Last month at the Global Leadership Summit, Horst Schulze, the founding president of the famed Ritz-Carlton Hotel Group and current Chairman and CEO of the Capella Hotel Group reminisced about his first job at a restaurant in a five-star hotel.
"My mother never forgave herself for letting me leave home at age 14 to go to work as a bus boy. In those days, working at a hotel was something servants did. Important people were engineers and businessmen, not hotel managers. But as I watched the maitre d' walk around the dining room, speaking German to one table as he explained the food, speaking French to another table as he explained the wine, making sure he was doing everything he could to make his guests feel comfortable and welcome, something occurred to me. He was the most important person in the room- in the minds of the guests and to the employees."
The maitre d' didn't come to work to work. He came to work to be excellent in his profession. He came to work to be excellent in service delivery. He came to work to be excellent in caring for the people around him. And these three things demonstrate what service means.
I am proud to be a member of the service industry, and by that I am referring to the hospitality and tourism industry. But really, are we not all in the service industry? Shouldn't a philosophy of service permeate every industry? You might say, well, my industry is business to business... but aren't people working in those businesses?
So, what components of service was the matire d' of Schulze's youth demonstrating? Before we go there, let's look for a moment at customers.
Customers break down into three groups: dissatisfied, satisfied, and loyal. The dissatisfied customers are the ones that seem as if they are never going to be happy. They complain about your product, they are rude to your employees. The satisfied customers are the ones who are there to conduct a transaction. You give them what they ask for, but they are neutral; they are not "your" customers. Finally there are the loyal customers. The wild raving fans. The ones who not only return, but tell others about you. They are YOUR customers.
Your loyal customers (your patients, your clients, your guests, your students) trust you. You develop trust because each and every time you have deliver three important things:
- a quality, defect-free product,
- timely service through efficient processes,
- delivered with kindness.
That's called service.
The maitre d' came to work to be excellent in his profession. He delivered a quality, defect-free product. He came to work to be excellent in service delivery. He provided timely service through efficient processes. He came to work to to be excellent in caring about the people around him. He delivered his service with kindness.
Think it's different in your business? Nope.
If you buy a car what do you expect? The car is defect free, it's delivered in a timely manner, and the salesperson treats you like a human being.
It's the same when you place an order for parts for your business. Or you are admitted into a hospital. Or you take a class. Or you visit your lawyer.
Want to be known for excellence in service? Know your stuff. Provide it efficiently. Deliver it with kindness.