Book Review: How to Win Friends and Influence People

Originally published in 1936, How to Win Friends and Influence People continues to teach us important lessons in human relations. After reading the book it was clear to me not only why it stands the test of time, but also that the book provides the building blocks upon which most every customer service manual and program is based.

The book is an essential read for anyone who works with people (that includes just about everybody) and wishes to get along better in a social setting.

The book is divided into four parts: Fundamental techniques in handling people, six ways to make people like you, how to win people to your way of thinking, and be a leader: How to change people without giving offense or arousing resentment. In each section, Carnegie explains each lesson using engaging anecdotes and easy explanations. At the end of each section he breaks down the key lessons, “In a Nutshell”.

In addition to the newest version of the original, the Dale Carnegie institute produced an updated version of How to Win Friends and Influence People for the “digital age”. I read this version as well and find it to be timely and current and would recommend it as a suitable modern substitute for the original.

As I mentioned, if customer service was a house and the cool rooms in it were Disney, Starbucks, The Ritz-Carlton, and Chick-fil-a, How to Win Friends and Influence People is the foundation where that house rests. All of those successful customer service cultures teach many of Carnegie’s lessons to their team.

In one of many examples, all those companies emphasize using the customers name throughout their interaction. In the section, “Six ways to make people like you”, principle number 3 reads, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language”.

Starbucks is well known for always taking the customer’s name (although not always correctly) and writing it on their coffee cup. That communicates to the customer that the particular cup of coffee they are holding was made especially for them.

At The Ritz-Carlton, using the customers name is emphasized twice in their, “three steps of service”. Chick-fil-a training also emphasizes using the customers name whenever possible.

Carnegie weaves developing empathy throughout the lessons of the book, including being empathetic in a genuine way. He talks about the importance of listening and letting other people tell their stories, not just listening to respond but truly listening to understand.

I recommend this book to everyone I work with and meet. In the future, I could see everyone in my organization reading it. If we all lived by Carnegie’s lessons, not only would customer service improve, but society in general would improve as well.

We share this earth with 7.6 billion other people. We need to treat other people with respect and dignity if we are to accomplish anything, if we want to live better lives or even more fundamentally, if we want to survive.

KEY TAKEAWAY: How to Win Friends and Influence People is a must read. It not only describes the fundamentals of human relations, but is used as the bedrock to delivering exceptional customer service experiences for many successful companies. Even if you are not in the service business, you should read this book and embrace its lessons of being genuine, empathetic, and listening well.

How to Win Friends and Influence People is available for purchase on Amazon for $16 (does not include Prime discount)

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)