The Ritz-Carlton flushed 20 years of brand equity down the drain last month. In a move that was probably influenced by some mush-brained consultant, the hotel chain replaced the "Ritz-Carlton Basics"--clear-cut rules for customer service--with 12 "Service Values".
The Basics were specific. Say "Certainly" and "My pleasure," for example, rather than "OK" or "No problem." When guests ask for directions, don't point the way; escort them.
But the newly adopted Ritz Service Values are fluff at a new level. Here's one: "I am empowered to create unique, memorable and personal experiences for our guests." And another: "I continuously seek opportunities to innovate and improve the Ritz-Carlton experience."
The Ritz had the secret to brand-building nailed: clarity, consistency, frequency. So what possessed management to mess around with success?
Well, people are different now. At least, that's how Cornell University professor Cathy Enz sees it. "As times change, so does the expectation for the luxury guest, who has more choices than ever," she told the Wall Street Journal. (6/21/06)
Bah, humbug. Expecting 32,000 employees to create a unique, memorable and personal experience for every guest they serve with no clear-cut rules to follow is absurd. I'll probably stay at the Ritz again. But the minute an employee refers to me and fellow travelers as "you guys," I'm outta there. (Chris Coleman)