John DiJulius | Customer Experience Blog

Three ways your employees engage your Customers
Customer Engagement is a contact sport - When dealing with Customers face-to-face, there are three ways employees can engage with Customers: incidental contact, secondary contact, and primary contact. Don’t just tell your employees to be present or to provide genuine hospitality without telling them how. Make it black & white, and make it measurable. One of my favorite hospitality systems for making a Customer connection is the “5 E’s.”
  1. Eye contact
  2. Ear-to-Ear smile
  3. Enthusiastic greeting
  4. Engage
  5. Educate

It is important to note that not all 5 E’s should be used in every Customer encounter, as some might appear unrealistic in certain circumstances.

Incidental contact - This is traditionally very brief, like a walk by, seeing the Customers (coming within 10 feet), but not necessarily coming in direct contact with them where you are going to have a conversation. This can be absolutely anyone in your business, from the President to the maintenance personnel. In these cases, only the first two E’s should be executed every time and take a total of two seconds to execute:

  1. Eye contact
  2. Ear-to-ear smile

Secondary contact – This type of contact with the Customer is usually some type of support team, i.e. hostess, greeter, or receptionist. The first three E’s should be executed every time and these also take a total of two seconds to execute simultaneously:

  1. Eye contact
  2. Ear-to-ear smile
  3. Enthusiastic greet

Primary contact - This encounter is involved, it is typically with the main person who is providing you service, i.e. a service provider, account executive, consultant, or Customer service rep. All five E’s need to be executed every time. The first three only take a few seconds to execute, the fourth and fifth ‘E’ are a little more detailed, can be done extremely quickly and efficiently, and are where the relationships are made, and expertise is demonstrated.

  1. Eye contact
  2. Ear-to-ear smile
  3. Enthusiastic greet
  4. Engage
  1. Educate
  • Ask “Is there is anything else I can do for you?”




Secret Service is not something you do; it is something that is in you, it is something in all areas of your life,
from your Customers to employees, family, and neighbors.

5 steps to a successful Customer service initiative

Every company is guilty of having a bunch of great ideas and incredible initiatives born in a meeting room only to eventually fizzle out and die, leaving the management team frustrated and cynical and the employees skeptical about what is the next program of the year, flavor of the month, or management by best seller.

  1. Create it – Whether your are creating your Customer Service Vision, your Non-negotiable Standards, Secret Service Systems, or your Service Recovery (Zero Risk) Protocols, you need to have a team that is tasked with this project. They are most commonly known as a steering committee, ideally composed of 12-18 people. This group should not be all management personnel, rather representative of nearly every department the company has, as well as some front-line employees. This will ensure the group as a whole is working for the best interest of the entire company.  This project also needs to have a leader, a champion (CXO), someone who reports to the CEO/President and will lose sleep at night over the success of this project at every stage; not just in the short term, but 6-18 months from now. When creating an initiative, the project champion needs to get the steering committee together for a workshop initially, and a follow up at a minimum. Homework and exercises need to be created to create the absolute best outcome possible. In between physical meetings, the project leader will need to manage regular communication between the steering committee through emails, conference calls and webinars to ensure everyone is collaborating and staying on target with outcomes and deadlines.
  2. Sell it – Creating your initiative can be exhausting. It should be exhausting, otherwise it won’t be taken seriously. Now the hard work starts. The only thing that is nearly as important as executive sponsorship is front-line sponsorship. Here is where a major mistake is commonly made. The steering committee can assume that everyone in the organization will have the same passion and commitment to this initiative, but no one else outside of the steering committee has been immersed in it for weeks, debating with passion what will help take the company to the next level. So there is typically a dis-connect between the group that gives birth to the project and the audience (rest of the organization). That is why it is so important to have a launch that gets everyone on board and able to understand why this initiative is so important to the company’s success, the Customers’ well-being, and employees’ future. A launch involves communicating with everyone, and in that launch, there needs to be a story told. Every story has a villain and a hero. The villain is what’s wrong with the way it is currently being done. The villain may be the competition, the status quo, price cutters, or the pain the Customers are experiencing. The hero is easy; the hero is our initiative and how it will change the company, the industry, our Customers’ lives, and solve their problem. You have to be able to sell the purpose of your initiative to all your employees and get them to rally around it, rise up to defeat the villain.
  3. Implement it – This is where most plans, projects and initiatives fail — at the implementation phase. You can create the greatest idea and get everyone to rally around it, but if you don’t have a solid implementation plan, it will be another good idea that never amounted to anything, because no one made sure there was a plan to roll it out effectively after the pep rally. Implementation is a roll out calendar of phases: crawl, walking and running. This calendar needs to be timed with training and support materials. This is also where creating an extension to the steering committee comes in, i.e. Secret Service Agents, who are traditional front-line employees who help roll out the initiatives and act as front-line ambassadors.
  4. Measure it – Just like the project leader needs to lose sleep at night over the success, now every department, manager, and employee needs to know the key metric that measures the success of this initiative, i.e. retention rate, number of referrals, resign rate, closing ratio, conversion rate, Customer satisfaction score, or NPS. Not only do they need to know what it is, but what it has to be, and they need to see it daily and know exactly what impacts it. Management and employees need to obsess over this metric. The ones hitting the goal need to be celebrated loudly, the ones who are underperforming need to be coached and convinced that this is the way we are operating now and forever. Live it, love it or leave it.  
  5. Sustain it – Be relentless. There is no ribbon cutting ceremony for a world-class Customer service organization. You never arrive; you just need to keep improving. And steps 1 thru 4 need to be constantly repeated, even for the same initiative. Customer service systems evolve, some things work, many things need tweaking, better training, support, technology, better communication, and awareness. The steering committee needs to continue to meet regularly to develop new systems as well as evolve the existing ones, constantly evaluating progress and defects. Most of all, all the work done and rolled out needs to be part of the new employee orientation and training so the future generations get it, provide consistency and understand the legacy the company is built on.  Then your company’s Customer service will be your single biggest competitive advantage. 




