Beloved Brands in the Market

Ritz-Carlton: Meeting the “unexpressed” needs of guests

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Impeccable service separates Ritz-Carlton

Ritz-Carlton does a lot of things right to earn the high prices they are able to charge–the best locations, beautiful rooms, nice beds and great meals. But in reality, every luxury hotel has to deliver against these or they’ll be quickly out of business. Recognizing that any great brand has to be better, different or cheaper to win, Ritz-Carlton focuses their attention on impeccable service standards to separate themselves from other Hotels. What Ritz-Carlton has done so well is operationalize it so that culture and brand are one.RitzCarlton.svg

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Ritz-Carlton Training session, and as a Brand Leader, the thing that struck me was the idea of meeting the “unexpressed” needs of guests. As highly paid Marketers, even with mounds of research, we still struggle to figure out what our consumers want, yet Ritz-Carlton has created a culture where bartenders, bellhops and front desk clerks instinctively meet these “unexpressed needs”. Employees carry around note pads and record the expressed and unexpressed needs of every guest and then they use their instincts to try to surprise and delight these guests.

Employees are fully empowered to create unique, memorable and personal experiences for our guests. Unique means doing something that helps to separate Ritz-Carlton from other hotels, memorable forces the staff to do something that truly stands out. And personal is defined as people doing things for other people. Isn’t that what marketers do? So what’s getting in our way?

They bake it right into the Ritz-Carlton culture

The phrase that Ritz-Carlton uses with their staff is “Radar is on and Antenna is Up” so that everyone can be looking for the unexpressed needs. These could be small wins that delight consumers in a big way:

  • A couple arrives at the hotel, wife is six months pregnant. Normal service would be to observe and do nothing–at best help with the bags. But at Ritz-Carlton, antenna up means they get a special pillow for sleeping and alcohol free sparkling cider instead of champagne.
  • A business guest who was staying at a hotel for 4 weeks and the staff printed up business cards with the guest name, hotel address and phone number so that he could give them out during his stay.

But like any hotel, things do go wrong. The staff is encouraged to use these moments to not only address the problem and fix it but also try to surprise and delight guests turning a problem into a potential wow moment. With everyone’s antenna’s up, when a problem does arise they quickly brainstorm and use everyone’s input.

  • A guest who had just left the hotel called to say that their son had left his stuffed giraffe in the room. The boy could not stop crying.2012-05-17-Joshiepic5 The only thing these distraught parents could think of to tell their son, is that the giraffe was staying on the vacation a little longer. So the staff, found the giraffe and overnighted it to the boy. Most luxury hotels would have done that. But that was not enough for Ritz-Carlton. Knowing what the Mom had told their son about staying on a bit longer, the staff also included a photo album of the giraffe enjoying his extra stay, including photos of the giraffe sitting by the pool, in the spa with cucumbers on his eyes, and laying out on the beach. It’s not that the album would make the boy excited, because he was excited just to have his favorite giraffe back. But imagine how the parents felt and the signal it sends to them about the Ritz-Carlton staff and how many friends they may share that story with.
  • An activity coordinator noticed that one of them had a real passion for ballet. Over the week, the activity coordinator even came in before her shift every day to give the girl a private ballet class. She wanted to do something special for the young guest, and decided to teach her a special dance for her parents. On their last day, she arranged for a performance at the Jazz Club, with special music and lighting for the performance. The couple was very grateful and could not believe how much love and passion the activity coordinator had put into making their daughter’s stay so memorable. To complete the experience, they gave the guests a CD with pictures and videos of their daughter’s performance so they could share it with family and friends on their return home

To inspire each other, everyone at Ritz-Carlton goes through a daily line up where they share wow stories, both local stories and stories from other hotels around the world. This line up keeps everyone in line, but it also keeps people fully engaged. Harvard did a study on Employee Engagement, stating that the average company had 29% of their employees who were fully engaged and they labelled this group as the Super Stars. Using the same criteria, Ritz-Carlton has 92% of their staff considered fully engaged. No wonder they are able to win so many service awards and no wonder they can create such an experience for their consumers. They’ve fully created a culture that now defines the brand.

So what can brand leaders learn from Ritz-Carlton?

