The Ritz Carlton – A Study of Innovation in Action
Everyone A Player
The Ritz Carlton hotel chain considers customer service to be at its core. Since the company runs hotels that’s not really a surprise. But they’ve gone beyond merely making innovation a motto or a trademark – it’s a systematic culture among their staff. Consider the following:
- Every Ritz Carlton employee is put through a careful orientation acquainting them with the customer-centered culture the company is known for.
- Every employee, along with the rest of the staff in his or her department, participates in a weekly meeting to review one of their ground rules and to come up with ideas to better apply it in their area.
- Every staff member and every department writes a Mission Statement that relates to them specifically, and sets the goal they have in achieving world class customer service.
- Every employee, from the housekeeper to the executive, can spend up to $2000 – no permission needed – to fix anything a customer is having a problem with. Now, they are required to write a report spelling out what they did to fix the problem, but there are no recriminations about the fact that they spent the money.
What Are the Results? Ritz Carlton has better than a 95% return business rate from its customers – and that’s with an average nightly room charge of over $200. Turnover at RC is under 25% annually, in an industry with an average turnover of over 125% (with hourly wages about the same). Customer “Wow!” stories abound, and staff are proud to be a part of a company which has won multiple Malcolm Baldrige and other quality and performance awards.
Ritz Carlton Staff Stories
- A couple of businessmen were walking down a corridor on their way to the lobby of the hotel, and on their way passed a staff member mopping the floor. The staffer overheard one man telling his friend that he wasn’t happy with his room because of an issue with the bathtub. The staff member introduced himself, apologized for the problem, moved the man to fancier room on the Concierge Floor, and then went on to have the bathtub problem fixed.
- A couple were staying at a Florida Ritz Carlton for their 15th wedding anniversary, and in the course of visiting the hotel gift shop were talking with one another about the occasion. The clerk overheard them, and looking their names up on the register, had a bottle of champagne and glasses delivered to their room immediately afterward, with the compliments of the hotel.
The hotel chain has pioneered a number of tactics based on employee suggestions that set it apart from even the best of their competitors.
Housekeeping staff, when prepping a room for a new visitor, set the radio for a specific station. If the station has been changed when they clean, the new setting is noted, and subsequent visits by that customer will find the radio preset to that station upon their arrival.
The hotel computer system also brings the customer’s name and room number up to any of the support staff who handle phone calls (front desk, kitchen, etc.). Customers are then always addressed by their proper name on any calls they make within the hotel.
Can you apply any of these world class approaches to driving innovation in YOUR business? Of course you can! And what results will you see? You’ll see increases in morale, great employee involvement, lower costs, and higher customer satisfaction. All of those will translate into more sales with higher end customers. Want to try it? Go ahead!