There’s only one boss, the Customer, who can fire everybody in the company
 from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else

  ~Sam Walton                    

John R. DiJulius III best-selling author, consultant, and keynote speaker, is the President of The DiJulius Group, the leading Customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on Customer experience trends and best practices. Learn more about The DiJulius Group or The Secret Service Summit, America’s #1 Customer Service Conference.

Can you really make price irrelevant?


Can you really make price irrelevant? I love the phrase Making Price Irrelevant, especially because it sparks conversation and debate. Is it possible to actually make price irrelevant? Absolutely! Otherwise, how have companies like Starbucks, Apple, and Nordstrom dominated their markets when they charge premium prices? What about making price irrelevant does NOT mean that you can double your prices or even raise them 20% and you won’t lose a Customer?  Every one of us is price sensitive to some degree. Typically, with the majority of companies where we do business, we know how much they charge versus how much we can get the same thing for somewhere else. However, all of us have a few businesses we are loyal to because of something that they repeatedly do for us, something they give us that we cannot get elsewhere, or a certain way they make us feel.  We have no idea what their competitors charge, nor do we care. What making price irrelevant does mean is:


Based on the experience your business consistently provides to your Customers,

a significantly fewer number of Customers will not be price shopping you.


Price wars versus Experience wars – Where do you compete? In the price wars, or experience wars? I prefer to compete in the experience wars where there’s a lot less competition. I have learned something in my experiences as a Customer, a business owner, and Customer service consultant:


Many times when Customers complain about the price,

it isn’t because they were not willing to pay for something, it is because the experience didn’t warrant it.


Take for instance John Robert’s Spa: I have had a client upset about a haircut she paid $45.00 for, feeling it wasn’t worth it. To make things right, I gave her money back and a gift certificate for her next haircut with one of our senior hair designers, who charges $85.00.  Three years later she is still going to that same hairdresser, who is now charging $100.  At $45.00 she felt she was over paying, but has no problem shelling out $100.00 every six weeks. It wasn’t the price, it was the total experience she was getting.  In fact, 85 percent of U.S. consumers say they would pay up to 25% more to ensure a superior experience.


Price is something you offer when you have nothing else.


