John DiJulius | Customer Experience Blog


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 7 eServices of 2013

In case you missed it – The 7 most popular eServices of 2013 were the following. (I suggest printing them out, reading and sharing them with your management team.)

 

 1.     The Next 30 Years – I had the honor of being asked to present at my high school’s 30th reunion. I hope you enjoy this and find some things here that are applicable to your life’s journey. The Next 30 Years

 

 2.     11 Rules to a World-Class Customer Service Mindset – This list is the acid test if you, the leader, truly want to create a world-class service culture.  You must have the following mindset; 100% with no wavering. If any of these 11 rules are difficult to swallow or you don’t fully agree, you are not yet there. 11 Rules to a World-Class Customer Service Mindset

 

 3.     No problem is a Big problem – The biggest street slang terms used in every business today are the responses, “no problem” or “not a problem.” Find out why No problem is a Big problem

 

 4.     To Change the world by creating a Customer service revolution – 

 

  

We are so proud of the fact that hundreds of organizations all over the world have adopted this as their vision of how they want to build their business and distance themselves from the competition. However, for it to be truly successful, for it not to be just another mantra, annual theme, platitude, or flavor of the month, it is critical you understand what creating a Customer service revolution really means.  Breaking down the definition of Changing the world by creating a Customer service revolution — to its core.

 

 5.     Email Never & Always standards – We’ve noticed since helping our clients create and roll out these non-negotiable standards, that it’s lacking for people who work in jobs where they mostly communicate electronically, i.e. via email (corporate home office, internal support positions, Customer service reps, etc.).  So the following are examples from some of The DiJulius Group’s consulting clients’  Email non-negotiable standards.

 

 6.     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?

 

 7.     To be the most Customer-centric company in the world – I love Amazon.com both as a consultant and Customer of their world-class service! They are one of the top 10 Customer service companies in the world. Jeffrey Bezos, Amazon’s founder and CEO, is fanatical about the Customer experience. Most Customer-Centric company in the world

 

2014 Secret Service Certification Schedule Announced – Apply to the most coveted Customer Experience Certification Classes of 2014.  Learn how to train your team, your company, your clients on how to become world-class Customer experience providers regardless of industry or size.  When you become certified, you’ll receive the tools used by the top Customer service companies in the world!  Learn more.

 

  

Johnism

 

Do not ask the Customers what they want, give them something that they cannot live without.
 

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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It’s a Wonderful Life; My family credo card

What if your company had never been created? – The classic movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, written by Frank Capra, is one of my favorite all time movies. For those of you who haven’t seen it, the premise of the storyline is about George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart), a man who has given up his dreams in order to help others and whose imminent suicide on Christmas Eve brings about the intervention of his guardian angel. The angel, Clarence, shows George all the lives he has touched and how different life in the community of Bedford Falls would have been had he never been born. It is an amazing lesson of how much we can affect the world.  I like to use this movie as an example when we discuss the impact a company can make on their Customers and community. Consider if your business were never created. Would your Customers still be able to purchase a similar services and products elsewhere? Perhaps, but hopefully there would be something significantly diminished as a result of your business not being in their life or community.

 

The purpose motive – Best selling author and the leading expert on what motivates people, Daniel Pink, shares what he calls the purpose motive in one of the best presentations I have ever seen (see Daniel Pink’s TED Talk video):

 

 

Does everyone understand his/her purpose? – Is every employee taught what the organization’s purpose is outside of sales and profits?  Does every employee truly know how his or her individual job and performance impacts that purpose?  This is what world-class Customer service organizations do better than everyone else. (see creating a Service Vision)

 

Family Credo – After seeing how successful businesses were with connecting their people with the overall purpose, I realized this would apply toward my family. So about a year ago, my three sons and I sat down and created our own Family Credo statement, three pillars, and our family’s Never & Always. What we came away with was 100% my boys’ ideas. At the 2013 Secret Service Summit, I had my youngest son, Bo (11), share The DiJulius family credo. He nailed it!  I hope you enjoy:

  

 

 

 
Highlights from the 2013 Secret Service Summit  it was our best year ever! In next week’s eService I will be recapping the biggest takeaways from each of the amazing speakers. This was our highest rated Secret Service Summit EVER! See what author and growth expert Patrick Thean had to say in his blog about his Summit attendee experience. It Takes Great Execution to Deliver World Class Customer Service

 

 

Re-live the 2013 Summit – Did you miss the 2013 Secret Service Summit? Capture the best moments of America’s #1 Customer Service Conference, held in Cleveland last week. Now you can listen to this once in a lifetime conference on your iPhone, Android, or any other MP3 player. Plus, you can burn a few extra copies on CDs for your team. Get your audio today!

