This is the iconic London hotel, Claridges. The temporary residence of the very rich and famous, it has hosted Kings, Queens and Emperors from all over the world. Built in the 19th century, it still remains every bit as beautiful as the day it first opened its doors. Claridges is currently the subject of a BBC2 documentary called ‘Inside Claridges’ The programme is providing a wonderful insight into a quite amazing establishment. Watching the documentary made me realise that we can all learn something from Claridges – this is not just an iconic luxury hotel. This is an organisation that typifies what it means to deliver exceptional customer experiences. This blog summarises 6 things we can all learn from Claridges.

  1. £2,160 – yes, that is what you can expect to pay for the Linley suite if you booked it for two adults to enjoy a night tomorrow. Breakfast is not included, but can be added to your reservation for £32 per person. If you wanted to treat your lovely lady with some flowers in the room, you can do so for another £75. In the current economic climate, these are big numbers. There are not many people that can afford to spend this much money on overnight accommodation. However, why do people (that can afford it) spend this kind of money? Lets have a look….
  2. Attention to Detail – If there is one thing you can absolutely guarantee when you visit Claridges, it is that every tiny detail of the customer journey has been, and is continuously, scrutinised on an almost minute by minute basis. The management team walk around the hotel many times a day, ensuring that everything is as it should be. In the first episode of the documentary, we see the assistant general manager walking around the outside of the hotel. He spots a bit of the kerb on a corner of the hotel has had some paint chipped off – he radios immediately for a member of the maintenance staff – within minutes it is a sparkling white again. Nothing is left to chance. Newly refurbished rooms are slept in by members of staff to ensure that everything works as it should. Armies of people prepare for the visit of important guests. It is unlikely that you would ever find something out of place at Claridges – why should that be any different to your own organisation, or any organisation you transact with?
  3. Consistency – connected to point two, Claridges is remarkably consistent – it has to be. The Claridges customer expects their visit to the hotel to be brilliant – every time. It is not acceptable for there to be an ‘off day’ – at Claridges it seems there never is. Some of their guests have been visiting the hotel for over 40 years – now that is loyalty. Deliver a consistent experience that delights your customers and they will keep coming back – whatever the cost.
  4. Innovation – in a hotel that prides itself on tradition, you would not necessarily think that innovation is key to its proposition. However, what Claridges understands is that it must evolve to meet the expectation of the changing world around it, whilst maintaining the traditions that make it the icon it is. The very latest technologies are seamlessly and sympathetically built into the traditional surroundings almost without being noticed. This week we saw toilets that automatically heat the seat when sat upon – how cool is that!!
  5. Training – Stephen Fry was interviewed on the programme last night. Stephen made the point that patrons of Claridges are not really paying for the building or the static things that lie within it. What customers are really paying for is the attention of brilliantly trained people. Claridges seem to have a number of members of staff who have been with them for many years. They are as passionate about the hotel as their loyal customers. Claridges staff are trained to perfection. They are immensely proud of their product. They are advocates of he Claridges brand. If your staff are fans of your brand, they are perfectly placed to help their customers become the same. Fans rarely leave you.
  6. Memories – in the first episode, Claridges General Manager, Thomas Kochs, said that his objective is to ‘create at least one memory that will turn into another visit’. What Mr Kochs wants his customers to leave Claridges with is something that they will not forget. An emotional connection that will live with them and inspire them to come back again. This is something in my opinion that all brands should strive to do – if you can, you will create sufficient loyalty in your customer base that the future of your business will be assured.

There are probably more things that we can learn from this wonderful old hotel. What I do not want you to remember from this blog is point 1 – the price you have to pay to stay at this hotel is irrelevant. The fact that Claridges has existed for so long is because they execute points 2 to 5 so very very well. What a product or service is worth is down to what customers are willing to pay for it. There is no reason why a local B&B cannot aspire to do what Claridges have done – there is no reason why all organisations cannot do what they have done. One day I hope to be able to experience Claridges for myself – I may have to stick to afternoon tea for now though!

As always, your comments on this or any of my blogs are very welcome.

UPDATE – 28th January 2013

Since I wrote this blog, I visited Claridges with my wife to sample afternoon tea – it did not all go to plan – to find out what happened, read here –