What remodeling can learn from Ritz-Carlton’s customer service program

What makes the Ritz-Carlton chain of hotels so successful, despite its high price point, is its focus on fulfilling the unexpressed wishes and needs of its guests. John M. Cashion, director of operations for the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company LLC, shared how those within the remodeling industry can use these techniques to create lasting relationships with their clientele, during his keynote address at the 3rd Annual Remodeler & Supplier Expo hosted by Milwaukee NARI last week.

According to Cashion, personalization is important because it demonstrates you have been listening—something that can ultimately make or break the sale of a remodeling project.

He provided several key service principles, which starts with selecting the right employees—ones who are focused on customer service as well as their part of the remodeling process.

Other key principles include:

  • Don’t overcomplicate customer service (meaning, empower employees to solve problems when they happen)
  • Turn every customer service interaction into a defining moment
  • Don’t underestimate the importance of psychology
  • Service is all about the five senses (so pay attention to detail)

In order to create a personal experience, you need to track what you know of the potential client or current customer and then use visual cues to be able to answer their unexpressed wishes. This is where a customer relationship management system would come in handy.

Active listening leads to trust, Cashion says. Use phrases such as “tell me more,” to get to the crux of what a person is trying to tell you. And when someone on your staff “wows” a client—or that potential one—set aside time to share with the rest of the staff.

You can train people to be better at customer service, but Cashion suggests that although the skillsets for a particular job might be important, it’s more important to find the right people, who care about what you’re trying to accomplish with your company. Harvard Business Review and YouTube were two places he suggested you’d find some additional customer service training tools.

The bottom line is that people skills are so important for an industry that works as closely with their clients as remodelers do, especially by coming and going from that most personal space—their home. Being able to listen, observe and respond to those unanticipated needs will provide a leg up on the competition. —Nikki Golden

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