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Home Women Business News How to Become the Ritz-Carlton of Your Industry in 7 (Difficult) Steps

How to Become the Ritz-Carlton of Your Industry in 7 (Difficult) Steps

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Nearly every day, I’ll field a request at my customer service consulting and training practice from a business that “wants to become the Ritz-Carlton of their own industry.” They’re looking to be transformed into:

  • The Ritz-Carlton of law firms
  • The Ritz-Carlton of retail banking
  • The Ritz-Carlton of auto retailing
  • The Ritz-Carlton of commercial banking
  • The Ritz-Carlton of healthcare
  • The Ritz-Carlton of insurance, fintech, homebuilding, information services, and so many more.

Here’s how the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company itself has used exceptional customer service (hospitality) to become legendary. See if you think you can apply these secrets yourself!

1. The Ritz-Carlton strives to fill every guest’s unexpressed needs and unasked questions

In addition to providing the basics of hospitality: a comfortable bed, a toilet that flushes reliably, a door that locks securely… the Ritz Carlton Hotel Company is devoted to discovering and serving the unexpressed needs and unspoken desires of its guests. This is customer service/hospitality practiced at a very high level — and they strive to provide it daily — and around the clock!

Related: What I’ve Learned Training the Top Hotel Brands in Customer Service

2. They are devoted to immediate and effective service recovery

When something goes wrong for a guest: Another secret of the Ritz-Carlton’s success lies in what I call “service recovery.” (Ritz-Carlton sometimes calls it — but only internally! — “instant pacification.”) Regardless of your line of business, it’s essential to have a service recovery framework decided on and rehearsed ahead of time before the next upset, irritated, disappointed, or angry customer is breathing down your neck or burning up a telephone line that you’re attached to.

The “MAMA” Service Recovery framework I share in my customer service training is derived from the Ritz-Carlton’s legendary work. Still, I’ve adapted it to perhaps a wider range of industries. The four steps of MAMA are these.

M — Make time to listen

A – Acknowledge, and if appropriate (meaning the CUSTOMER would think it’s appropriate), apologize.

M — (have a) Meeting of Minds

A — Act! And follow up.

Related: How to Deal With an Upset (or Angry) Customer

3. They supplement their customer service training with recurring rituals

Of course, Ritz-Carlton provides its employees with the most rigorous and inspired customer service training, bar none. But they don’t stop there: the reinforcement of training already received never ends at the Ritz-Carlton. Most impressive, to my mind, is the daily lineup. This happens at the beginning of the shift in every department, from housekeeping to the executive offices.

It has been held without fail since circa 1983, missing only one day: 9/11/2001 going into 9/12/2001. At this daily meeting, which is never longer than 10 minutes, one of Ritz Carlton’s essential principles is shared, for example, “a surgical level of cleanliness” or “attending to even guests’ unexpressed wishes and desires.”

4. They believe in standards, not just smiles

The Ritz Carlton hotel company is second to none regarding the smiles, great attitudes and warm touchpoints that a guest will experience. But lurking behind those wonderful moments are an extraordinary number of standards: 3000, in fact. Some of these are branding consistency standards, such as ensuring that there is the same brand of toiletries in every Ritz-Carlton bath. But many of these 3,000 standards define exceptional customer service — service and smiles that create and sustain exceptional hospitality.

Related: Why This 3-letter Word Will Solve (Nearly) All Your Customer Service Problems

5. They have a particular obsession for careful hiring

Hiring, which Ritz-Carlton calls employee selection, has been a big part of the company’s success since the early days. To a significant extent, they’re looking for traits rather than pre-existing skills, although there are positions where both are evenly weighted (in the kitchen, etc.)

6. They create “wow moments,” large and small

Ritz-Carlton is known for providing extraordinary “wow moments” for its guests, on the theory that we humans remember our lives in terms of stories. In fact, the Ritz Carlton is legendary for providing nearly all employees with up to $2000 of leeway not only for solving any guest’s problem but, alternatively, that $2000 is also available if an employee wants to delight or wow a customer!

Before you freak out, that entire $2000 has never, to my knowledge, been needed or used; however, the understanding that they are empowered to go as far as they need lets employees understand that the brand’s pursuit of wow moments for its guests far more real than other brands that only give “wow” lip service.

With busy guests with various goals and expectations during their hotel stay, the Ritz-Carlton also understands that not every customer or moment is an appropriate target for being wowed in an elaborate way. So, the Ritz-Carlton also engages in what I’ve termed “everyday wow.” This can simply be going the extra mile on an otherwise routine telephone interaction, but it’s an important pursuit as well.

7. They know that “wow” is for internal customers (co-workers) as well

The moments of wow that have made Ritz-Carlton’s name are, of course, the external ones, the moments of wow created for paying guests. However, the concept of going all out when needed or when it would be delightful applies to employees (or you could call them internal guests) as well. There are many stories told internally bout teams of Ritz Carlton employees who gather together to make a schedule of meals for a teammate recovering from treatment, as just one wonderful example.

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