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’ http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01pbjfs. 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.
- £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….
- 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?
- 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.
- 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!!
- 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.
- 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 – https://ijgolding.com/2013/01/28/can-i-offer-you-a-complimentary-glass-of-champagne-sir-now-that-is-how-to-recover-a-customer-experience/
Good Blog Ian! We too have been enjoying the Inside Claridges programme and have been fascinated by the people, as well as you mention, the attention to detail and customer experience. What has also been of prominence, especially in last nights programme is the length of service of a number of the employees within the hotel, from the Head Butler and Doorman, to the Evening Turn Down Assistant, who after 22 years said how much she still loves her job. (Apologies if I may have incorrectly quoted some of the job titles), as we know the employee engagement and happiness goes along way to delivering a great experience and this is something that Claridges seem to have also achieved. A very interesting watch. We too will be hoping to join you for afternoon tea one day…
I stayed at Claridges once. I got a rather grand room but I didn’t find it at all cozy or endearing. The elevator was broken so we had to use a service elevator or take the stairs. These things happen. The bar is great as is the food is you can afford it. The location is fantastic and of course, even though there are other hotels I prefer in London the room was quite comfortable, just impersonal. It’s Claridges, it’s an institution and I would stay again in a minute if someone else where paying but there are other hotels who care as much and give you a warmer feel than my experience at least. The bar again, is a highlight and the people watching is fun. It’s stunning but it didn’t make me feel like I want to feel at a hotel. Others do and those are the ones I’ll return to. I should mention one more thing. The reservations clerk I spoke to and who booked me my room was absolutely amazing. He knew I was on a reasonable budget and he clearly took care of me. That is something I will never forget, and indeed I will never forget my stay for many reasons but it lacked something for me, that, as a hotel buff I cannot describe but matters a lot.
I love cheap sleeps and independent travelling. It would not meet my needs no matter how much money I had. I share my house with both paying guests and those who don’t pay from all over the world.
[…] few weeks ago, I posted a blog about the exclusive London hotel, Claridges (https://ijgolding.com/2012/12/11/2160-a-night-what-can-we-learn-from-claridges/). Inspired by the BBC2 documentary about the hotel, I wanted to share my views on what we could all […]
In my opinion, for what it is worth, it is the people/team that make a hotel, the surroundings are all very well and good but pay a designer enough, if money is of little object and the job is done. To find that many people that care and put them under one roof then you have something amazing. Half of them could tell you the likes and dislikes of guests without computers. I believe that the average length of service at Claridge’s is over 5 years, again tell me what other business sectors can boast this. Perception and intuition can not be bought and it is that interaction with the guest that makes it. Spotting the nuances of every individual customer and acting upon them in the split second that you have from meeting them to delivering the service and it is in that blink of an eye that it can go so horribly wrong and only the true masters that get it consistently right under horrendous levels of pressure,. After all, every guest is walking through the door with huge expectation and preconceived notions all of which are different. It is the staff I hate that term) that meet and exceed these every minute of every day. As the old adage goes you are only as good as your last meal (which extends to all elements of the customer experience). How I wish other business sectors would look to the hospitality industry for guidance or even inspiration, the irony being what they need to take from it does not cost any hard cash!!! Good work Claridge’s one of the proudest moments of my life was to have had the honour to have worked there.
[…] You can read the post here – https://ijgolding.com/2012/12/11/2160-a-night-what-can-we-learn-from-claridges/ […]