January 5th Meeting Provides Exceptional Take-away Value

On January 5th, 2010, NECA invited Brian Grubb, the Corporate Director of Learning & Content Delivery and a certified speaker for The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center to present “Radar On, Antennae Up: Fulfilling Customers Unexpressed Wishes”. His presentation provided both inspiration and common sense recommendations applicable to all businesses. This was truly an evening of “take-aways” for our record breaking audience of over 150.

Brian emphasized that excellence is created by design and shared the Ritz-Carlton’s formula for “Legendary Service”. The “Legendary Service” formula includes the following four factors:

  1. Attention to Detail: Small things can be big things.
  2. Acts of Random Kindness: “Wow” them by going above and beyond.
  3. An Emotional Connection: Relate to customers on their level.
  4. Flawless Processes: Do everything better than everyone else.

The bottom line for this common sense formula is recognizing that your product is service. You are in the service business, not just the washing business.

Another basic truth: Every employee is important, an integral part of the whole mission no matter what their actual job. All need to help each other become better at what they do and what the company delivers. Ask your employees for their best ideas. There is a wise Chinese proverb that sums it up:

  • Tell me and I will forget;
  • Show me and I may remember;
  • Involve me and I will understand.

The Ritz-Carlton does involve its employees and has built their reputation on doing ordinary things extraordinarily well. To emulate the Ritz-Carlton, Brian advised us to ….

  1. Be consistent.
    Example: Does each of your employees understand your company goals, greet customers and discuss your services in the same way?
  2. Know your customers and exceed their expectations.
    Happy customers return, return more frequently, spend more money and recommend you to their family and friends
  3. Constantly think of ways to improve.
    Don’t get comfortable with the old ways. What was good enough yesterday will not be good enough tomorrow.

He emphasized that small things can make a big difference: you don’t have to spend a lot of money. Use a customer’s name (hint: look at the credit card). Really listen and engage your customers. They already assume you’re competent. What they seek is a connection. Make sure your radar is on. Learn to read a situation and anticipate the customer’s needs. Go beyond the customer’s expressed wishes to their unexpressed wishes. Treat everyone with respect (including co-workers).

To support his talking points, we were shown “Give ‘em the Pickle”, a humorous video featuring the wisdom of Bob Farrell, founder of Farrell's Ice Cream Parlors. The “pickle” is an extra thing, however small, you do to make the customer happy and make their experience memorable.” What is your businesses’ pickle?

The message reinforced by the video was that anyone can deliver the expected: cleanliness, courtesy, quality (wash), responses to requests. The big question is what can you do to surprise and “delight” customers that will create a memorable experience they want to repeat? How can you ensure that everyone on your staff’s “radar is on and antenna is up”, that they can identify the “pickle”? The Ritz-Carlton has every one of the staff read the company credo card, which they also carry in their pockets, every morning. It advises offering feedback to help each other become better, being in the moment so that you can consciously read a situation, and engaging customers in ways that are good for business.

Brian talked about the need to get customer feedback and shared the questions the Ritz-Carlton asks customers to determine whether they have been successful in “fulfilling customers' unexpressed wishes”, the other half of the program’s title, and delivering legendary service. The Ritz-Carlton’s customer survey questions may not be appropriate for all but are a starting point. They ask ….

  1. Are you likely to return?
  2. What are the chances you’ll tell others about us?
  3. Can you imagine a world without us?
  4. Do you feel we created an overall sense of well-being?

Do you know the questions you should ask to create your own “legendary service” and ensure customer loyalty? Those who attended this very special presentation were considering just that as they left the Hilton on January 5th…how they can create excellence by design in their own businesses.

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