John DiJulius | Customer Experience Blog


Hootsuite gave it away free and ended up with 5 million Customers

Give it away and they will pay later – Recently the founder of HootSuite, Ryan Holmes, wrote an article titled, “How to Get 5 Million Customers with Zero Ad Budget,” and shared that for the first three years, HootSuite spent literally no money on marketing, PR or advertising. Rather they built their business on the freemium model. The majority of users, hundreds of thousands of them, paid absolutely nothing for the service. And, it worked! Especially because free users have no vested stake in you, and no long-term contract. If you don’t deliver, they’ll move elsewhere. To this day, over half of HootSuite’s paying Customers-including some of HootSuite’s biggest enterprise clients, were once non-paying, free users. As Holmes says, “put your energies into developing an irresistible product and loyal user base. Worry about making money later. I can’t imagine doing business any other way.”

 

Freemium – The word “freemium” is a combination of the words “free” and “premium.” It is a business practice in which you give your product or service away at first, grow an extremely large Customer base that eventually can’t live without you, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Google, or in which you give a core product away for free to a large group of users and sell premium products to a smaller fraction of this user base, i.e. Skype, Dropbox, and Evernote.  All were built on freemium. While this seems to be a new technique applicable to internet-based companies, this is the way many businesses started off, including brick and mortar, building a Customer base and brand awareness. The following is the marketing plan we executed 20 years ago when we originally opened John Robert’s Spa and couldn’t afford to spend any money on advertising. The result? Two decades of consecutive positive sales growth. 

 

Full article….

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How to make Customers fall in LOVE with your brand

Biggest Advantage – Let’s talk about a word that is not used regularly, or comfortably, in the corporate world. That word is LOVE. While it isn’t spoken, it is what all executives want: People to LOVE their brand. They want their employees to LOVE working for them. We all want our Customers to LOVE us. Think about the top brands in the world: people don’t buy from Starbucks, they LOVE Starbucks. People LOVE Apple, Zappos, Nordstrom, Chick-fil-A, and Amazon. Think about the companies you personally would never stop doing business with? You may LOVE your hairdresser, or your account executive, manufacturer/distributor; you might even LOVE your banker or lawyer (crazy as that sounds).  What makes you LOVE a service provider or business? What did they do to make you LOVE them? How many of your Customers would make heart-shapes about your brand? I LOVE the phrase “Out-LOVE your competition.” Out-Loving your competition is the most distinct competitive advantage a company can have. When enough Customers LOVE your business, you have just made price irrelevant. What do we have to do to make our Customers LOVE us and our businesses?

 

You have to LOVE them first – LOVE has to start at home. In business terms, that means internally  treating your employees with world-class service. What is felt on the inside will be felt on the outside. All relationships begin with a connection. It may only be momentary  (your heart skips a beat) possibly originating out of the first three of the Five E’s (eye contact, enthusiastic greet, and ear to ear smile). It grows a little bit more when a conversation is had, executing on the final two E’s (engage and educate). Through this interaction, the Customer realizes it is not about the sale, rather you are truly interested in what’s best for them. Interest and trust has been created.  However, emotional connection isn’t made until the business demonstrates genuine care and interest in more than just their pocket book. Falling in LOVE with your brand is not possible until the Customer feels that it is all about them, that they are the most important person in the relationship. The business needs to take the time to learn about them, using Customer intelligence, their FORD — about their Family, Occupation, Recreation and Dreams.  Due to the relationship you have created, the Customer cannot recall how they ever got along before you were in their life and could not imagine a world without your business. You now have a brand evangelist.

 

What we need is LOVE – Let’s teach what kindness looks like, in business, in family, communities and schools. Have employees learn about caring for others with no hidden agenda to make a sale or profit. Teach them how to display genuine hospitality.

 

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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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.



Russia’s Customer Service Overhaul; Your Director of First Impressions

Director of First Impressions – In a professional office environment, when you might get less than a dozen scheduled visitors a day, a great and easy Secret Service system is to display a sign welcoming people who have appointments that day, i.e. “ABC would like to welcome Joanna Smith.”  At The DiJulius Group this responsibility falls on the Director of First Impressions, the first person our guests see as they walk into our office.With the aid of Social Media platforms, such as LinkedIn, we personalize this sign so our welcome monitor doesn’t just display our client’s name, but their picture and logo as well. This provides a unique experience for the visitor; it also educates the staff on who to expect, at what time and what that person looks like so they can recognize them by name.

