Best practice may neglect adapting to real needs

After decades of demanding that employees strictly adhere to a 20-point list of customer service basics, the company’s [Ritz-Carlton] management realized that the specified routines weren’t adequately addressing the widely ranging expectations of the luxury chain’s customers

…expanding the list to address every possible situation that an employee might encounter would be futile.

As a result, they shifted to a simpler 12-point set of values that allowed employees to use their judgment and improvise.

Tightly defined process dictums (like “always carry a guest’s luggage,” “escort guests rather than point out directions to another area of the hotel,” and “use words like good morning, certainly, I’ll be happy to, and it’s my pleasure”) sometimes felt stuffy and out of place. Management replaced them with looser value statements (such as “I build strong relationships and create Ritz-Carlton guests for life” and “I am empowered to create unique, memorable, and personal experiences for our guests”). The change encouraged employees to sense customers’ needs and act accordingly. Customer satisfaction improved.

Related

“I am knowledge worker”, says the Janitor

NOTES

This is great, I’ve always said procedures cannot be clairvoyant, and we hire people rather than robots to deal with the variability of the world (stuff we cannot predict as the workplace is complex)

I really like how they went from the specific to the more broad or heuristic so it allows to cover for different contexts and empowers the worker to use their discretion. Just sticking with the specific would neglect the variability that situations present, and disable workers to act in the best interests of the customer.

I have something to add…

What I say is use blogs so employees can post about all the encounters that do happen.

Employees will be informally training each other by sharing experiences as digestable daily fragments.

And of course dialogue happens around these fragments, where you have employees engaged in work improvement…all without a top-down improvement program…now it’s “doing with” rather than “doing to”

This also answers the engagement program as when people connect and share experiences and have dialogue they are performing a fulfilling human need…we are social creatures. Employees feel they belong and have impact.

Oh yeah, and when people leave they usually leave a massive gap in “how things are done around here”, well that doesn’t have to be like that as they leave artifacts behind in the blogs. The other side of this is new comers can aboard like never before, connecting to a history of contextual information and access to people.

But don’t call it blogging, call is notes or messages, and have it integrated into existing systems so people don’t feel they are publishing but simply posting a note.

Give them a wiki, but call it pages…this way they can list points of how local work is done that might not relate to customers like “always vacuum after at lunch time as most people are out of their rooms”…which might not apply to another hotel as the lunch room is right next to the rooms.

A wiki can also be used to highlight the best blog posts, a lists of points that covers all encounters…this can complement the official procedures and even feedback into them.