John DiJulius | Customer Experience Blog


10 Best Customer Service Articles Of 2016

In case you missed them, the 10 most popular eServices of 2016 were the  following. I suggest printing them out, reading and sharing them with your management team.

10. Things You Don’t Want To Shop To The Lowest Bidder

There are certain things in life that you don’t want to price shop, look for discounts or take the lowest bid. Things like a heart surgeon or new brakes on your family vehicle.

The value placed on these services is extremely high and there is potential for irreversible damage. Which means in these circumstances you cannot afford to choose anything less than the best. How good of a job are you doing at creating value on the expertise and experience of your services? You need to make your Customers fear that if they choose anyone else, there will be irreversible damages. We need to educate our Customers that they cannot afford to go cheap.

9. Six Things That Make Yours The Brand Customers Cannot Live Without

We all have a company or two that we can’t fathom life without. What are the few companies that you would be extremely upset if I told you, “You can no longer do business with them, ever again?”  When I ask my audiences this question, the same brands always get mentioned: Apple, Starbucks, Nordstrom, & Amazon as well as local mom and pop shops. Now the important part is, think about what they have done and what they consistently do to make you so loyal, to make you feel that you cannot live without them. That is power. That is brand loyalty. The more people you can make feel like they cannot live without your brand, the closer you are to making price irrelevant.

8. What A 13 Year Old Can Teach Us About Customer Service

I have had the good fortune to experience and witness many professionals who truly know how to serve. However, there is one person in particular that consistently blows me away on how he builds rapport instantly with strangers and learns so much about other people in only a few minute conversation. This person is my thirteen-year old son, Bo DiJulius. I have been so intrigued by his ability to strike up a conversation with someone he has never met before and have him or her share so many intimate details with a teenager. So I asked Bo if he could share how he does it.

7. u r X

Customers crave recognition and a personalized experience. In short, technology cannot provide genuine hospitality. It cannot express empathy, make people feel good, take care of others, express emotions and vulnerability in a relatable way, or make people laugh. We have subconsciously sent the wrong message to all our employees, that it is about the technology – our website, apps, social media, virtual tour, iPads, kiosks, self-check out. So our employees have started using the technology as a crutch, thinking they have less importance, less of a role with the customer. They rely on the technology to provide the experience. We need to reverse that. Customer experience is 10% technology and you are 90%.
6. Put Your Own Mask On Before Helping Others

We have all heard the preflight safety announcements when the flight attendant says, “You must put on your own oxygen mask before helping those around you.” What use will you be to anyone else if you do not take care of yourself first? Think of how that applies to our life and what we need to do for ourselves before we are capable of impacting those around us.

5. Do You Suffer From RBF Syndrome?

RBF is something to be taken seriously in all of our businesses, with any of our Customer facing/interacting employees, whether it is face-to-face, ear-to-ear, or click-to-click. A smile is just as much a part of the uniform as anything else employees are required to wear: uniform, nametag, hat, and smile. Everyone should have a smile and it should be genuine. A smile shows teeth. In my companies, we have sent team members home for being “out of uniform,” for not smiling. I like to tell my employees, “If you are happy, tell your face.”

4. 100% of Your Sales Come From One Place

Leaders love to talk about revenue streams by showing graphs and charts with the breakdown of sales categories. It is important to know the percentage of sales generated by products or services and to monitor trends, especially growth and decline of your business revenue. However, there is one critical component that every business has in common, which is never discussed. 100% of your sales come from one place. Your customer! When you look at it that way, it sheds a stronger light on why companies need to put more emphasis on building an incredible consistent customer experience that becomes your number one competitive advantage and helps make price irrelevant.

3. The Battle Over Your Advertising Dollars vs. Customer Service Dollars

The average annual global budget spent on marketing and advertising is $500 billion a year compared to $9 billion spent on customer service.  The shortsighted obsession of constantly bringing new customers/traffic to your business is significantly more expensive than building an incredible customer experience. Companies spend millions creating and advertising their brands, yet the customer’s experience is what drives customer perception and loyalty.

2. What Is The Difference Between Customer Service & Customer Experience?

How do you know if you received an ‘Experience’ or just a ‘Service’? How do you know if you have delivered an ‘Experience’ or just a ‘Service’? Customer Service is WHAT you do; Customer Experience is HOW you do it. Turning what was once a mundane transaction into a unique memorable moment means you have to re-evaluate everything you do, every way you interact with your Customer, regardless of the length. It could be a one-hour face-to-face meeting, a conference call, a 10 second check-in, a call transfer, or an email reply.

