Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 12th 2017 Contents JANUARY 12 • 2017 guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
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How to exceed
Have you ever experienced ex-
ceptional customer service
that left you speechless?
Let me share one that I
will never forget.
I was visiting Los Angeles
for the first time for a training programme and
I was booked into the Ritz Carlton. It was the
first time I was going to be staying at a Ritz
As my taxi drove into the hotel entrance, the
bell boy came to take the luggage while I paid
the driver. When I turned around the bell boy
greeted me warmly, calling me by my name.
I was a bit surprised but didn't pay much at-
tention and walked into the hotel.
Inside, the maître de walked up to me and
greeted me with a welcome drink, addressing
me by my name. I couldn't contain my utter
surprise when the representative at the check-
in counter also called me by my name.
I asked: "Before I sign this I have a question.
How on earth did you all know my name?"
She smiled sweetly and simply said, "Wel-
come to the Ritz Carlton experience, Mr
I was speechless!
Later on in the room, while I unpacked my
luggage, it occurred to me. I looked at the air-
line tag on my luggage and realised the bellboy
must have read my name off of the tag and
radioed it to the hotel lobby personnel. The rest
was no magic, but surely it appeared magical
to me as a first-time guest.
During my stay there were a few minor ser-
vice incidents but none that could erase my
first impression of the Ritz Carlton experience.
Later on I learnt that every Ritz Carlton
employee carries in his or her pocket a card
that sets out their service standard and every
employee is expected to live by that credo.
Surely they manifested the exceptional cus-
tomer service they were trained to deliver at
that hotel in Los Angeles.
What is interesting to note is it didn't require
complex technology or expensive training for
Ritz Carlton to create a "moment of magic"
that the customer will always remember. All it
required was some thoughtfulness and a desire
on the part of the people who designed and
managed the customer experience.
So, how do you
design a "wow"
It's all about understanding the four levels
of customer service.
Imagine you are at a supermarket looking for
cake mix to bake for your daughter's birthday.
You ask the person packing the shelves "where
can I find the cake mix?"
At a "generic" level the person would say
"sorry I don't know. You have to ask the cus-
tomer service person"
. That's no service!
At the next level, the "expected" level, the
person may be a little more helpful and say,
"check aisle six"
. And you proceed to aisle six
and pick up the cake mix you are looking for.
Even better, at the "augmented" level, the
person may walk with you and show you the
cake mix on the shelf. Much better service,
But consider a higher level of service, the
"delighted" level. The person asks you to take
a seat at the lounge in the supermarket, offers
a cup of coffee and brings you an array of cake
mix to select from. When you've made the se-
lection, she then proceeds to ask you, "would
you like to taste a slice of cake baked with that
cake mix by our bakery? And, by the way, when
is your child's birthday? Why don't we bake a
special cake for her?" Now, that sounds like
a supermarket you would want to visit often,
Lisa Ford, a world-renowned customer
service consultant and a faculty member of
Crestcom, explains this four-level model of
customer service in her session. She says, if
you are offering customer service at a generic
level you are barely surviving and your days
At the expected level, you're just another
player in the market.
If you're offering the augmented level of
service, your people understand customer
service and are trying to serve the customer,
which will improve your market share.
But, if you're operating at the delighted level,
you are likely to be the market leader or you'll
soon be the dominant player in the market be-
cause of your superior customer service.
When I narrate this scenario to people in
Trinidad I always get the same reaction: that
can never happen in Trinidad. That may be
true, to some extent, but I am sure all of us have
experienced flashes of exceptional customer
service even in Trinidad.
(Write to us if you have and we will share it
in this column.)
Exceptional customer service can happen
anywhere, with the right kind of people under
the right kind of leadership.
I started by sharing that exceptional cus-
tomer service experience at Ritz Carlton.
Now here's a challenge for you.
Imagine you are working for the Emir of
Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al
Maktoum. He is building the world's first sev-
en-star hotel and he has asked you to design a
check-in process that is even better than the
one that I described at the Ritz Carlton. How
would you design the most "wow" experience
that blows the mind of your guests as they enter
the hotel to check-in?
Write your best idea to us at leadersaremade@
crestcom.com before Thursday January 19, and
we will publish the best one in our column here.
And if you wish to learn what it is like to check-
in at a seven-star hotel, check in at one of our
© All right reserved. For more information on
Crestcom please visit www.crestcomleadership.
com/tt or write to us at leadersaremade@
restcom.com or call us at 684-0728.
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