Ritz-Carlton: Integrating Customer Service On and Offline

Full disclosure- this blog is not about an experience that happened to me. But it’s so remarkable, that I asked my friend if I could blog about it. (She said yes.)

My friend Lisa was recently at a wedding at the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, FL. As you’d expect, she received the full-on pampered treatment: Fresh cucumber towels handed to her right at the end of her workout, perfect comfy beach chairs with umbrellas on the beach and yummy drinks with fruit hanging off the sides, etc etc.

As most people do, Lisa decided to post on Facebook about the amazing weather in Florida, her experience at the Ritz - Carlton, and her general satisfaction about her mini-vacation. She also “liked” The Ritz – Carlton Resorts of Naples Page on Facebook so she could tag her location.

At 6:23pm, she posted, “Room w/ a view & just chillaxin before the big wedding!!” with some cute palm tree, drink, and happy face emoticons to illustrate her mood. At 6:47pm (not even a half hour later), the Ritz-Carlton Resorts of Naples, responded by writing this on Lisa’s page “Dear Lisa - Welcome to The Ritz-Carlton Resorts of Naples! We are delighted you are enjoying yourself and we are also looking forward to celebrating this special occasion. Please let us know if there is anything we can do to make your stay even more enjoyable.”

Now, you may think ok that’s not so remarkable; they have a social media manager who responds when people tag them. To that, I’d say two things. 1. They did what all service brands know they should be doing, but most are not. And 2. Just wait, it gets even better.

In their response, the Ritz – Carlton Resorts of Naples did a couple of things well. They called Lisa by name to make the response feel more personal. They also acknowledged she was there for a wedding to once again make it personal. And finally they asked if there was anything else they could be doing. The Ritz - Carlton is known for customer service, so this reinforces one of their main value propositions.

When I was trolling Facebook that day, I thought: very smart Ritz – Carlton! Not only did you make Lisa feel even better than she already did by sitting on that beach, but you also showed all of Lisa’s friends how you service your patrons. (AND I might add, made all of Lisa’s Facebook friends insanely jealous).

The story could end here, and nice job Ritz – Carlton, everyone’s happy. But the next day, Lisa returned to her room after sitting on the beach for a few hours and enjoying their amenities to find two huge chocolate chip cookies, two bottles of water, and a note from the Ritz’s Communications Coordinator, saying “Thank you for following us on Facebook! Your photos of the resort are fantastic! We hope you enjoy the remainder of your stay.”

Immediately, Lisa posted a picture of the card and cookies on Facebook and raved that the Ritz - Carlton is the best. Everybody won in this scenario. Lisa won because she was being treated like a princess (who doesn’t love chocolate chip cookies?!?), she was at a fabulous resort enjoying the sun and spending time with her friends for a happy occasion, she received an unexpected gift, and overall life was good.

The Ritz –Carlton won because all of Lisa’s friends commented on her post about how wonderful it was that Lisa received the note and cookies, so it was - in essence -free positive publicity for the resort. Plus, the Ritz - Carlton got to once again reinforce their superior customer service by integrating on and offline experiences. And let’s call it what it is, I am now blogging about this because from a social media and marketing perspective, it was so well-done. So Kudos to the Ritz – Carlton for going above and beyond and executing their level of expertise in another dimension.

Other companies who are not known for this excellent customer service should still take note of this story for a couple of good learnings:

1.     If you’re not known for great customer service, this is an example of one way to start to improve that. Attention to details is important, but staffing a social media person to make these experiences happen is crucial.

2.     Listening to your customers is key. Lisa was extremely satisfied, so this was an easy one for the Ritz – Carlton to take advantage of, but if she was complaining, you better believe that the Ritz would have done something on and offline to try to rectify the situation as soon as possible.

3.     All of your marketing should be integrated and work to enhance the customer experience.