1. I Collect The Best Thing Anyone Can Collect

My entire life I have been a collector of something very rare and priceless. People compliment me on my collection all the time. I believe it is the best gauge of a person’s character. I constantly stress to my three sons and all my employees that they should collect the same thing I do. What I collect are rare people in my life. The key word is rare, for I am extremely choosy on whom I collect. I collect relationships with uncommon, loyal, unique, high moral, genuine, and most importantly POSITIVE people. If people judge me by who I surround myself with, I am a champion.

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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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Is Your Customer Experience Suffering from Short-Sightedness?

In this eService we are excited to be featuring an article from Annette Franz, who is an excellent customer service blogger.

 

Is your company short-sighted when it comes to focusing on the customer?

 

I’ve been using the phrase “short-sighted” a lot lately, and it got me thinking about how too many companies are short-sighted when it comes to customer experience management. If you’re not familiar with the phrase, Merriam-Webster defines it as: not considering what will or might happen in the future; made or done without thinking about what will happen in the future.

 

Does that sound like it applies to any companies you know? Unfortunately, too many of them still either don’t think about the future customer experience* or think focusing on the customer experience is a one and done/project. It’s not; it’s a journey, as we know. As such, we need to envision the experience not only for now but also for well into the future.

 

*I confess. Many of them still don’t think about customer experience, period.

 

What are some of the symptoms of customer experience short-sightedness?

  • Operating in the moment, for the moment
  • Making decisions in the moment, for the moment
  • Operating in a “siloed” manner
  • Failing to make decisions based on what’s important to the customer
  • Thinking that the purpose of the business is to maximize shareholder value
  • Not putting the customer at the center of business decisions today and every day
  • Failing to view customer experience management as an enterprise-wide discipline
  • Not sharing the corporate or customer experience vision with employees
  • Not helping employees understand the importance of a great customer experience, how they contribute, and how their contributions matter
  • Failing to focus on the big picture, the end game, the outcomes
  • Or focusing on the wrong outcomes
  • Not considering the employee experience and its impact on the customer experience

How do we avoid short-sightedness in our customer experience management efforts?

 

Start with a vision. Your customer experience vision will be inspirational and aspirational; it will outline what you see as the future state of the customer experience. It will briefly describe the experience you plan to deliver. And it will serve as a guide to help choose future courses of action. That little statement packs a lot of punch!

 

Having a vision shows you understand it’s a journey.

 

Some customer experience vision tips include: 

  • It should align with the company vision
  • Even better, the corporate vision is the customer experience vision
  • The vision will guide your strategy
  • Strategy drives execution and subsequent actions
  • Business decisions should be made based on this vision
  • It is internal
  • It must be communicated
  • It must have commitment and buy-in from those who live it, execute on it (shared vision)
  • All employees must know how they contribute to, and align with, the vision
  • The vision should motivate, inspire
  • Revisit it at a regular interval to ensure that it still reflects the experience you want to deliver

Need some inspiration?  Here are a few examples of corporate vision statements from brands you know well.

 

Amazon: To be the earth’s most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.


San Diego Zoo: To become a world leader at connecting people to wildlife and conservation.

Avon: To be the company that best understands and satisfies the product, service, and self-fulfillment needs of women – globally.

IKEA: The IKEA vision is to create a better everyday life for the many people. We make this possible by offering a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.

Kraft Foods: Helping people around the world eat and live better.

The Walt Disney Corporation: To make people happy.

Toyota: Toyota will lead the way to the future of mobility, enriching lives around the world with the safest and most responsible ways of moving people. Through our commitment to quality, constant innovation, and respect for the planet, we aim to exceed expectations and be rewarded with a smile. We will meet our challenging goals by engaging the talent and passion of people, who believe there is always a better way.

 

Can any of these double as customer experience vision statements, too? What’s your customer experience vision? How do you inspire employees every day to deliver a great customer experience?

