The Ritz Carlton: Ladies and Gentlemen, Serving Ladies and Gentlemen

Today is the third session of Summer Term II of the 2013 GsD program with Applied Guestology 201, a review of some of the leading organizations who deliver exemplary Guest Experiences with application to ChurchWorld.

When it comes to refined service and exquisite hospitality, one name stands high above the rest: The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. With ceaseless attention to every luxurious detail, the company has set the bar for creating memorable customer experiences in world-class settings.

The Ritz Carlton: Ladies and Gentlemen, Serving Ladies and Gentlemen

Ritz Carlton logo polished

The brass lion at Ritz Carlton symbolizes excellence. Here’s a quick look at values statements – their Gold Standards – that are used to develop that excellence.

The Credo

  • The Ritz-Carlton is a place where the genuine care and comfort of our guests is our highest mission
  • We pledge to provide the finest personal service and facilities for our guest who will always enjoy a warm, relaxed, yet refined ambiance
  • The Ritz-Carlton experience enlivens the senses, instills well-being, and fulfills even the unexpressed wished and needs of our guests

The Motto

At the Ritz Carlton, “We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen.” This motto exemplifies the anticipatory service provided by all staff members.

The Three Steps of Service

  • A warm and sincere greeting, using the guest’s name
  • Anticipation and fulfillment of each guest’s needs
  • A fond farewell, giving a warm goodbye, and using the guest’s name

12 Service Values 

  • I build strong relationships and create Ritz-Carlton guests for life
  • I am always responsive the expressed and unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests
  • I am empowered to create unique, memorable, and personal experiences for our guests
  • I understand my role in achieving the Key Success Factors, embracing community footprints, and creating the Ritz-Carlton mystique
  • I continually seek opportunities to innovate and improve the Ritz-Carlton experience
  • I own and immediately resolve guest problems
  • I create a work environment of teamwork and lateral service so that the needs of our guests and each other are met
  • I have to opportunity to continuously learn and grow
  • I am involved in the planning of the work that affects me
  • I am proud of my professional appearance, language, and behavior
  • I protect the privacy and security of our guests, my fellow employees, and the company’s confidential information and assets
  • I am responsible for uncompromising levels of cleanliness and creating a safe and accident-free environment

As the Ritz Carlton staff lives out these values every day, it’s easy to understand the following comment:

My name is Herve Humler and I am the president of Ritz-Carlton… and I am a very important person. But you are more important than I am. You are the heart and soul of this building.

Herve Humler, addressing hotel staff shortly before the grand opening of Ritz-Carlton’s Hong Kong property

Diana Oreck, the vice president for Ritz Carlton’s executive training facility, was recently interviewed by Ashley Verrill from Customer Service Investigator. The entire interview is a must read, but one question in particular stands out.

Q. Ritz-Carlton puts a lot of emphasis on successful new hire orientation. Why is this important?

A lot of companies have a notion that employee orientation really needs to be a data dump of the company, and statistics and who’s doing what. It really isn’t. You are making a very big decision in your life to either start a job or change a job. So, we feel orientation needs to be a significant emotional experience. And the reason we do that is we know that this creates passionate advocates of our employees. We don’t think that it’s realistic to ask that your customer be a passionate, raving fan if your employees aren’t first.

The results from this passion and culture are very evident.

Ritz-Carlton Hotel has once again ranked highest in the luxury brand segment, for an impressive fourth year in a row by J.D. Power and Associates.

“We could not be prouder of our ladies and gentlemen all over the world for their commitment to excellence every single day,” said Herve Humler, President and CEO for The Ritz-Carlton. He continued,

The results speak for themselves. At a time when hotel guest satisfaction scores have increased to a seven-year high, The Ritz-Carlton plays a commanding role. It is an honor to be recognized by J.D. Power and Associates in their 2013 Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study with such outstanding results, leading our competitors in the luxury set, consecutively for the past four years. To achieve the highest ranking in Customer Satisfaction is a commitment of our service promise – to exceed our guest’s needs and expectations.

Application to ChurchWorld

It’s one thing to have a Credo, a Motto, Three Steps of Service, and 12 Service Values like the Ritz-Carlton. Many businesses go through the exercise of defining key values or composing mission statements. They might even display them in their literature, or in imposing art displays on the corporate walls.

How many organizational leaders understand the importance of regular and repetitive presentation of the core aspects of their business – not only to management, but also to their front-line staff?

