Observing really exceptional customer service and customer experiences is something I’ve always been passionate about. I’m not trained in the hospitality industry, but I’m very intrigued when I see it done well. It is one of the reasons I love to go to Disney theme parks. To me, the adventure is often less about the rides and more about figuring out how they do everything. I am a student of service. I observe their greeting behaviors; the attention to detail on every square inch of a ride; the choice of music as you transition areas; crowd control systems and line management…it’s fascinating.
Lately I’ve been reading a book called Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit. It is written by the CEO of the Ritz Carlton. I’ve learned even more fascinating things.
For example, every Ritz Carlton employee is given $2000 per customer to solve service failures. That’s incredible empowerment. No employee has ever had to spend all $2000. What they discovered is that if an employee approaches each problematic situation from a position of generosity, the customer often declines or minimizes any repayment. Mostly, people just want you to care…genuinely care… that they’ve been wronged. They don’t want to be asked to state the “facts” of the situation, like they are on trial. They want you to care. Empowering employees with the means to fix problems creates an attitude that anyone and everyone can jump in and take care of things.
The Ritz also keeps detailed customer notes. If you requested extra towels or hypoallergenic shampoo the last time you stayed at any of their hotels, don’t be surprised if you find those items in your room when you arrive next time.
At work I believe exceptional service is providing a better product for less than you quoted and delivering it before it was requested. You often hear about these three pieces as part of a product triangle (Quality, Cost, Time) — and that you can only ever provide two of the three. I disagree. You can almost always provide all three, but it often comes at a personal cost. It comes down to asking this: Is it worth it? Is providing exceptional service worth breaking my back over? We all have to answer that individually on a case by case basis at work. (I think I know how Disney and Ritz employees would answer that question most of the time.)
The book has made me think differently these days. Not about business, though. Most of it makes good common sense from a business perspective. It’s got me thinking bigger.
What if God is like the CEO of the universe and we are His service providers.
That would mean each day I would need to ask myself these questions:
- Am I actually looking at each “problem” I see in the world and approaching it from a position of generosity?
- What have I been given as my “discretionary fund” to solve problems? A little bit of my time, talents, and treasures? Or much more than I dare to think? What is keeping me from feeling empowered to give more?
- Am I genuinely caring about the hurting people around me?
I think that is how I am going to start thinking about it. I’m an employee at Earth. God is the CEO. I want to strive to serve like I work at Disney or the Ritz.
Only the best for my fellow planetary guests!