 

The very essence of leadership is [that] you have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet. -Theodore Hesburgh

___________________________________

Annette Franz is a customer experience executive focused on improving both customer and employee experiences. Through her blog, CX Journey, Annette shares her passion for helping companies understand the importance of the employee experience and its role in delivering an exceptional customer experience, as well as how to transform their cultures to ensure the customer is at the center of every conversation. She is currently Director, VOC Consulting at Confirmit.

  

 

 



Creating a World-Class Employee Experience

 

Employee Engagement, part 1- Written by Senior Customer Service Consultant Dave Murray

 

Internal Focus So many organizations want to treat their customers well, yet so few take the time to consider their employees in the equation.  Don’t get me wrong, several organizations provide great annual service training programs, service related contests, etc., but how many take the time to focus on how they are treating their employees – the people who are actually interacting with customers.  The quick answer is, not enough.  All too often we hear leaders proclaim: “We are a great team, everyone loves it here,” “our employees love our culture,” or even the dreaded “they are lucky to have this job.”  The truth is, the first two are very often based on a gut feel rather than data, and the last one is obviously coming from a leader that flat out does not care that much about employees.

 

Earlier this year, Rob Markey wrote a telling blog regarding employee engagement for Harvard Business Review titled, “The Four Secrets to Employee Engagement.” I personally have always been a big proponent of organizations actively cultivating and reinforcing employee engagement.  Think about it for a minute: If your employees are not engaged with your company, how can you expect them to convey the proper message, sense of ownership, and pride to your customers?  They can’t.  If they are not properly engaged, they are simply going through the motions until they decide to finally leave.  If your employees do not feel engaged, any customer service training you do will not stick for the long term.  You may see some short-term success and momentum, but without true engagement, old habits will eventually return.

 

World Class That is why when we work with a client here at The DiJulius Group, Creating a World-Class Internal Culture is the second of the 10 Commandments. Once we set the compass by creating the Service Vision, we then want to make sure that employees are on-board with the organization and fully engaged in their roles.   Our Internal Culture process makes sure that employees are engaged and feeling appreciated whether they are just being recruited, or have been with the company 15 years.

 

The Findings In his blog, Rob Markey shared some startling data recently uncovered in a Bain and Company study that surveyed 200,000 employees.  As you read these, think of your own organization.  I’ll bet you can think of some real-life examples.  The number one finding was that engagement scores decline with tenure.  So, the people who know the most and probably are paid more are likely to be less engaged.

 

Finding #2 from the Bain and Company study was that engagement scores decline as you travel down the organizational chart.  Remember earlier how we mentioned leaders assessing culture based on feel?  Too often, leaders may be getting a false sense of security regarding engagement when only interacting with fellow senior leaders.

 

The last finding brought to light in the study was that engagement levels tend to be lowest among folks in sales and service – also known as the people dealing with customers the most!  All three findings are concerning, but to me, this one is the most serious. 

 

Honest Assessment I urge all leaders to take some time to honestly assess the level of engagement in your organization.  In my next article, we will discuss some ways to begin to cultivate a culture of engagement.  In the meantime, I would love to hear your examples of disengagement, or ways you have found to improve your engagement levels.

 

To be continued…

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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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Domino’s Pizza: How did they hit record customer satisfaction scores

Speed of service up, friendly downRPM Pizza is Domino’s largest franchisee. They operate over 130 locations in  three states. In 2011, RPM Pizza made major improvements in its already best-in-class speed of delivery service by improving its percentage of on-time pizza deliveries by 17%. However, according to an independent third-party mystery shopper survey, RPM Pizza ranked last among its major competitors in hospitality. In 2012 RPM Pizza began a journey and relentless commitment to be a world-class hospitality company.

Why pizza? Think about the last time you ordered pizza to be delivered to your home. Why did you do that? It was critically important for their employees to truly understand the “why” piece. Were their Customers hungry? Yes, but they could get food from thousands of places to satisfy their appetite. Why pizza and why Domino’s? This is where RPM’s video titled, “Creating Smiles,” played a major role. To illustrate RPM’s service vision, make it come to life and not just be another company stale quote, RPM’s video needed to show all the benefits of what delivering great pizza in less than 30 minutes really provides to their Customers beyond just filling their bellies. This video showed people being in a rush, with their busy lives, some away from home traveling, others trying to get home from work and get the family fed. In certain instances, trying to please everyone’s tastes, wanting to spend more quality time with each of their loved ones rather than be in  the kitchen preparing food.

