dropped it off. How many people would you tell about it? Surely, the proprietor of the car repair shop would see exponential growth. The additional profits and the revenue would outweigh the added time and expense spent exceeding their customers’ expectations.
In today’s competitive economy, business leaders have to make a choice. They can choose to be average or become exceptional. It almost goes without saying, but it is easier and less expensive to be average. Which choice will you make?
I encourage you to visit our website and check out the many customer service training programs we have available.
Greg Smith | Lead Navigator | 770-860-9464 | Chart Your Course International