John DiJulius | Customer Experience Blog


Lebron delivers World-Class service To Cleveland

 

The Shocking Decision – By now you have heard that LeBron James is headed back to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers, the place he grew up. Like LeBron, I love Cleveland, it is my home and I am very proud of it. However, to be honest, I never thought Cleveland had a chance to get LeBron back. Why would he return? Why would he choose Cleveland, Ohio, over Miami, Florida? The contract was exactly the same. Miami is thought of as one of the best cities in US, and Cleveland is stereotyped as one of the worst. Miami has the better weather, nightlife, and beaches. Miami has been to the NBA finals the last four consecutive years and has won the championship twice. Cleveland has not won any championship in any major sport since 1964. Seems like an easy decision for any professional athlete, especially one like LeBron who could be considered the best of all time; that is if he wins several more championships. So you can see my total shock when he announced he was coming back to Cleveland.

 

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Customer Experience is the new Marketing

Customer experience is the new marketing – Delivering a great Customer experience means that Customers do the marketing for you. In an article, “Customer Experience: Marketing without Marketing,” Annette Franz Gleneicki shares how having this community of loyal fans can save your brand thousands of dollars in marketing. Your company can focus on making the product, service and experience better and not use as many resources to constantly attract new Customers. Gleneicki quotes Robert Stephens, founder of Geek Squad, “Advertising is the tax you pay for being unremarkable.” I love that quote!

 

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Hootsuite gave it away free and ended up with 5 million Customers

Give it away and they will pay later – Recently the founder of HootSuite, Ryan Holmes, wrote an article titled, “How to Get 5 Million Customers with Zero Ad Budget,” and shared that for the first three years, HootSuite spent literally no money on marketing, PR or advertising. Rather they built their business on the freemium model. The majority of users, hundreds of thousands of them, paid absolutely nothing for the service. And, it worked! Especially because free users have no vested stake in you, and no long-term contract. If you don’t deliver, they’ll move elsewhere. To this day, over half of HootSuite’s paying Customers-including some of HootSuite’s biggest enterprise clients, were once non-paying, free users. As Holmes says, “put your energies into developing an irresistible product and loyal user base. Worry about making money later. I can’t imagine doing business any other way.”

 

Freemium – The word “freemium” is a combination of the words “free” and “premium.” It is a business practice in which you give your product or service away at first, grow an extremely large Customer base that eventually can’t live without you, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Google, or in which you give a core product away for free to a large group of users and sell premium products to a smaller fraction of this user base, i.e. Skype, Dropbox, and Evernote.  All were built on freemium. While this seems to be a new technique applicable to internet-based companies, this is the way many businesses started off, including brick and mortar, building a Customer base and brand awareness. The following is the marketing plan we executed 20 years ago when we originally opened John Robert’s Spa and couldn’t afford to spend any money on advertising. The result? Two decades of consecutive positive sales growth. 

 

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Social media rebellion, Department of Customer defense

The Social Media Rebellion – 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). Today, more than ever before, Customers are informed and empowered, and they expect personalization and quick responses. In the past, a company had the ability to respond (or not) on their own timetable, but now the fact is your Customer has instant access to social media, which means instant access to thousands of people. Consumers now have personal platforms and the ability to broadcast the good, the bad, and the ugly pertaining to their favorite (or least favorite) brands with the click (or the tap) of a finger. For better or worse, social media has also shone a spotlight on a brand’s approach to Customer care – fails, successes, and all.

  

Department of Customer Defense – Companies need to make sure they have proper procedures in place to handle their Customer’s reaction on social media. If not, then you run the risk of a potential nightmare (see past eService It’s About Time). Here are some keys:

  1. You need to know about it. There are numerous software choices that will automatically notify you anytime your company gets mentioned on social media channels. 
  2. Respond ASAP. It takes years to build a brand’s reputation and seconds to ruin it. Don’t be vulnerable to brand terrorism. Be aggressive, with both positive and negative comments. Thank and address publicly and privately if needed.
  3. Make it easy for Customers to share and give feedback, even if it is constructive. Most companies are only hearing from a small percentage of unsatisfied Customers. How often do you have a poor Customer experience and don’t bother to tell anyone at that business? If we advertise to our Customers that we want to hear about their experience, good or bad, it dramatically increases the amount that will share, both good and bad. What they are not telling you, they are telling their friends. Today that could be thousands of people in a click of a mouse. 

