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The Operational Excellence Show

Sep 25, 2020

I recently read an article in Forbes by Micah Solomon, a customer service and customer experience consultant. He had interviewed Yael Ron, the General Manager of the Ritz Carlton Hotel in San Francisco! And boy - I loved the points Micah brought across - hence I’m sharing them here with you - looking at it through the lens of a contact centre leader! 

What does it take for my centre to become the Ritz-Carlton of Contact Centers? 

Let me start with a quote from Yael Ron: 
“To create an exceptional customer experience, you don’t start with the customer; you start with the employee. This surprises a lot of people, and a lot of people get this wrong,” says Ms. Ron. “The gemstones of our hotel are our Ladies and Gentlemen [Ritz-Carlton’s term for its employees]. We embrace them and support them, and we know we can count on them to nurture and grow the interactions with our guests.”

The Ritz-Carlton works with 5 principles that are applicable to organisations in any industry that are striving to create a superior customer experience, a superior environment and a superior culture in your organisation.

1. Jealously guard the culture that defines you as an organization. 

A lot of firms tell me they are all about engagement and relationships! I have seen it on the walls of big firms, quotes such as this one (an airline I was privileged to conduct a review of their contact centre delivery)

Safety: We never compromise on safety

Simplicity: We cut out the things that don’t matter to keep us lean and make it easy

One team: Together we'll always find a way

Integrity: We stand by our word and do what we say
Passion: We have a passion for our customers, our people and the work we do

Pioneering: We challenge to find new ways to make travel easy and affordable

The question now is… How do we keep it that way? How do we keep the promises we make to our customers? At the end it all comes down to the culture of the firm. And the culture of any firm is created by its people. 
So naturally - you need to watch, nurture and embrace your culture - which means you have to invest in your people. 

Wikipedia says the following about culture:
 Culture is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behaviour and norms found in human societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, customs, capabilities and habits of the individuals in these groups.

This means - you must give your onboarding process, your employee engagement process and your offboarding process a lot of thought! And your L&D department should really be the busiest in your entire organisation! 

2.  Engage customers when they want to be engaged.

Remember when the only two ways of contacting a customer service department was either by phone or by letter? Then by Phone, Letter (or Fax) and email? We have come a long way - but in principle - give the customers a number of ways to engage with you - so that they can choose how they want to engage with you! 

This means give people options!

Let’s look at the airline industry again: Today you can check-in online. You can get your boarding pass on your phone, you can download it as a PDF, or you can print it off at one of the airport kiosks. Getting your boarding pass is maybe not something people want to spend a lot of time on and we need to respect that.

3. Daily traditions and customs make the culture.

In Episode 6 I introduced the daily huddles with your teams - that’s what we are talking about here. 
Creating a customer-focused culture isn’t something you set in place one day and then believe it will last forever. You have to work on this every single day. For that to be successful you need to know your people, your metrics, your coaching, But you also need to celebrate successes, award your teams and energise your teams positively so that they can perform at the highest possible levels. 

When I worked with Ralph Lauren we encouraged our teams to start working with the fashion season, look at what’s in, dress in our favourite looks. We had Ralph Lauren clothes to raffle off each quarter, people just loved to feel part of the brand! 

How could you start to introduce meaningful traditions in your contact center? Especially now - where everyone is working from home - you must give new traditions a lot of thought. 

4. Strive for both big “wow” moments and smaller “everyday wow” 

Here I simply quote Ms Yael Ron and Micah Solomon: 

“Wow moments are important in building stories for our guests to take home with them. But the point isn’t how big of a wow you create; it’s about how much heart you put into making it truly thoughtful for the guest. It can be as small as remembering your guest’s favourite flower or scent, or as big as creating a special day full of wows. It’s not about what money can buy; it’s about what money can’t buy–the efforts and attention of genuine, caring people.” 

5. Develop your people over time.

In my LEAP Framework - Leading People, Executing Process, Amplifying Profit - working with my people is the most important principle of all! 
How can you as a manager put your team members first? 

* you remember their birthday

* you know their spouses and their kids’ names

* you know what they are good at and foster that strength

* you offer them regular one-on-ones and coaching (if you don’t know how to fit it all in - go back to episode 6 How to set yourself up for a successful day in the office

I’d like to give credit for inspiration to Micah Solomon, who is the author of “Ignore Your Customers (and they will go Away)” - the link to his book is below.

And also to Ms Yael Ron, General Manager of the Ritz Carlton Hotel in San Francisco - you will find the link to the Forbes articles and her thoughts.

Micah Solomon - Ignore your customers (and they will go away)

Yael Ron:

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