John DiJulius | Customer Experience Blog

Commandment VIII: Creating an Above-and-Beyond Culture

Constant awareness and branding of how to be a hero

      World-class service organizations create an awareness of the most common opportunities that employees can really deliver heroic service for the customer, which creates an above-and- beyond culture.

      Are your employees empowered and inspired to exceed customer expectations? Do you have mechanisms in place to collect and re-distribute above-and-beyond stories to constantly remind your employees of the Service Vision?

      Many times, when a customer complains about the price, it isn’t because they are cheap or not willing to pay it, it is because the experience ­didn’t warrant it.

Creating Loyal Customers 

      In 2005, John Robert’s Spa took a hard look at our VIP guests and what made them so loyal. We are lucky to have well over 100,000 guests in our database, but only the top 2,000 guests are labeled VIP (Silver, Gold, Platinum). One day, while reviewing the lists of VIP guests, we realized that in many cases we had dropped the ball with them, in some cases drastically or repeatedly. We wanted to figure out what we did that resulted in many of these people being so loyal and forgiving, so that we could do it with more of our guests.

      To accomplish this, we arranged focus groups with our top VIP guests. We asked them point-blank, “Why are you so loyal to John Robert’s Spa?” We received basically two answers: About 20 percent said something similar to, “I have been coming to John Robert’s Spa for many years now, and it always is upbeat and friendly, and I can always count on getting a great haircut, and I get plenty of compliments from family and friends.” Everything you possibly would want to hear from your clients.
    The other 80 percent of our VIPs told us a specific story about how someone at John Robert’s Spa went above-and-beyond for them. One guest told about the time she called to cancel her day of pampering. Our guest-care person could tell she was upset and asked if everything was okay. The customer responded, “No, my husband and I are opening a café, and we are 90 days late and thousands of dollars over budget. He purchased this day of pampering for me at your spa because he knows how much I enjoy it. I have had it on my calendar, counting down the days until today. I just locked my keys in my car, and I think I am having a nervous breakdown.” Our employee said, “I see that you live just 15 minutes away. I would be happy to come pick you up, so you don’t have to lose your day of pampering.”

      Another VIP told us a story about the time she walked into one of our salons for her 1 pm manicure appointment. The receptionist said, “We have been trying to contact you all morning because the nail technician who was to do your manicure went home sick.” The VIP responded, “You had better find me someone who can do my nails because I have an important meeting this afternoon and my nails look horrible. I don’t care who it is, but you had better get someone.” A few minutes later the receptionist returned and said, “I apologize. Unfortunately we have no one available to do your nails, but we called the salon a few doors away. They have an opening now, so we booked and paid for a manicure with them.”

      More than 80 percent of our VIP guests had specific above-and-beyond stories to tell. After these focus groups, we realized that we are not good enough to give a dozen flawless experiences in a row to make someone loyal. Nor do we want to wait until a customer has had a dozen appointments with us. I would rather have one of our team members shock the customer by going above-and-beyond during one of her first few visits with us. That way the customer will be more loyal and, if and when we do drop the ball, more forgiving.


“Many times, when a customer complains about the price,
 it isn’t because they are cheap or not willing to pay it, 
it is because the experience didn’t warrant it.”

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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