Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What do The RITZ and Waffle House have in common?

I just returned from a trip to San Francisco and had the good fortune of staying at the Ritz Carlton. I arrived at noon and was greeted by a doorman (employee #1). He welcomes me to the Ritz, assists with my luggage and asks my name. The next employee (#2) then opens the door and uses my name as he welcomes me. This employee was within earshot of #1 so using my name was an easy feat. Here’s where it gets interesting – I enter the hotel and am greeted with, “Welcome Ms. Ford”. This employee (#3) had been seated at a desk, rose quickly and offered me a bottle of water as she walks me to the front desk. Now she could not have heard the name exchange that happened outside the hotel. When arriving at the front desk I hear, “We are glad to have you at the Ritz, Ms. Ford. How was your trip?” Just to keep it straight, this was the 4th employee to use my name and it all happened in about 60 to 90 seconds. I know you are thinking – It’s the Ritz, what do I expect. Yes, I do expect it. However there are plenty of places with great reputations where the experience does not live up to our expectations. So it is a delight to see their philosophy of “We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen” in action.

My question is: does it take a Ritz to make this magic happen? Nope. Let’s go back to the Saturday before my arrival at the Ritz. After a fun run at our daughter’s school, two families went to the Waffle House for breakfast. A smiling employee opens the door, greets us with menus, a “Good Morning” and directs us to a table. Immediately our waitress says, “Good Morning” and takes our drink order. No, they don’t ask for my name and use it four times. But my waitress smiled sincerely, served me with hospitality and called me “honey”. And at the Waffle House, honey is just as good as hearing your name.

Who would think the Ritz and the Waffle House have so much in common…. both know how to provide a memorable experience by paying attention to details that matter to their customer.

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