Giraffes are ESSENTIAL to your customer experience!

I ran across a very interesting video blog by Chris Hurn, the CEO and co-founder of Mercantile Capital, so I had my Social Media and IT director, Andrew, post it on our Facebook page.

Since I wrote a book about service excellence at the Ritz-Carlton, Chris’ blog post,  “Joshie at the Ritz-Carlton: An Extraordinary Customer Experience,” caught my attention.  Chris recounts the aftermath of a family trip to the Ritz-Carlton in Amelia Island, Florida.  Upon arriving back home from an excellent stay, it was determined that one of Chris’ young children had left a security/comfort item at the hotel. Joshie a giraffe pillow blanket was missing and Chris’ son was inconsolable.   While trying to comfort his son, Chris did what most parents would do – he told his son that Joshie would return as soon as the stuffed giraffe finished his extended vacation at the Ritz-Carlton.

In the meantime, Chris was in contact with Aaron, a loss prevention control officer at the Ritz-Carlton at Amelia Island.  Aaron and colleagues at the hotel not only found Joshie and expedited his return to the family but the Amelia Island team added a few surprises for Chris’ son.  In the shipping box with Joshie was a binder highlighting some of Joshie’s solo escapades at the Amelia Island property.  Specifically, there were pictures of Joshie looking stylish in sun glasses while lounging on a deck chair near the pool, as well as images and narrative talking about him driving a golf cart on the beach and so much more.

Ok, you are probably saying “I am not in the business of returning stuffed animals to distraught children, so how does this relate to my company?”  Well in short, it’s one thing to fix problems that occur when you are delivering service and quite another to help a customer when they make an error (e.g. leaving Joshie behind).  As someone who has left my share of personal items in hotel rooms, I can attest that some hotel staff seem to care less about my forgetfulness.  That is in part evidenced by how seldom their staff find my  missing property (with the exception of hotels like the Ritz-Carlton, of course).  Even if businesses help customers with the customer’s oversights, most companies will only invest minimal effort to do things like return Joshie quickly.  At the Ritz-Carlton, however, staff routinely go the extra step and do things like produce a story book with supporting pictures to enrich a Joshie homecoming.

How often do you help customers when their service needs occur as a result of their own shortcomings? Moreover, how regularly do you personalize those non-essential kindnesses you elect to extend?

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company has earned it’s mystique as a “world class” customer experience provider through the actions of people like Aaron and other well-selected and excellently trained ladies and gentlemen at properties such as Amelia Island.  Those investments pay off through picture books of Joshie which prompt dad’s like Chris and uninvolved bystanders like me to move the company’s service legacy forward.  What service excellence “Joshie” stories are your customers blogging about today?

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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.

Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli


  1. Marc Zazeela on May 15, 2012 at 5:45 am

    Joseph – Inspiring.

    Helping someone who needs help, regardless the cause of the dilemma, is always the right thing to do. If it is in your power to make a positive difference, why would one NOT do it?


  2. Joseph Michelli on May 15, 2012 at 6:14 am

    Marc, I could NOT have said it better! Cheers back Joseph

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