Milestones in Leadership 2014 Key Takeaways (part 2)

Posted by Hector Olguin on May 16, 2014 10:33:00 AM

This article is part two of our recap and key takeaways from the 2014 Milestones in Leadership Summit. Click here for part one

milestones in leadership summit recapAt the Milestones summit, our speaker Jeff Hagett from the Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center gave a great training on creating a culture of outstanding customer service. For those who attended and those who couldn’t make it, here are our recaps and our key takeaways from the event. Our hope is that this will help you remember some key points if you attended (there was a lot to take in!), and if you were not able to attend, we hope this will help spark discussion and improvement in customer service in your company.

The following section will explain the process the Ritz-Carlton has in place to produce their outstanding product of customer service. Although exactly duplicating their process in your own company may not be feasible or applicable, you can still generate ideas or customize some of their processes to improve your company. We are not implying that this is the only customer service system out there. We hope that by learning about their process, you will be inspired to improve your own system. 

The Ritz-Carlton System

Ritz-Carlton Credo Card

All Ritz-Carlton employs carry, at all times, a Ritz-Carlton credo card.  The card folds out and has several pages. It contains the Ritz-Carlton Credo, Motto, the 3 Steps of Service, the Service Values, The 6th Diamond, and the Employee Promise. It is a consistent reminder of their mission and goals as employees. 

The Credo

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel is a place where the genuine care and comfort of our guests is our highest mission.

We pledge to provide the finest personal service and facilities for our guests who will always enjoy a warm, relaxed, yet refined ambience.

The Ritz-Carlton experience enlivens the senses, instills well-being, and fulfills even the unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests.

The purpose of the credo is to answers the question, "Who are we as a company?" 

The Motto

We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen.

The motto exemplifies the respect and importance of the Ritz-Carlton employees. Notice the wording of Ladies and Gentlemen service Ladies and Gentlemen. The employees are just as important as the customers. 

Three Steps Of Service

  1. A warm and sincere greeting. Use the guest's name.

  2. Anticipation and fulfillment of each guest's needs.

  3. Fond farewell. Give a warm good-bye and use the guest's name.

This is their basic customer service plan. It is simple but makes a big difference when consistently implemented. Where the Ritz-Carlton really shines is in step two, anticipation of each guest's needs. 

Service Values: I Am Proud To Be Ritz-Carlton

  1. I build strong relationships and create Ritz-Carlton guests for life.

  2. I am always responsive to the expressed and unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests.

  3. I am empowered to create unique, memorable and personal experiences for our guests.

  4. I understand my role in achieving the Key Success Factors, embracing Community Footprints and creating The Ritz-Carlton Mystique.

  5. I continuously seek opportunities to innovate and improve The Ritz-Carlton experience.

  6. I own and immediately resolve guest problems.

  7. I create a work environment of teamwork and lateral service so that the needs of our guests and each other are met.

  8. I have the opportunity to continuously learn and grow.

  9. I am involved in the planning of the work that affects me.

  10. I am proud of my professional appearance, language and behavior.

  11. I protect the privacy and security of our guests, my fellow employees and the company's confidential information and assets.

  12. I am responsible for uncompromising levels of cleanliness and creating a safe and accident-free environment.

This is the service foundation or in other words the system behind the smiles. One important item to note is that each value starts with “I”, which shows a sense of ownership to the employees.

The importance of a written service strategy is so that everyone is on the same page.

6th diamond

The 6th Diamond

Emotional Engagement

Coming from the idea of the five diamond rating system, the Ritz-Carlton has the sixth Diamond. At the base is the functional items that the customer is expecting, e.g. a clean room, luxury surrounding, a working room key, etc. In the middle and top is where they start setting themselves apart. In anticipating and fulfilling of each guest's needs, they create emotional engagement with the customer. And with "wow" experiences of exceptional customer service, the mystique of the Ritz-Carlton is created.  

The Employee Promise

At The Ritz-Carlton, our Ladies and Gentlemen are the most important resource in our service commitment to our guests.

By applying the principles of trust, honesty, respect, integrity and commitment, we nurture and maximize talent to the benefit of each individual and the company.

The Ritz-Carlton fosters a work environment where diversity is valued, quality of life is enhanced, individual aspirations are fulfilled, and The Ritz-Carlton Mystique is strengthened.

The employee promise is a statement of what it means to be employed by your company.

Takeaway 1: Excellent customer service requires a system and practice. If you don’t already have a system in place, create one. Then make a consistent effort to practice it.

Your customer service will not be world class if you only give
great customer service to nice people.
It is how you deal with the challenging clients.
Make a decision on how to behave with everyone.

Customer Service

The Ritz-Carlton strives to do more than just provide a bed to sleep in. They strive to create unique, memorable, and personal experiences for their guests. They understand that customer loyalty leads to forgiveness when mistakes are made and that happy customers spend more money.

Here the key service principles shared.

Key Service Principles

  • Do not overcomplicate customer service

    • Takeaway 2: Is it too hard for customers to do business with you? Take a step back and try to understand your customer’s perspective. Is there something you can do to simplify the process of doing business with you?

  • Turn every customer interaction into a defining moment

  • Don’t underestimate the importance of psychology in service

  • Service is about the five senses

    • Every Ritz-Carlton hotel has its own unique scent. How can you further engage your customers through the senses?

  • Attention to detail and one extra degree

  • Mr. Hagett shared this video titled 212 Degree Service

    • What is the extra degree of service that you can do?

  • The customer is not always right, but they are always the customer

What Do Customers Want?

Mr. Hagett discussed the principle of the Worth Star. This is what the Ritz-Carlton customers expect from them. 

ritz worth star

Takeaway 3: What are the expectations of your customers? Here are some examples.

  • Staff smiling

  • Customer greeted by name

  • Everyday is special

  • Call answered and returned

  • Purchases wrapped

  • A clean restroom

  • Their credit card is presented back (not just dropped on the counter)

  • Customer invited back

  • Feedback is welcome

  • Customer & co-workers enjoy working with you

Make sure you and your staff understand your customer's expectations and are meeting them. 

When Things Go Wrong

Mistakes are inevitable, but instead of blaming people, focus on resolving the situation and making sure it doesn’t happened again. Here are some key questions to ask.

  • What happened?

  • Why did it happen?

  • How do we keep it from happening again?

At the Ritz-Carlton, their employees are constantly on the look out for “Mr. Biv.”

Variation in work processes

Spotting any of these telltale signs of a problem, an employee reports the issue immediately, and works to assure rapid resolution.

Takeaway 4: What system does your business have for employees to communicate and resolve potential problems before they become serious reoccurring events?

Takeaway 5: Customer service needs to be discussed on a daily basis to avoid needing to catch up later.

Product and process create the PLATFORM.
Enlightened leadership and engaged employees create the OUTCOME.
This process must be FLAWLESS.


And there you have it, 7 full pages of notes later! We are happy to have had this experience with you at the Milestones in Leadership Summit. We learned a lot and are looking forward to improving our own customer service level. 

If we missed anything or if you have questions, please comment below or contact us!



Hector Olguin

Hector Olguin is the marketing manager at Milam, Knecht & Warner, LLP. When he is not thinking about marketing, he is planning his next travel adventure with his wife and two rambunctious boys. 

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Tags: Entrepreneurship