It didn’t work – Initially the service vision launch was unsuccessful. “After we rolled out the credo card with the service vision, pillars and never & always, I was expecting instant results. Months went by, and there was really no change in our customer metrics. In fact, some of them actually went backwards,” says Glenn Mueller, President and CEO of RPM Pizza. See what Mueller did to turn it around and why their customer satisfaction scores hit all time highs. Domino’s Service Vision Launch.

Breaking satisfaction records – It was vital that every team member understood that they were not just making and delivering food/pizza, but their purpose, (what their Customers truly needed from them) was easy and simple: Domino’s pizza being brought to their door, exactly how they ordered it, promptly, by someone smiling with genuine hospitality. Thus the Customers smiled because their lives were made easier. This ensured every RPM team member clearly knows why their service vision is creating smiles by making lives easier. By 2013, RPM Pizza’s service culture had made a drastic turnaround. Not only was their customer satisfaction score significantly better than the previous year, it hit the highest score in RPM Pizza’s company history.

What is your purpose at your company? Use the Comments box below…

 Johnism:

“If you want to see how a company is doing now, look at their current sales;

if you want to know how a company will perform in the future,

look at their current customer satisfaction scores”

 

~John DiJulius best-selling author, consultant, and keynote speaker, is the CVO 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.



Top 8 reasons why your Customer service may be failing

The top 8 reasons why your Customer service may be failing 

 

1. Lack of Executive Sponsorship – It is a proven fact that any big initiative, project, or revolution has to have the support of the senior leadership team. Otherwise it will be considered flavor-of-the-month or management-by-bestseller. The senior leadership team has to provide the necessary resources to create long-lasting change. Customer service has to be as important as finance, sales, operations, and technology. It needs to be talked about at board meetings and strategic planning sessions, with leaders and everyone else in the company including front-line employees. See past eService Executive Sponsorship

 

2. No CXL – Regardless of your company’s size, someone in your organization has to be the Customer Xperience Leader; the person in charge of the Customer experience for the entire company. I am not talking about the Customer service reps or call center. That person should not be the President, CEO or owner, but someone who reports directly to him/her. 

 

3. No CX community – One of the most effective initiatives developed by our consulting clients is an internal Secret Agent Team, made up primarily of non-management staff, to support the Customer service initiatives and help gain momentum throughout the front-line employees. See past eService Secret Service Agents 

 

4. No key metric – Companies need to see the impact that Customer satisfaction has on their key metric drivers (i.e., Customer retention, average ticket, re-sign rates, referrals, average contracts, frequency of visits). This demonstrates the ROI, as well as allows management teams to hold employees accountable for providing a great Customer experience at every level of the organization. Measurement tools can be anything from Customer surveys, third-party companies that measure Customer satisfaction, secret shoppers, to statistical benchmarks (such as the average ticket or the number of referrals. These provide a benchmark to measure the impact of the new systems and to determine whether they are being consistently executed. 

 

5. Your business is not special – If you ask 100 leaders why delivering superior Customer service is so difficult, you will hear the same answers over and over again: “Our business is unique.” “In our industry it is so hard to find employees, let alone ones who care about service.” “We can’t afford to pay enough to get quality people.” “We have a totally different Customer, it is much more difficult.” Every business is dealing with the same dynamics, trying to un-commoditize their service or product from all their competitors and not get sucked into price wars. 

 

6. Lack of hospitality training – On average, a company devotes more than 90 percent of its training to hard skills (such as technical and operational skills and product knowledge) and less than 10 percent to soft skills (such as hospitality, relationship building, service recovery, and experiential training). 

 

7. Low Service Aptitude – The quality of your Customer service comes down to the Service Aptitude of every employee you have. From the CEO to the account executive, sales clerk, call center, receptionist, corporate office support team, to every front-line employee — it’s all about Service Aptitude!!! No one is born with it; it is not innate. The vast majority of the workforce has extremely low Service Aptitude. It is not the employees’ responsibility to have high Service Aptitude, it is the company’s job to teach it to them. See past eService Service Aptitude

 

8. Lack of purpose motive – Too many companies underestimate the power a purpose provides to front-line employees, which is critical for having high morale in a workplace. See past eService Purpose maximizers & Service Vision

 

 

Johnism

 

Companies spend millions creating and advertising their brands,
yet the Customer’s experience is what drives Customer loyalty
 

 

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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