Being the Ritz Carlton of Your Industry: How to Deliver Delight

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company carries an experience excellence mystique. Inspired by the company’s namesake, Cesar Ritz (who said “the customer is always right”), the brand continues to be synonymous with luxurious and nurturing guest experiences.

Having worked with senior leaders of the Ritz-Carlton, I wrote:

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So let’s explore five lessons on fostering service excellence and elevated experiences.

  • Define and Refine – Take the time to define and consistently drive the behaviors needed to deliver extraordinary human experiences. Those behaviors and service values are captured in Ritz-Carlton’s “Gold Standards.” Those standards are presented on a “credo card,” which is part of a team member’s uniform. Those team members (referred to as “ladies and gentlemen”) review the Gold Standards at the start of every shift in a process called “daily line-up.”
  • Empower Through Trust – Don’t hire with haste; instead, select for talent. While it’s important to find people to provide service, it’s also essential not to find the wrong people. Companies like the Ritz-Carlton patiently wait to select prospective team members with service talent (assessed through behavioral interviewing and formal testing). Leaders then develop that talent through extensive service training. Ultimately, this approach has enabled the Ritz-Carlton to become an employer of choice for people who want to bring their service talent to an industry leader.
  • It’s Not About You – The Ritz-Carlton teaches that “service professionalism” is a longstanding and noble pursuit. It shouldn’t be confused with servitude. Leaders at the Ritz-Carlton emphasize how service professionalism is a win for all. In the words of Zig Ziglar:

“You Can Have Everything In Life You Want, If You Will Just Help Enough Other People Get What They Want.”

  • Deliver Wow – At the Ritz-Carlton, customer satisfaction is table stakes. To deliver value that exceeds the expectations of discerning guests, the ladies and gentlemen of the Ritz-Carlton must act to ensure:

The Ritz-Carlton is a place where the genuine care and comfort of our guests is our highest mission. We pledge to provide the finest personal service and facilities for our guests who will always enjoy a warm, relaxed, yet refined ambience. The Ritz-Carlton experience enlivens the senses, instills well-being, and fulfills even the unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests.

  • Leave a Lasting Footprint – Ritz-Carlton team members understand that they are part of a tradition built by exceptional service professionals like Cesar Ritz and Horst Shultze (founder of the modern-day Ritz-Carlton and author of Excellence Wins). They are encouraged to build on those foundations to create memorable experiences that maintain the company’s legendary service reputation.

May these Ritz-Carlton lessons support your efforts to create loyalty-building experiences for those you serve!

To learn more about ways to become the Ritz-Carlton of your industry, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at

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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

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