Book Review: The New Gold Standard

I especially enjoy books that, “pull back the curtain” on the operations of organizations that are well-known for their customer service. There are many good ones out there about Disney, Starbucks, and other companies. In hospitality, The Ritz-Carlton has long been well-known for their service. Their motto, “We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen” embodies the type of service and respect that are embedded in every Ritz-Carlton Hotel across the globe.

newgoldBefore I get into the book, one quick story about an experience I had at the Ritz-Carlton. I was fortunate to attend a conference for work several years ago at a Ritz-Carlton hotel. I arrived by taxi and when we pulled up to the hotel it took me a minute to settle up with the driver. When I was ready to exit the cab, a gentleman wearing a beautifully pressed uniform had already loaded my luggage onto a bell cart, opened the door of the car, and said, “Welcome to the Ritz-Carlton, Mr. Sachs. We hope you enjoy your stay”.

I had never been to that particular city before, let alone the hotel. I did not even make the reservation and somehow he knew my name. How did he do that?

In The New Gold Standard, author Joseph A. Michelli takes us behind the scenes of the Ritz-Carlton to show us how the magic is made for every guest experience. The Ritz-Carlton makes every employee live the “three steps of service”, which emphasizes using the guest’s name.

While reading the book I realized that the gentleman who helped me during my stay had most likely looked at my luggage tag to find my name. How brilliant! Something so small got my stay off to an incredible start. Was he told to do that? Is that in the Ritz-Carlton manual?

The long and the short of it is that it is not. There is no manual to work at the Ritz-Carlton. Instead, empowerment is the foundation of the Ritz-Carlton approach to service. Staff at the hotel are encouraged to find new and innovative ways to deliver on the company’s motto and the three steps of service. In fact, each and every employee is empowered to spend up to $2,000 of the company’s money each day to resolve an issue with a guest. How many companies allow that?

The hotel emphasizes empowerment through daily communication in the hotel’s “lineup”. At lineup, all staff are present. They reference and read from the main service elements (every employee carries a business card sized “credo card” with them at all times), discuss what is happening at the hotel that day, and learn about a “Wow experience” that could come from any Ritz-Carlton across the globe (there are a couple of great examples in the book).

These are only a couple of the many norms, processes, and checks that drive the disciplined and deliberate behind-the-scenes magic of the Ritz-Carlton that most guests will never see. For the Ritz-Carlton, service is at the core of their product and they set a very high bar for themselves. They are a model when it comes to understanding the impact of hiring excellent staff and treating them with respect, whether they clean the rooms, work at the front desk, or are the CEO of the company.

KEY TAKE-AWAY: Staff empowerment is at the foundation of the Ritz-Carlton approach to service. To promote a culture of service, it is vital to hire excellent staff who believe in the mission, vision, values, and culture because they will be the ones who must bring those ideas to life in new ways every day. 

The New Gold Standard is available for purchase on Amazon for $28 (does not include Amazon prime discount)