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Monday, November 23, 2009

THE RETENTION FACTOR: What is Great Customer Service?

The Retention Factor with Rosanne D'Ausilio, Ph.D.

In the past I’ve written about my experiences with various organizations and their extraordinary customer service.

However, in order to discuss customer service, here’s the definition I use: Customer service is those activities provided by a company's employees that enhance the ability of a customer to realize the full potential value of a product or service before and after the sale is made, thereby leading to satisfaction and repurchase.

Today I want to write about the hotel industry, specifically luxury lodging by Ritz-Carlton. They are the only service company in America that has won the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award twice, and Training Magazine has called it the best company in the nation for employee training.

They focus on three fundamentals:

  1. Location – making sure they have the absolute best location
  2. Product – the right physical product, i.e., the rooms
  3. People – their motto is “We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen

How do they carry it out?

Every day they have a ‘lineup’ where for approximately 15 minutes all employees are together. Shared are ‘wow stories’ great things that their ladies and gentlemen have done. This is a great training, learning, and communication tool.

In our trainings, we call these ‘clearing meetings’ where we want you to offload whatever is on your mind so that you are 100% present to what is in front of you, a customer, potential or current, a co-worker, direct report, family member, significant other, etc. We know when someone isn’t giving us 100% and we don’t like it – and so does everyone else know and feel that way.

By having clearing meetings, everyone is being responsible for taking care of business, and whatever is on their mind can be handled outside of business hours. It could be that prior to arriving at work the dog ran away, a child forgot his or her lunch or missed the bus, someone was going 35 miles per hour in the left lane on the highway, and s6 you could arrive at work with all this ‘stuff’ in your head. Offloading it is the purpose of a clearing meeting.

Ritz-Carlton also empowers their employees to spend up to $2000 on a guest—not per year, but per incident. Interesting enough, it doesn’t get used much and as interesting, it isn’t about there being a problem. Examples are instances where someone learns it’s a guest’s birthday and there is champagne and cake in the room. If it’s over $2000 it requires a manager’s approval, and usually gets it.

Their culture is built on trust, from the top down. The feet definitely go where the mouth goes. In other words, they walk their talk.

As the preamble to the US Constitution says, “We, the people.” I believe ‘we the people’ are who make the difference. It’s certainly the case at Ritz Carlton.

For more about Rosanne please see her TNNW Bio

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The Emergence of The Relationship Economy
The Emergence of the Relationship Economy features TNNWC Founder, Adam J. Kovitz as a contributing author and contains some of his early work on The Laws of Relationship Capital. The book is available in hardcopy and e-book formats. With a forward written by Doc Searls (of Cluetrain Manifesto fame), it is considered a "must read" for anyone responsible for the strategic direction of their business. If you would like to purchase your own copy, please click the image above.


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