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Employee Training & Development at Ritz-Carlton: Fostering an Exceptional Customer Service Culture

Employee Training & Development at Ritz-Carlton: Fostering an Exceptional Customer Service Culture
Case Code: HROB165
Case Length: 15 Pages
Period: 2000-2013
Pub Date: 2014
Teaching Note: Available
Price: Rs.400
Organization: Ritz Carlton
Industry: Hospitality
Countries: US; Global
Themes: Training and Development, Organizational Culture, Organizational Behavior, Customer Service
Employee Training & Development at Ritz-Carlton: Fostering an Exceptional Customer Service Culture
Abstract Case Intro 1 Case Intro 2 Excerpts


Training and Development at Ritz-Carlton

Earlier in the 19th century, when the hotels and inns were small, the inn-keeper directed all the activities personally including managing the quality. But as they grew in size, managing them was beyond the capacity of the inn-keeper and delegation became necessary. Apprentices were trained and put in charge of managing various activities and quality, subject to inspection and audit by the inn-keeper. In the 20th century, the organization’s size grew sharply and the hotels required functional departments.

Here, planning was delegated to the division or department heads and execution was left to the first-line supervisors and workforce. Thereby, a factory concept emerged, in which people were assigned a single task rather than an entire sequence of tasks. Managers no longer managed quality directly and so quality suffered. However, the hotels remained profitable despite these quality concerns as competitors too faced similar problems....

Recruiting The Skilled

As a service organization, Ritz-Carlton realized that the quality of its end product was only as good as the people providing it. Therefore, it took great care to recruit the right kind of employees and provide them with the necessary inputs to enable them to provide exceptional service. Ritz-Carlton did not 'hire' employees; it 'selected' them. In fact, the company believed in "casting" the right person for the right job, thereby ensuring the best customer service. The selection process was rigorous and was based on ‘benchmarking’ and selecting ideal employees....

Training at Ritz-Carlton

Training at Ritz-Carlton was a rigorous process. Once committed service individuals with varying levels of technical skills and backgrounds had been found, learning coaches were assigned to them. These coaches trained and certified them on the core competencies of their jobs. The company invested significant time and resources on its comprehensive training program to instill its values and educate its employees about its service standards....

Initial Orientation

Every new employee had to undergo a two-day orientation program before being assigned to their job at Ritz-Carlton. Ritz-Carlton ensured that no new recruit joined work without the two-day orientation. The Director of Training and Organizational Effectiveness was responsible for the training activities at each hotel. As it was an important activity, the General Manager and people from the HR department conducted the initial orientation, where the new employee was familiarized with the company’s history, culture, philosophy, values, standards, expectations, and benefits...

'Day21' Certification

After the initial orientation, each new recruit was assigned to an experienced employee (learning coach) from the department for three weeks of on-the-job training. This was done as the company realized that recruits might have varying levels of technical skill and backgrounds both inside and outside the hospitality industry. The recruit accompanied the trainer to observe how the jobs/duties were carried out and the departmental trainer helped the recruit become familiar with the job and the company culture.....

365 Day Recertification

At Ritz-Carlton, training was an ongoing process. After the 21-day certification, employees were assigned their jobs, and formal on-the-job training continued till day 365. On the 365th day, the new employees were recertified after a written test, interview, and role-play session. The employees were recognized for their service and presented with ‘service pins’ indicating that they were now a formal part of the team....

Ongoing Training

Both the management and the non-management employees at Ritz-Carlton were provided with on-going training and 70% of all learning was accomplished by on-the-job training. They also had access to a number of instructor-led classes, workshops, and e-learning classes. “Those tools also are in alignment so that we can analyze operational skills acquisition against the results of mystery shopper and customer engagement surveys. In essence, secret shoppers are looking for the exact criteria that staff members are certified to meet.....

The Daily Lineup

The Daily Lineup was a critical learning tool and a key component of Ritz-Carlton's learning strategy. Every shift at Ritz-Carlton started with a 10-15 minute employee meeting within each department. The main objective was to reinforce the Gold Standards and service values of the company. They also discussed the previous day's problems, menu items for that day, guests arriving for the day and their preferences, etc, which differed depending on location and department.....

Employee Empowerment and Feedback

"It's all about empowerment. The thing our guests are most wowed about is that every single employee has $2,000 a day per guest to delight or make it right...we are saying to our employees–we trust you," said Oreck. Every employee, regardless of position or rank, was empowered to spend up to US$2,000 to correct a problem or handle a complaint, without having to ask a superior for permission. There was no limit on the number of times the employee could use this authority, as long as there was a valid reason....

Evaluating Training

The company used mystery shoppers and guest surveys to evaluate the impact of its training interventions. Ritz-Carlton polled its customers once every month. The company enlisted the services of Gallup, a leading agency providing research, analytics, and advisory services, for this. Gallup randomly sent out surveys to 38% of guests that had stayed at Ritz-Carlton the month before. The customers were asked 30 questions.....


Ritz-Carlton's training and development initiatives were widely recognized. The company was ranked as the # 1 Global Learning Company in the world by Training Magazine 2007 and in 2008 it was inducted into Training Magazine’s Top 10 Training Hall of Fame. Moreover, many professionals and companies wanted to emulate Ritz-Carlton and use its human resources, leadership, quality, and training practices as benchmarks....

Looking Ahead

Over time, Ritz-Carlton developed a very refined process of making training a person-to-person continuous activity that led to the inculcation of its corporate values and mission. As the company was focusing on global expansion, the management felt that its commitment to training and skills certification provided it with a competitive advantage. Even in emerging markets such as China, where there was a lack of qualified hospitality staff, Ritz-Carlton was able to attract, train, and retain top talent......


Exhibit I: Total Lodging and Timeshare Products
Exhibit II: Marriott International, Inc. Consolidated Statements of Income (2010-2012)
Exhibit III: The Ritz-Carlton Gold Standards
Exhibit IV:Training & Development Interventions at Ritz Carlton in the First Year
Exhibit V:Twenty Basics
Exhibit VI:Employee Empowerment at Ritz-Carlton

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