Here at TransPro we recently revisited our organizational values and formally adopted the value of committing to continuous learning to bring insights and value to our clients and teammates. It's in this spirit that we select a book each quarter that the whole team reads and discusses at our quarterly meetings. Our latest read, Excellence Wins by Horst Schulze, is actually what inspired us to revisit our values and more intentionally integrate them into our daily work.
Our whole team found the book bursting with insightful lessons from the co-founder of Ritz-Carlton – one of the ultimate icons of customer-focused service excellence. What becomes immediately apparent is that it's not necessary to be a luxury hotel brand to implement practices that actually work to create the kind of culture that inspires, motivates, and engages employees to provide outstanding service. Here are some takeaways from the book that we feel are just as applicable to a luxury hotel brand as providing education, transportation, solid waste, or any other public service:
- Understand and Adapt to Changing Customer Needs – The most successful service providers are ones who have a finger on the pulse of their customers’ needs and wants. Ritz-Carlton relies heavily on ongoing customer satisfaction surveys to gather this critical feedback, including what Horst considers the best yardstick of all – whether they would recommend your service to any of their friends (i.e. Net Promoter Score). If you’d like to survey your customers, we can help! Check out our survey services here.
- Be Relentless Problem Solvers – To achieve ambitious results and deliver great customer service, it’s important to foster a culture of problem-solving, rather than one of defending, blaming, ignoring, or making excuses. As Horst puts it, “there is nothing beautiful in an ‘explanation.’ Beauty lies rather in innovation – figuring out how to overcome the challenges and press on to success.”
- Repeat and Reinforce Values – Every employee knows and internalizes the organization's values so that everyone is aligned on expectations for how to show up at work. At every single property, the day begins with employees reviewing one of these core values. This daily reinforcement has the effect of making these values truly a part of the organization's DNA. If you need to revisit your organization’s values, check out our strategic planning services, which starts with a definition of mission, vision, and values.
- Select the Right People and Inspire them to Greatness – Horst believes that the single most important strategy a leader can take is to “cast a vision and then invite other living, breathing human beings to join them in pursuing that vision.” Hiring becomes more than finding candidates to fulfill a function on paper and expecting them to carry out those functions as an automaton. At Ritz-Carlton, one way they did this was to develop “Success Profiles” for each job category that revealed the underlying characteristics that would lead someone to be successful in that role. Then, once they bring someone onboard, they thoroughly orient them to the organization’s goals and values, and they empower them to identify ways to continuously improve on delivering excellent customer experience. Invest in your team’s success here!
If these takeaways speak to you, we highly encourage you to pick up a copy of Excellence Wins for yourself or your team to read more of the real-life, inspiring stories of employees taking ownership and stepping up what it means to be customer-focused.