John DiJulius | Customer Experience Blog

Creating a World-Class Employee Experience, Part 2


Employee Engagement, Part 2- Written by Senior Customer Service Consultant Dave Murray


If you recall, in Employee Engagement Part 1, we focused on a Harvard Business Review post written by Rob Markey.  In the post, “The Four Secrets to Employee Engagement,” Markey focuses on some recent findings from a Bain and Company study conducted across the globe.  The purpose of today’s article is to focus on one of the solutions the Bain and Co. study identified, and to discuss a little further.


Supervisors are the key – One of the big takeaways from the study was that supervisors lead the engagement charge, not the human resources department.  When reading this result, I immediately thought of a great piece of data that we at The DiJulius Group use when working on Commandment II, World Class Internal Culture, with our clients.  This data was uncovered by The Hay Group and Gallup, and reported by The Blanchard Companies in The Retention Challenge…


“The single most important determinant of an individual’s

performance and commitment to stay with the organization is the

relationship with his or her immediate manager. People leave their

manager far more often than they leave the organization.”


I think this is such important information that is too often overlooked.  Think about your own organization for a moment.  How often do employees get promoted to a supervisory role simply because they performed the job function well?  All of the time, right?  Well, I agree that performing the job well is an important piece of the puzzle.  All too often, that is the only determining factor considered.  Does the candidate relate well with others?  Do they know how to build and cultivate relationships?  Are they able to hold candid conversations with people that may have once been peers?  Do they know the importance of leading by example?


Typically, the answer is no.  Instead, the newly promoted supervisors often resorts to making their presence felt by finding as many flaws and mistakes as possible.  In order to demonstrate their newly found power, write-ups and negative reinforcement abound.  The initial, short-term results can be seen as a tightening-up of what had become a loosely run operation.  Sometimes this may be true, but all too often, this behavior is causing severe long-term damage to a department.


While discipline and accountability are vital to the success of any organization, they must co-exist with relationship building and positive reinforcement.  A great exercise we utilize with Clients at The DiJulius Group is the F.O.R.D. challenge.  FORD is an acronym that stands for Family, Occupation, Recreation and Dreams.  I suggest you try this with you supervisory team to get a baseline of where you stand.


The exercise is simple:  Have your supervisors write down the names of five employees that report to them.  Then, ask them to write down five pieces of FORD on each.  This information is key to gather and utilize when building a relationship with anyone… Customers, employees, etc.  One slight change occurs when gathering FORD on employees.  We obviously already know where they work and what they do, but do we know where they want to go?  Do we know what position or department they are working toward joining?  As a supervisor or manager, this information is vital to the relationship.


Back to the exercise. Have each supervisor write down five pieces of FORD on the five employees they have selected.  If they nail it on all five, that is great news.  Typically, the first one or two employees can be somewhat easy, but this exercise can become very difficult very quickly.  It can open the eyes of managers and supervisors to the fact that they know very little about the people they rely on daily.  It creates an opportunity for growth and development that will not only help your employees, but ultimately your Customers as well!


I encourage you to try this exercise and determine your internal FORD baseline, and I would love to hear your results!



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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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Matthew McConaughey’s hero


‘3 things I need in my life every day’ – This was the theme of actor Matthew McConaughey’s Academy Award acceptance speech for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his part in Dallas Buyers Club. He needs “Someone to look up to, someone to look forward to, and someone to chase.”  My favorite part was the person he is chasing. “I 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. That’s just fine with me, because that keeps me with somebody to keep on chasing.”  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.


‘I gave my best’ – This may sound mean or unsympathetic, but one of my least favorite sayings is ‘I gave my best’. To me it is an unacceptable crutch; I don’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 wasn’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, it’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, “I did my best,” consider whether you did your best in the preparation. The actual effort given in the event has the least to do with the outcome.





 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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The Queen of Concierge; Owner’s outburst results in social media outburst; best employee recognition idea

Best Employee Recognition Idea I recently read a great “best practice” about a simple but profound way to recognize employees. In Verne Harnish’s weekly newsletter, Legal Monkey’s 3-minute video, his Appreciation Board highlights a very simple employee recognition process anyone can duplicate for the cost of a picture frame.  Verne is the growth guy and his weekly newsletter is a fantastic resource.  Here is how you can sign up to receive Verne’s weekly newsletter.


Owner’s outburst on mother’s autistic child results in social media outburst – How we treat people says a great deal about what type of people we are. How we treat Customers says a great deal about what type of business we are. A Facebook post about a salon owner berating a mother whose autistic toddler was acting out during a haircut is going viral on the internet. Within 24 hours, the post had been shared more than 17,000 times and online users from Florida to California were filling out angry online user reviews of the business at various sites, including and Today it has been shared nearly 50,000 times! Read the article


The Ultimate Oxymoron – What is an oxymoron? An airline Customer service counter.  What is the ultimate oxymoron? An airline’s Customer service counter that is completely unstaffed, and has no one working at it!


