The Most Phenomenal Service Experience Ever!TM

If you want to know what the most phenomenal service experience ever looks like, look no farther than the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and their legendary service. One of my best friends, Luis Hernandez, and I go to Puerto Rico together sometimes, and last year I took my mama with us since it was her 75th birthday (yes, when you’re from Alabama, it’s “mama” not “mom”). I wanted to do something special, so we stayed at the Ritz-Carlton in San Juan.

The staff there literally jumps to attention when a guest is present. They call you by name and make a big deal about you. My good friend Joseph Michelli wrote a book about it called The New Gold Standard. In that book, he unpacks the philosophy and the strategies. The Ritz-Carlton has been very successful building a business by providing the most phenomenal service experience ever.

As I write this section, I’m on a remote island on the Great Barrier Reef off Australia. As I was planning the trip, I researched my travel book and looked up the Website of the resort online. The Website was absolutely amaz- ing and the island looked stunning. I booked the trip completely online and any correspondence I had was by email. The confirmation email was one of the best I’ve ever seen. I took a helicopter from the mainland over to the island so I could see the reef from the air, and the view of the little island among the dots of reef encased in emerald waters was breathtaking. As the helicopter made its slow, rocking descend onto the helipad, I imagined I had arrived at “Fantasy Island” (remember that TV show?).

Excitement swelled up in me as I walked up the little sand path to the reception area. Within five minutes I knew the service experience wasn’t going to match the incredible island. The front desk clerk seemed bothered. The more staff I met, they all seemed to have a chip on their shoulders. This was a completely different experience from what I had in the rest of Australia. Almost everywhere I’d been, the people had been super nice. The flight attendants actually smiled and stopped to chat a bit.

But not at this resort. In fact, they didn’t even make eye contact. If this was a Ritz-Carlton property, they would have greeted me politely and asked me how I was doing. Because of the incredible beauty of the island and the unique location, they have the opportunity to create the most phenomenal service experience ever. Someone is asleep at the wheel.

You see, there’s a difference between providing a functional service and providing the most phenomenal service experience. As stated previously, before I started my first business, I was a waiter. I worked in high-end restaurants where we performed tableside cooking. I wore a tuxedo to work, and each dish that was prepared at the table was flamed as a finale. Back in those days, you could smoke inside. When someone pulled out a cigarette, a lighter was in front of them immediately. We “waited” just far enough away to give them their personal space, but were close enough to anticipate their needs before they occurred. Water or iced tea was topped off before they had to ask for it. We hovered without being a bother. It was the most phenomenal service experience ever.

In this chapter, I want to unpack what this can look like in your business, regardless of what you do. If you’re a doctor or dentist, when your patient walks in, you want him or her to have the right experience. If you have a gym, what kind of experience do your members have when they come in? The same goes for a retail store, church, or any organization that wants to make a unique impression.

If you are a service company like plumbing, office equipment repair, tele- phone systems installation, cable TV, carpet cleaning, air conditioning, or something of that nature, what are the steps of providing the most phenomenal service experience ever?

If you are an independent professional such as an insurance agent, real- tor, or sales professional, what are the things you can do to make your clients feel special? We used to have a financial adviser who handled the 401k type of stuff for one of my companies. This guy would come in, sit down, and read the paper. When it was time to get up and speak to our team, he put a chart up on the wall and began to speak what might as well have been Greek. Needless to say, he is no longer with us.

The guy we have now goes out of his way to build a relationship with each employee. Just before Thanksgiving, we received the biggest goodie bas- ket I’ve ever seen in my life. It was HUGE! Of course it had some Starbucks stuff in it for me (hint), and it had something for every employee. Master stroke.