Stock meeting business

In my travels as a corporate speaker, I have conducted speeches or workshops for all types of companies or associations. Everywhere I travel, I hear this line: “Our company or organization is different. We are unique and we are a little different from our competition.”

My answer to this is simple. All companies that I have ever seen have these similar qualities:

• They are all for-profit or nonprofit

• They sell a product, a service or a combination of both, and their best customers spend the most with them while their worst customers nickel and dime them.

• The customer who had a problem with the company and when the company overreacted to correct the situation, became one of their best customers – probably for life.

Sound familiar? It should, because business is business. It is simple, straight forward and easy to do good business. Now for one of my favorite topics – the mission statement.

Does your company have one? Most do, and most are junk. They all say the same thing: “We believe in customer satisfaction and will take care of our customers. We value our employees and promise to be good to them.”

The Ritz-Carlton has had one of the greatest mission statements for decades. Over time it has changed and been revamped. It is on a three-fold plastic-coated card that each employee must carry with them.

On the front it says, “We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen.”

What that means is, if you want to be treated as such, then act accordingly. Inside, the card used to have 20 sayings or phrases, but my favorite was always No. 9.

It simply states, “Any employee who receives a guest complaint owns the complaint!”

Simple, powerful and right to the point.

But wait, I haven’t even got to the best part. First-line employees such as busboys, housekeepers and food and beverage personnel have the authority to spend up to $2,000 to satisfy a customer’s needs. Managers have the authority to spend up to $5,000.

You are probably saying at this point, “Wow, that is a lot of money.” Is it? If it is, how much are your customers and employees worth?

I’ve written about Ritz Carlton in my column many times. And you’ve undoubtedly heard me tell you about their mission statement many times. It’s because in my book, they are the gold standard. Shouldn’t they be?

The concept or business model is very simple:

Look for a “triple win”:

• No. 1: Your employee wins by being able to take care of a situation without running all over to find a manager or someone else who can just say the magic words, “Just take care of it.”

• No. 2: The customer wins by having their problem taken care of without being bounced all over the place or from person to person.

• No. 3: The company wins because they will now keep a satisfied customer who will continue to do business with them.

As a bonus, the satisfied customer will probably tell a bunch of other people about how great the company is at handling issues or problems. We call this “word of mouth advertising.” Naturally, it is the best and often the cheapest form of advertising. Don’t believe me? Well, how many ads have you seen about the great service at the Ritz?

None. It is all created by the customers. Same goes for Nordstrom, Lexus, Disney, Costco, Trader Joe’s or even JetBlue.

If you and your company want to have the “triple win,” follow these simple rules:

• Give your people ongoing training on customer service.

• Empower them, not with sayings or slogans, but with tools, such as money or action-related concepts.

• Treat your employees well, and they in turn will do the same for your customers.

• Have your managers involved and constantly observing their subordinates.

• As an owner or CEO, walk around and become part of the process.

Hal Becker is a nationally known speaker on sales and customer service. He is the author of numerous business books including two national best sellers, “Can I Have 5 Minutes Of Your Time?” and “Lip Service.” Hal’s newest book on sales is titled “Ultimate Sales Book.” He can be reached at

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