 

Picture the traditional office visit experience: You have an appointment at your accountant’s office or you are interviewing for a new job, you walk into the business and the receptionist says, “Can I help you?” You say, “Yes, I am here to see Mike Jones.” The receptionist asks, “What’s your name?” You tell her, and she notifies the person and eventually Mike comes out to welcome you. 

 

Now imagine walking into an office for an appointment and you see a monitor that welcomes you by name and displays your picture. The receptionist says, “Hi, Joanna.  It’s is nice to see you. Mike is expecting you, so let me tell him you have arrived. Can I get you some coffee, tea or water?” On top of that, two or three other people greet you by name as they walk by.

 

Customer Service Huddle – Carter Mario Injury Lawyers has six fully staffed offices across the state of Connecticut. Keeping everyone engaged in the firm’s Customer service culture can be difficult across multiple locations. While the firm conducts early morning “huddles” every day before work begins, Wednesday mornings are especially

reserved to discuss Customer service. Using video conferencing technology, each office can see and hear each other in real time, and discuss topics like “how do you take ownership of challenges in your life?” Everyone benefits by hearing the responses of each office, and it keeps the multiple locations connected with a common focus. See more of Carter Mario’s world-class hospitality best practices.

 

Russian Hospitality?  An article in the New York Times shared how Russia is trying to remove the stereotype of scowls, cold stares and unfriendly encounters, Russia is attempting to change that image. Russian Customer service has been a hot topic and a transformative trend brought about by the rising demand of middle class consumers. The main message: Smile and be friendly. Some have even predicted that Russia will soon leapfrog the West in Customer service.  Read entire article

 

 

Johnism

 

 The answer’s yes…now what’s the question?

 

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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4 Simple Ways to Start Your Revolution

4 Simple Ways to Start Your Revolution

by Dave Murray 

Senior Customer Service Consultant for The DiJulius Group

 

As the calendar changed from 2013 to 2014, many magazines, websites and blogs began to publish articles about becoming more productive, becoming more organized.  Many of these go under the premise that the first few weeks of the year are slow for most, and they attempt to focus on a few easy ways to kick-start the process in hopes of developing some new good habits.

 

These articles got me thinking:  What are the best ways to kick-start a Customer Service Revolution throughout your organization?  Don’t get me wrong; the process is not necessarily an easy one.  When we engage our clients to revolutionize their Customer Service, it is a systematic approach that includes multiple workshops producing deliverables such as training manuals, customized training tools and new methodologies designed to maintain momentum.

 

That being said, what can one do if he or she is looking to simply begin the process of making things better for both Customers and employees?  Here are my top four ways to get things moving in the right direction – and these are all things you can work into your day, whether you are experiencing a winter slow down, or your days are busier than ever.

 

1)   Use “F.O.R.D.” on your employees – FORD is the acronym we use for the information you need to gather on clients, suppliers, employees, etc. in order to really build quality relationships.  FORD stands for Family, Occupation, Recreation, and Dreams.  All things that people love to talk about, and that will help us grow a relationship.

 

Think about this for a moment: How much information do you know regarding the people who report to you?  If you can list five things per employee– good for you.  If you cannot, there’s no better time than now to start.  By the way, we are not recommending that you begin interrogating or even re-interviewing your employees for these important bits of information.  Simply make sure that you take the time to have quality conversations with your employees, and work FORD related questions into the discussion when appropriate.

 

2)   Make a connection – Use your Customers’ names.  You have heard it before, and it is true – the sweetest sound to a human being is his or her own name.  There is no better way to connect with another human being than using their name, whether it is on the phone or in person.  If you are in a phone center or a Customer-facing area, challenge your employees to get the Customer’s name and then use it.  Many times getting the name is the easy part.  So many of us are in situations where the Customers must give us their names. But do we all use the very useful information other than just looking up an account?

 

It is one thing to tell your team to use names, yet it is quite another to show them.  In a meeting, take some time to roll out the plan to connect, and use role-play to demonstrate to your team your anticipated end product.  Set a goal for the number of times (many organizations shoot for three times during an interaction), and then use the role playing to show how the name usage should be natural, never forced simply to hit a number.  Decide if your organization wants to address Customers by sir name, or if you want to connect on a first name basis.  In my opinion, this is primarily based on the standards that already exist within your industry.