The best way to predict the future is to invent it - In 2013, John Robert’s Spa opened a new location on the west side of Cleveland. What is unique about this location is that upon entering, you may question if you actually walked into a salon. There is no front desk, no computer, no printer, no receptionist sitting at a chair, not even a hostess stand. You walk into an experience area with beauty products displayed on tables that you can test and try on. On another table is a touch screen monitor where you can look for the latest fashion style. There is a concierge that comes to you with an iPad, greets you where you are, and checks you in. The concierge is also able to visit guests while they are getting a hair service, manicure or pedicure and get them their products, check them out, and schedule their next appointment, saving the guest a few minutes after their services are done. While the guests seem to enjoy this unique experience and conveniences, this particular location has the highest retail sales per client, $3.00 more per client than any of the other John Robert’s Spa locations.





 Customer service is not a department, it is an organizational mindset


John R. DiJulius III best-selling author, consultant, and keynote speaker, is the President of The DiJulius Group, the leading Customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on Customer experience trends and best practices. Learn more about The DiJulius Group or The Secret Service Summit, America’s #1 Customer Service Conference.

Domino’s Pizza: How did they hit record customer satisfaction scores

Speed of service up, friendly downRPM Pizza is Domino’s largest franchisee. They operate over 130 locations in  three states. In 2011, RPM Pizza made major improvements in its already best-in-class speed of delivery service by improving its percentage of on-time pizza deliveries by 17%. However, according to an independent third-party mystery shopper survey, RPM Pizza ranked last among its major competitors in hospitality. In 2012 RPM Pizza began a journey and relentless commitment to be a world-class hospitality company.

Why pizza? Think about the last time you ordered pizza to be delivered to your home. Why did you do that? It was critically important for their employees to truly understand the “why” piece. Were their Customers hungry? Yes, but they could get food from thousands of places to satisfy their appetite. Why pizza and why Domino’s? This is where RPM’s video titled, “Creating Smiles,” played a major role. To illustrate RPM’s service vision, make it come to life and not just be another company stale quote, RPM’s video needed to show all the benefits of what delivering great pizza in less than 30 minutes really provides to their Customers beyond just filling their bellies. This video showed people being in a rush, with their busy lives, some away from home traveling, others trying to get home from work and get the family fed. In certain instances, trying to please everyone’s tastes, wanting to spend more quality time with each of their loved ones rather than be in  the kitchen preparing food.

It didn’t work – Initially the service vision launch was unsuccessful. “After we rolled out the credo card with the service vision, pillars and never & always, I was expecting instant results. Months went by, and there was really no change in our customer metrics. In fact, some of them actually went backwards,” says Glenn Mueller, President and CEO of RPM Pizza. See what Mueller did to turn it around and why their customer satisfaction scores hit all time highs. Domino’s Service Vision Launch.

Breaking satisfaction records – It was vital that every team member understood that they were not just making and delivering food/pizza, but their purpose, (what their Customers truly needed from them) was easy and simple: Domino’s pizza being brought to their door, exactly how they ordered it, promptly, by someone smiling with genuine hospitality. Thus the Customers smiled because their lives were made easier. This ensured every RPM team member clearly knows why their service vision is creating smiles by making lives easier. By 2013, RPM Pizza’s service culture had made a drastic turnaround. Not only was their customer satisfaction score significantly better than the previous year, it hit the highest score in RPM Pizza’s company history.

What is your purpose at your company? Use the Comments box below…


“If you want to see how a company is doing now, look at their current sales;

if you want to know how a company will perform in the future,

look at their current customer satisfaction scores”


~John DiJulius best-selling author, consultant, and keynote speaker, is the CVO of The DiJulius Group, the leading customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on customer experience trends and best practices. Learn more about The DiJulius Group or The Secret Service Summit, America’s #1 Customer Service Conference.

Are call centers white collar sweat shops?
March 18, 2014, 10:20 am
Filed under: Customer Service

Are call centers white collar sweat shops?

written by Dave Murray

Senior Customer Service Consultant for The DiJulius Group


I read a great post recently written by Maria Verlengia for CRM Buyer.  In it, she quotes Paul Stockford, chief analyst at Saddletree Research and director of research for the National Association of Call Centers (NACC).  In the quote, Stockford refers to call centers as a “white collar sweat shop.”  I had never heard this reference before, but it immediately hit home for me.  All the stressful time I had spent either as a CSR, supervisor, manager or director, this reference made perfect sense to me.  Almost as if my life was flashing before my eyes, the comment made me think of all of the angry Customers holding for an answer, the unresolved issues landing on my desk, and the repetitive nature of the work, not to mention the micro-management.


