The Case of the Lost Elmos

ABC News ran a feel-good story about a little girl being reunited with her plush Elmo after forgetting it at a Ritz-Carlton property. Upon receiving a phone call from the desperate parent, the Ritz identified the missing plush, created a booklet of photos of Elmo enjoying the property’s amenities, and then mailed it back to the child…explaining that Elmo had just wanted a few more days of a vacation.

What’s your reaction?

“Great employees!”

“Great service!”

“Sounds like the Ritz!”

If that’s your reaction, you missed the most important part of the article:

“After a few calls, the department’s employees developed a routine that when a call comes through and a lost toy or item is found, the security guard on duty takes the toy on its grand vacation at the Ritz.  They then put the photos in the booklet and mail it, along with the found toy, to the family.”

Did you catch that? What the article calls a “routine”, we would call a “process.” Lack of process is the critical gap in executing great guest experiences.

We already have processes for everything we consider “important.” Imagine that upon noticing some violations, the health inspector asks to see you operating process for cleaning the kitchen. You tell him, “We just tell our team to do their best and exceed their manager’s expectations.”

Ridiculous, right? Guidance is not process. When it comes to issues of health and safety, we do not give guidance, we created processes. Guest experience—if you want it executed properly by your team—must follow process. This way, the outcome is not dependent on daily workload…or employee discretion…or someone’s mood/motivation/competence.

By all means hire great people…encourage them to perform acts of heroism when necessary…train them to exceed expectations…but also, set them up for success by developing great process.

This entry was posted in Guest Experience, Leading and Managing, Service Excellence, Training and Development, Your Team. Bookmark the permalink.

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