John DiJulius | Customer Experience Blog

10 stories how “policy” destroys brand loyalty
October 21, 2014, 11:05 am
Filed under: Customer Service

Policy can kill your brand – Policy is a bad word. Customers hate hearing the words, “Our policy is…” and even worse, employees love to use it as a crutch. One of the biggest contributors to the Customer service crisis is management’s paranoia that Customers are out to take advantage of them. This leads to a significant amount of time that companies spend on creating and enforcing policy versus creating positive Customer experiences. Generally employees want to do what they are taught, and many times do not do a good job of understanding when exceptions should apply. For instance, front-line employees take the word ‘policy’ literally.  That is why I always replace it with the word ‘guideline.’


Related: Only two weeks left to be part of the Customer Service Revolution


No money back on consumed coffee - A manager of an auto repair shop enforced a company policy that doesn’t allow Customers money back on coffee that has been partially consumed. It turned into an argument where the police where eventually called. By the way, the Customer had already spent over $800 in repairs.  The ‘policy’ is they don’t return half-consumed beverages (see past eService Fight for $3 only to lose $800) 


Restaurant charges person for using restroom – A restaurant in Houston, Texas, area has a sign posted in the bathrooms that says there is a $5 charge for non-Customers who use their restrooms.  This same restaurant sent a woman a bill for $5.00 for using the restroom (see past eService Restaurant sends consumer an invoice for restroom visit).


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Is Zappos really that good at Customer service? Manager fired for responses to online reviewers
October 14, 2014, 5:03 pm
Filed under: Customer Service


Manager fired for poor responses to negative reviews – A manager at the budget Georgian House Hotel, reacted unprofessionally to Customers who complained about his hotel on TripAdvisor. Instead of reaching out to see how he could make it right, he took the total opposite approach! The goal should be to have Zero Risk to deal with as a company. Here are a few of the responses he posted on TripAdvisor:

“What do you expect for so little cash?”

“If you want a good breakfast go to the Hilton and pay £100.00 a night. You pay little you get little.”


“Thanks for your money, sucker. Long may the idiot line continue.”

“With only one person to look after the place what do you expect. Think about what you paid.”

Low Service Aptitude – Not surprisingly, this manager was fired. I cannot stress enough how important Service Aptitude is to how consistent your company delivers outstanding Customer service. It is not your employees’ job to have high Service Aptitude, it is the organization’s responsibility to train them.

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How have you weathered the Social Media Storm? JetBlue delivers Secret Service on flights
October 7, 2014, 2:44 pm
Filed under: Customer Service

JetBlue creates great Secret Service system – JetBlue Airways announced recently that it will provide each inflight crewmember with an iPad mini in order to enhance their ability to deliver a personalized Customer experience. This Secret Service system will allow flight attendants to know more about their passengers onboard, i.e. Customer intelligence. By December 2015, not only will inflight crewmembers be able to access passenger’s schedules, review their hotel and transportation information and acknowledge changes, they will also be provided access to Customers’ onboard purchase history in an effort to personalize the onboard experience for better Customer relationship management. By April 2015, every inflight crewmember will have a device for onboard use. Read more JetBlue Introduces iPad Minis Onboard for Enhanced Customer Experience.

Related: One month from today – America’s #1 Customer Service Conference

The Social Media storm  – Social media has turned Customer service upside down. No advancement has disrupted the Customer-care landscape on the same order of magnitude – or as quickly – as social media (past eService biggest influence on Customer service in the last 50 years).  Recently I read a very informative study on the effect social media is having, and I think it would be excellent to share with your management team: Social Media one year later. I warn you that some of the language could be found offensive to some. Here is my summary from the report:

  • At its core, Social Media is a way millions of people have conversations online 24/7
  • Three out of four Americans use social media
  • Two thirds (2/3) of the global internet population visits social networks
  • Technology is shifting the power away from editors, publishers, and businesses. Now it is the people who are in control.
  • Social media is like word of mouth on steroids.
  • 100,000,000 videos are viewed on YouTube per day.
  • If Facebook were a country, it would be the 8th most populated country in the world, just ahead of Japan.
  • Today it is a dialogue not a monologue.
  • Most companies are treating social media like another marketing channel.
  • Stop thinking campaigns, and start thinking conversations.

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2014 Customer Service Hall of Fame and Hall of Shame lists are out
September 30, 2014, 7:32 am
Filed under: Customer Service

The 2014 Customer service Hall of Fame – 24/7 Wall St. commissioned Zogby Analytics to conduct an on-line national survey in which 2,500 randomly chosen respondents rated Customer service at 150 of the best-known companies in the country. Fifteen industries are represented in the study. It probably won’t surprise you that for the fifth consecutive time, the highest-rated company was

Top 5 on Customer Service Hall of Fame:

1. – As the largest on-line shopping site in the world, it offers a level of convenience that is difficult for other businesses to match. The company’s roots as a technology company also help Customer service. The site maintains the Customers’ purchase history and makes suggestions accordingly.  To the extent that Customer service leads to better financial performance, is clearly doing something right. The on-line retailer reported sales of $74.5 billion last year –nearly triple the 2009 sales of $24.5 billion!  Read past eService about Amazon To be the most Customer-centric company in the world.

