Be Deliberate With Your CX: Create Excellence and Know What the Customer Wants

“We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen,” said Horst Schulze famously in discussing his work at the Ritz-Carlton over the years. In our first podcast interview, Horst shares that he came to this realization when he was a teenager working in the hospitality industry, and it forever changed the way he conducted business.

While I’m on vacation, as I’m sure many of you are as well, I want to replay this podcast and leave you with a few valuable gems from Horst Schulze as we head into the new year. Horst is the founder and former CEO of the Capella Hotel Group,  Co-founder & Former COO of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. and author of Excellence Wins. He is currently serving as the expert in residence at Arch + Tower, a boutique, organizational strategy consulting firm specializing in customer and employee experience.

Listen to this interview, as Horst shares timeless knowledge and wisdom to help you and your team create an experience steeped in excellence.

Strive to Create Excellence at Work

Horst shares that the phrase, “we are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen,” was his motto when starting the Ritz-Carlton. This was an important phrase that stuck with him and was going to serve as the foundation for the company’s culture.

As a youth, Horst also learned the concept of coming to work to create excellence from the maitre d’ of the hotel that he worked in. He realized that the maitre d’ defined himself as a fine gentleman, and always believed in coming to work to create excellence. This was another realization for Horst regarding the importance of a stellar customer experience. Once he founded the Ritz-Carlton, Horst knew that he had to create the finest, most sufficient experience possible for his customers. 

Are you creating a culture of excellence for your employees and customers? Listen to my podcast replay with the incredible @horstschulze, author of #ExcellenceWins. #customerexperience #CX Share on X

Know What the Customer Wants

In addition to creating excellence, you have to know what the customer wants. Horst explains that if you want to be more relevant and valuable to your customers, then you have to know what the customer wants, and give them what they want more sufficiently than the competition.

Horst and his team invested in purchasing top market customer surveys to learn what the customer was saying. Once they listened to what their customers said, they decided to create a process behind the customer expectation. He says, “Once we made several studies of the expectation of the customers, it became clear that in the subconscious expectation of the customer, they want the same thing no matter what they buy. If it’s a hotel stay, or a car, or a bottle of water.”

He shares that customers want the following three things: 

  1. For the product to be defect-free. 
  2. Timeliness. Customers want it when they want it. 
  3. Niceness. A driver of customer satisfaction is interacting with employees who are nice.

You have to create excellence and you have to know what the customer wants. –– @horstschulze, author of #ExcellenceWins Share on X

Your Hiring Process Should be About Selection:

After synthesizing all of the relevant information from the customer surveys, Horst and his team at the Ritz-Carlton came up with twenty points that would make them superior to the competition. These points would also serve as guides of conduct for the employees. It was a guide to the Ritz-Carlton values.

Upon hiring employees, Horst shares that they determined it would be considered a selection process. Rather than hire, they “selected,” which was a careful and deliberate act of bringing new members on board. Once they set up their own internal expectations for conduct based on customer needs, they created their process for employee selection and developed training and orientation to set them up for success. 

About Horst Schulze

Horst Schulze’s professional life began more than 65 years ago as a server’s assistant in a German resort town. Throughout the years he worked for both Hilton Hotels and Hyatt Hotels Corporation before becoming one of the founding members of The Ritz Carlton Hotel Company in 1983. There, Schulze created the operating and service standards that have become world-famous.

During his tenure at The Ritz Carlton, Horst served as President and COO responsible for the $2 billion operations worldwide. Today, Horst Schulze serves on various boards and acts as a consultant across industries.

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