The Ritz Carlton is one of the best hotel chains in the world. Not because they have clean rooms, a great mission statement or luxury establishments; that is just in their DNA. Their greatness comes from articulating and executing on their competitive advantage- a proactive approach to customer service. Anticipatory service, rather than waiting for problems to arise, means taking action to prevent problems from happening in the first place.
One of their service values within their renowned Gold Standards states, “I am empowered to create unique, memorable and personal experiences for our guests.” Ritz Carlton empowers their employees with the discretion to spend up to $2,000 per day per guest to “delight or make it right.” Even though this discretion may not be used often, it sends a powerful message to employees at all levels of the organization that they are trusted to deliver, no matter what it takes. It gives them the power to step away from their daily routines to delight the customer in whatever capacity is necessary.
In one famous case, a bellhop bought a plane ticket and flew cross-country to hand-deliver a guest’s briefcase that was left at the valet. He didn’t have to ask, he didn’t even hesitate, but rather was certain management would support his action. President and COO Herve Humler states, “It is my job, and the job of every leader in this organization, to remind ourselves and those who work for us daily that we are not in the business of selling hotel rooms or F&B [food and beverage]. We are in the business of providing exceptional service.” Ritz Carlton is an example of a great culture company that has successfully aligned their purpose with their people.
Empowerment is the key to increased employee engagement, and employee engagement can lead to increased customer loyalty. An empowered, engaged employee will be enthusiastic about their work and desire to take positive actions to further the company’s reputation and goals.
So, when you give your employees the means and ability to serve your customers relentlessly, they will be more likely to take ownership of the service they provide as an individual. When the customer is the beneficiary of an engaged employee’s efforts you start to gain customers for life.