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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Amazon pays employees to quit, Starbucks Tweet-a-Coffee, NY Restaurant provides Secret Service

NY Restaurant provides Secret Service – The maรฎtre d’ at New York’s Eleven Madison Park has created a fascinating way to provide Secret Service and make an emotional connection with guests. He Googles guests who have reservations at the restaurant, searching for Customer intelligence such as where they are from, birth date, profession, anniversary, so he and his employees can personalize the experience from the moment the Customer walks thru the door.

 

Tweet-a-Coffee – World-Class Customer service companies make it extremely easy for their Customers to do business with them. This means they make it extremely easy to spend more money with them.  For example, Starbucks has launched Tweet-a-Coffee, allowing Customers to purchase a coffee for anyone, anywhere via twitter by tweeting @tweetacoffee and then the person’s twitter handle.  Within seconds, a $5 gift card (or tweet) has been given and can be redeemed the next time the recipient goes to Starbucks.  How easy is it to do business with you?

 

Amazon copying Zappos’ paying employees to quit – In his annual letter to shareholders (page 3, paragraph 6), Amazon founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, announced his Pay to Quit program, offering employees a quitting bonus to leave Amazon. Each employee gets the offer once a year. The first time, it’s for $2,000. The offer increases by $1,000 each year thereafter up to a maximum of $5,000. Sound familiar? Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos, the online retailer, acquired by Amazon back in 2009, invented this concept.  He refers to it as, “The Offer.” Why are world-class Customer service organizations such as Amazon and Zappos offering incentives and making it easy for employees to leave? Bezos says it well, “In the long run, an employee staying somewhere they don’t want to be isn’t healthy for the employee or the company.” World-Class Customer service organizations are not for everyone, nor should they be. They are for a small percentage of people who buy into that company’s vision and are willing to work harder and be more committed to seeing that the vision gets realized. This Pay to Quit program also turns the table on the company and its leaders. Once a year employees get a chance to evaluate where and whom they work for, which puts pressure on management to continue to strive to create a great company culture.

 

Pre-shift Huddles that work – The Maids International, based in Omaha, Nebraska,is a professional home-cleaning service with franchisee locations all over the United States. In an effort to encourage consistent, constructive huddles, each location received a “Brilliant at the Basics” laminated poster.  The poster can easily be hung in any area of an office, and then re-used daily with a dry erase marker.  It guides huddle leaders through TMI’s three pillars, gives an opportunity to discuss specific quality issues, and lastly has an area to celebrate recent Above and Beyond behaviors.  At very little cost, TMI has developed a customized huddle format, which has been deployed across the organization. Also, TMI has announced a fun way to ensure this new tool is being used.  They are holding a video contest seeking the best huddle.  TMI locations are encouraged to video tape what they consider to be their best version of a huddle.  Prizes will be awarded to the winning team.  What a fun way to encourage usage of this effective tool on a daily basis!  See TMI walking the talk.

 

Jack Daly’s new book – A sales guru and past keynote speaker of The Secret Service Summit, Jack Daly’s newest book and soon to be bestseller, Hyper Sales Growth, was released Tuesday, April 22, 2014. Jack knows sales and how to help companies grow. Hyper Sales Growth dives into three critical areas: Building a winning culture in your business, Sales Management, and Sales success. I promise that if you will take the time to read it and take action, your business will grow and achieve a greater amount of success. 

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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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. 

 

Johnism

 

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.

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Matthew McConaughey’s hero

 

โ€˜3 things I need in my life every dayโ€™ – This was the theme of actor Matthew McConaugheyโ€™s Academy Award acceptance speech for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his part in Dallas Buyers Club. He needs โ€œSomeone to look up to, someone to look forward to, and someone to chase.โ€  My favorite part was the person he is chasing. โ€œI 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. Thatโ€™s just fine with me, because that keeps me with somebody to keep on chasing.โ€  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.

 

โ€˜I gave my bestโ€™ – This may sound mean or unsympathetic, but one of my least favorite sayings is โ€˜I gave my bestโ€™. To me it is an unacceptable crutch; I donโ€™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 wasnโ€™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, itโ€™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, โ€œI did my best,โ€ consider whether you did your best in the preparation. The actual effort given in the event has the least to do with the outcome.

 

 

Johnism

 

 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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