The Queen Concierge – Since the first time I saw her speak over 15 years ago, I have been a big fan of Holly Stiel, keynote speaker and author of six books on Customer service. Holly’s initial experience started on the front lines of service in the hospitality industry. In 1976, Holly became the first female concierge in the U.S. when she created the desk at the Grand Hyatt Union Square in San Francisco. She spent the next 17 years gaining firsthand experience and in-depth understanding of the principles and practices of world-class concierges. 


From Concierge to Speaker – In 1992, Holly stepped out from the concierge desk with a passion for sharing the secrets and inspirations she had gained in the world of hospitality. Since then, she has been customizing and adapting programs for a wide variety of industries, ranging from Bank of America to NASCAR to Audi.  Holly Stiel is a trail-blazing service philosopher, keynote speaker, trainer and consultant. She is known for her unique, dynamic and interactive presentation style, as well as her talent for transforming companies and their cultures. Her wisdom and know how have been conveyed in 25 languages, and delivered across the globe, from Japan to Johannesburg.  Don’t miss Holly’s keynote presentation at the at the  2013 Secret Service Summit.


Video interview with Holly Stiel – Check out the 30-minute interview I did with Holly Stiel via Google Hangouts. Holly shares many of her pearls of wisdom on Customer service and what she is going to be sharing at the Secret Service Summit.





Service is the desire to put the interest of others before ourselves.


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.

Best place to find great employees: Total Transparency

#1- Arnie Malham, President of cj Advertising, spoke at last year’s Secret Service Summit, and was the highest rated speaker we have EVER had. That is really saying something, considering we have had over 50 amazing presenters in four years. 


Total Transparency – One of the best takeaways from hearing Arnie speak (and consulting with his company) is how he allows all his employees and Customers to publically post their satisfaction scores and share feedback.  All his employees can see what their co-workers are posting and how the company is doing with regard to overall satisfaction. He does the exact same thing for his clients.  Each quarter they are asked to fill out a survey stating their level of satisfaction (1-5) and share any and all comments they have.  All of his Customers can see this.  They can see what his other Customers are saying, and how cj Advertising is being rated. I have never heard of such transparency! I asked Arnie about this and he said, “Most people say I need to have my head examined for doing this. However, we like the pressure of knowing that if we don’t take care of our Customers, or don’t react when something goes wrong, it will be made public.”  I have seen and read the comments and have interviewed several of cj’s clients, and they say this is one of the reasons why they love to do business with cj Advertising. CJ is a forward 

moving, robust company largely as a result of Arnie’s appetite for critical feedback. While most companies adopt the “head in the sand” approach with regard to criticism, Arnie actually goes looking for it. By asking his clients what theycan do better, he puts CJ in a better position to actually get better!


If you were not there and did not see Arnie or any of the other presenters at this year’s Summit, you can hear and share their message with your entire organization: 2012 Secret Service Summit Audio Series.



I saw a stat in an article in INC. Magazine over the weekend that I thought was interesting:

Quantity vs. Quality – INC. Magazine had an excellent article on hiring good employees that had surprising data. Even in this digital age of job boards and on-line applications, referrals continue to make up the smallest, but highest- quality new employees. While only 7% of applicants come from referrals, they account for 40% of hires.


Employee Network – Hires referred by employees are more likely to stick around.  Employee retention rates after three years are 47% for referrals and 14% for job board applicants.  This particular article recommends paying cash bonuses to employees as an incentive for them to tap their social media networks for candidates.


Consider the Source – If a friend of one of your marginal employees wants a job, think again.  “A” players typically hang out with other highly motivated, hard working people. On the flip side, “C” players hang around other “C” players. 




 If you started over and took everyone’s clientele away from them, within one year,
 the ones with the most clients would have the most again and the ones who didn’t, wouldn’t.


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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Too fat to Tan; are you measuring the wrong things?


Measuring the wrong metrics can damage your Customer’s experience – The two most popular performance metrics call centers and Customer service reps are tracked by are average call time and time-to-resolution.  These are dinosaur drivers that management needs to move away from. They are not service friendly. They make your reps solely “task focused” and dehumanize their roles, which dramatically reduces their work satisfaction and increases turnover.


Call Center is an investment in marketing – This is how Zappos looks at their call centers: a strategy to create loyalty through ‘wow’ moments and emotional connections.  Zappos still uses metrics, but in support of the Customer experience, which has proven to be quite successful financially as well.  An article by Software Advice, “A Zappos Lesson in Customer Service Metrics”, shares Zappos’ best practices.  They feel it is “more important that we make an emotional connection with the Customer, rather than just quickly getting them off the phone,” says Derek Carder, Customer loyalty operations manager for Zappos.  That is why Zappos places more value on the percent of time an agent spends on the phone versus quick time to resolution or processing high call volumes. This metric-personal service level-is a way to “empower the team to utilize their time in a way that best promotes Customer loyalty,” Carder says.