 

3)   Give your team ways to say, Yes – Many companies say, “The Customer is always right,” or “No is not an option,” but very few companies teach their front-line teams how to say, Yes.  How do you do that?  One great way is to get your team together and ask them to track the top three to five things that they must say ‘no’ to over a period of time.  Then, as a group, find ways to say ‘yes.’  I am not suggesting that we change the way we do business, but what I am suggesting is that if there is a request that does require a ‘no’ for a legitimate reason, arm your team with alternative solutions.  Can’t refund the purchase? Make sure offering an exchange is top of mind, if feasible.  Get your team thinking that they are in the resolution business.  No challenge is too tough; find a positive in every negative.  Once you have set this guideline in motion, re-enforce it with the “No-No Game.”  As a group, throw out difficult ‘no’ questions, and make your team members come up with positive solutions on the spot.  It is a fun way to maintain momentum and celebrate successes.

 

4)   A day in the life – There is no better way for your employees to really focus on and connect with your Customers than to build empathy for them.  Empathy is that magic emotion that helps our teams to NOT treat the next person in line, or on hold, like a number.  Empathy helps our teams remember that this is the Customers’ time with us – no matter how many times we have heard their question today.

 

Many companies write, develop and create award-winning quality videos focused on the day in the life of Customers  that are then shown to existing team members during a kick off event, and then made part of the orientation process for all future employees.  The first step of this process when we are working with clients is to have team members break into small groups and write scripts based on combined real-life experiences they have had.  The real fun begins when the small groups are asked to act out the script they have created.  While you will not be producing an Oscar winner, you will be creating a fun way for your team to put themselves in the shoes of the people they serve – and hopefully begin to charge their way of thinking.   You will also be gathering some great storylines for when it comes time to create your video.

 

I hope that you will find with just a little time and effort, these four ideas can really get you moving in the right direction.  I am open to answer any questions, and hopefully hear some of your success stories! 

 

 

  

 

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10 Most Hated Companies; Café charges rude Customers more

A Rude Customer Tax – One business is charging rude Customers five times more for a cup of coffee than those who are more polite and say ‘hello’ and ‘please.’ A cafe owner in France has finally had enough with rude Customers and he’s decided that he’s no longer going to take it. Rude Customers will be charged more; call it a rude Customer tax. The café prices are posted for all to see.  One list of prices for polite Customers, and a more expensive list for rude Customers. This rude tax is obviously more of a joke; however, it has apparently been successful in making this café’s Customers be more respectful to the front-line employees. The manager of the café says Customers are being nicer as a result. Check out the full article Café charges extra to rude Customers.

 

TSA’s Customer service under scrutiny – House Representative Gerry Connolly is threatening to introduce a bill requiring the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to be more polite to their Customers, airline passengers. During a hearing about the TSA’s Screening Partnership Program, Connolly said passengers would likely cooperate more with TSA agents if the agency’s workers used better manners when they deliver their instructions. “There’s no excuse for a contractor or employee of the federal government barking orders continuously at the public at any airport in America,” Connolly said. “Every member of Congress is in the Customer service business. We experience what you experience. People aren’t all the same. Some people are very cooperative and some people can be less so. I happen to believe that the less pleasant the experience, (because we don’t get Customer service right … ) I actually think it contributes to less cooperation, resentment and a desire frankly not to cooperate. We don’t want that. We want people understanding our mission.” Connolly said he would consider introducing legislation to require the TSA to improve its Customer service if the agency did not make changes on its own. “I don’t understand how hard it is to teach people [to] make sure you use the words ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ when you’re interacting with our public,” he said. Wow, someone in government who gets it.  Read full story Lawmaker threatens bill to make TSA more polite.

 

10 most hated companies in America – A well-known brand can take a nose dive quickly into today’s social media world.  Especially if that company alienates a large enough group of people, by angering their Customers with crappy service or employees with unpleasant working conditions or low pay. I call this brand terrorism, choosing to be greedy with short-term gains for long-term failures, sometimes irreversible. Many of the most-hated companies have millions of Customers and hundreds of thousands of workers. With this kind of reach, it’s important to keep employees happy in order to maintain decent Customer service. Often, poor job satisfaction leads to poor service and low Customer satisfaction. McDonald’s and Wal-Mart have risked this most recently as employees and some Customers have protested the low wages at these companies – low enough to put workers below the poverty line. Check out the 10 most hated companies in America.

 

Follow me – If you enjoy reading my weekly eService and would like to have more members of your organization receive it, email your list of co-workers’ emails to Nicole at nicole@thedijuliusgroup.com and she can add them to our mailing list for you. Besides my weekly eService, I also post good articles I read and quotes daily on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

Johnism

 

 Don’t win the argument but lose the Customer

 

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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