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The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company prides itself on being the gold standard for hospitality across the world and their record backs up that pride: the list of awards bestowed to their properties is quite impressive. Their service has received note, as well, making them only hotel company to receive the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award from the United States Department of Commerce twice. What can you, as a community manager, take from their example?
The Ritz-Carlton employee motto states "We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen." Every employee is empowered to "create unique, memorable and personal experiences" and to "own and immediately resolve guest problems." Those memorable experiences are shared at daily lineups - departmental meetings that keep the teams on the same page. This commitment to the customer is something that hasn't gone unnoticed; Ritz-Carlton is frequently honored for its customer service and employee programs and has been the inspiration for other high-end customer experiences like Apple's retail stores. This extends to the brand's social media presence, where an emphasis is placed on engagement, not just numbers.
@Hospitalityfan We place focus on engagement levels. Fan acquisition not big priority for us. Nice to have, but engagement essential #MMchat— The Ritz-Carlton (@RitzCarlton) May 14, 2013
How does this relate to you as a community manager? Like the Ritz-Carlton Ladies and Gentlemen, you have to be empowered to help your community. When community members constantly hear "I'll pass that feedback on," or "I'll let the product team know," in response to their feedback, they quickly realize that the community manager is ineffective and lose faith in them. A community manager has to be empowered to become a part of the decision-making process, functioning as the primary conduit from the community to the company. Unfortunately, the answer to some feedback may be "No," or "not in the foreseeable future," but letting the community know this instead of being afraid to say No is generally a better option.
Another important aspect of Ritz-Carlton's policy to keep in mind is that it doesn't just pertain to turning around negative experiences. Their much lauded $2,000 policy (that any member of staff is enabled to spend up to that amount to make a customer happy, without General Manager approval) says nothing about making an unhappy customer happy - it applies to all customers. While you may not have such a hefty bankroll for making your community members happy, think about the little ways you can build them up: member appreciation programs, events, even something as simple as giving them a shout-out.
Finally, if your community has reached the third phase of the Online Community Lifecycle (Maturity) and your new member numbers have begun to stagnate, don't start to fret. Remember that engagement is key to keeping your members happy and active. In the business world, it's a well documented fact that it's more efficient to keep existing customers than seek out new ones - the same applies to your community.
How do you make it a priority to create personal experiences for your community?