Much has been written about The Ritz Carlton Way. The takeaway I always hear is “empower your front line employees to deliver WOW experiences”. Today many other organizations follow this Ritz Carlton Way.

The intent of this approach is to allow employees to resolve a customer situation and have the customer walk away so pleased that they return and tell others about the experience. As with anything else, the best intentions can sometimes go awry. Here are some examples I have observed recently:

  • A customer at Whole Foods asks for product A and they don’t have it, so the employee offers a Try Me (aka free) for Product B. All fine and good; I believe this is the intent of Whole Foods management. But what about the employee that offers a Try Me, simply because they have only 1/2 a pound of the product and the customer wants 1 pound? Should the 1/2 pound be offered as a Try Me?
  • A salesman makes an error in writing up an order for a construction job. The salesman works with the office to ensure the errors are corrected at no charge to the customer. Again, all good. But then that same customer asks for additional changes and the salesman, feeling bad about the earlier mistakes, gives away those additional items at no charge. Is this the Ritz Carlton Way, or is it giving away the store?

It’s a fine line, and of course, judgement is required. I also wonder how many companies that have adopted the Ritz Carlton Way have also adopted the extensive training and monitoring for which Ritz Carlton has become famous. In fact, there is a Ritz Carlton leadership center that offers public courses in delivering what they call memorable customer service.

Even when the design includes training, as with all initiatives, the DIME Method comes into play. We often leave off with Design and Implement and forget to Monitor and Evaluate. With this in mind, I leave you with the question I asked at the beginning,

In their effort to please, are your front line employees giving away the store?


Why Vistage Works

Elisa K. Spain

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