It could have been just your typical site inspection. This time round, however, the eagle-eyed executives from Bentley Motors couldn’t help but notice the ingrained service culture of The Ritz-Carlton staff and their evident pride in what they do. The two companies have had a good relationship for years now, with the hotel being chosen as the site for several of Bentley China’s past events in Sanya.
"In the course of a site inspection a few months ago, Bentley discovered our culture and philosophy. We shared with them our Credo Card and they got excited about it. They became curious about our ways of delivering superior service," recalls hotel general manager Michel Goget.
The Ritz-Carlton Credo Card is a credit-card sized foldout that every hotel employee carries on his or her person, and it defines the guest experience – a way for the hotel to connect on an emotional level. It states: "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, instils wellbeing, and fulfills even the unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests."
Other companies have come up with their own credo, but what sets The Ritz-Carlton apart is that it has been able to apply this belief consistently worldwide. The hotel chain is renowned for combining luxury service with personal touches.
Setting the agenda
Recognising the value of cultivating the customer experience, Bentley China booked The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center to provide a training session for 77 of its senior managers and frontline service professionals. The group was divided into two, with 52 people participating in the first full-day training session and the second batch of 25 people undergoing the same session the following day.
The key objective was to benchmark what a proactive service is from the perspective of a luxury consumer. "Bentley China was very anxious that we demonstrate what proactive service looks like instead of reactive service," Goget says.
"They requested that we make the sessions very interactive with lots of group activities, discussions and real-life examples."
In the weeks ahead of the training sessions, a series of conference calls were made between the executives of the two companies to discuss the content. To give Bentley China a taste of the hotel’s daily routine, its ìDaily Line Upî was included in the programme. The Daily Line Up is a 10- to 15-minute meeting, which happens three times a day (one for every shift), when the staff review one of the elements of The Ritz-Carlton Gold Standards and other pertinent information as well as birthdays and anniversaries.
"This took place in the morning, and for the last topic in the afternoon, we had the employee panel. On this panel, our employees from different departments explained why they are proud to be part of Ritz-Carlton. Once they finished speaking, the group from Bentley asked any questions they liked," Goget recalls, adding, "The panel was very powerful because of how authentic and proud our ladies and gentlemen were."
Another highlight of the programme was the pyramid-building activity, which engaged all the participants, demonstrating the importance of teamwork, planning and excellent communication. Goget says that everyone became very competitive during this activity, as well as in the final phase, which asked each of the teams to present their action plan as a follow-through after the training session.
There were two questions posed to participants at the end of the programme. First, as a result of attending the Legendary Service training session, what are the top five things you will start using immediately? The second was: from a management or from an individual perspective, list how you are going to drive a culture dedicated to proactive service. "These action planning sheets were collected by the Bentley training manager so the company can follow up on the commitments made," Goget says.
Looking back, Goget is pleased at how well the employee panel was received. "Sometimes there is some scepticism around a training session. Seeing how proud of Ritz-Carlton our ladies and gentlemen who participated at the panel were, it really highlighted the importance of employee engagement. When you have employees who bring their passion to work every day and volunteer their best – engaged customers and profitability follows."
EVENT Luxury Service Philosophy Training – Legendary Service at The Ritz-Carlton
VENUE The Ritz-Carlton, Sanya
DATE November 10-11, 2011
NUMBER OF PARTICIPANTS 77
ORGANISERS The Ritz-Carlton, Sanya and Bentley China
THE RITZ-CARLTON'S LEGENDARY SERVICE:
The Ritz-Carlton Gold Standards – these Gold Standards represent The Ritz-Carlton’s culture. They include the credo, the motto, the three steps of service, the employee promise and the 12 service values.
The systems behind the smiles – it is not enough to just have a wonderful culture. Organisations must have robust systems to support the culture, such as talent acquisition, new employee orientation and employee training.
Customer engagement – data shows that satisfied customers are good, however, engaged customers are even better and spend more money.
Employee empowerment – Ritz-Carlton employees – who are referred to as ladies and gentlemen – are empowered to assist guests without having to ask permission from their manager.