John DiJulius | Customer Experience Blog


ARE YOUR EMPLOYEES PREPARED TO MAKE THINGS RIGHT?
John DiJulius

John DiJulius

On occasion, when I have been made to wait longer than typical, I have received this card from Starbucks.  Every time I receive this card, I am more impressed with them than had they served me my coffee on time.

I use this example in my presentations with every audience I speak to, including professional service firms, (accountants, lawyers, etc.), and I ask, “Why would I share this example with you, when I realize you do not sell coffee?”  I will not share an example just because it is a good story, every example I share, can be leveraged in their business. To my amazement, my audiences have difficulty bridging the gap between this example and how it applies to their world.

Starbucks Card

What I love about this example is Starbucks recognizes they have a reoccurring service defect (in this case service delay), that inconveniences their customers from time to time, that they cannot eliminate. They can ‘reduce’ but can never ‘eliminate’.  Now, they do not know if it is going to happen today at noon, or 3 pm, but they do know it is going to happen a certain amount of times per week, per location.

Does your business have reoccurring service defects that you know are going to occur and inconvenience your customer?  Are their tools your front line employees can use to recognize when a customer does not receive the experience they were hoping for, and demonstrates you are willing to make it up to them?  It doesn’t always have to be giving away something or discounting.  Below is a great example of an email apology that provides the customer peace of mind in future dealings with you.

Apology Letter

Action Plan
Examine the areas you drop the ball the most and create some simple tools, your employees can utilize, to turn the service defect into a ‘WOW’ for your customer.

Letter:

Dear John,

I have to vent to someone who understands.

Yesterday was my 19th wedding anniversary.  Saturday we had theater tickets, so we decided to go to dinner first.  When I made reservations at a well known restaurant, the receptionist inquired if we were celebrating anything special.  “Good.”  I thought.  “She’s gotten John’s message.  This will be nice.”  Of course I told her it was our anniversary, and when we showed up at 6:00, I expected perhaps a customized greeting acknowledging the event.  Nothing.

OK, then perhaps the waiter will say something.  Nothing.  OK then, maybe a little cake for dessert.  Again, nothing.  We ordered dessert, and I thought, “OK, maybe it will come with a little candle or something.”  Nothing.  Just look at all those missed opportunities!  Our meal was delicious, and it won’t deter me from going to the restaurant again, but as you say, they could have really WOWed us – but they didn’t.

Then, last night, our actual anniversary date, we just went to another well known restaurant for a quick bite since we celebrated on Saturday.  At the table, Len and I exchanged anniversary cards with each other, and set them up on the table between us.  It was clear the waitress noticed the cards, but said nothing.  Then the manager came over to greet us and make sure we were happy – but never said a word with four cards sitting on the table.  Again, another missed opportunity. Really, I just don’t get it!

You’d think in this crummy economy people would be looking for ways to secure business.  I don’t get it.

Thanks for listening.

Susan

~Article written by John DiJulius

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CUSTOMER SATISFACTION AND STOCK PRICES

In an article titled Customer Satisfaction and Stock Prices: High Returns, Low Risk, author Claes

John DiJulius

John DiJulius

Fornell shows the result of extensive research and studies that proves change in customer satisfaction, not only greatly impacts each individual organization, but has a significant impact on the future health of the economy. Fornell, is the director of the American Customer Satisfaction Index. ACSI is a leading indicator of consumer behavior, measuring the satisfaction of consumers across the U.S. Economy.

They are consistent with previous studies that firms who have higher customer satisfaction are more likely to enjoy both a higher level and more stable net cash flow. Their study proved investing in the leading ACSI companies consistently outperformed the market by considerable margins.

The Smoking Gun

Several studies were used, comparing the top ACSI organizations to the market, regarding stock performance for over a six years, from 1997 to 2003; a period where the stock market had both ups and downs. The results were astonishing. You may have known the importance and benefits of providing consistent superior customer service, but I doubt, you realized how significant it really is. The top customer satisfaction companies (based on their ASCI scores) outperformed the:

  • Dow Jones (DJIA) by 93%
  • S&P 500 by 201%
  • NASDAQ by 335%

The top customer satisfaction companies beat the Dow Jones by 93%, S&P 500 by 201%, and NASDAQ by 335%. The results conclusively show that customer satisfaction pays off in up-markets and down-markets. When the stock market dropped in value, the stock prices of firms with highly satisfied customers seemed to have benefited from some degree of insulation.

