John DiJulius | Customer Experience Blog

5 Steps to creating an Above & Beyond Culture, Maids National WOW award

Priming their minds – In my book, What’s the Secret?, Commandment VIII: Creating an Above & Beyond Culture, is about how world-class Customer service companies are constantly making their employees aware of all the simple ways they can surprise and delight their Customers.  The following audit questions are critical if your company has what it takes to create an Above & Beyond Culture:

  • Are your employees empowered to exceed Customer expectations?
  • Are your employees willing to exceed Customer expectations?
  • Do you have mechanisms in place to collect and re-distribute Above & Beyond stories to constantly remind your employees to look for similar situations?

Five Steps to Creating an Above & Beyond Culture –

      1. Empower employees with autonomy and confidence so they can aggressively go Above & Beyond without being second-guessed by management.
      2. Train employees to be able to consistently recognize Above & Beyond opportunities that occur.
      3. Inspire them to think outside the box and go Above & Beyond for the Customer.
      4. Acquire and document all Above & Beyond stories that happen in your organization.
      5. Advertise and recognize those stories and employees throughout your entire organization. 

      The National WOW Award – The Maids International (TMI) is a professional home cleaning service with locations all over the US. To ensure the Maids Service Vision penetrates throughout the entire company, in 2013, TMI rolled out their National WOW! Award, which was developed to recognize outstanding Customer service provided by a franchisee, manager, team leader or team members. The award is given out quarterly to someone who takes the initiative to seize an opportunity to “WOW!” a Customer, and impact him or her for the better. The stories do not have to be extravagant; instead, these are often relatively simple, easy, actionable service opportunities that show how franchisees or staff recognized opportune moments, foreseeing Customer needs, listening to the Customer and being thoughtful. These considerate moments then turn in to emotional connections with the Customer. These connections show that TMI not only provides cleaning services, but also takes care of Customers and improves lives. The recipient of the National WOW! Award receives a $500 prize and a stunning crystal trophy to display proudly at the franchise office for years to come.  


      The Winner is…The Customer! I love this story of the first TMI National WOW! award recipient out of their Kansas City location. While cleaning the home of an elderly Customer in April, the team of four maids noticed that the elderly woman’s Christmas tree was still standing, fully decorated, in the living room. Upon asking why the tree was still up, the woman explained she had wanted to take the tree down but it was too overwhelming of a task to do on her own. The team recognized the opportunity, preceded to take the tree down for her, thus “WOWing” the Customer! 


      Who is allowed? – This week’s negative cue is a sign displayed by a pool in a high-end resort.  As you can see, there are a lot of “pool rules.” It would be easier to list what is allowed versus what isn’t, and the sign would be smaller.




      The 2013 Secret Service Summit – This November 4 & 5, learn why The Maids and many other top Customer service organizations in the world visit Cleveland to attend the Summit of the Customer Service Revolution. Learn more…




      We are in the Customer perception business


      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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      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.

      Insulate your VIP’s; what we can learn from the airlines

      Protect and preserve your core Customers – “The cost of losing your core Customers and trying to get them backwill be much greater than the cost of investing in them and trying to keep them,” says Howard Schultz president of Starbucks Coffee.  Starbucks Gold card program is one of the best VIP/loyalty programs I have seen and it has had amazing results at Starbucks. Schultz explains, “They enhance the brand, becoming part of the Starbucks Experience via the actual Customer-barista transaction and, because the card lives in wallets, part of people’s lives. The cards also bring us closer to Customers.”


      Love the benefits – The Customer gets many perks that can be used, like a free drink after every 12 purchases, and discounts or freebies on little amenities such as no extra cost for Soymilk. However, think what Starbucks gets. They get to build a database on their Customers, see who spends how much on what, have hard data on their top Customers all over the world, and they get prepaid millions of dollars.  People have to pre-load these cards to use them. I, for example, have my Starbucks Gold card set to automatically reload to $100 from my American Express, once my Gold card goes under $10.00.  This is brilliant! Many times they get their Customers’ money two or four weeks prior to redemption.  To receive rewards, a person registers online by providing his or her e-mail address. As a result, Starbucks builds a rich database that they can use to better understand their Customers’ behaviors and reward them accordingly. The database also allows them to reach out to Customers in meaningful, cost-effective ways.


      CUSTOMER SERVICE TIPS FROM THE AIRLINES – I, like most, think the airlines are pretty lame at customer service.  However, I have found myself recognizing some pretty good systems they do provide that I have taken back to my businesses and implemented. Back in the early days of my speaking career, my main goal when making airline reservations was to find the cheapest and easiest.  However, since my hometown, Cleveland, is a hub for United Airlines, I naturally flew them a little more.  Then one day I got a letter from them saying that I became a Silver Elite Member.  Big deal, right?  Actually, as I read what Silver received, I became excited.  Not only did they show me the benefits that Silver received, they also explained Gold (the next level up) and Platinum (the highest level).  I became obsessed with not only re-qualifying the next year, but I also wanted to see if I could get to Platinum status. Now, instead of finding the cheapest and quickest, it had to be booked on United only.  It got worse. Every month I was checking my status online, seeing if I was on pace to make it before the year was over.  Think of the beauty of this. United made me become obsessed with spending more money with them, and only with them. 


      That is when I thought to myself how we, the customers of John Robert’s Spa, could behave like that.  We rolled out our VIP program, where we sent our top 2,000 Customers(out of over 200,000) VIP cards. 80% were Silver, 15% were Gold, and 5% were Platinum.  We congratulated them on earning their status and gave them a print out of all the benefits each level received.  Immediately our phone started ringing with Customers asking questions like, did we take into consideration that they go to multiple John Robert’s locations, were we giving them credit for each, and do they get credit when they purchase gift cards, etc.  It was one of the best marketing and customer loyalty programs I had ever thought of.  Okay, I didn’t really think of it, but I did copy it really well.  There is a saying, “If you borrow one idea from someone, it is called plagiarism, if you borrow 25, it is called research.” So I guess that makes me a great researcher.


      Action Plan – Stop and consider how loyal you have made your top customers to your brand.  Would they entertain better offers, discounts, or would they stop doing business with you if your company dropped the ball?  What would your competitors be willing to do to get them away from you? Have you insulated them from your competition? Have you made your customers obsessed with trying to spend more with your business and earn a higher status and more benefits?


      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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