I was in Astana recently working on strategy with board directors of Kazakhstan state industries. What a wonderfully iconoclastic place Astana is. A fantastically modern, 21st century city in the middle of the steppes and hundreds of kilometres from anywhere! Bizarre but impressive and a highly enjoyable visit. Just as enjoyable was my stay at the Ritz Carlton, Astana.
Customer Centricity at Ritz Carlton
Ritz Carlton hotels have an incredibly well documented track record of great customer focus and care. Business schools laud Ritz Carlton in case studies, large consultancies write about its business model and YouTube shows numerous clips of heart-warming customer care stories. The Ritz Carlton, Astana was no different – from the moment I arrived every single person was quietly and efficiently attentive throughout my time there. Some highlights follow.
The Astana Experience
On my first morning the driver arranged by my hosts failed to arrive. The concierge, noticing that I walked outside and back in again, approached me without prompting and asked if there was a problem. At that point the hotel took over and made sure I was comfortable in the lobby while they competently, without fuss resolved the car issue.
Late one evening in my room the phone message light started flashing. When I phoned reception they apologised and said it was a fault and an engineer would be up to resolve it immediately – it was 23:35! On another occasion I had a meal in the restaurant and a children’s party started up near my area. The staff apologised and moved me seamlessly to a quiet part of the restaurant. Even in the gym the attention was beyond normal expectations and everywhere I went staff knew my name. It was quietly and calmly highly attentive.
How do they do it?
So how do Ritz Carlton achieve this exemplary standard in hospitality and hotel services? It is not about competences or qualifications or experience – although these aspects are required to a high order. What is it then that makes the difference for Ritz Carlton?
The key is that Ritz Carlton do not recruit… they select! And they select based on a clearly identified set of desired attitudes and personal ethos that Ritz Carlton values. They seek a type of person whose psychology is intrinsically aligned with the Ritz Carlton culture and values and exhibits the behaviours they desire. Consequently, with culture, values and behaviours in mind they profile and select for ‘organisation fit’. The result – a unique customer experience. From Atlanta to Astana staff are not ‘acting a role’. They are behaving naturally. Behaving as their intrinsic ethos and attitudes dictate and consequently delivering an experience and high performance that is hard to beat.
John Cashion, Corporate Director, Culture Transformation at The Ritz Carlton explains it thus: “At The Ritz-Carlton, we do not “hire” individuals; instead we pride ourselves on “selecting” Ladies and Gentlemen that are aligned with the values and philosophy of The Ritz-Carlton culture. Our focus is to select the top 1% of the service professionals that have a sense of pride and ownership in the career they have chosen. The selection process must discover individuals with passion for what they do every day. Passion produces an intense emotional connection, but it must come from within and cannot be trained or taught.”
A selection process that seeks to discover what really drives an individual, what attitudes and attributes they truly bring to your organisation takes a little more time and effort. It requires a different and more thorough approach to getting behind the CV and the interview façade. As Ritz Carlton and a few other organisations can attest, that extra effort is more than worth it.
Perfect People Ltd – Profiling for Attitude, Selecting for Fit