No one can argue that these results are extraordinary. There are very few actions or strategies a business can take, if any at all, that can produce this kind of financial results. This is proof that there is a significant return on investment, in improving an organizations level of customer service. In the accounting world, the economic value of satisfied customers seems to be systematically undervalued even though these customers generate substantial net cash flows with low risk. Firms that do better than their competition in terms of satisfying customers (as measured by ACSI) generate superior returns at lower systematic risk.

Organizations that consistently deliver superior customer service generally enjoy repeat business, high levels of customer retention, strong customer loyalty, lower price elasticity, higher prices, more cross-selling opportunities, greater marketing efficiency, and a host of other things that usually lead to earnings growth. In addition, several research studies find that higher customer satisfaction has a positive impact on employee loyalty, cost competitiveness, profitable performance, and long-term growth.

Sure you’ve heard this before, but now people are finally believing it and wishing they had bought into it a long time ago. When times are good, too many organizations focus on selling and marketing versus delivering an experience. The best thing about economic uncertainty brought about in 2009, is that the value of a great experience has never before received so much recognition by customers, clients, patients call them what you may. Our proof comes over these past two years when The DiJulius Group has grown considerably. We’ve been forced to offer additional services, products, add additional speakers and consultants to our organization just to handle the increase in demand for help by organizations seeking to join the customer service revolution.

Over the years, I have been extremely fortunate in two areas:
1) I have had the honor of presenting at large conferences with some of the most successful speakers and consultants whom I have looked up to and mirrored in my business model.
2) I’ve worked with some of the most amazing organizations who, long before hiring me, were world-class customer service organizations, and since have adopted my ideas and systems and made them even better.

I am extremely proud to tell you that we’re bringing the 2010 Secret Service Summit back to Cleveland, Ohio this November 4&5. If you thought last year’s was an incredible learning experience, you’ll love this year’s. Leading experts and executives from organizations of different sizes, and across industries, will share best practices and systems on how to build and operate world-class customer experience organizations.

Here is what makes this two-day conference unlike any other:

  • For over two days, four of the most respected authorities, best-selling authors, most sought after consultants to fortune companies all over the world will be together on the same stage sharing their wealth of knowledge and experience and telling how and why they’ve achieved what they have.
  • Presenting will be six executives who run world-class customer service organizations and are NOT professional speakers or consultants. So why would you want to listen to them? Because there’s value in knowing what it takes to build and run the day-to-day operations of World-Class customer service companies such as The Ritz Carlton Hotel, The Melting Pot, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Carter Mario Law Firm, and more. No one knows better what it is like to be at the pointy end of a spear, dealing with budgets, staff buy-in, economic highs and lows, and countless other demands. Yet all of them and their organizations are best in class in their sector and have ignored traditional wisdom in their own industry. They’ve made a superior customer experience their single most competitive advantage.
  • We’ll have experts from virtually every major industry including manufacturing, hospitality, professional services, and healthcare.
  • There will be a panel discussion made up of the executives and employees from these leading world-class customer service organizations, allowing every attendee an opportunity to ask tough questions on the “how to do, what to do, and what not to do” issues.

If you take your service seriously, you need to be part of this event. The content shared will be a necessity to any organization that wants to raise the bar and compete on service. The networking opportunities, in addition to this line-up, create immeasurable value. We’re quite proud of the partnerships and business dealings that have taken place between our attendees (as well as 1 marriage!). Missing this event could cost you millions in clients, sales, and staff! Don’t wait to be part of the revolution. It’s happening now!



DO EMPLOYEES NEED TO BE REWARDED TO DELIVER WORLD-CLASS?

Cal DiJulius

This is a very common question I am frequently asked.  Actually many times it is not a question, but rather a statement: “Employees have to be incentivized to go Above & Beyond, otherwise they won’t do it regularly.”  I totally disagree.  Actually, I do not want employees that need incentives in order to be “day makers.”  I want genuine people who enjoy making other people’s day.

