Inside Ritz-Carlton’s Customer-Centric Culture

I just read an interesting interview in Forbes with Simon Cooper, president of the Ritz-Carlton, who provides some insight into Ritz-Carlton’s customer-centric culture. Here are some of Cooper’s remarks:

  • We focus on three fundamentals. First, location–making sure we get absolutely the best location. Second, product–building the right physical product for what our guests want today and what they will want tomorrow. That’s the platform. Third, people–our ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen. They animate the platform.
  • We use what we call “lineup,” which is a Ritz-Carlton tradition… we want every single hotel, everywhere in the world, every partner, every shift, to utilize lineup, which typically takes around 15 minutes every day…That is a wonderful training and communication tool, where every department layers on the department message.
  • Part of the lineup everywhere around the world is a “wow story,” which means talking about great things that our ladies and gentlemen have done.
  • We entrust every single Ritz-Carlton staff member, without approval from their general manager, to spend up to $2,000 on a guest. And that’s not per year. It’s per incident… The concept is to do something, to create an absolutely wonderful stay for a guest.
  • A culture is built on trust. And if leadership doesn’t live the values that it requires of the organization, that is the swiftest way to undermine the culture.

My take: As you may remember, I wrote about my less-than-ideal experience at the Ritz-Carlton in Puerto Rico. After I wrote that post (and complained at the front desk), one of the managers called me, apologized for our problems, and offered us a free dinner in the hotel’s nicest restaurant. It was a great meal; and it created a positive impression of the hotel.

As you can see from Cooper’s remarks, this type of customer-centric behavior is no accident. Ritz-Carlton empowers its “ladies and gentlemen” to deliver great experiences for customers. To get a better sense of how this hotelier operates, take a look at the Ritz-Carlton Gold Standards.

If you want to develop a customer-centric culture, here are some additional posts that should help:

The bottom line: A customer-centric culture takes purposeful leadership.

About Bruce Temkin
I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, marketing, interaction design, customer service, and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

One Response to Inside Ritz-Carlton’s Customer-Centric Culture

  1. Megan Burns says:

    I love the idea of a setting budget within which employees can do whatever it takes to address key moments of truth with customers. The approach helps companies quanitfy the cost (or at least the maximum cost) of these activities, which they can then compare to incremental benefits in loyalty, WOM, etc. among customers who have gotten above-and-beyond service.

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