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.

Email Marketing: A Spring Holiday Retail Review

Let’s take a quick peek at how some email marketers in the retail sector are hoping to capitalize on the arrival of Spring and the approaching holiday weekend. Each email will be scored with an A-F grading system in 4 areas: Subject Line, Relevance, Creative, and Call-to-Action. 

 

1. Better Home & Gardens - 

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      o        Subject Line  –  B   Big News! You’ve Been Selected  is an ok subject line because it makes it seem like I’m special, and I get a special deal. What would have been even better is if they had used my name or told me more about the deal they are offering.    o        Relevance  –  A  It’s an exclusive Spring offer. The creative is Spring-y and sets the right mood after the Winter we just had on the East Coast.    o        Creative  –   A  The Spring theme follow through and minimal copy works well. It shows the product and the offer clearly.    o        CTA  –   A  It’s pretty apparent they want you to shop now with the large clear SHOP Now buttons above and below the fold.  The green circle specifies “Limited Time Offer,” so you know you have to hurry because the offer may not be around when you get around to it! 

o   Subject LineB Big News! You’ve Been Selected is an ok subject line because it makes it seem like I’m special, and I get a special deal. What would have been even better is if they had used my name or told me more about the deal they are offering.

o   RelevanceA It’s an exclusive Spring offer. The creative is Spring-y and sets the right mood after the Winter we just had on the East Coast.

o   Creative –  A The Spring theme follow through and minimal copy works well. It shows the product and the offer clearly.

o   CTA –  A It’s pretty apparent they want you to shop now with the large clear SHOP Now buttons above and below the fold.  The green circle specifies “Limited Time Offer,” so you know you have to hurry because the offer may not be around when you get around to it! 

 

2. Cole Haan Outlet - 

o      Subject Line  –  A   Celebrate Spring with Savings: Enjoy 50% Off  is a great subject line because it’s crystal clear. They are acknowledging Spring and telling you what the offer inside is going to be.  o      Relevance  –  A  Once again a reference to Spring, so it works and the email pays off what the subject line lead in with.  o      Creative  –  C  The offer is clear and the email is clean, but the picture could be a little more exciting and Spring-y. You can’t really tell what season they are promoting from the background picture.  o      CTA  –  F  The CTA is non-existent. Not a good thing. There should be a clear SHOP NOW or SAVE NOW button. You can click through to their site by clicking on the email, but Cole Haan should lead the consumer to his or her next move. A strong, clear CTA increases the likelihood recipients will take the desired action.

o   Subject Line – A Celebrate Spring with Savings: Enjoy 50% Off is a great subject line because it’s crystal clear. They are acknowledging Spring and telling you what the offer inside is going to be.

o   Relevance – A Once again a reference to Spring, so it works and the email pays off what the subject line lead in with.

o   Creative – C The offer is clear and the email is clean, but the picture could be a little more exciting and Spring-y. You can’t really tell what season they are promoting from the background picture.

o   CTA – F The CTA is non-existent. Not a good thing. There should be a clear SHOP NOW or SAVE NOW button. You can click through to their site by clicking on the email, but Cole Haan should lead the consumer to his or her next move. A strong, clear CTA increases the likelihood recipients will take the desired action.

 


3. Pottery Barn Kids - 

o       Subject Line  –  A-   Hello Spring! BIG savings are going on NOW!  is a good subject line it’s timely and relevant and lets you know there’s a deal inside.  o      Relevance  –  A  This email does a fantastic job of incorporating relevant messaging throughout. The copy at the top is geo-targeted to the Pottery Barn that’s closest to my house. It’s letting me know about events in my area, so I know this email was created for me. The creative is based around the upcoming holiday weekend, and the sale is called a Spring sale.  o      Creative  –  A  The creative clearly shows what the offer is, and even incorporates the upcoming holiday into the Nav bar at the top. It shows a cute bunny which is on brand and related to the holiday, plus it has fun with the copy using “Hop to it”  o      CTA  –  B  There are three CTAs depending on what action you want to take. It’s pretty clear which CTA takes you where, but it might have been better to get the recipient to the site and let them navigate from there. 

o   Subject Line – A- Hello Spring! BIG savings are going on NOW! is a good subject line it’s timely and relevant and lets you know there’s a deal inside.

o   Relevance – A This email does a fantastic job of incorporating relevant messaging throughout. The copy at the top is geo-targeted to the Pottery Barn that’s closest to my house. It’s letting me know about events in my area, so I know this email was created for me. The creative is based around the upcoming holiday weekend, and the sale is called a Spring sale.

o   Creative – A The creative clearly shows what the offer is, and even incorporates the upcoming holiday into the Nav bar at the top. It shows a cute bunny which is on brand and related to the holiday, plus it has fun with the copy using “Hop to it”

o   CTA – B There are three CTAs depending on what action you want to take. It’s pretty clear which CTA takes you where, but it might have been better to get the recipient to the site and let them navigate from there. 

 

4. 1-800-Flowers.com- 

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      o        Subject Line  –  A-   Easter Friends & Family Sale: 20% Off Sitewide  is a good subject line because it’s a sale that has a clear end date, which gives a sense of urgency. It also introduces you to their deal. You can use the code on other purchases, so using Spring may have been a better option than Easter.    o        Relevance  –  A  Once again a reference to the upcoming holiday weekend    o        Creative  –  A  The discount is very clear and reiterated from the subject line, but even better they are using a promo code to track which recipients are using their offers. This will allow them to follow recipients through their CRM to understand customer buying habits and figure out how to get them to purchase repeatedly. They are also reminding people about their loyalty program by mentioning the points program at the top of the email.    o        CTA  –  A-  The CTA is above the fold and very clear what to do next. The color could have been a little brighter and more festive like the rest of the email.

o   Subject LineA- Easter Friends & Family Sale: 20% Off Sitewide is a good subject line because it’s a sale that has a clear end date, which gives a sense of urgency. It also introduces you to their deal. You can use the code on other purchases, so using Spring may have been a better option than Easter.

o   RelevanceA Once again a reference to the upcoming holiday weekend

o   CreativeA The discount is very clear and reiterated from the subject line, but even better they are using a promo code to track which recipients are using their offers. This will allow them to follow recipients through their CRM to understand customer buying habits and figure out how to get them to purchase repeatedly. They are also reminding people about their loyalty program by mentioning the points program at the top of the email.

o   CTA A- The CTA is above the fold and very clear what to do next. The color could have been a little brighter and more festive like the rest of the email.

