What IT can learn from The Ritz-Carlton

What makes a hotel stand out, besides an unbeatable location, luxury interior, and exquisite food, is far less tangible: that magic is called service excellence. The hotel industry had its service best practice: The Ritz-Carlton. In IT, we can learn from this famous hotel brand. 

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company uses Mr. Biv,” an acronym for Mistakes, Rework, Breakdowns, Inefficiencies, and Variations. Mr. Biv is a ritual cornerstone during team stand-ups. Imagine you manage teams engaging with customers daily. There are numerous customer interactions that you never hear of know about. 

It’s your job to influence the service culture bottom-up, not to micro-manage top-down. How? Engage and let teams discuss Mr. Biv, addressing: 

1. Mistakes. What can we learn from mistakes to be applied directly? 

2. Rework. What procedures do we have to revise because we hit a wall’ and redid work? 

3. Breakdowns. What was a failure, and what is the root of the problem by asking the 5‑Whys?

4. Inefficiencies. What kills our performance, and how can we eliminate inefficiencies? 

5. Variations. What processes lead to undesired variability in outcomes for the customer? 

When Apple started with its retail store concept, they enrolled all its soon-to-be Apple Store managers in the Ritz-Carlton training and leadership program. The Apple Store emulated customer service techniques from The Ritz-Carlton: the Genius Bar is directly modeled on the hotel’s concierge station to make customer journeys seamless and delightful. 

Mr. Biv is a proactive, early warning system to safeguard service excellence. By being open and fearless, you learn from your shortcomings as an organization. Start seeing the imperfections that can cause customer complaints. The longer a defect remains in place, the more that deficiency causes other errors and frustrations. Don’t cover up, don’t bully, don’t be angry as a manager. Make sure your people are empowered to handle a problem quickly and well, learn mistakes, and feel a culture of trust. 

Marco Gianotten is founder of GIARTE — At Giarte, we firmly believe IT isn’t about bits and bytes. It’s about people. We design the tools and insights to reveal the human experience in tech.