A wee little customer service secret from the Ritz-Carlton


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Most businesses have no idea — no idea! — the extent to which they can improve customer perceptions by getting the little things right. (You’re likely doing the big things right, anyway–as, unfortunately, are your competitors–so the little things are where the opportunity is.)

Here’s one of those little things you can nail, if you know the secret: When your customers ask you for directions, follow the lead of the Ritz-Carlton.

Here, specifically, is the secret: Show, don’t tell (and don’t ever point). Don’t give customers verbal directions. Getting directions in words is confusing and hard to remember. It unsettles people. When a customer asks how to get somewhere, physically lead the customer there.

The private-jet-setters who stay in a Ritz-Carlton hotel or resort require a restroom about as often as the rest of us. And, if a guest asks where the nearest facility is, the well-trained employees of the Ritz won’t point in the restroom’s general direction and make the guest memorize some complex list of turns. Instead, the hotel employee will walk with the guest until the last turn, then backing away for discretion. Or, as the Ritz-Carlton service standard spells it out: ”Escort guests rather than pointing out directions to another area of the Hotel.”

This dictum has spread to other top service establishments. According to Phoebe Damrosch, formerly of Thomas Keller’s four-star restaurant Per Se, Rule 20 in Keller’s guidelines is ”When asked, guide guests to the bathroom instead of pointing.” (Phoebe also mentions a side effect that can occur from time to time: Some of the male diners, she says, seemed confused, perhaps mistakenly thinking that she planned to accompany them in and help. ”The eighteen percent you will leave me, sir, I always wanted to say, would not cover that.”)

P.S. If you don’t have onsite customers (“guests,’ as the Ritz-Carlton calls them), this principle is just as valid. Offering visual guidance via YouTube and even video chat can be a huge help in “guiding” your customers to where they need to go, in purchasing and using your product or service offering.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Micah Solomon
Micah Solomon is a customer service consultant and trainer who works with companies to transform their level of customer service and customer experience. The author of five books, his expertise has been featured in Forbes, Fast Company, NBC and ABC television programming, and elsewhere. "Micah Solomon conveys an up-to-the minute and deeply practical take on customer service, business success, and the twin importance of people and technology." –Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder.


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