John DiJulius | Customer Experience Blog


Making price irrelevant…

NY TimesSuper service sandwich shop – Recently the NY Times ran an article, ” Would you like a smile with that?,” sharing how a fast-growing British-based sandwich chain, Pret A Manger, is now invading the US market due to the significance the brand places on customer service. PAM’s service model seems impressive. Executives say in order to encourage teamwork, the answer is to hire, pay and promote based on qualities like cheerfulness.

Survivor – New hires are sent to a Pret a Manger shop for a six-hour day, and then the employees there vote whether to keep them or not. Ninety percent of prospects get a thumbs-up. Those who don’t make the cut are sent away. The crucial factor is gaining support from existing employees. Those workers have skin in the game: bonuses are awarded based on the performance of an entire team, not individuals. Pret workers know that a bad hire could cost them money.  

All for one – Pret also sends “mystery shoppers” – people who anonymously visit and grade the stores – to every shop each week. Those shoppers give employee-specific critiques (“Bill didn’t smile,” for instance.) If a mystery shopper scores a shop as “outstanding,” all of the employees get a per-hour bonus, based on a week’s pay. “There’s a lot of peer pressure,” said Andrea Wareham, the human resources director at Pret. Pret reinforces the teamwork concept in other ways. When employees are promoted or pass training milestones, they receive a bonus, a payment that Pret calls a “shooting star.” But instead of keeping the bonus, the employees must give the money to colleagues, people who have helped them along the way.

More rewards to drive service aptitude  – Every quarter, the top 10 percent of stores (as ranked by mystery-shopper scores), receive money per employee for a party. The top executives at Pret get 60 “Wow” cards, with scratch-off rewards like $$ or an iPod, to hand out each year, as well. “Rewards, through bonuses or ‘outstanding’ cards, affect behavior,” Ms. Wareham says.

Intense Training – Pret also has highly detailed training programs and training materials. “If people know what they are there to do, and how to do it, there’s no confusion,” Ms. Wareham says. Every new employee gets a thick binder of instructions. It states, for example, that employees should be “bustling around and being active” on the floor, not “standing around looking bored.” It encourages them to occasionally hand out free coffee or cakes to regulars, and not “hide your true character” with customers.

E-SAT – Pret has an Employee Service Aptitude Test (download an example of TDG’s E-SAT). By their third month, employees have to pass a written quiz with questions like, “What is the maximum time a customer should wait in line?” and show that they are proficient in dozens of practical criteria. Then they become “team member stars,” and then can move up to food preparation positions like “hot chef,” who oversees soups, pastries and other hot foods, en route to more senior management positions.

Jobs Stanford Keynote


Live today as if it is your last day is what Steve Jobs told the graduating class of Stanford University in his commencement speech in 2005. It is a must see! Very sad day when Steve Jobs past. Like millions, I idolized the visionary and how he believed he could make a dent in the universe and did.

Favorite Steve Jobs Quotes

 The Summit of The Customer Service RevolutionNearly Sold Out – America’s #1 Customer Service Conference featuring the most amazing lineup of customer service experts and brand executives.  This conference has sold out the last two years, so do not miss your opportunity to bring your management team to the 2011 Secret Service Summit November 3rd & 4th. 

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~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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