Think about the most passionate, committed people?  The ones I have come across are anyone associated with:

  • Volunteer Groups
  • Charity groups
  • Campaigns
  • High school & college athletes

Think about those groups.  You have people who commit a ridiculous amount of time and energy to something other than themselves.  They work tirelessly for days and days, building homes, donating their time, knocking on doors, and raising money. Think about a student athlete competing in volleyball, wrestling, or soccer; training year round, off-season, getting up at 6 am, working double sessions.  For what?  Rarely is there any monetary opportunity.

Many times these exact same people are constantly late and have zero passion for their paying jobs. What is it that causes these types of people to sacrifice so much for so little?  It is because they are part of a cause that is something bigger than themselves, and somehow, someone constantly shows them their direct impact on the outcome.

My middle son, Cal, at 11 years old, worked on a political campaign. This was not a result of his parents doing. I am embarrassed to say that neither of his parents had any political knowledge of any kind or interest.  However, Cal read a book and decided he wanted to help get this politician elected. I remember the weeks leading up to the election. Cal and I would constantly get into arguments because he insisted he be allowed to knock on doors and make phone calls on school nights way past his bedtime.  He was convinced if I didn’t let him, his candidate would lose.  I couldn’t argue with his passion.   Yet this is the same kid I sometimes have to beg to clean up his cloths, put his toys away and take the trash out every week.  But he had conviction. There was something he believed in and he was convinced he impacted the outcome.

World Class Leadership

John DiJulius

John DiJulius

Ask yourself, if as a leader, your employees clearly know your vision.  Have you made them part of a cause, something bigger than themselves, and are you showing them that their direct contribution impacts the outcome.



“EXTREME SERVICE”
November 25, 2009, 2:15 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

John DiJulius

Fortune Small Business’ cover story in the October 2007, issue is titled “Extreme Customer Service.” It opens by pointing out that overall, customer satisfaction is getting worse and customer rage is rising. Get this: “Fifteen percent (15%) of ticked-off customers entertain fantasies of revenge.” The article cites several examples of outstanding customer service by companies who are “stealing sales from the bigger, impersonal stores.” Both John Robert’s Spa and I are featured in the article. Read the entire article here.

Is Customer Service Making a Comeback?

This is great news because in the last 15 years, customer service has gotten lost. The focus for businesses has been artificial growth based on acquisitions, first-to- launch novelty products, and marketing gimmicks. But none of this has resulted in customer loyalty! Recently there have been numerous findings demonstrating the correlation between customer satisfaction scores, customer loyalty, same store comparable (comp) sales and profit. All of this has resulted in the re-emergence of customer service as a critical benchmark — like it was just invented.

Spiral Effect

You probably have heard me talk about how the rise of e-commerce in the last 10 years has resulted in our society having 1/20 the human interactions of 20 years ago. There are fewer relationships as customers are now seen as an account number and/or a transaction. A bigger problem has resulted in the rapid decline of people skills in the younger generations. It is a spiral effect that is hard to slow down or correct. E-commerce exploded due to the fact that consumers were getting tired of lousy customer service from retailers, sales reps, etc. Since they didn’t see the value in dealing with a human being, they cut them out and did it themselves online, and in most cases saved money (i.e. travel agencies). Businesses recognized the growing trend and put more money and resources into their e-commerce presence and less toward customer service training. In fact, with more customers going online, businesses were able to dramatically reduce their front-line payroll. All of this has caused an even larger reduction in face-to-face interaction and an increase in dissatisfaction for the consumers who choose to deal with employees at brick and mortar merchants versus online shopping carts. Now at the stores, with fewer people working, there is less assistance in finding product and longer checkout times.

GOT SERVICE?

Recently I was boarding a Continental flight in Phoenix. Just as we were about to board, the gate agent did the usual pre-board announcements. However, this time it was different. He said, “Hello. My name is Gregory and I REALLY want to thank you for being here with me today. If you weren’t here, I wouldn’t be here.” As I was boarding I noticed Gregory saying hello to the two people ahead of me, by name, and then he thanked them for flying with Continental. As he did that, he touched both on their elbows. I assumed they knew one other. As he took my ticket he said extremely enthusiastically, “Hello, John,” and before he returned my ticket, he further scanned it, then handed me my ticket, put his hand on my shoulder and said, “I really want to thank you for all the business you give to us and for being one of our best customers.” Wow! He made my day! I watched as he engaged everyone by name and genuinely thanked each person. Stunned, I boarded the plane and light-heartedly asked the stewardess, “What is wrong with that guy? What the heck is he doing working for the airlines?” As if to say, why isn’t he at Disney or The Ritz-Carlton? She laughed and said, “Who, Greg? He’s always like that. He is crazy!”

