Customer Service Lessons From J. Willard Marriott

This quote came across my desk again this morning:

“It’s the little things that make the big things possible. Only close attention to the fine details of any operation makes the operation first class.”

It’s a quote from J. Willard Marriott.

According to Wikipedia, John Willard Marriott, Sr. (September 17, 1900 – August 13, 1985) was an American entrepreneur and businessman. He was the founder of the Marriott Corporation, the parent company of the world’s largest hospitality, hotel chains, and food services companies. The Marriott company rose from a small root beer stand in Washington DC in 1927 to a chain of family restaurants by 1932, to its first motel in 1957. By the time he died, the Marriott company operated 1,400 restaurants and 143 hotels and resorts worldwide, including two theme parks, earned US$4.5 billion in revenue annually with 154,600 employees. The company’s interests also extended to a line of cruise ships.

Do you think he knew what he was doing?

Or do you think it all happened by accident.

Marriott’s philosophy, of focusing on the little things, was pinnacle in helping him to create an empire to be proud of.

Are you focusing on the little things in your business that magnify to affect the big things in the way your organisation performs?

As mentioned on Wikipedia, Marriott tempered his rigid demands for perfection with devotion to his employees. According to his son, Bill Jr:

“In establishing the culture of the company, there was a lot of attention and tender loving care paid to the hourly workers. When they were sick, he went to see them. When they were in trouble, he got them out of trouble. He created a family loyalty.”

According to Marriott himself (from a videotaped segment):

“You’ve got to make your employees happy. If the employees are happy, they are going to make the customers happy.”

How are you treating your employees?

Are you engaging with them, and caring for them like family?

Or are you making them fend for themselves?

What do you think they are looking for?

Happy employees create a happy place for your customers to visit.

One of the things that made my dental practice so successful was that a visit to my practice wasn’t about the dentistry.

Sure, patients came for appointments to have their teeth fixed and their teeth cleaned.

But they also came to “visit” and to CONNECT WITH the employees of the dental practice, whom they considered to be their friends.

I used to tell candidates applying for positions at my practice that I would be happy to have ninety-five percent of my patients as guests in my family home, such was the relationship I had with those patients.

Often patients would attend their appointments and arrive thirty minutes prior to their scheduled time, and leave the office some forty-five minutes after their treatment was over, simply because they wanted to connect and visit with the front office team members.

Do you employ a concierge in your dental practice?

Do you employ someone in your dental practice to meet and greet your valued patients and clients, and to schmooze with them?

Dental visits can be traumatic and nerve-racking even for the toughest of human beings, and having someone in your office with the designated role of schmoozing and entertaining and “visiting” with your arriving patients to “take their mind off” their treatment can be a GAME CHANGER for your dental practice.

It certainly worked for my practice….


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The Ultimate Patient Experience is a simple to build complete Customer Service system in itself that I developed that allowed me to create an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb. If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report.

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