Enter the “lineup” at Ritz-Carlton.

To truly appreciate the Ritz-Carlton leadership approach to repeated dissemination of their service culture, you would have to drop in on a section of the housekeeping staff as they prepare for their days work – or at the corporate headquarters – or in the kitchen of the fine restaurants that serve the hotel chain – or anywhere, and everywhere, throughout the entire organization.

You would observe that a meeting is taking place at the beginning of each shift. Not just any meeting, though: the leader in each group starts by sharing the Credo and talking about the importance of creating a unique guest experience. Another team member might share a guest story from a Ritz-Carlton hotel in another country. Another team member shares how what they do in their department helps create memorable guest experiences. Then a few quick announcements, special recognitions are given, and another team member closes the meeting with a motivational quote.

All in about 20 minutes.

Every day.

On every shift.

In every Ritz-Carlton hotel and office around the world.

The magic of the lineup involves the following:

  • Repetition of values – the core belief that values need to be discussed daily, and that values can’t be discussed enough
  • Common language – shared phrases across all tasks binds the team together
  • Visual symbols – The Credo is printed on a card that all team members carry at all times
  • Oral traditions – Personal, direct, and face-to-face communication makes a huge impact in a world increasingly dominated by e-mail, text, and voice messages
  • Positive storytelling – stories communicate life in a powerful and memorable way
  • Modeling by leaders – the active, daily presence of the leaders communicates the importance of the time together

What would a “lineup” for each of your teams do to preserve the core values, communicate the importance of everyone on the team, and provide momentum for the day’s activities?

Recommended Reading for this session:

The New Gold Standard, Joseph A. Michelli

(for a complete reading list, see The Essential Guest Experience Library)

Guestology – the art and science of knowing and understanding your guests – is a term originated by Bruce Laval of the Walt Disney Company. The use of GsD is a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgment that organizations that really want to understand and deliver a WOW Guest Experience need to study the best practices and principles in use today, and then adapt them to the context of their own environment.

the GsD (Doctor of Guestology) journey: 2nd Term Summer 2013


For more great information on Guest Experiences, be sure to check out Guest Experience Design.

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Puttin on The Ritz…

When it comes to refined service and exquisite hospitality, one name stands high above the rest: The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. With ceaseless attention to every luxurious detail, the company has set the bar for creating memorable customer experiences in world-class setting.

With unprecedented access to the company’s executives and staff, best-selling author and business consultant Joseph Michelli obtained the leadership secrets behind the company’s extraordinary success. In “The New Gold Standard,” Michelli takes an exclusive tour behind the scenes of The Ritz-Carlton and comes away with great reference work for church Guest Services Teams who want to learn and apply principles of a WOW! Experience to their own practices.

Michelli develops “5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience” that you can explore in the book. I’ll take a look at those principles in a later post. First, here’s a quick look behind the brass lion that symbolizes excellence at the Ritz:

The Credo

  • The Ritz-Carlton is a place where the genuine care and comfort of our guests is our highest mission
  • We pledge to provide the finest personal service and facilities for our guest who will always enjoy a warm, relaxed, yet refined ambiance
  • The Ritz-Carlton experience enlivens the senses, instills well-being, and fulfills even the unexpressed wished and needs of our guests

The Three Steps of Service

  • A warm and sincere greeting, using the guest’s name
  • Anticipation and fulfillment of each guest’s needs
  • A fond farewell, giving a warm goodbye, and using the guest’s name

Service Values of Ritz-Carlton Staff

  • I build strong relationships and create Ritz-Carlton guests for life
  • I am always responsive to the expressed and unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests
  • I am empowered to create unique, memorable, and personal experiences for our guests
  • I understand my role in achieving the Key Success Factors, embracing community footprints, and creating the Ritz-Carlton mystique
  • I continually seek opportunities to innovate and improve the Ritz-Carlton experience
  • I own and immediately resolve guest problems
  • I create a work environment of teamwork and lateral service so that the needs of our guests and each other are met
  • I have to opportunity to continuously learn and grow
  • I am involved in the planning of the work that affects me
  • I am proud of my professional appearance, language, and behavior
  • I protect the privacy and security of our guests, my fellow employees, and the company’s confidential information and assets
  • I am responsible for uncompromising levels of cleanliness and creating a safe and accident-free environment

Gold standard indeed! These are priceless nuggets of truth that you can mine and put into practice in your Guest Services team immediately…

Why not start this week?

