Treacy and Wiersema (1996) distinguished three different value disciplines of which companies can choose from to distinguish themselves from their competitors: operational excellence, product leadership, and customer intimacy. Of these three value disciplines, the customer intimacy fits in the best with customer engagement management. Companies that implement the customer intimacy strategy focus on building relationships with their customers. The individual wishes of their customers are the business’ focus of attention and products and services are constantly adjusted to the customers’ needs and wishes (Peelen & Beltman, 2013).
A lot of hotel chains in the hotel industry have chosen to implement customer intimacy into their business strategy. They focus on building relationships with their customers by fulfilling their wishes. They want to turn their customers into life-long guests. But how exactly do hotels implement this strategy into their operations? How do they try to build relationships with their customers and how do hotels go from just selling hotel rooms to meeting the individual customer’s preferences? The answer to these questions might be found by looking at a particular hotel chain.
Ritz Carlton is an excellent example of a hotel chain that implements customer intimacy into its strategy. Because not only do they implement it, they surpass the majority of the hotel chains in the way they revolve their business around their customers. The Ritz Carlton focuses their attention on flawless service standards to separate themselves from other hotels. They argue that it is not possible to build loyalty or a relationship with customers, without a personal or emotional connection. One of the ways Ritz Carlton does this is by meeting the ‘unexpressed’ wishes of their customers. Employees of the hotel chain carry notepads with them where they write down expressed and unexpressed needs of their customers. They then try and surprise these customers. Fulfilling these expressed and unexpressed needs is done in different ways: a business man who stays at the hotel for four weeks gets special business cards with the his name, address of the hotel and telephone number to give out during his stay, but also a child that forgot his stuffed animal at the hotel gets its sent back to him together with a photo album with pictures of the stuffed animal sitting by the pool and the beach, only because his parents told the boy that his animal was enjoying the vacation a little bit longer. These customers will never forget about their experience with Ritz Carlton and feel a personal connection with the hotel (Robertson, 2015).
Ritz Carlton shows that the hotel industry is about so much more than just selling hotel rooms to customers; it is about creating unique, memorable, and personal memories for customers. This is the only way to create a personal connection with the customer and to build a lasting relationship with them.
Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management (2nd edition).
Robertson, G. (2015, May 29). How Ritz-Carlton meets the “unexpressed” needs of consumers. Retrieved September 18, 2016, from http://beloved-brands.com/2015/05/29/ritz/