Rewarding the right behavior produces the right results – Customer Service reps are not machines, they are people who enjoy building relationships.  Also noted in this article is how CSRs at Zappos are expected to spend at least 80 percent of their time in Customer-facing interactions. It doesn’t matter if that’s one call, or 100. Reps who achieve this target get to spin “the wheel of happiness” to win gift cards and other rewards. Those who fall below the 80 percent line receive coaching.


World-Class Customer service organizations advertise the least  –  Zappos uses little advertising or traditional marketing. Their marketing is word of mouth and Customer loyalty. They do this by measuring four factors on a 100-point scale called the “Happiness Experience Form.”

  • Did the agent try twice to make a personal emotional connection (PEC)?
  • Did they keep the rapport going after the Customer responded to their attempt?
  • Did they address unstated needs?
  • Did they provide a “wow” experience?

On-going coaching for poorer performances – A rep who averages less than 50 points per month on the Happiness Experience Form will receive extra training, while top performers are rewarded with paid hours off and other incentives. This article has many more golden nuggets. Check it out: “A Zappos lesson in Customer Service Metrics.”


Customer Service Crisis…


Too Fat To Tan – After a woman purchased a tanning package, she was told she was too fat to tan at a tanning salon, and the salon would not give her a refund. The employee said, “Sorry, but I’m not going to let you tan today because we’ve just implemented a new policy where anyone over 230 pounds can’t go in one of our beds.” When the Customer asked for a refund, she was told we don’t give refunds. When the local news got involved, they called the tanning salon manager, Gus, and asked him if he would refund the Customer’s tanning package. Gus suggested that the Customer contact her credit card company and try to cancel the transaction.  Watch the news report,  Too Fat to tan.


How it should have been handled It won’t shock you that the Better Business Bureau gives this tanning salon an ‘F’ rating.  I totally understand safety first, as well as company restrictions for maintaining their equipment. It is not the policy that was wrong, but how they handled the situation. They have a standup bed that was not working that day, so this Customer’s only option was the laydown bed. All they had to do was apologize for the inconvenience that the salon caused because their standup bed wasn’t working, and add a complimentary tanning session to her package for the inconvenience of not being able to tan that day. And more importantly, educate the Customers about any restrictions before they purchase a package.




 If you take really good care of your existing clients,
they will generate more new business than any kind of advertising campaign ever could.


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.

9 worst Customer service companies

Blame it on the youth- Due to the fact that technology has dramatically reduced face-to-face interaction, the younger generation has fewer inherent people skills than previous generations, which ultimately means lower service aptitude.  As a result, managers and companies complain about how difficult it is to employ “the youth,” and they are the reason why their companies deliver such poor Customer service. I totally disagree!


Big Anomaly – This has been perplexing me for years, and it is the one thing about Customer service that I just can’t figure out. It goes against all conventional logic.  I have found, in my own two companies (The DiJulius Group & John Robert’s Spa = 150 team members) as well as in all the world-class Customer service companies I have worked with and studied, that of their front-line employees, a large percentage of them fall into the 20-30-age range. They deliver outstanding Customer service! In many cases the younger generation is better at hospitality than the previous one who was forced to have more human interaction.


How can it be – If the younger generation grows up with less face-to-face interaction and as a result has weaker people skills entering the workforce in their early twenties, then how is it possible that certain ones become world-class in Customer service? Is it because there has been such innate interactive deficiency that once they get it, they are like a man in a desert finally getting water to quench his thirst?   It is happening all over the place?, Chick-fil-A, John Robert’s Spa, Nordstrom, The Ritz-Carlton, and the Disney’s of the world have young, fully engaged team members.


The younger generation is hungry for hospitality – Hiring is a big part of it; however, just as important is their service aptitude training. Think about this: If today’s younger generation lacks the skills gained from human interactions, who is responsible for improving their people skills and increasing their service aptitude? The businesses that hire them! We can’t skip this generation and hope the next will be any better at people skills. We need to have better training programs, not just training on product knowledge and the technical side of the job, but also training on the soft skills. The companies that deliver world-class Customer service are the companies that understand this fact and provide training in Customer service skills.


Nine worst Customer service retailers – The good news is, Customer satisfaction with retailers is at an all-time high.  The bad news is, some well-known brands are not pleasing their Customers.  Check out who the  nine retailers with the worst Customer service were.  Are you surprised by who is on the list?


Ecommerce tops brick & mortar – The trend continues: online retailers consistently out-perform brick and mortar businesses in Customer satisfaction. Retailers wonder and complain about why Customers are “showrooming” (shopping at stores and then making the purchase online) and defecting to the Internet for their purchases. Now they know why.  Some retailers have even taken drastic measures to deter Customers from showrooming and have started to penalize them by charging a “just looking fee”.  In fact, of the nine retail companies with the worst American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) scores, only one was an online retailer, Netflix.


From first to worst – The surprising thing is, Netflix outperformed the average Internet retailer in Customer satisfaction for four years, and in 2009 was #1 retailer. But in 2011 and 2012, the video streaming company has been the lowest-rated internet retailer.  


It’s better to lose the money by not being able to serve the Customer because of understaffing,
than to serve the Customer with just any employee, and lose the reputation.


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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