Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave

Conjunctions are so bland!  Especially when verbs can bring to language so much more inspiration and animation.  And, Independence Day is clearly a time for verbs.  We sing or hear our national anthem more on July 4th than perhaps any day of the year.  We mouth the all familiar words “Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave” as if the phrases are two separate descriptions of a great country.

What would the meaning suggest if that bland conjunction “and” in the phrase was replaced with a strong verb like “creates” or “promotes” or “makes?”  (Especially since “land of the free” is the highest note in the song).  It would imply that freedom begets bravery. It is an Independence Day message for all service providers.  Provide the front-line with the freedom to make smart decisions and they will courageously go the extra mile on behalf of your customers.

A friend of ours took his large family to South Beach near Miami and stayed at the new Ritz-Carlton Hotel.  He had been very emphatic about the type of rooms required for his family—including one special needs daughter. The best laid plans begin to come unraveled almost upon arrival.  And, as if the vacation was suddenly jinxed, one mishap seemed to follow another, something very uncharacteristic of the luxurious Ritz-Carlton.  Throughout the holiday he provided the hotel with continuous feedback.  On the morning of check-out, he brought a list of grievances to the front desk.

“I am not paying this bill given all the many things that have gone wrong,” he announced to the front desk clerk, “so, you tell me what a fair price would be?”  This is where Ritz-Carlton’s culture of “the land of the free” kicked into animation.  The front desk not only negotiated an equitable fare but offered our friend a complimentary weekend for his family, “So we can show you how we can perform at our usual standard of excellence.”

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company empowers all their employees (from the general manager to the housekeeper) to spend as much as $2000 to make a guest happy.  Customers love confident front-line employees who can make decisions on their behalf without always having to timidly, “check with the boss.”  Responsible freedom is the mother of courageous, smart risk taking.  Happy Fourth of July!


About Chip&John

Chip R. Bell and John R. Patterson are customer loyalty consultants and the authors of several best-selling books. Their newest book is "Wired and Dangerous: How Your Customers Have Changed and What to do About it."
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