Both of our comments were a sad commentary. While it wasn’t my intention, my remark should have offended her. Instead she views him as “crazy” or an anomaly. I saw a client of mine, Ilana Isako, from SS&G Financial on the flight and I asked, “Was the gate agent as nice to you as he was to me?” Her eyes lit up and she said, “He was so nice. He asked me if I pronounce my name I-la-na and then he said, ‘thanks Ilana for traveling with us today’ and touched my arm.” We were both shocked at how personable this gate agent was to everyone who boarded. Continental needs to video tape Gregory and make it a training video. If this was the norm, do you think http://www.orbitz.com or http://www.cheaptickets.com would be so popular?

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“WELCOME TO THE NEW ERA OF CUSTOMER SERVICE”
October 26, 2009, 8:00 pm
Filed under: Customer Service, Uncategorized, What's the Secret?

The “HAVES” & “HAVE NOTS”

Which one are you?

The level of Customer Service delivered by businesses is starting to look like the wealth in the world today. You GraphAhave the “HAVES” and the “HAVE NOTS.”  You can see that from 1997-2007 (Graph A) all businesses fell into five levels of customer service:  Level 1, Unacceptable, to Level 5, World Class.  Level 3, Average, is not surprisingly where most companies fell at 38%.

However, if you look at the new study (Graph B) of the last 18 months synced with the recession, the results are almost shocking.  The good news: Level 4, Above Average, customer service companies actually grew 2%, and the 3% of companies that were World Class are still World Class. That did not drop off like some feared.  So that tells us there has been an increase (2%) in companies that have seen the value of improving their customer service level in order to compete in today’s economy. The 21% (original Level 4 & 5) have not compromised on their commitment to superior customer service. However, the shockingly bad news is that more organizations have GRAPHBgotten worse.  Levels 1 and 2 have spiked 15% combined, while Level 3 has dropped from 38% to 21%.  Level 3 used to be where most companies lived, but today is shrinking.  What this tells us is companies have figured out they either need to be really, really good, and make a considerable long term investment in customer service or they might as well stink and try to save money on the training, hiring and payroll that it takes to be superior.

To find out what level customer service company you have, visit Company Service Aptitude Test

“Customer loyalty is every company’s greatest asset in any economy”
Yeah, yeah, yeah.  You know it.  You’ve heard it before, but now people are finally believing it and wishing they had bought into it a long time ago. When times are good, too many organizations focus on selling and marketing versus delivering an experience and generating higher customer loyalty, retention, increased referrals, and price irrelevance. The best thing about this recession is that the value of great customer service has never before received so much recognition.  Our proof comes over these past two years when The DiJulius Group has grown considerably.  We’ve been forced to offer additional services, products, and add additional speakers and consultants to our organization just to handle the increase in demand for help by organizations seeking to join the customer service revolution.

Over the years, I have been extremely fortunate in two areas: 1) I have had the honor of presenting at large conferences with some of the most successful speakers and consultants whom I have looked up to and mirrored in my business model. 2) I’ve worked with some of the most amazing organizations who, long before hiring me, were world-class customer service organizations, and since have adopted my ideas and systems and made them even better.  I am extremely proud to tell you that I am bringing them all together for two days in November to provide something that has never been done before.  The DiJulius Group is producing the first annual Secret Service Summit, bringing the leading experts and executives, from cross industries, to share best practices and systems on how to build and operate world-class customer experience organizations.

Here is what makes this two-day conference unlike anything ever offered before.

·       For over two days, four of the most respected authorities, best-selling authors, most sought after consultants

John R. high resolution

John DiJulius

to fortune companies all over the world will be together on the same stage sharing their wealth of knowledge and experience and telling how and why they’ve achieved what they have.