Related: How Cleveland has become the Customer service capital of the world

2. Hilton Worldwide has the best Customer service of any hotel company in the United States. The company has a long track record of pioneering new initiatives to win the satisfaction of its guests. Hilton has been able to maintain its Customer service focus despite being one of the largest hotel chains in the world, with over $9.7 billion in revenue and more than 4,000 hotels and resorts system wide.

3. Marriott International – Marriott has been among Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” every year since the magazine started producing the list in 1998, one of only a handful of companies to achieve this. Read past eService about Marriott Empathy outweighs Action.

4. Chick-fil-A  is the sole restaurant in the 2014 Customer Service Hall of Fame. Chick-fil-A’s Customer service track record includes a number of innovative ideas. The chain’s employees appear to be satisfied as well. In 2014, Chick-fil-A was rated one of the best companies to work for by Read past eService about Chick-fil-A To make every guest feel cared for in way that cannot be duplicated.

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ATM delivers world-class service; Restaurant bans all kids; Cell phone turns into hotel room key
A Secret Service ATM - A Canadian Bank, TD Bank, thanks their most regular Customers in the most personalized and heartfelt way. Being a “regular” means you build relationships with employees. And if the employees are trained well, listening and recording your Customer intelligence, a business can provide Secret Service. TD Bank demonstrates this better than anyone I have ever seen, as they turn their ATMs into “Automated Thanking Machines.” Wait ’til you see their Customers’ reactions to the amazing surprises TD Bank delivers in this 4 minute must see video, which has been viewed over 11 million times already.

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World’s friendliest restaurant; Service Wins in any culture
The world’s friendliest restaurant - Tim’s Place may have my favorite service vision ever: “World’s Friendliest Restaurant.” One rule to creating a Customer service vision statement is it shouldn’t be too over arching, too unrealistic. It needs to be actionable, every time, by every employee, with every Customer. Guess what? Tim’s Place delivers on their service vision! Why? Because service aptitude starts at the top, and their leader, Tim, possesses the highest service aptitude I have ever seen. Tim’s Place is a unique full-service restaurant in Albuquerque, New Mexico, serving breakfast and lunch. Their service vision statement captures exactly who they are and what one can expect when visiting them. The famous quote from Walt Disney, “If you can dream it, you can do it,” has been the driving force behind the life of Tim Harris. Born in 1986 with Down Syndrome, Tim’s life has been defined by exceeding expectations.

We offer Breakfast, Lunch, and HUGS - After working several years in the restaurant industry as a Host and seeing the impact Tim had on people by the way he greeted them, Tim’s parents decided Tim should own his own restaurant. In 2010, Tim’s Place opened for business, where they offer Breakfast, Lunch, and Hugs. “The key to our concept is the Customer service experience. We believe that people have a huge appetite for being genuinely welcomed, connected with, touched, appreciated, and genuinely cared for. We believe too many experiences in our busy modern lives are impersonal, sterile, and devoid of genuine human connection,” so states the Tim’s Place website. You have to watch this amazing three minute video on Tim and his restaurant. I guarantee you will want to share this with your staff.

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Where the Hell is Matt? Hotel charges for bad reviews; Making boring task an Experience
September 9, 2014, 3:00 pm
Filed under: Customer Service

Hotel charges Customers for negative reviews - Charging Customers for negative reviews is one of the shadiest things I have ever seen. Companies bury these “fines” in places that most Customers would rarely see. A hotel in Hudson, New York, called The Union Street Guest House, thought it was a good idea. The hotel charges guests $500 for writing negative reviews online. Their policy for events and wedding parties was posted on their website, however due to the media attention this received, the hotel has removed this policy.  It stated:


“There will be a $500 dollar fine that will be deducted from your deposit for every negative review of USGH placed on any internet site by anyone in your party and/or attending your wedding even if you stay here to attend a wedding anywhere in the area and leave us a negative review on any internet site you agree to a $500 fine for each negative review.”


Policies galore - Reading all their “policies” must really make potential Customers jump at the chance to make reservations at this hotel. The following are just a few of examples of their policies:

  • “We only honor certain gift cards and at certain times/days of the year. We do not accept gift cards or gift certificates without prior notification. You will be charged up front per a regular reservation and refunded when you present your card or certificate upon arrival.”
  • “We only accept cancellations via email and you must receive a response from us in order for you to have an approved cancellation. ”
  • “There will be a $35 charge for any cancellation (per room).”



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