  1. How can marketers challenge themselves to meet the unexpressed needs of guests? As Henry Ford said: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” So what’s getting in your way? Are you over-thinking things? Are you too worried about the short-term results that you’re not even seeing or hearing the unexpressed needs? Are you so analytical that you need to see the data first and never really reach for your instincts which might challenge the data or even fill in the missing gaps in the data?0da472d
  2. How do you get your antenna’s up so that you and your team are always watching, listening and thinking? As you run from meeting to meeting, filling in forecasting templates and spending evenings pretty-ing up your presentation for senior leaders, how many times a week do you talk to consumers, how many times do you walk into a store or what social media tools do you monitor and listen to. Do you ever sit with customer service for an afternoon? Do you read through the complaints? And while it’s great that you do this once in a while, how do you operationalize it with your team. Can you set aside time so that you’re doing regular store visits or a quick brainstorm on observations once a week.
  3. How can Marketers push ourselves to wow the Consumer? The Ritz-Carlton staff is constantly trying to wow their guests, in either a small or big way believing that both make a difference. Are you pushing yourself to surprise your consumer? Are you trying to wow your consumer? Are you rejecting OK work to force everyone to reach for Great? Do you have a standard for the work that exceeds that of your consumer, after all if you don’t love the work then how do you expect your consumer to love your brand?

Do something this week that meets the unexpressed needs of a Customer just to see what it feels like. It might feel pretty damn powerful.

 

To read about how to create a Beloved Brand, click on the presentation below:

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. We can help you come up with your brand’s Brand Positioning, Big Idea and Brand Concept. We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management.

We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution.

To contact us, email us at graham@beloved-brands.com or call us at 416-885-3911. You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands.

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Beloved Brands Explained

How to align the internal culture with your brand idea

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cultureWhen you choose to be an experience led brand, you must realize that it is your people that makes you great. The brand idea should steer everyone who works behind the scenes of the brand. Brand leaders must manage the consistent delivery of the brand idea over every consumer touchpoint. Everyone should be looking to the brand idea to guide and focus their decisions. This includes management, customer service, sales, HR, operations, or an outside agency.

The five touchpoints 

Five main touchpoints reach consumers, including the brand promise, brand story, innovation, purchase moment, and consumer experience. Regardless of the order, they reach the consumer; if the brand does not deliver a consistent message, the consumer will be confused and likely shut out that brand.

How the brand idea stretches across the five consumer touchpoints

  • Brand promise: Use the brand idea to inspire a simple brand promise that separates your brand from competitors, and projects your brand as better, different, or cheaper, based on your brand positioning. 
  • Brand story: The brand story must come to life to motivate consumers to think, feel, or act while establishes the ideal brand’s reputation to be held in the minds and hearts of the consumer.
  • Innovation: Build a fundamentally sound product, staying at the forefront of trends and technology to deliver innovation.   
  • Purchase moment: The brand idea must move consumers along the purchase journey to the final purchase decision.
  • Consumer experience: Turn the usage into a consumer experience that becomes a ritual and favorite part of the consumer’s day.          

Marketing your brand to employees inside your own company

The best brands consistently deliver. When you build your brand idea, I recommend you use a cross-functional team, including salespeople, R&D, human resources, finance, and operations. Their participation is one way to gain their buy-in. But that’s not where it stops. 

Use your internal brand communications tools to drive a shared definition of the brand idea. Get everyone to articulate how their role delivers that brand idea. Give the external and internal brand story equal importance to the consumer experience you create for your brand.

Everyone who works on the brand should use the brand idea as inspiration, and to guide decisions and activities across every function of your organization. It is the people within the brand organization who will deliver the brand idea to the consumer. Everyone needs a common understanding of and talking points for the brand.

When you work on a brand that leads to the customer experience, your operations people will be responsible for the face-to-face delivery of your brand to the consumer. Develop a list of service values, behaviors, and processes to deliver the brand idea throughout your organization. 

Case study: Impeccable service separates Ritz-Carlton

Ritz-Carlton does a lot of things right to earn the high prices they can charge for the best locations, beautiful rooms, excellent beds, and incredible meals. But in reality, every luxury hotel has beautiful, luxurious things to offer. Ritz-Carlton focuses its attention on delivering impeccable service standards to separate the brand from other hotels. What Ritz-Carlton has done so well is operationalize it so that culture and brand are one.

One idea Ritz-Carlton talks about is meeting the “unexpressed” needs of guests. As marketers, even with mounds of research, we still struggle to figure out what our consumers want. 

