Cadillac contracted the services of the Ritz-Carlton to train Cadillac dealers to provide 5-star service. The Ritz Carlton, first recipient of the Baldridge award in 1999, has a side business in training other companies to provide quality service.
Don Butler, Cadillac’s marketing VP, said to Automotive News [sub] that the program will emphasize customer treatment rather than facilities. For instance, he said, a dealership employee might take an umbrella and walk a customer out to his or her car when it’s raining. “It’s simple,” Butler said. “It’s the things that don’t cost a lot of money.” If he would only know.
Ritz Carlton’s fabled customer service rests on two pillars:
One, a huge database that collects customers’ wishes and preferences. If you order a pillow filled with bricks in one Ritz Carlton, be prepared to be told at check-in in the next one: “Of course, the pillow is just as you expect it. I personally selected the bricks.”
Two, personnel at the Ritz will be selected according to their enthusiasm for delivering quality service. As a high ranking Ritz Carlton manager once told me: “Selecting people who love to serve our guests is much easier than trying to train people who have no idea of the concept.”
About 10 years ago, we tried the same as Cadillac and hired the Ritz Carlton to train Volkswagen dealer personnel. Nobody wanted to pay for the database. Nobody allowed the Ritz to fire all sales and service people and hire new ones. You know how that worked out. At least something good came from it: The hotel at Volkswagen’s Autostadt in Wolfsburg is a Ritz Carlton.