Monday, February 2, 2009


Marriott’s customer service acronym is LEARN: Listen, Empathize, Apologize, React, Notify.

Read On:
Asking questions is one gateway to learning. Let me share a story.

I was boarding a plane to the Left Coast when I said good morning to the flight attendant. I detected an accent, made inquiry and learned that the woman was from Brazil. Later in the flight while stretching my legs, I could not resist but engage the flight attendant in a conversation about her country thanks to reading positive of things about BRIC, an acronym that refers to the fast growing developing economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China. My opening question was about the leadership of Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva: Is everything I read about your President true, have you seen change in your country? She explained that under his regime Brazil has cut unemployment in half from 15% to 7.5%. To achieve these amazing results his focus has been on education. He even subsidizes families the equivalent wages their children would earn if they worked in the mines, thus enabling them instead to attend school. No surprise, with unemployment reduced, crime has also declined, and tourism has increased. It is also a blessing that Brazil is an agricultural power that has balanced the amount of products it exports in exchange for imported products which strengthen the infrastructure of the country, including technology.

Our conversation/exchange really began to flow:

Me: Do you still have family there?
Flight Attendant: My entire family still lives there. Once I complete my studies at the University of South Florida, I am going home.
Me: What are you studying?
Flight Attendant: Psychology.
Me: What do you plan to do with your degree?
Flight Attendant: I want to work for a company in customer service.

Being a student of customer service, I could not help but share some one of the better experiences I had at the Newport Beach Marriott. I concluded by telling her I wrote the GM of the hotel complimenting his staff and how every time I visit the property I am now treated like a VIP. She proceeded to tell me about a study she just read – individuals that have a bad experience tend to spread the word ten times more than people who have a good experience.

The best part of our encounter occurred as we were approaching our stop over in Salt Lake City. She handed me a piece of paper detailing Marriott’s acronym for customer service to cap off my morning of learning.


Listen – Listen to what the customer has to say identifying the problem.
Empathize – Empathize with the situation.
Apologize – Apologize.
React by giving an efficient solution.
Notify – Notify the rest of the team about the problem so that can follow-up with the

Remember to ask questions!


  1. How can something so simple be so hard for people to utilize? It seems like a good rule of thumb to utilize in general. Thanks for the info! (When is the trip to Brazil?!)

  2. I work for Marriott renaissance in England and this acronym taught me so much when there was any issues with customers . Very useful tool