John DiJulius | Customer Experience Blog

Willy Wonka of Coffee | Miracle on the Hudson
Starbucks Opening Up Even More Upscale Brand

Starbucks has been the standard on what a coffee experience should be and are already the most expensive. CEO Howard Schultz feels he can truly make price irrelevant. The company announced that they will be launching a new chain called Starbucks Reserve-only in 2017. “We recognize our customers expect and desire a higher level of product and we want to give it to them,” Schultz said.



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Six things that make yours the brand customers cannot live without
World’s Most Admired Companies

Fortune Magazine’s 2016 list of the World’s Most Admired Companies was  released and it is a very interesting list indeed. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that as you scroll down, the companies that have a reputation for providing a world-class customer experience dominate the list. You will see brands such as Apple (#1), Amazon (3), Walt Disney (5), Starbucks (6), Southwest Airlines (7), FedEx (8), American Express (11), Costco (12), and Nordstrom (13) all in the top 15. This should help silence the executives who use to argue they needed to see more than just warm and fuzzy proof of companies that provided superior customer service. These serve as additional examples of why your company should make your customer experience your most distinct competitive advantage.


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Amazon pays employees to quit, Starbucks Tweet-a-Coffee, NY Restaurant provides Secret Service

NY Restaurant provides Secret Service – The maître d’ at New York’s Eleven Madison Park has created a fascinating way to provide Secret Service and make an emotional connection with guests. He Googles guests who have reservations at the restaurant, searching for Customer intelligence such as where they are from, birth date, profession, anniversary, so he and his employees can personalize the experience from the moment the Customer walks thru the door.


Tweet-a-Coffee – World-Class Customer service companies make it extremely easy for their Customers to do business with them. This means they make it extremely easy to spend more money with them.  For example, Starbucks has launched Tweet-a-Coffee, allowing Customers to purchase a coffee for anyone, anywhere via twitter by tweeting @tweetacoffee and then the person’s twitter handle.  Within seconds, a $5 gift card (or tweet) has been given and can be redeemed the next time the recipient goes to Starbucks.  How easy is it to do business with you?


Amazon copying Zappos’ paying employees to quit – In his annual letter to shareholders (page 3, paragraph 6), Amazon founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, announced his Pay to Quit program, offering employees a quitting bonus to leave Amazon. Each employee gets the offer once a year. The first time, it’s for $2,000. The offer increases by $1,000 each year thereafter up to a maximum of $5,000. Sound familiar? Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos, the online retailer, acquired by Amazon back in 2009, invented this concept.  He refers to it as, “The Offer.” Why are world-class Customer service organizations such as Amazon and Zappos offering incentives and making it easy for employees to leave? Bezos says it well, “In the long run, an employee staying somewhere they don’t want to be isn’t healthy for the employee or the company.” World-Class Customer service organizations are not for everyone, nor should they be. They are for a small percentage of people who buy into that company’s vision and are willing to work harder and be more committed to seeing that the vision gets realized. This Pay to Quit program also turns the table on the company and its leaders. Once a year employees get a chance to evaluate where and whom they work for, which puts pressure on management to continue to strive to create a great company culture.


Pre-shift Huddles that work – The Maids International, based in Omaha, Nebraska,is a professional home-cleaning service with franchisee locations all over the United States. In an effort to encourage consistent, constructive huddles, each location received a “Brilliant at the Basics” laminated poster.  The poster can easily be hung in any area of an office, and then re-used daily with a dry erase marker.  It guides huddle leaders through TMI’s three pillars, gives an opportunity to discuss specific quality issues, and lastly has an area to celebrate recent Above and Beyond behaviors.  At very little cost, TMI has developed a customized huddle format, which has been deployed across the organization. Also, TMI has announced a fun way to ensure this new tool is being used.  They are holding a video contest seeking the best huddle.  TMI locations are encouraged to video tape what they consider to be their best version of a huddle.  Prizes will be awarded to the winning team.  What a fun way to encourage usage of this effective tool on a daily basis!  See TMI walking the talk.


Jack Daly’s new book – A sales guru and past keynote speaker of The Secret Service Summit, Jack Daly’s newest book and soon to be bestseller, Hyper Sales Growth, was released Tuesday, April 22, 2014. Jack knows sales and how to help companies grow. Hyper Sales Growth dives into three critical areas: Building a winning culture in your business, Sales Management, and Sales success. I promise that if you will take the time to read it and take action, your business will grow and achieve a greater amount of success. 

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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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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