Customer Retention, Customer Service

Learn from the Best: 5-Star Customer Service Lessons from Ritz-Carlton

1 Comment 14 January 2011

The Ritz-Carlton is known for luxurious hotels, great amenities… but most of all, it’s known for customer service. Great, astounding, personal, friendly, immediate customer service. Customer service that actually keeps the customer in mind. If you want to stand out among your competitors, take these Ritz Carlton customer service lessons to heart.

1. Acknowledge and apologize for your mistakes.
Then do something nice to make up for them. Stacey Hylen, a business coach, recounts an experience at a Ritz-Carlton hotel: they forgot her wake-up call, and when she let the front desk know about it, they immediately apologized and offered to send breakfast to her room. Hylen declined, as she had other breakfast plans, but when she got back to the room she found a basket of gourmet food and a handwritten note of apology waiting for her.

When a customer is wronged, even in the slightest way, don’t make excuses or get defensive. Instead, be bold and sincere enough to admit your mistake (even if it was inadvertent) and then apologize. Then take it up to the Ritz level by doing something nice to make up for the mistake. Send a card, a gift certificate, buy them dinner, give a freebie, make it better. Be memorable for your great response, not for your mistake.

2. Be proactive.
Don MacAskill, founder of SmugMug, talks about an anniversary visit he and his wife took to a Ritz-Carlton. The outstanding part of his story was that several days before they even left, he got a call from a member of the Ritz staff, asking if there were any special preparations they could make to help make their anniversary stay even more special.

What can you do to stay top-of-mind with your customers? Reach out with amazing proactive customer service to make every experience they have with you special, unforgettable, unbelievably good. Don’t wait for an unhappy customer and then pull out the stops. Make an advance phone call, send out birthday cards, remember names, greet people at the door, be proactive.

3. Make it a top priority.
In order for great customer service to happen on a regular basis, you have to make it one of your businesses’ top priorities. And you have to pass that attitude on down to your employees. That means that you need to give them authority to extend amazing customer service. If you’re getting upset with a waiter who comps a dessert to please an unhappy customer, you’re sending the wrong message. Set up any system you want, but be sure that message your employees get – every single day, every single shift – is that customer service matters.

And it does. If you don’t pay attention to customer service, you may get by, but most likely you won’t stand out. The personal experience and the friendly connection created by superb customer service will make you memorable – in the best of ways – with every person who walks through your door.

Image by Paul Lowry.


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  1. Tweets that mention Customer Service Lessons from Ritz Carlton | Results Revolution -- - January 22, 2011

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Marianna H Chapman, Marianna H Chapman. Marianna H Chapman said: Are you providing customer service that keeps the customer in mind? We have a few tips: #customer #service [...]

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About Marianna Chapman

For the past 15 years, Marianna Chapman has been creating game-changing big ideas resulting in big returns for dozens of businesses and communities across the U.S.

Today, Marianna and her team help business and non-profit clients at Big Idea Company, Inc., writes the Results Revolution blog, serves as Executive Editor for Eat Cities, LLC media outlets, and is a frequent speaker to national and regional conferences.

Marianna is a professional problem solver and rainmaker for hire.

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