Excellence in Operations: The Not-So-Secret Recipe for Repeat Business & Referrals

In my book, The New Gold Standard, I deeply dive into how operational excellence and process improvement lay the foundation for top-tier service, as exemplified by the ladies and gentlemen of the Ritz-Carlton.

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Let’s look at the spa in the Ritz-Carlton Dubai as an example. If you were to book a 45-minute massage at that spa, it would last an hour, with each massage therapist being booked out for a 75-minute window to avoid rushing between guests. While the price of your massage would cover an hour’s service, your massage would last 33% longer than you expected. This type of experiential design and delivery epitomizes “underpromising and overdelivering.” It also highlights design principles of consistency and connection.

Customer relationship expert, Heidi Miller, speaks to the power of connection and consistency by noting:

I’d rather have a dozen ‘good experiences’ than be a ‘delighted customer’ once…Wowing me is nice, but on a daily basis, I’d rather just not think about ‘brand interactions’ at all. Let’s take the cable company, for example…. I would MUCH rather have a cable company that I can call twice a year, resolve my issue immediately without long hold times, and get a timely appointment – compared to one that wows me. Truly, if I could have the expectation of a quick and efficient call and appointment, that would be more powerful to me than George Clooney showing up to fix my cable – with a chocolate cake and roses. Maybe my expectations are too low, or maybe I’m just busy. But before you try to wow me, remember that, for the most part, I’d be happy with timely, prompt, basic service delivered in a reasonably polite manner. In short, it would be plenty valuable just for me not to ‘dread’ having to make the call.

Wouldn’t it be even more delightful if Heidi could get her cable fixed and receive chocolate simultaneously? That’s the power of operational consistent AND going beyond the ordinary.

Here are a few tips to ensure you drive operational excellence and enhance your customers’ experiences:

  1. Identify Essential Service Elements: Understand what you “must-do right” related to the products, price, and service you deliver to every customer – every time.
  2. Invest in Process Improvement and Operational Excellence: Determine what processes, service standards, and considerations you must implement to ensure consistent and emotionally engaging operations.
  3. Enforce Accountability: Develop strategies to drive accountability for your service standards and experience delivery. This might include staff training, performance monitoring, and setting KPIs tied to consistent execution.
  4. Discover Your “Chocolates”: Identify the low-cost, high-value flourishes that will set your business apart from competitors. These might be small gestures that surprise and delight your customers, making their experience with you memorable.

Ultimately, repeat business and customer referrals are a return on your investments achieved by exceeding your customers expectations.

Sustainable success requires a hearty helping of operational excellence with a dash of over-delivery. Crafting the right mixture turns your customers into advocates who, in turn, become extensions of your sales team.

To learn more about how you can create memorable experiences, please contact me at josephmichelli.com/contact.

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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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