 

 

 

 

 

Johnism

 

Show me you care more about my business than just getting my 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.



Should Obamacare operator have been fired for over sharing? Summit sold out

Obamacare Operator Fired – Earlier this week conservative radio host Sean Hannity called the Obamacare hotline and spoke to an operator. The operator, Earline Davis, was honest and told Hannity nobody liked the website. The next day she was fired.  Since then there has been public outcry over this story and how she was the victim.  Check the full story out Fired Obamacare Operator.

She was wrong – While I don’t like to see anyone fired, what she did was wrong. Let’s look at it from a business standpoint and not as a goliath government entity. This happens every day in business by front-line employees. Her job is to address incoming calls and questions and provide people with answers. Her job is not to over share, i.e. ‘nobody likes the website.’  Do I think she should have been fired? Depends.  Was she trained to not over share? If she was, this needs to be addressed and stressed again. If she wasn’t, then there is a serious gap in the Obamacare training of their Customer service representatives.

Never over share – One of the most common Nevers, that my clients have in Nevers & Always, is Never over share.  Everyone loves to over share. Why? Because they want to make sure the Customer knows it wasn’t their fault. “I didn’t know you were here; no one told me.  If I would have known, I would have been out sooner.” Or “shipping didn’t next-day-air the package. I told them, I put it on the order. They do this type of stuff all the time.” I have had this same issue with our call center representatives at John Robert’s Spa.  I would over hear them telling Customers on the phone, “Our computers are always so slow.” While this information is critical to management, the Customer really doesn’t need to know about any dysfunction going on behind the scenes.

Action Plan – Are your employees trained to not over share your company’s dirty laundry with Customers?

You are really important to us — in 21 days – Look at the automated response United Airlines sends out to their Customers who contact them (below). “Thank you for contacting United Airlines. Our Customer Care team is currently responding to most inquiries within 14-21 business days…We look forward to assisting you.

 

 

Are Customer Service vs. Customer Experience the same? I just read a great blog written by Annette Franz on the difference between Customer Service and Customer Experience. The following has some insightful highlights.

Secret Service Summit Sold Out!  For the fifth year in a row, the Secret Service Summit is sold out! If you didn’t getyour tickets, you will be able to purchase the audio presentations of every presenter of the 2013 Secret Service Summit. 

Johnism

Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth.
It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time

 

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.



Own every moment; the party bus

Not content with Five Star  – This month Nemacolin Woodlands Resort is launching their updated “Day in the Life of a Customer” video, Customer Service Vision Statement & Pillars, and their Never & Always standards to all their 800+ associates. You might ask, why? Why would a resort like Nemacolin, one the few properties in the world that can boast that they are both Five Diamond and Five Star, feel it necessary to be rolling out so many new Customer service initiatives?

 

Own Every Moment – One of the dangers that can happen when you work at a huge property that has people enjoying weddings, business conferences, and honeymoons, is that you can think that a guest’s satisfaction is based on how those grandiose events turn out. However, Nemacolin realizes it is not only about excellent food, the room being ready and clean, good spa service, a beautiful wedding; but rather it is more the sum of dozens of individual moments that make up how a guest will feel about their experience and the memories they will take with them.  That is why Nemacolin’s Customer service vision statement is to Own Every Moment by being excellent, being engaged and being empowered. You can see from their credo card how they define each of those pillars.

