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Paul has managed and guided some of the largest and most luxurious cruise ships in the world, taking him to speak on stages all over the globe where living with his customers, clients, and co-workers was a way of life. His time on the high seas has taught him that approaching customer service with the intent to exceed his customer’s expectations, rather than just meet them, higher levels of customer satisfaction, retention, loyalty, and repeat business can be experienced.



How would you manage and grow your business if you had to live with your team and clients? Paul Rutter is a customer-experience expert and has survived three decades of life at sea as a cruise director for the largest ships in the world. In You Can’t Make This Ship Up, he recounts the hilarity of life on the high seas and the lessons he learned along the way. These lessons and life-defining moments are the perfect guide for sea and land-based businesses to thrive in a culture based around exceptional customer service.


1. You Can’t Make This Ship Up is your second book. Was the writing experience different this time around when compared to your first book?


Very different. The first book, Repeat Business Inc: The Business of Staying in Business is a collection of fifty tips and strategies businesses can do today, to keep their customers coming back tomorrow. Repeat business is the foundation of any business, and the first book addresses that important topic in an easy and fun way.

The latest book, You Can’t Make This Ship Up, is a collection of stories that have happened onboard our ships, how we addressed them, and what land-based businesses can learn from us, as we are one of the few industries where we live with our customers and co-workers twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. What if land-based businesses had to live with their customers and co-workers? Could they survive?


2. What inspired you to write this book?


The minute I tell people I work on a cruise ship, their first reaction is always, “Wow, you must have some great stories to tell.” Which is true. I do. So, a few years ago I started making a list of all the great stories that have happened over my forty plus year career, and how land-based businesses can learn from them. Once I got all the stories, the rest was easy.


3. With the current rise in labor strikes, what do you think is one of the best solutions businesses can apply nowadays to keep their employees happy?


Employee engagement is so critical now. It is incumbent on companies to hire people with great attitudes, continuously train them so they grow and improve, and help them become part of the solution. Employees want to know they are making a difference, are being heard and listened to, and are a critical part of the team. Employees want to get up in the morning, look forward to coming to work, and know they are making a difference. Take care of your employees and they will take care of your customers.


4. What is one of your favorite memories from your time at sea?


Just one?! That’s very difficult, so let me give you two. The incredible crew members I have worked with across almost 100 countries have had a lasting impact on me. Their stories, challenges, opportunities, and successes have been a source of great inspiration. There really are some wonderful people in this world.

The second memory is of the amazing and extraordinary places I have visited around the world. I have long said that traveling is the best education anyone can receive, and to see how the rest of the world lives, as well as the abundant beauty of this planet, never ceases to amaze me. From the glaciers of Alaska to the pyramids of Egypt to the beauty and warmth of Asia, get out and see the world!


5. What do you consider to be one of the most important messages in You Can’t Make This Ship Up?


For businesses to succeed, it is more important than ever to create exceptional experiences that exceed expectations. Consumers make decisions based on emotion, so build a relationship with your customers based on trust. If there are problems with your product or service, work hard to correct them the first time in a timely manner. Follow up and follow through. Customers will be very forgiving if they know you are on their side. Create a More Than Perfect® Experience that makes your customers and employees raving brand ambassadors that will sing your praises and recommend you to friends, family, and neighbors.