John DiJulius | Customer Experience Blog


What Is Secret Service and Why Is It Secret?

Secret Service uses hidden systems to deliver unforgettable customer service. These systems obtain customer intelligence and utilize it to personalize the customer’s experience, leaving the customer to ask themselves:

“How’d they do that?”

“How’d they know that?”

Secret Service employs behind-the-scenes systems that employees use to anticipate and deliver on the unexpressed needs of the customer, by using a system of silent cues, visual triggers, and visual aids.

Customer intelligence is customer data (i.e., buying habits, purchasing history, referrals, personal preferences, where they live, or work) that fuels secret service.

Secret Service systems allow the front-line employees, of your organization to consistently create a memorable experience through:

• Engaging the customer.

• Personalizing their experience.

• Remembering their preferences.

• Distinguishing between new, returning, and VIP customers.

– Anticipating and delivering on their unexpressed needs.

As a result of providing Secret Service, companies:

• Create stronger relationships with their customers.

• Build emotional capital and brand equity with their customers.

• Turn their customers into brand evangelists.

•      Make price less relevant to their customers.

To effectively deliver Secret Service, your employees need to act as detectives by collecting customer intelligence and then using silent cues that alert their coworkers and allow them to personalize the customer’s experience.

It should be more obvious now why it is called Secret Service, it has:

• Hidden systems

• Customer intelligence

• Silent cues

• Visual triggers

•      Detectives

After seeing a few examples of Secret Service actions, you will quickly realize why it can make your company a world-class (secret) service organization.

Secret Service systems should not add cost or complexity to your organization. Secret Service systems are what we call low-hanging fruit; they must meet the following criteria:

1. Low or no cost;

2. Simple to execute consistently; and

3. Make an immediate impact on the customer.

The following are simple examples of how easy, yet powerful Secret Service systems can allow companies to create memorable experiences:

• Distinguishing between new and returning customers: This Secret Service system identifies new from existing customers. For instance at John Robert’s Spa, returning customers are draped in black capes for haircuts, and new customers are draped in white capes. Every team member throughout the salon knows this fact and can address our guests accordingly. Thus, the color of the cape is the silent cue and visual trigger.

• Anticipating and delivering on customers’ unexpressed needs: A customer purchases a gift card for his spouse for Valentine’s Day and the receptionist pulls out several Valentine’s Day cards and offers him one to give with the gift card to save him a trip to another store.

• Personalizing the customer’s experience: In the restaurant industry, by simply asking the question, “What’s the occasion?” at the time of reservation, you can trigger a multitude of responses: We are celebrating a promotion, a graduation, an engagement, an anniversary, a reunion. When the customer arrives, the greeter presents him with a special-occasion greeting card and several employees congratulate the customer throughout their experience.

•      Remembering their preferences: Another one of my favorite Secret Service systems is where a restaurant kept preprinted labels of their top VIP customers. Anytime they came in, their favorite bottle of wine would be waiting for them at their table, with a label on it that read: “From the Private Stock of Tom Smith.”

By executing Secret Service consistently, it is possible for your organization to make price irrelevant: Based on the experience they receive, customers feel your prices are an incredible value.

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