Think about the typical call center environment for a moment – perhaps your own.  They are very often made up of mundane cubicles allowing for little to no creativity.  Call times and wait times are the metrics that matter most, which automatically causes each call to be about the transaction rather than the interaction.  And last but certainly far from least, many CSR’s see limited growth opportunities, even in companies experiencing tremendous growth.


I was curious what others thought when they heard the “sweat shop” reference, so I reached out to a few former employees for their thoughts.  The common theme that I heard as a cause of the “sweat shop” atmosphere was an overall feeling of lack of respect and appreciation, both from other departments within the organization and Customers.  Second on the list was lack of pay for what they know is a very important position within the organization.


My follow-up question was, “What is worse, being micro managed or being in an environment where you are trusted, but some employees try and succeed when not pulling their weight?”  The overwhelming answer was something right in the middle – a good mix of autonomy and accountability.  But how does a call center manager achieve this?


The Balance Between too much and too little

When I oversaw a call center, I went with a pretty simple rule: Hire great people with passion for the product, and let then do their job.  Give them the guidelines and tools they need to succeed, and get out of the way.  As I learned, that works well —  for a while.  But here is what happens.  People become tired and burned out from the repetitive nature of the work.  Their lives change for whatever reason, and they loose some of their passion for your company or product.  Maybe they start to feel taken advantage of because they have not advanced as quickly as they thought. 


What happens when one of the scenarios above occurs is that employees sometimes find ways to “hide” from work.  Time spent on “projects” and other ancillary tasks may increase, allowing employees to skip their fair share of inbound calls. They may also find a way to log themselves out of an e-mail queue.  Obviously, two major negatives will occur when this happens: Customer response times may suffer, and fellow employees will catch on to these tricks and feel slighted and burdened.  Compounding the issue is that this can happen to any employee, even someone you once considered your best.  In this case, trust may be high and need for accountability low, allowing the behavior to continue for a while before it is uncovered.


In this world of micro-management of one’s time, tasks, and call volume, we must always remember this:  How can we expect our employees to treat our best Customers the way we would like them to IF we don’t treat our employees as well, if not better?  We cannot.  We need our CSR’s to be ambassadors of our companies and our products.  As we all know, very often the call center is the only human interaction our Customers have with us.  Also, very often the Customer is taking the time to call us because they have encountered some type of problem.  Wouldn’t we all love to have our CSR’s be known as problem solvers as opposed to policy enforcers?  Would we all love to hear more instances of heroic resolutions as opposed to Customers asking for a supervisor to move their complaint up the ladder?

Are call centers white collar sweat shops? (continued)
March 18, 2014, 10:18 am
Filed under: Customer Service

Are call centers white collar sweat shops? (continued)

written by Dave Murray

Senior Customer Service Consultant for The DiJulius Group



So how do we split the difference?  What is the right level of management?  How do we hold people accountable for maximizing their time with Customers, but still let them move at a pace comfortable to them?  How do we give our employees the autonomy to solve problems, but not give away the store?


The answer is simple, but not easy, because it requires some work.  We need to take the time to help our employees be prepared.  Prepared to fix what can go wrong, prepared to perform their job at the optimal level, and prepared to go above and beyond to WOW a Customer when the opportunity arises.  The key word here is prepared.  We cannot simply expect our employees to recognize these things, nor can we expect to tell them once during an orientation and expect it to stick.  It also does not mean we can train employees once and expect them to maintain proper habits. 


What we need to do, rather, is to create a system that all employees can use to consistently recognize and address defects, our standards, and above & beyond opportunities.  The better prepared our employees are to handle situations that arise everyday, the more time we have to manage behind the scenes.  This allows us more opportunity to monitor agent activity to ensure all team members are pulling their weight – without micro managing.  It allows us to ensure that our staffing levels are correct – ensuring that our best ambassadors are not over stressed and over burdened because we do not have enough people hired and trained (A HUGE problem in the call center world).  This all sounds great, but how do we deliver these tools?


