Adopt a Ritz-Carlton strategy for customer service

How to make prospects and clients feel they are the biggest VIPs in the world

By Brad Johnson

Oct 28, 2014 @ 12:01 am EST

A few weeks ago, I made a trip to Palm Beach, Fla., and stayed at the Breakers Hotel. I normally would not write about a hotel stay, but my stay at the Breakers stood out right from the beginning because they did something unique to make me instantly feel like a VIP.

Even better, small business owners, especially those with service businesses, can easily copy the Breakers' “VIP strategy” and use it to grow their own businesses.

Before I get into the strategy itself, it's important to know that I travel all over the U.S. — sometimes multiple times a month.

Most of my trips are relatively normal. I stay at normal hotels and I get normal service. After a while, the hotels begin to blur together. It's hard to remember any single visit to any single hotel because the experiences are almost always the same.

But my stay at the Breakers Hotel was different. Here's why …

When I checked into the hotel and went up to my room, I noticed a personal handwritten note sitting on the desk. I picked it up and read it. The note was from a woman. She told me that she would be my “personal concierge” during my entire stay at the Breakers. She said her job was to make sure my stay at the hotel was amazing.


If all I'd gotten was a personal handwritten note, that would have been enough to create a memorable experience. I can't remember any other hotel doing that for me.

But then she took it one step further.

My “personal concierge” had also provided her personal cellphone number at the end of the handwritten note. She wrote, “If you need anything at all during your entire trip, here's my cellphone. Just give me a call and I'll make it happen.” The note was then signed by her.

Talk about going above and beyond to make me feel important and taken care of! I felt like a VIP… like somebody important … like the Breakers Hotel really cared about my experience.

And that's the same kind of experience you want to create in your own business.


There's something amazing that happens when someone receives personalized service and feels as if they have a one-to-one connection with you or somebody else in your business. All of a sudden, your prospect or client is no longer some nameless number — but rather an important person that you care deeply about.

They can feel the difference.

For example, imagine how different it feels to call a generic phone number and get a receptionist whose job is to route calls and take messages versus calling your very own “personal concierge” whose goal is to make sure you're promptly taken care of.

Big difference, right?

By assigning a personal concierge to your prospects and clients, you're creating a classy high-end experience; you're aligning yourself with luxury brands like the Ritz-Carlton; and you're setting yourself apart from competitors.

So how can you start using this strategy in your own business?


If you currently have just one person answering the phones, that's fine. Make that person the “personal concierge” for all your prospects and clients.

If you have more than one assistant, that's even better. Now you can have multiple “personal concierges” who can help you implement this strategy.

Here are two ways to use the strategy immediately:

#1 - During your onboarding process, introduce your new client to his or her “personal concierge.” Make it clear that this member of your team is dedicated to making sure clients are taken care of. Give your client a special phone number he can call to reach his personal concierge anytime he wants.

This is probably the most obvious way of creating that personal connection with new clients. But you can also use this strategy with prospects.

#2 - Whenever you're following up with sales prospects or people in your pipeline, have your personal concierge make the outbound follow-up calls. During those calls, your team member has the opportunity to make a great impression by saying, “My name is _____, and I'm your personal concierge at ABC Firm. It's my job to make sure that every interaction you have with our firm is first class. With that in mind…”

This opening leads naturally to whatever the purpose of the call is. For example, if this was a seminar follow-up call, the personal concierge could say, “With that in mind, I'd love to get your feedback on the seminar you attended last Thursday to see if there was anything we could have done to improve that experience for you.”

As you can see, this approach is much different than what most firms do, which is usually more of a sales conversation that feels like you're just trying to get them to book an appointment.

I strongly recommend that you play around with this “VIP strategy” and brainstorm on how you can use it with all your prospect and client interactions. It could have a big impact on your business.

Brad Johnson is a vice president at Advisors Excel and can be reached at [email protected]

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