John DiJulius | Customer Experience Blog


The Customer eXperience Executive Academy

Wanted: Chief Customer Officer – The fastest growing C-level position popping up in the corporate world is CCO- Chief Customer Officer, also known as the CXO- Chief eXperience Officer (see past eService Who is losing sleep at night over the Customer). With the old paradigm, the Customer service duties were left on the plate of the director of training, HR, or the chief marketing officer. Regardless of your company’s size, someone in your organization has to be in charge of the Customer eXperience and all that goes with it. I am not talking about the head of the Customer service department-that is, call centers. I am talking about someone who oversees the entire company’s Customer service, every department. That someone should not be the president, CEO, or owner, but someone who reports directly to them. Companies have heads of operations, marketing, accounting, sales, and human resources, but our second biggest asset (other than our employees) is our Customer. Their happiness is determined by the Customer eXperience we deliver. Until recently, the vast majority of companies had no one in charge of the Customer or their eXperience. Regardless of your company’s size, you need to have someone who loses sleep at night over the Customer and how every department and all employee-training affects the Customer eXperience.

 

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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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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.



Advance Financial revolutionizing the Payday loan industry

In Default – The payday loan industry has one of the worst ethical business reputations going. The industry has been heavily criticized for irresponsible lending, applying outlandish interest rates, charging excessive fees, aggressive debt collection and even occasional fraud. The government has stepped in and put in many radical regulations, and as a result, payday loan banks cannot even operate anymore in a growing number of US states.

 

Enter Advance Financial – Advance Financial is a chain of over 50 payday loan centers headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. For the past two years, Advance Financial has been reinventing itself with an aggressive strategic plan to build a world-class Customer experience business. While impressive, the more surprising question is WHY? Advance Financial’s sales growth in the last five years has been amazing.  In the last three years alone their increase was 250% including the number of locations and profit. All this in spite of the payday loan industry being notorious for horrible Customer service. When Advance Financial reached out to The DiJulius Group nearly two years ago about hiring us as their Customer service consulting firm, I asked CEO Tina Hodges the following questions: “Your company is rocking and rolling, sales are up, profit is great, no one else is doing this; so why the need to change and tamper with success? It will be a lot of work, it is a long-term commitment, and why do you need to become the first world-class Customer service payday loan bank?”  Here is how Tina answered my questions.

 

Customer Service Vision – Their Customer base is one that often times may have fallen on hard times. As a result, Customers may feel like they are not treated well.  Advance Financial wants to make sure every one of their 500+ employees, in over 50 locations, acts as an ally for their Customers. A place where their Customers can come in, be respected, see a friendly face and be treated like a friend; hence, Advance Financial’s Customer Service Vision Statement: Friends Helping Friends

 

Revolutionizing Payday loan industry – Advance Financial has done so much in less than two years.

  • Named a CXO (Chief Xperience Officer) and a Customer & Employee Affairs Director
  • Created a Day-in-the-life of an Advance Financial Customer video that all new employees must watch in their orientation
  • Created a Customer Service Vision statement with pillars and Nevers & Always and rolled these out to the entire company.
  • They created an online training certification of games like Jeopardy, Memory and Wheel of Fortune, ensuring their employees retain their Customer service training, while making it extremely entertaining.
  • Created a new Customer experience at every encounter
  • Have Secret Service Agent teams, made up of front-line employees throughout all their locations, to support this project and audit the experience.

Tina Hodges & Brittni Walker – This is why we are so excited to have Tina Hodges & Brittni Walker present at the 2013 Secret Service Summit in Cleveland, November 4th & 5th. They will be sharing how they are creating a Customer service revolution in the Payday loan industry and making the Customer experience Advance Financial’s strongest competitive advantage.

 

 

Johnism

  

The only one who enjoys when your company delivers bad service is your competition

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.



Who is losing sleep over the customer?
November 14, 2012, 8:19 am
Filed under: CCO, Customer Experience, Customer Service, CXO, Secret Service

 

Who is losing sleep at night over the customer? During the 2012 Secret Service Summit one of the most often discussed topics was, who is in charge of the customer service department? Regardless of your company’s size, someone in your organization has to be in charge of the customer experience and all that goes with it.  That someone should not be the President, CEO or owner, but someone who reports directly to them.  We have heads of operations, marketing, accounting, sales, and human resources, but our second biggest asset (other than our employees) is our customer.  How happy they are is determined by the customer experience we deliver. Until recently, the vast majority of companies had anyone in charge of the customer experience. If you are a mid-to-large company, then you may want to consider creating a position, i.e. Chief Xperience Officer (CXO) or Chief Customer Officer (CCO). 

 

Fastest growing C-Suite position is the CCO/CXO – “More and more companies are reconfiguring their C Suites to accommodate a new kind of chief: the Chief of Customer.”  Here’s an article in Inc. magazine titled, “Make Room for the Chief Customer Officer.”

 

What should a CXO/CCO be responsible for? The CCO should be an executive who provides a comprehensive and authoritative view of the customer and creates corporate and customer strategy at the highest levels of the company to maximize customer acquisition, retention, and profitability. They should influence strategies of all areas of the business that impact the customer, and ensure the service strategies are built around, and for, the customer.

 

What does a CXO/CCO look like?  One of the biggest mistakes I have seen companies make is hiring, promoting or delegating the CCO position to people who have zero genuine hospitality characteristics.  This person has to live and breathe hospitality, internally, externally, and in all areas of his/her life.  If they do not meet the criteria below, PASS! It is so much better to leave the position vacant than to fill it with a mismatched person.

  1. Passionate customer experience and the customer
  2. Extremely high Service Aptitude
  3. Lives World-Class Hospitality personally and professionally

What if you are not a large organization? Now if you are a small company or a start up, I don’t suggest creating a brand new position dedicated to the customer experience, but you do need to have it be a major part of someone’s job title and responsibility.  For example, at John Robert’s Spa, we promoted a rising star, a manager in training, to Director of Secret Service. Her responsibilities are to manage and monitor all aspects of the customer experience and lead JR’s internal Secret Service Agent team.

 

CXO/CCO Job description – In the book What’s The Secret? I focus on what a Chief Xperience Officer’s job description could look like.   You can download that here: Chief Xperience Officer 

 

2012 Secret Service Summit – The Summit is over, and it was incredible! The energy, passion and knowledge that were shared for two full days by 12 speakers and 403 attendees (400 was a sellout, don’t tell anyone we went over by three) were remarkable.  If you were not one of the 403 attendees, I will be doing a recap on the takeaways on the speakers in next week’s eService. Order the entire Secret Service Summit Audio Series here.

 

Watch the highlight clip from the 2012 Secret Service Summit!

 

 

 

 

 

Johnism

 

 If a policy makes perfect sense to you
but is difficult for your client to comprehend — change it. It’s not worth 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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