I recommend two methods to begin the process, but be warned, both will take an investment of time and human resources.  The first step in the process is getting your team together to create your Customer Experience Cycle, or CEC.  Creating your CEC is basically mapping your Customer’s touch points with your team.  Once you have identified what these touch points are, you then dissect each one, looking for what can and does go wrong (Service Defects), what we need to do on each and every call (our operational and service standards), and ways we can surprise and delight our Customers (Above & Beyond opportunities).  Going through this workshop with your front-line team is truly an eye-opening experience, for both you and your team.  A renewed sense of purpose begins to grow as excitement builds.  Your team becomes re-energized to do their job – and to do it well.


While this is a great start to the process, it is just that – the start.  You cannot expect the momentum you have just created to be maintained without consistent re-enforcement.  This is where the second piece comes in:  daily huddles.  Now before you start saying “that will never work here because…”  (and I know you will, because I have heard all of the excuses, and made some of them myself,) think about the gold standard of service, The Ritz Carlton.  They hold a huddle, or in their world, a Stand-up, each and every day.  So does Chick-fil-A.  Each company has gotten past the fact that not everyone will be present each and every day.  They have gotten past the fact that they have multiple shift starting times throughout the day.  What they have done is used this platform to consistently focus on their service values, discuss things that went wrong (and how they were fixed), and celebrate success stories – every day.


The process that I just outlined promotes autonomy and a strong sense of ownership within your team, while being a great team-building exercise to boot.  Creating your CEC, and then re-enforcing it on a daily basis will give your team a renewed sense of purpose.  Thanks to the huddles, this will not wear-off over time, but rather transform your culture into one where Above &  Beyond is the norm.


I look forward to hearing from you with results, and I am happy to help you in your journey by answering any questions that you may have.





 Anticipate your Customer’s unexpressed needs


Matthew McConaughey’s hero


‘3 things I need in my life every day’ - This was the theme of actor Matthew McConaughey’s Academy Award acceptance speech for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his part in Dallas Buyers Club. He needs “Someone to look up to, someone to look forward to, and someone to chase.”  My favorite part was the person he is chasing. “I am chasing my hero…my hero is me in 10 years. Every day, every week, every month, every year of my life, my hero is always 10 years away. I am never going to be my hero, I am not going to attain that, I know I am not. That’s just fine with me, because that keeps me with somebody to keep on chasing.”  It is well worth the three and half minutes to watch McConaughey’s acceptance speech.


Virtual engagement – One big trend I see becoming a critical tool in helping Customer service reps, call centers, and anyone who uses conference calls to build stronger relationships — is virtual calls.  Picture your Customers having the ability to click a button on your website to have a Skype call with your employees. It may only be one way, where the Customer can see the employee only, or two- way where they can see each other. Regardless, seeing someone face-to-face forces employees to stay engaged, ensure they will not be distracted by anything else, increase the amount of smiling and overall friendliness.


‘I gave my best’ – This may sound mean or unsympathetic, but one of my least favorite sayings is ‘I gave my best’. To me it is an unacceptable crutch; I don’t want to hear it. My personal feeling is when the goal is to accomplish greatness, go where no one or team has gone before.  I wasn’t asking for your best effort; your best is what you WERE capable of in the past, previously. I was expecting you to figure it out, try 1,000 ways, and if need be, try another 1,000 ways.  Innovate, lose sleep, get around it, find loopholes, research, sweat like you never have before. Every extraordinary accomplishment, invention or revolution was not a result of someone giving his or her best. Somehow that person or group found a way to do what no one else could do, they did the impossible, they did what no one had ever done before. The real issue is not the effort that is in question at the moment or during the event, it’s the effort leading up to it. Whether you win or lose, get the sale, or ace the test, it is all determined in the effort given in preparing for the event. Every match is determined long before the contest happens. So the next time you fail, before you want to make yourself feel better by saying, “I did my best,” consider whether you did your best in the preparation. The actual effort given in the event has the least to do with the outcome.





 Many times the cheaper the Customers go, the more it costs them.


John R. DiJulius III best-selling author, consultant, and keynote speaker, is the President of The DiJulius Group, the leading Customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on Customer experience trends and best practices. Learn more about The DiJulius Group or The Secret Service Summit, America’s #1 Customer Service Conference.

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