Overall each brand did a good job of capitalizing on the upcoming holiday weekend. Moving forward, it would behoove these companies to remember to use a relevant subject line, pay it off in the creative (the simple, imagery-driven, minimal text creative) and use a strong Call-to-Action to drive the clients to take desired actions. 

 

 

 

 

Don't Discount Direct Mail: Oriental Trading Made My Day (and my son's par-tee)

Back when email was a novelty, each new ding of an email in my inbox used to be exciting. Will it be from a friend, a cousin, a professional contact I haven’t connected with in awhile? Or maybe an amazing % off at Bloomingdales, or at Golf Galaxy for my husband?

It’s funny how the times have shifted. Now because I get so many emails each day, I no longer get overly excited at the sound of a new email; there are just SO many. However, I do get extremely giddy when a piece of tangible mail that my mailman placed in my mailbox is exactly what I need.

A couple of days I ago, I picked up the mail: bill, catalogue, bill, dentist reminder, catalogue, bill… you get the picture. One catalogue stood out because it clearly stated “1st Birthday.” Below that title it showed a celebratory picture of a family enjoying cupcakes with two 1 year olds. The copy next to the picture read, “Bring their first festivities to life for less with bright birthday buys!”

As a marketer, I just smiled! Brilliant! It’s like they read my mind. Amongst all of the responsibilities I have, one that I hadn’t had the chance to act upon, but was definitely up there in importance was my son’s impending 1st birthday. I knew that making it special for him included party supplies, a theme, and of course balloons, but I hadn’t had a chance to investigate where or when I was going to purchase those items.

The fact that the Oriental Trading catalogue came to me at around the exact time I started thinking about planning the party could not have made it more convenient or valuable to me. I don’t know how they got my name or how they knew I have a 10 month old, but frankly I didn’t care what list they received that information from. It was perfect; I needed this stuff.

Some people think Direct Mail is a thing of the past, but it really isn’t. If you can get the correct message into the hands of the people who would benefit from that message, it will ultimately lead to sales. $150 later, I am a happy and satisfied customer because my son will have a cute party, and my husband gets to enjoy the theme that my child will clearly not remember (a Golf themed party for a one year old!?).

Although I was thrilled to see their catalogue, Oriental Trading would have benefitting from also doing the following:

o   Purchasing my email address as well as my home address so I received the message in multiple mediums. In case my husband beat me to the mailbox and decided we didn’t need the catalogue, or if I was so busy that I forgot we had it, it would have been beneficial to re-enforce the message multiple times that Oriental Trading was there to help me plan the party.

o   Including a percentage off or free shipping with no price limit. They do a nice job of including a promo code for free shipping if you purchase at least $39 worth of merchandise. Clearly they want people to use this promo code because it helps them determine if their marketing is giving them a return on their marketing investment. I’m an example of a nice return on their investment because the cost of the catalogue was definitely nowhere near $150.

 Free Shipping is a nice perk, and you might think it’s not necessary to give a percentage off (I purchased anyway), but if they really want first-time buyers to purchase from a new company, they should include free shipping without a minimum, or they should clearly state a percentage off on their back and front covers to help convert new consumers.

If Oriental Trading has a good CRM, I will anticipate a birthday catalogue for years to come each end of February, so I can continue to plan that (Golf?) themed birthday party for my son. 

Marketing Consulting: 5 Things I've Learned

5 Things I’ve Learned Since Starting My Marketing Consulting Business

 

1.     There’s beauty in simplicity.

Trying to cram too many messages into your marketing creative, whether on or offline, just deters your consumers from reading further or taking any action. I’ve seen more websites and sales brochures that are so incredibly cluttered and trying to do too much at one time. Straightforward messaging and clean creative are the way to go.

 

2.     You have to budget money for social media.

Facebook’s algorithms keep changing, and Zuckerberg really knows what he’s doing. No matter how great your brand page is and how many “likes” you have, you are out of luck if you don’t boost posts or buy ads. People who like your page will rarely see it in their newsfeeds without you putting some money towards it.

 

3.     Editorial Calendars are underrated.

People love to talk about content marketing, but most don’t have a clue how to generate it and when to use it. I’d recommend sitting down and planning the entire year with content that relates to your business, but is also content people desire. If you’re ecommerce, American holidays are a good place to start. Make sure you’re touching on Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and the other major ones, but include important events during the year like the Superbowl and the Oscars as well.

 

4.     Having a marketing strategy is imperative, but so is being flexible.

A marketing strategy is your roadmap, but that doesn’t mean if there’s an interesting pit stop that you didn’t plan, you shouldn’t take advantage of it. Especially when it’s a relevant way to get your messaging into the hands of your prospects and consumers. Follow your marketing plan, but stay as flexible as you can to react to unexpected changes.

 

5.     There is not enough time in the world to read all the great marketing content out there.

However, I’m hoping that’s where I can help. I spend a lot of time reading marketing  & business blogs, articles, and posts. When I find something that I believe is very valuable, I post it on the Elysium Marketing Group Facebook page