Ms. Alexandra Valentin, CHT gave a presentation this morning at the BizGrowth conference (Rose Garden, Portland, OR) on taking Customer Service to it's highest level - everyday. Ms. Valentin, is the Corporate Director for the Ritz-Carlton's Leadership Center. This was perfect timing after reading the book, Raving Fans.
She has been in the hospitality industry since 1995 and has an industrial psychological degree from University of Puerto Rico. She said that she started off being a bartender for Ritz-Carlton. Now, it all makes sense since that is where I started bartending for 15 years.
Malcolm Baldrige Award Winners
The Ritz-Carlton has received the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 1992 & 1999. This Malcolm Baldrige Award has quite a few prestigious companys on it's award list.
In Ms. Valentin's presentation (which I was furiously writing notes throughout her talk) she said that they beat in their employee's heads "Radar On…Antennas Up!" This is a constant reminder to reinforce the one-of-a-kind experience that their customers to experience. These are memorable experiences that they share with everyone that they are in contact with (we like to call it Word of Mouth marketing).
She also talked about five practices that they stress to their "ladies & gentlemen"
- Don't overcomplicate customer service…it has to be simple. It can be a little thing that makes the most amount of noise.
- Turn your customer interaction into a defining moment.
- Don't underestimate psychology in customer service. The more you understand how your customers' minds work, the more memorable experience they will have. She gave us a perfect example of how a Ritz-Carlton employee reached out to a little girl whose pet goldfish had died. When the family left the property they were just overwhelmed with joy and the child had the most memorable story that she will remember for the rest of her life.
- Service is about your customers five senses. How does your bathroom smell?
- Attention to detail (plus 1% more). If your customer is going out for a morning jog…have a bottle of water and a towel to hand him/her when they return.
Ladies & Gentlemen
She also told us that it takes about a year to train each employee the Ritz-Carlton customer service approach (each & every day). This first year of training is the most important to learn the highest level of employee customer engagement. From the owner or president of the hotel down to the doorman (or even janitors or housekeepers) they all are important to spreading the message of the Degree of Delight. They have an employee business card that reminds them of their promise to be passionate and to treat each customer like they are their best friend (The Employee Promise & Credo). To be the best, they anticipate and fulfill each guests needs.
Ms. Valentin's talk is a constant reminder that if we are going to rise to be the cream at the top we must be socially responsible and make Raving Fans. Did you ever think that you would hear a customer of yours saying, "I can't imagine a world without (name of your business)!"
So remember - Radar On_Antenna Up!