If you leave customer service up to your manager alone, your establishment will be left wanting. Rather, take advice from the pros and empower your staff to up the ante when it comes to customer satisfaction. Here’s how:

Putting on the Ritz

Hotel giant, The Ritz-Carlton strives to uphold what they unapologetically call the “Gold Standards” of customer service. This goes beyond their promise of a warm hello and always using their guest’s name when greeting and bidding a fond farewell. They have even gone so far as to allocate a $2000 budget to each of their staff members to use as they see fit in making a guest’s stay memorable. This $2000 is not per month or per year, it is actually per event and is often used to troubleshoot incidents in real-time. What’s more, staff members don’t need their manager’s permission to spend it. Each staff member is empowered to make a call and use their allocation at their discretion.

Put a price on customer value

So you may be wondering why $2000? Well, this figure wasn’t plucked out of thin air. The company worked out that the average Ritz-Carlton customer will spend around $250,000 with the Ritz over their lifetime. With a long-term view in place, they fully understand that a potential $2000 per customer is nothing in relation to this customer’s retention potential.


Simple steps to bring the Ritz-Glitz to your customer service

So what can you do to bring some of these Gold Standards into your restaurant, store or salon?

1. Make sure everyone comes to the party

This firstly begins with the will to adopt a relational approach over a transactional one. While your business probably won’t be able to spend R25,000 per customer, what can you afford? Can you empower your staff to anticipate your customer’s needs and make their day by going above and beyond expectations? If you can, there is a subtle but very powerful knock-on effect here: Each of your staff members will become a decision-maker in their own right, which is both empowering and encouraging. In a small way the company becomes theirs, too and people always fight harder to look after their own.

2. Standards must be measurable

When it comes to customer service, expectations must be clear and measurable. For example, “all calls must be answered by the third ring”. Remember, you can’t hold people accountable if you can’t measure outcomes. Excellent service is not about attitude, but rather it’s about behaviour. This is what can be learned from service giants Zappos and Disney who give their staff clearly communicated guidelines that they can follow step-by-step. This ensures that customer service hits the right notes consistently, every time.

3. Communicate & incentivise

Once you have established the service requirements, make sure it is communicated in emails, meetings and team workshops. Once implemented, you should reward people for reaching these goals. This might be as simple as a compliment, or as large as a cash bonus, raise or promotion. It should be worked into reviews as well, to ensure that staff understand that customer service is non-negotiable. While it is always better for management to focus on positive reinforcement, it remains important to design consequences for staff who won’t meet the standards. This can range anywhere from verbal feedback to formal disciplinary action.

Your Business can be the Ritz-Carlton of your industry

If you want to be the best, you can learn from the best. Customer satisfaction is key to driving sales, enticing customers, increasing morale, and ultimately building strong relationships with your customers. To press GO on your service development plans, take a page out of the Ritz-Carlton book and watch the sales roll in.

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