Bywater Consulting Group, LLC
Liz Bywater, PhD

March 2008

The Ritz-Carlton and the
Customer Experience

Outstanding customer service is alive and well. True, it's not the norm it once was. In fact, it can be painfully hard to come by. Which makes it all the more important in your everyday dealings with customers and clients. Provide a superior customer experience and you'll find yourself with happy, loyal customers who gladly refer you to others. Case in point:

Several weeks ago, I attended a charity event at the Ritz-Carlton in Philadelphia. I drove up to the hotel, handed my car keys to the valet and stepped inside. The event was lovely. I met some new people, caught up with old acquaintances, sampled the hors d'ouevres, paid the valet and drove home.

Fast forward to last week. I was sorting my mail when I spied an official looking envelope from the City of Philadelphia. With some curiosity and a bit of trepidation, I opened the envelope only to find a parking ticket in the amount of $101. The date and time of the violation just happened to correspond to my recent visit to the Ritz-Carlton.

Naturally, I called the hotel to figure out how this had happened. I explained my situation to the front desk clerk, who then transferred me to the valet, who referred me to his manager, Louis - who happens to reside somewhere in Southern California. I left Louis a voice mail, relaying my story for the third time. In truth, I wasn't entirely hopeful that he would return my call. I braced myself to start all over again with the hotel and, if necessary, fight this out with the City of Philadelphia.

Much to my surprise, Louis called back. In fact, he called just minutes after I'd left my chagrinned voice mail. He was pleasant, respectful, responsive and apologetic. He explained that I never should have received that parking ticket, that indeed I never should have been aware of the problem at all. (As it turns out, the Ritz-Carlton gets these tickets all the time. They simply can't move the cars off the street fast enough and they end up paying literally thousands of parking tickets, usually without the guests ever being the wiser. Every now and then, however, a ticket – like mine - slips through the cracks.)

Louis immediately investigated the problem, ascertained that the ticket had, in fact, been paid, and got back to me within 30 minutes to assure me that all had been taken care of. His phone call literally put a smile on my face.

It seems I've become unaccustomed to top-notch customer service. But I know it when I see it and there it was, in that brief interaction with Louis from the Ritz-Carlton. My complaint was addressed in a way that was prompt, courteous, efficient, customer-focused and non-defensive. The impact on me, as the customer? I feel good about returning to the Ritz-Carlton. I will recommend it to others and, as you see, I'm spreading the word. Isn't this the way your clients and customers should feel and talk about you?

Speaking Engagements

Liz Bywater will be speaking at the May 15, 2008, Business Breakfast Meeting for Senior Executives, hosted by Mercy Neighborhood Ministries ( in Philadelphia. This will be a joint session, presented with Ed Kelleher, of Kelleher Associates, and will address the Intangible Skills of Great Leadership. The meeting is geared toward senior-level executives and seating is limited. The cost for this event is $25. Please RSVP (

In the Press

We are pleased to provide you with links to our most recent articles and citations. As always, we welcome your comments and inquiries.


Reward Your Employees for Outstanding Performance:
Top Five Ways to Reinforce Excellent Work

Manager Crossing


Top Management and Leadership Books
Society for Advancement of Consulting


Tips to Improve Your Business Relationships


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Ask the Expert Column

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Warm regards,

Liz Bywater, PhD

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