Business Notes. Marisley.
The Ritz-Carlton Experience.
I recently had the experience of staying in a Ritz-Carlton property. It was gorgeous. The physical premises were just exquisite and maintained fastidiously. Every attention to detail was paid. It didn’t hurt also that the weather was pretty much perfect and the Atlantic Ocean shimmered and glistened, as did the stars in the open sky at night.
But in fact, I’ve been to beautiful places before, probably even more beautiful than this one. However, what made the experience extraordinary was the culture of the people who worked there. You notice it right away. When you check in, people are looking up, not down, and with an open smile to greet you. While there were several people checking in, it seemed that none were kept waiting, as there were additional staff positioned around the lobby that walked up to anyone that was waiting, “Welcome. May I get you a cold drink?” I don’t believe that anyone was unattended for more than a minute or two at the most. Then, wherever I was on the property, doors were held, niceties were extended, eyes were met, smiles were on faces. What? Yes, really, it’s true. Oh, and anyone that had occasion to learn it, seemed to remember my name.
I think that Marisley best exemplified what made this experience so special. She worked in a little café/store, where you could pick up a coffee in the a.m., a snack, waters, wine in the afternoon, a sandwich. It was always busy there, but the two people who worked behind the counter kept it moving. Marisley has a lovely smile and remembered everyone’s name—as did her colleague. She also seemed to put everything together—like who is related to whom, and would ask after your husband, son, daughter, the next time you came in. She also always thanked you for coming in, after she welcomed you back, and when you left, she said that she hoped she would see me tomorrow. I really believed her.
My son-in-law and I often have business conversations. He is an entrepreneur and has established a very successful company. He believes, as I do, that the culture of your organization comes from the inside, how you treat and respect your employees. We believe that how they are treated and feel about the company sets the tone in how they interact with your clients. In marketing, so many times I see companies trying to establish their brand, without attention to their company’s culture, thinking branding can be applied to the surface like a band aid. In fact, it most certainly cannot, and that is a hard and expensive lesson to learn. My son-in-law told me that the CEO of the company that owns Ritz-Carleton has specific training for all of their employees at every level. The training has to do with welcoming, engaging with guests, sincerity, problem resolution, taking the extra step. One of my colleagues in marketing from a large bank told me that his company had a policy of only hiring people that smile in the interview within a certain number of seconds. This applied to both front line and support staff. His company felt that this was essential the its culture of being able to communicate, sell, problem solve, work as a team member in a way that made it a pleasant place to be. It seems to me this applies to all of our businesses regardless of industry sector. People respond to others who appear to be genuinely interested in providing the best service, and in whether or not the client is happy with the product/service they are receiving. The cultivation of a loyal and repeat client base is the foundation upon which businesses grow as they acquire new customers and expand existing relationships. As our world becomes more self-service, online and digitized, the companies that will thrive into the future will continue to recognize that their people is what truly has potential to set them apart.