 

The Party Bus – I spent this past Labor Day weekend at Nemacolin, along with a group of friends (about 25 other families, totaling over 90 people), and it was a great time. One moment that really stood out was when a group of about a dozen of us waiting for a shuttle bus to take us from dinner back to our hotel at around 11 p.m.  Nemacolin is such a large property that they run shuttle buses all day and night to transport their guests from one part of the property to the next.  A shuttle pulled up and as I started to enter it, the rest of my group said, “That’s not Helen!  We called for Helen. We will wait.” I looked at them and said, “Are you crazy?  It’s late, let’s get on the shuttle.” The kids were exhausted, and I just wanted to get back to my hotel room at this point. However, the rest of my group wouldn’t budge. They were dead set on waiting for Helen. So out of curiosity I waited to see what all the fuss was.  Soon after, a shuttle pulled up and the doors swung open and the party started.

 

Helen Owns Every Moment – Helen Humphrey has been a Nemacolin legend for over 9 years. Guests love her and request her shuttles all the time because she plays music and flashes the interior lights to the beat of the music (which is why she is also known as Disco Helen).  She interacts with guests via the intercom, asking who has never been here (i.e. “who is a Nemacolin Virgin), finding all sorts of ways to entertain her passengers. She has the “Party Bus.”  Helen has been known to go shopping for guests and bring them items so they never have to leave the property. She also received the “Fan Mail Award” in 2011.  This is given to the associate who receives the most positive name mentions.

 

 

Johnism

  

Customer Engagement is a contact sport

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.



Email Never & Always standards; how hotel handles ridiculous request

Customer Bill of Rights – One of the most effective ways to elevate your company’s Customer service level is by instituting Non-Negotiable Standards (Commandment III in What’s the Secret?)  I like to call them the Customer Bill of RightsIf anyone is going to wear your uniform, name tag or represent your brand, there needs to be a small set of 6-12 actions/standards that your employees live by. These non-negotiable standards are also referred to as the Never & Always list (see several company examples in the eService Burden of the Brand).

 

Never & Always list – Creating the traditional non-negotiable standards is a favorite for our consulting clients; rolling out a short, simple list that is common sense.  Yet the majority of businesses and front-line employees too often are guilty of executing the Never List and rarely do what’s on the Always List.

 

 

Email Never & Always list standards – What we’ve noticed since helping our clients create and roll out these non-negotiable standards is that it’s lacking for people who work in jobs where they mostly communicate electronically, i.e. via email (home offices, internal support positions, Customer service reps, etc.).  So the following are examples from some of The DiJulius Group’s consulting clients’ Email non-negotiable standards:

 

NEVER

  • Deliver bad/negative news via email
  • Respond with just an answer (5 words or less)
  • Never use jargon/slang
  • Never treat e-mail like a text message
  • Use all caps
  • Respond to “All” when the entire list doesn’t need to know
  • Get anything off your chest in an email

ALWAYS

  • Use a professional signature, even in replies
  • Use the Customer’s name every time
  • Open with something personal when dealing with an existing client  
  • Close with a nice line, i.e.
    • It was a pleasure…
    • Looking forward to working with you,
    • Let me know if there is anything else I can do
  • Respond within one business day (even if it is to let them know you don’t have an answer yet)
  • Use clear subject line wording
  • Use Secret Service when dealing with existing clients
  • Use BCC when sending to a large list to protect others’ email addresses
  • Call them if your first email was not clear
  • Call them directly if you cannot provide them with what they are asking for

Please share any we haven’t thought of!

 

Hotel Fulfills Guest’s Ridiculous Request – When a guest made a reservation online for a room for himself and his girlfriend at the Woodlands Resort near Houston last month, he decided to test the resort’s Customer service. When he came to the “special requests” section, the guest requested that the resort provide him with three red M&Ms and a picture of bacon. See how the hotel handled the Ridiculous Request.

 

The last Secret Service Certification class of the year – This September 24 & 25, is the last Certification Class of 2013. Taught exclusively by John DiJulius, this class will teach you how to create your own Secret Service Systems at your company.  This class is by application only.  Download application here and email as PDF to David@thedijuliusgroup.com or fax back to 440-484-2373.

 

Very limited seating.

  

Johnism

  

We are at our best when creating enduring relationships and personal connections.
 When we are fully engaged, we connect with, laugh with, and uplift the lives of our Customers,
 even if it is just for a few moments. It is about the human connection.

-Howard Schultz

 

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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