However, Ritz-Carlton has created a culture where bartenders, bellhops, and front-desk clerks instinctively meet these “unexpressed needs.” Employees carry around notepads and record the expressed and unexpressed needs of every guest, then they use their instincts to try to surprise and delight these guests. 

Employees are fully empowered to create unique, memorable and personal experiences for guests. Unique means doing something that helps to separate Ritz-Carlton from other hotels. Memorable forces the staff to do something that truly stands out. And personal is defined as people doing things for other people. Is that not what marketers should be doing? So what is getting in your way?

Radars on, antenna up

Ritz-Carlton bakes service values right into its culture. The Ritz-Carlton phrase used with its staff is “Keep your radar on and your antenna up” so everyone can look for the unexpressed needs of their guests. These could be small wins that delight consumers in a big way to treat every guest as unique and special. But like any hotel, things do go wrong. 

When a problem does arise, the staff is encouraged to quickly brainstorm and use everyone’s input to turn a problem into a potential “wow” moment for their guests. Every staff member is empowered to deliver high service levels; each employee is allowed to spend up to $2,000 to solve a customer issue, right on the spot. They do not even need permission from a manager. 

Legendary Ritz-Carlton service story

Here is a fantastic story that makes its way around the Ritz-Carlton world. A guest who had just left the hotel called to say that their 3-year-old son had forgotten his stuffed giraffe in their room. The parents said their boy could not stop crying. The only thing these distraught parents could think of to tell their son is that the giraffe was staying on vacation a little longer. So the staff found the giraffe and overnighted it to the boy. Most luxury hotels would have done that. But that was not enough for Ritz-Carlton.

Knowing the story the mom had told their son about staying on a bit longer, the staff also included a photo album of the giraffe’s extended stay, including sitting by the pool, getting a massage in the spa with cucumbers on his eyes, and working out on the treadmill. Imagine how the parents felt and the signal it sends to them about what to think of the Ritz-Carlton staff. This type of “wow” story has become legendary within Ritz-Carlton and is often told within the Ritz-Carlton pre-shift meetings around the world to inspire staff to deliver.

Brand credo document

Having spent time at Johnson & Johnson, I was lucky to see how their credo document has become an essential part of the culture of the organization. Not only does it permeate throughout the company but you will also likely hear it quoted in meetings on a daily basis. It is a beautifully written document and ahead of its time. 

Brand Idea

You should have all the material you need to create a brand credo document.  

  • Start with your brand idea and turn it into an inspiring promise statement, which explains to your people how they can positively impact your customers.
  • Use your brand’s core point of difference to outline the expectations of how everyone can support and deliver the point of difference. A great exercise is to get every department to articulate their role in delivering the brand idea.
  • Connect with your people by tapping into the personal motivation for what they can do to support your brand purpose, brand values, and core beliefs. Make it very personal.

 

To learn more about this type of thinking, you should explore my new book, Beloved Brands.

With Beloved Brands, you will learn everything you need to know so you can build a brand that your consumers will love.

You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

Beloved Brands book

To order the e-book version or the paperback version from Amazon, click on this link: https://lnkd.in/eF-mYPe

If you use Kobo, you can find Beloved Brands in over 30 markets using this link: https://lnkd.in/g7SzEh4

And if you are in India, you can use this link to order: https://lnkd.in/gDA5Aiw

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth, and profitability you will realize in the future.

We think the best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique playbook tools are the backbone of our workshops. We bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a brand idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources.

Our brand playbook methodology will challenge you to unlock future growth for your brand

  1. Our deep-dive assessment process will give you the knowledge of the issues facing your brand, so you can build a smart plan to unleash future growth.
  2. Find a winning brand positioning statement that motivates consumers to buy, and gives you a competitive advantage to drive future growth.
  3. Create a brand idea to capture the minds and hearts of consumers, while inspiring and focusing your team to deliver greatness on the brand’s behalf.
  4. Build a brand plan to help you make smart focused decisions, so you can organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth.
  5. Advise on advertising, to find creative that drives branded breakthrough and use a motivating messaging to set up long-term brand growth.
  6. Our brand training program will make your brand leaders smarter, so you have added confidence in their performance to drive brand growth.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or call me at 416 885 3911

You have my personal promise to help you solve your brand building challenges. I will give you new thinking, so you can unlock future growth for your brand.

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Graham Robertson

Founder and CMO, Beloved Brands Inc.