Amusement

12 Lessons From the Best in their Business

The Secret to How Ritz-Carlton, H-E-B, Disney, ClubCorp and Goettl Soar

JackNotes: Summaries of Wisdom

Fortunately, I worked for a remarkable Texas business, H-E-B Food Drugs, from 1980 to 2010 and retired early as an executive over their facilities management organization.

H-E-B invests a great deal in training their employees (known as “Partners”) including customer service all the way. I made certain to retain and use this learning in my personal growth but loved to share it within my department.

Personal significant learning events included Six Sigma Certification, Executive Reinvention by Tracy Goss, Disney University, Project Management, Executive Finance from Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business and so much more.

Working with Clubline at Fair Oaks Ranch Golf & Country Club near San Antonio, I’ve been able to practice what I preach adapting their “Warm Welcomes, Magic Moments, and Fond Farewells” creed.

Like H-E-B, one of the best in their business is Ritz-Carlton. Service is EVERYTHING to them.  It is what defines the chain in their very competitive niche.  This is not to say that other firms that offer similar products do not have as a goal top-level customer service.  They do.  But few execute this as well as the Ritz-Carlton.

Three Steps of Service

It starts with their Three Steps of Service.  These are:

  1. A warm and sincere greeting. Use the guest’s name.  As you walk about you are surprised by the number of times you are actually referred to by your name.  Super simple idea that is sales or marketing 101.  It is, however, very hard to execute on this.  The Ritz-Carlton does this very well.  Find a way to incorporate this into the approach of your staff to your clients.  No one ever heard a better word spoken than their own name.
  2. Anticipation and fulfillment of each guest’s needs.  Your needs are anticipated in advance through questions, and the answers and preferences are recorded for future use.  Don’t like a high floor?  You will probably never be assigned one again.  But this is the easy CRM type stuff.  The difference is a rooms attendant seeing that champagne is in a container with mostly melted ice and immediately returning with ice to refill… anticipation of the need, with no management intervention.
  3. Fond farewell. Give a warm good-bye and use the guest’s name.  As you leave you are graciously thanked by everyone in the lobby area for your stay, and sent on with wishes to see you back as a guest soon. But with them it doesn’t just come from one individual, this comes from at least two other reception staff, from the two executives that are in the lobby awaiting arriving guests, from the many other staff, out the door to the bellman and valet driver, you are experiencing the delivery of an entirely different level of service.

Ladies and Gentlemen

How do the management drill this level of engagement down so that it is authentically delivered without prompting by the entire team?  What gives the staff, the Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen as they are referred to, the OK to boldly step out with imaginative service in ways that seem held at bay with other companies despite their best intentions?

I am sure there are many more points but this list of 12 ‘Service Values‘ give clues.  Read this list and where it says ‘Ritz-Carlton’ change that name for your company or personal brand.

Change also the word ‘guest’ to client or customer, as for most readers that is probably more relevant anyway.

The list of 12 starts with a declaration of the corporate mindset that you, the employee, are proud TO BE Ritz-Carlton.  The brand, the experience, IS YOU.  

This is reinforced by the following:

  1. I build strong relationships and create Ritz-Carlton guests for life
  2. I am always responsive to the expressed and unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests.
  3. I am empowered to create unique, memorable and personal experiences for our guests.
  4. understand my role in achieving the Key Success Factors, embracing Community Footprints and creating The Ritz-Carlton Mystique.
  5. I continuously seek opportunities to innovate and improve The Ritz-Carlton experience.
  6. own and immediately resolve guest problems.
  7. create a work environment of teamwork and lateral service so that the needs of our guests and each other are met.
  8. I have the opportunity to continuously learn and grow.
  9. I am involved in the planning of the work that affects me.
  10. I am proud of my professional appearancelanguage and behavior.
  11. protect the privacy and security of our guests, my fellow employees and the company’s confidential information and assets.
  12. I am responsible for uncompromising levels of cleanliness and creating a safe and accident-free environment.
Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe

These are reviewed continually.  It is not enough, as most companies do, to have an orientation meeting or two, give the employee the manual, and think the job is done.    Daily focus is paid to one of these service values.  It is as if the life of the company depends on it.  Guess what? It does!

Without this the Ritz-Carlton is just another luxury brand chain, H-E-B is just another grocery and gas store and Goettl Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing would only be defining themselves by the facilities, the amenities, the products and services they sell. 

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