·       Present will be six executives who run world-class customer service organizations and are NOT professional speakers or consultants. So why would you want to listen to them? Because there’s value in knowing what it takes to build and run the day-to-day operations of World-Class customer service companies such as The Ritz Carlton Hotel, The Melting Pot, Zappos.com, as well as a world-class law firm, accounting firm, and health care system.  No one knows better what it is like to be at the pointy end of a spear, dealing with budgets, staff buy in, economic highs and lows, and countless other demands.  Yet all of them and their organizations are best in class in their sector and have ignored traditional wisdom in their own industry.  They’ve made a superior customer experience their single most competitive advantage.

·       We have experts from virtually every industry, hospitality, professional services, medical, and e-commerce sector.

·       There will be a panel discussion made up of the executives from these leading world-class customer service organizations, allowing every attendee an opportunity to ask tough questions on the “how to do, what to do, and what not to do” issues.

If you take your service seriously, you need to be part of this event.  The content shared will be a necessity to any organization that wants to raise the bar and compete on service.  The networking opportunities, in addition to this line-up, create immeasurable value.  We’re quite proud of the partnerships and business dealings that have taken place between our attendees (as well as one marriage!).  Missing this event could cost you millions in clients, sales, and staff!  Don’t wait to be part of the revolution.   It’s happening now!



THE CARTER MARIO EXPERIENCE
Carter Mario Injury Lawyers

Carter Mario Injury Lawyers

Carter Mario Injury Lawyers, with four offices throughout the state of Connecticut, has an average annual growth of at least 20 percent over the past five years. However, sales were not always strong. In 2002, the law firm was stagnant largely due to low service aptitude. That is when Carter Mario, CEO and President, a person who is passionate about service, decided to buy out his partners in the law firm. “Our service culture had to change in order for us to differentiate from the rest of the pack and to survive,” says Mario. “We adopted a service culture that has enabled us to become one of the fastest growing law firms in the state. Most law firms still do not understand the service nature of our business and really do not understand that people have a choice. We have identified all of the traditional problems within our profession from a service perspective and have successfully branded ourselves as a firm who cares for our clients.”

One of the single biggest complaints in the legal industry from clients is poor communication between clients and lawyers. “We made this the number one priority in our office: Client contact. We guarantee we will return the client’s call the same day or lunch is on us. It is a non-negotiable part of everyone’s job here,” says Mario.

Many organizations attend my Secret Service workshops and have had great success at going back and implementing their own Secret Service systems. However, not many have been as successful and committed as Carter Mario. After returning from attending a Secret Service workshop, the management team at Carter Mario instituted a procedure for capturing information about each client in a format that allows everyone access. They were able to customize the software they use, which was made for attorneys, by adding a “Secret Service Tab.” This tab contains vital customer intelligence, such as preferred refreshment, client’s eye color, birth date, spouse and other family members’ names, children’s ages, hobbies, past vacations, even pet’s name.

The use of personal information literally blows clients away. They use the Secret Service tab to execute what Carter Mario calls “drive-bys,” where a staff member makes a seemingly spontaneous visit with a client who is in the office, just to say hello and say something personal, which is retrieved from the client’s Secret Service tab. Mario says, “By knowing names of their spouse, kids, hobbies, and any other personal nugget, it helps build our client equity. We do this with everyone we come in contact with: claims adjusters, opposing attorneys, judges, court reporters, everyone.” It is not uncommon for a Carter Mario employee to leave the building and go to the deli to get their client their favorite drink. “We have continuously received great responses from our clients, and a collateral benefit has been that our staff members doing the drive-bys really enjoy the responses they’ve received, and it pumps them up,” says Mario.

Carter Mario has a long list of “non-negotiable” standards. Here are a few more examples:

  • We are available 24/7
  • All clients get a call back same day or lunch is on Carter
  • At 8:45 am every day they conduct a “morning huddle” to communicate with staff on the priorities of the day as well as sharing “customer intelligence” on any clients who are visiting the office that day.
  • Front desk is never left unattended.
  • Any staff member to come within five feet of a client is to smile, look at the client in the eye, and say hello.
  • Clients are offered Carter Mario umbrellas during poor weather.



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