Those who have stayed at a Ritz-Carlton hotel or have attended an event held at one can personally attest to the validity of its reputation for superior service in all respects. In fact, such service is consistently of such a high quality that guests take it for granted. Founder César Ritz observed long ago that “people like to be served, but invisibly.” I agree while presuming to suggest that the “Ritz-Carlton experience” becomes visible whenever I stay elsewhere. What we have in this volume is a rigorous and comprehensive examination of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company that, to the best of my knowledge, has not previously been provided. Joseph A. Michelli seems to have had almost unlimited access to its senior corporate executives, hotel managers and staff members (“the heart of the house”), and of special interest to me, its Leadership Center headed by Diana Oreck, vice president of global learning. Michelli observes that “From my perspective, the Ritz-Carlton [customer] experience is reflected in leadership committed to unrelenting quality, respect for all of the company’s staff encounters, and oddly enough, also a great spirit of candor.” Individual initiative is not only encouraged but indeed expected at all levels and in all areas in fulfillment of The Motto, “Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen.”
The framework of Michelli’s narrative is based on Ritz-Carlton’s five principles that any organization (regardless of its size or nature) can establish and then sustain, creating a “gold standard” of its own: define core values and refine by leveraging continuous improvement; empower people with authority as well as responsibility through trust in their ability and eagerness to live The Motto; “It’s not about you” (i.e. focus on serving associates as well as guests); deliver WOW! (i.e. a “thrilling customer interaction,” especially when problems develop unexpectedly, as they inevitably do); and “leave a lasting footprint,” an enduring legacy of great service for generations to come. Michelli explains with meticulous care how any other organization can to create its own “gold standard. Throughout the Ritz-Carlton organization, top to bottom, perfect service is a never-ending journey of continuous improvement rather than an ultimate destination. Michelli inserts dozens of real-world incidents throughout his narrative that illustrate that this journey proceeds one guest at a time.
Thanks to Joseph Michelli’s exceptionally informative as well as eloquent book, other organizations can now learn about the unique culture of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and then apply (with appropriate modification) the core principles that continue to serve as that culture’s foundation. And thanks to the Leadership Center, their leaders can gain a broader and deeper understanding of how service excellence and the quality of their own commitment to it can achieve a substantial ROI, not only in terms of dollars but also in terms of the lives that are enriched within their own organization as well as the lives of those whom they are privileged to serve.
You are cordially invited to check out The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center and its resources. Please click here.