The Customer Confidential Podcast

Want Royally Happy Customers? Never Skimp on Service

Horst Schulze, CEO of Capella Hotel Group and one of the founders of Ritz-Carlton, reflects on what it takes to set a high bar for service.


Want Royally Happy Customers? Never Skimp on Service

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Ever wonder why Ritz-Carlton hotels serve afternoon tea? You know, that light “meal” with the fussy cucumber sandwiches and miniature eclairs on tiered platters that seem more fitting on Downton Abbey than in a 21st-century hotel restaurant.

After all, a proper tea service is undoubtedly expensive to do well when you factor in the cost of pastry chefs, formal waiters and maybe a classical pianist to set the right ambience. For a fixed price, patrons can linger, talk and sip a pot of tea—not order the finest bottle of pinot noir or some artisanal charcuterie.

Tea service is a relic from a bygone era, but hotel legend Horst Schulze would never think of getting rid of it. As he explains on the latest Net Promoter System podcast, afternoon tea lends an air of opulence that lets people know that his hotels are the best in town. In Net Promoter-speak, it gives people a remarkable experience – the kind of story they’ll want to tell their friends.

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Horst would know. He’s one of the masterminds behind the Ritz-Carlton “mystique.” During his 20 years at the hotel chain, he helped cultivate an impeccable level of service that set the gold standard for high-end accommodations. He even coined the often-quoted motto, “We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” Now he’s bringing his philosophies to a new breed of luxury hotels under the Capella brand.

Horst is a straight-talking and compelling advocate of involving front-line employees in running the business. And he believes deeply in trusting employees to do the right thing, as long as you’ve hired the right people in the first place. He even empowers staff members to spend as much as $2,000 to keep a customer happy. If he gains a lifelong customer in the process, he considers it money well spent. He knows how much that customer is likely to spend over a lifetime.

You can listen to our lively discussion on iTunes, through the player above or on our podcast pageClick here to browse more Net Promoter System podcasts.


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