Every employee of the Ritz Carlton has $2,000 to resolve a guest issue without asking for permission. That is unusual. Almost every hotel on the planet likely has a value around customer service. How many actually walk the talk?
That said, the Ritz Carlton model would not be sustainable if it didn’t have the systems to back up this unusual policy. If the Ritz Carlton’s systems were a mess, they could easily find themselves spending tens of thousands of dollars every day resolving guest issues.
It is this combination of unusual and sustainable that makes the Ritz Carlton special.
This idea has numerous applications. Let’s think of personal competitive advantage. If every peer in our company works 60 hours per week, it would be unusual to work 100 hours. But, is it sustainable? How many burned weekends before you realize your productivity has completely dropped? The more important question that it raises is – what are you doing wrong? If everyone else can get their work done in time, why do you need to work so much more?
Too often, companies and marketers go for unusual. Giving every viewer on Oprah a car definitely falls under that category. But, if it isn’t sustainable, it is unlikely to be a source of much advantage. Gimmicks like that rely on luck.
Consistent success requires process.