One bit of jargon floating around the industry these days is “high-functioning organization.” The term is often used vaguely, but it has something to do with adaptability and engagement, something to do with the ability to handle disruption and competition. But how do you get your company to that ‘high-functioning’ level?
 
Fortunately, someone with sturdy credentials has offered to shed some light on the subject. Co-Founder and former President of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Horst Schulze, has a new book, available March 5 through Zondervan, entitled Excellence Wins: A No-Nonsense Guide to Becoming the Best in a World of Compromise. To preview some of the ideas covered in the book, Schulze spoke with Loyalty360.
 
“I found there are three fundamental things that a company has to concentrate on,” Schulze said. “There’s, of course, the customer. That’s number one. In fact, the number one priority of any company should be to create customer loyalty. The other piece is the employee, and . . .  leadership—how do you accomplish what you want to do. If a company understands those three things—focus on the customer, understanding the employee, and leadership to maintain the understanding—then you have a great company.”
 
Obviously, the importance of those three isn’t news to anyone in the loyalty industry, but Schulze seeks to use his five decades of expertise to examine them in a meaningful, actionable way. For instance, on the subject of employee relationships, he notes, “Everybody talks about it, mind you. There’s a lot of rhetoric about it, particularly leadership. Think of about how much rhetoric there is about alignment, yet I look at all kinds of companies, and alignment just doesn’t exist.” Familiar as the topics covered in the book may seem, Schulze does not believe in spewing jargon. Instead, he takes a challenging look at brand strategy.
 
When asked about best practices for customer loyalty, Schulze responded, “If you understand—truly understand, not your opinion (in fact, eliminate your opinion)—what does my market want from my product and then concentrate all processes to deliver to the customer what the customer wants, [you become] superior to the competition.”
 
He continued, “I studied that very carefully, and the fascinating thing that happened in our studies is that no matter what you buy—it  doesn’t really matter, it could be a car or a bottle of water—you have to sail on the mental expectations, and that is that [first] the product is defect-free. Number two, you want it in due time; you don’t to wait for it; you want it when you want it. And number three, you want the people that give it to you to be nice to you.”
 
Plenty of this is back-to-basics, but in a climate in which brands are often distracted by tech particulars and the competition’s latest move, many of us could stand to remember what’s important in cultivating loyalty.
 

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