Excellence Wins

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‘We are Ladies and Gentlemen Serving Ladies and Gentlemen’ is the motto of the Ritz Carlton Hotel chain and it is credited to Horst Schulze, co-founder of the chain of upscale hotels that is world renowned for its excellent customer service. He recently shared the secrets of his success in a book titled, ‘Excellence Wins’.

As Ken Blanchard said in the foreword ‘Horst Schulze created a culture of service that should be a model for all of us’. Schulze culture of service consists of three parts i) Serving Your Customers ii) Engaging Your Employees iii) Building True Leadership. I believe these principles can be applied to every business.

Serving Your Customers

In this principle Schulze suggests that you get to know what your customer desires through asking and not assuming and conducting surveys on service satisfaction. He goes on to say that Customer Service is everyone’s job, not just the Customer Service department. He lists objectives in dealing with customers: Keep the customer (repeat sales and testimonials are the most profitable sales); Get new customers (always be filling your sales funnel with sales leads); Upsell existing customers (without turning them off); Increasing efficiency in serving customers (by working on your processes). Finally handling customers complaints is a fine art (learn from your mistakes).

Engaging Your Employees

Those of you who do not have employees may think this principle does not apply to you, but I believe you can use this principle by working on your own attitude towards your profession. He suggests an employee is more than a pair of hands, he/she is a person, treat her as such. I suggest you take care of yourself, find balance in your work-day for work, family time, spiritual development and exercise.

Schulze believes the key to job engagement is understanding who we are, what our dreams are and why we exist as an organization. This is equally applicable to a one-man business – know why you are in this business and what are your dreams. He is strong on knowing the difference between managers and leaders. For him ‘Managers Push; Leaders Inspire’. As a one-man business do things that inspire you in your job – like reading inspirational books and participating in continuous learning, especially in the principles of your profession.

Building True Leadership

Schulze believes leading is an acquired skill – one is not born a leader, one develops leadership skills. He shares his own experience in leadership by saying ‘I myself showed little aptitude in the early going for taking charge. I had neither the look nor the requisite temperament’. He believes each aspiring leader must start with developing the inner fortitude to first lead themselves before trying to lead others. One does this by focusing on the future, setting a worthy objective and communicating this to oneself and others, disciplining oneself and persevering to attain the goal.

Schulze insists that you start with a Vision. He goes on to say ‘Vision Statements Matter’. ‘If taken seriously, a vision statement can serve as an individual or company’s North Star, pointing in the direction it intends to go’.

Towards the end of the book he explains the meaning of his motto ‘Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen’. “I said to them – you’re not lowly servants. You are ladies and gentlemen who serve the guests. You can be professional about this! If you sentence yourself to be just a servant, then that means you’re not a professional. But you can be higher than a servant…We respect everyone who walks in as a lady or a gentleman. And we will respect every employee in the same way, behaving accordingly.” This behaviour forms part of the Vision Statement.  

After reading the book, I believe we also can challenge ourselves to excellence. Yes, excellence wins. Each of us must articulate a Vision that challenges us to a future destination and to professionalism in serving our customers.

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