Utilizing the Power of the Lineup with Your Guest Services Team

It’s one thing to have a Credo, Three Steps of Service, and 12 Service Values like the Ritz-Carlton (see the post here for more details on these Gold Standards). Many businesses go through the exercise of defining key values or composing mission statements. They might even display them in their literature, or in imposing art displays on the corporate walls.

But how many business leaders understand the importance of regular and repetitive presentation of these core aspects of their business – not only to management, but also to their front-line staff?

Enter the “lineup” at Ritz-Carlton.

To truly appreciate the Ritz-Carlton leadership approach to repeated dissemination of the “Gold Standards” mentioned above, you would have to drop in on a section of the housekeeping staff as they prepare for their days work – or at the corporate headquarters – or in the kitchen of the fine restaurants that serve the hotel chain – or anywhere, and everywhere, throughout the entire organization.

You would observe that a meeting is taking place at the beginning of each shift. Not just any meeting, though: the leader in each group starts by sharing the Credo and talking about the importance of creating a unique guest experience. Another team member might share a guest story from a Ritz-Carlton hotel in another country. Another team member shares how what they do in their department helps create memorable guest experiences. Then a few quick announcements, special recognitions are given, and another team member closes the meeting with a motivational quote.

All in about 20 minutes.

Every day.

On every shift.

In every Ritz-Carlton hotel and office around the world.

The magic of the lineup involves the following:

  • Repetition of values – the core belief that values need to be discussed daily, and that values can’t be discussed enough
  • Common language – shared phrases across all tasks binds the team together
  • Visual symbols – The Credo is printed on a card that all team members carry at all times
  • Oral traditions – Personal, direct, and face-to-face communication makes a huge impact in a world increasingly dominated by e-mail, text, and voice messages
  • Positive storytelling – stories communicate life in a powerful and memorable way
  • Modeling by leaders – the active, daily presence of the leaders communicates the importance of the time together

What would “lineup” for each of your Guest Services teams do to preserve the core values, communicate the importance of everyone on the team, and provide momentum for the day’s activities?

Or how about this word for the process?

Alignment.

Guest Services: Making Your First Impressions LAST!

Can the church learn anything from Walt Disney, Starbucks, Nordstrom’s, and the Ritz-Carlton?

My answer is a resounding YES!

Over the past four years I’ve been working on a project exploring the world of hospitality, looking for key principles that have application to the church world I live and work in. Early motivation for this effort came from great guest experiences over consecutive days from two establishments at opposite ends of the dining spectrum: Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and Taco Bell. In both instances, the staff went beyond the expectations to deliver exemplary service. You expect it at one, but are surprised at the other, right? Why should price be any indicator of the level of service delivered? What about a place with no “price” at all – the church?

The companies I named in the opening sentence have been my primary research targets, but you could say that the hospitality industry in general is my field of research. My proposition is that the world of restaurants, coffee shops, fine hotels, and the ultimate in customer expectation and experience – Disney – can provide tangible and beneficial principles for the church to adapt in welcoming guests and members alike.

Along the way, I’ve supplemented my research with practical application in my own church: I lead one of the Guest Services (Parking) Teams at Elevation Church’s Uptown location. As the “first face” of Elevation, my crew and I get weekly opportunities to practice guest services and make a lasting first impression.

We don’t just park cars; we:

• Sanitize all touch points and spray air freshener in the elevator cabs and stairwells of the parking garage we use

• Pick up trash along the route from the garage to the theater

• Put up 22 parking signs along the entrances

• Man the elevator lobbies to call elevators for guests

• Hold the parking deck door for guests coming and going

• Pull the parking ticket and personally hand it to guests

• Validate parking for all Elevation guests

• Provide VIP (our first time guests) and family parking right next to the theater

• Know what’s going on Uptown so we can help any and everyone who has a question (sporting events, concerts, special activities, etc.)

• Provide umbrellas to guests in the rain

• Give a verbal greeting to everyone coming and going

And that’s just the parking crew! Elevation’s audacious Guest Services team also has Greeters, a First Impressions Team, VIP Tent, and Connections Tent. All this BEFORE a guest has stepped into the theater for worship.

You might say Guest Services is a big deal.

I think it is – and you should too.