Welcome to Service
Oreck points out that the Ritz-Carlton is so intent on empowering their employees to “wow” customers, each employee (they always refer to their staff members as “ladies and gentlemen”) has permission to spend up to $2,000 a day per guest to fulfill expressed or unexpressed wishes. “Do we always spend that? No. But it helps create a culture of constantly looking for ways to ensure a customer’s sense of well-being,” says Oreck.
Managers tackle service problems in those daily line-ups as well, using what they call a “T3” strategy, shorthand for the top three biggest problems in a particular unit that day. The Ritz-Carlton surveys its customers extensively, unafraid to hear gripes and disappointments. “We have to find out which system, whether it’s a flawed machine [like a link that fails to load on the Web site] or process [like too long a line at the check in counter], is causing our customers heartache,” says Oreck. “Every unit knows its biggest customer problems and is working to address them.”
Surprisingly, the Ritz-Carlton does not embrace a traditional “customer’s always right” philosophy. Oreck says the company’s most successful customer service policies revolve around hiring and empowering their own employees. (See sidebars for tips on talent management and employee empowerment.) If an especially irate guest starts yelling or cursing at a Ritz-Carlton employee, their manager may very well ask that guest, “May we help make a reservation for you at another hotel?” Oreck says it’s good for morale when a manager backs up an employee like that.