John DiJulius | Customer Experience Blog

Creating a World-Class Employee Experience


Employee Engagement, part 1- Written by Senior Customer Service Consultant Dave Murray


Internal Focus So many organizations want to treat their customers well, yet so few take the time to consider their employees in the equation.  Don’t get me wrong, several organizations provide great annual service training programs, service related contests, etc., but how many take the time to focus on how they are treating their employees – the people who are actually interacting with customers.  The quick answer is, not enough.  All too often we hear leaders proclaim: “We are a great team, everyone loves it here,” “our employees love our culture,” or even the dreaded “they are lucky to have this job.”  The truth is, the first two are very often based on a gut feel rather than data, and the last one is obviously coming from a leader that flat out does not care that much about employees.


Earlier this year, Rob Markey wrote a telling blog regarding employee engagement for Harvard Business Review titled, “The Four Secrets to Employee Engagement.” I personally have always been a big proponent of organizations actively cultivating and reinforcing employee engagement.  Think about it for a minute: If your employees are not engaged with your company, how can you expect them to convey the proper message, sense of ownership, and pride to your customers?  They can’t.  If they are not properly engaged, they are simply going through the motions until they decide to finally leave.  If your employees do not feel engaged, any customer service training you do will not stick for the long term.  You may see some short-term success and momentum, but without true engagement, old habits will eventually return.


World Class That is why when we work with a client here at The DiJulius Group, Creating a World-Class Internal Culture is the second of the 10 Commandments. Once we set the compass by creating the Service Vision, we then want to make sure that employees are on-board with the organization and fully engaged in their roles.   Our Internal Culture process makes sure that employees are engaged and feeling appreciated whether they are just being recruited, or have been with the company 15 years.


The Findings In his blog, Rob Markey shared some startling data recently uncovered in a Bain and Company study that surveyed 200,000 employees.  As you read these, think of your own organization.  I’ll bet you can think of some real-life examples.  The number one finding was that engagement scores decline with tenure.  So, the people who know the most and probably are paid more are likely to be less engaged.


Finding #2 from the Bain and Company study was that engagement scores decline as you travel down the organizational chart.  Remember earlier how we mentioned leaders assessing culture based on feel?  Too often, leaders may be getting a false sense of security regarding engagement when only interacting with fellow senior leaders.


The last finding brought to light in the study was that engagement levels tend to be lowest among folks in sales and service – also known as the people dealing with customers the most!  All three findings are concerning, but to me, this one is the most serious. 


Honest Assessment I urge all leaders to take some time to honestly assess the level of engagement in your organization.  In my next article, we will discuss some ways to begin to cultivate a culture of engagement.  In the meantime, I would love to hear your examples of disengagement, or ways you have found to improve your engagement levels.


To be continued…

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10 WORST Customer service stories of 2013; WestJet airlines delivers Secret Service

#10 –  Wanna see a bank teller? It will cost you. Some banks now want you to pay for face time as more institutions are charging fees for interacting with a teller.


#9 – DirecTV charges Customer $400 for equipment after a devastating wildfire destroyed their home.


#8 – Several major credit card companies have to return a combined $425 million to consumers, primarily for misleading sales tactics


#7 – Too Fat To Tan. After a woman purchased a tanning package, she was told she was too fat to tan at a tanning salon, and the salon would not give her a refund.


#6 – Lululemon, an athletic apparel retail store, sold yoga pants that were see-through. It got worse! When women came back to the store to return the too-sheer yoga pants, the Customers were asked to try on the pants and bend over in front of sales associates, who would assess them before a return was permitted.


#5 – A pizza driver gets on an elevator, opens a pizza box, proceeds to eat several toppings off the pizza, then closes the box back up and delivers the pizza to the Customer.


#4 – Retail store Charges Customers a $5.00 ‘Just Looking’ Fee.


#3 – A young boy, who has an asthma attack , is refused a 9-1-1 call because it is against their policy to let Customers to use their phone.


#2 – Company fines for negative online review. This company built a clause in their “Terms and Conditions” at the time of sale that, if accepted, prohibits any Customer from posting anything negative about the company.


#1 –  Restaurant sends consumer an invoice for restroom visit. A restaurant in Houston, Texas area sends a woman, who used their restroom, a bill for $5.00 for using their restroom. 


WestJet Airlines delivers the Ultimate Secret Service Christmas Surprise – Canadian based airline WestJet sets up electronic Santa chat boxes in terminals at airports. Travelers are entertained while chatting with Santa, as parents and kids alike tell him what they want for Christmas. However, it didn’t stop there. While the flights were in the air, WestJet shoppers pick up everybody’s Christmas wishes, from “socks and underwear” to “a big screen TV.” When they get to baggage claim, instead of their luggage, travelers were greeted with big blue boxes with their names on the front and their dream Christmas gifts inside. You have to watch it to believe it! 
What better way to say Happy Holidays than “What’s The Secret?” –  This season gift your clients a signed copy of my book with this one of a kind holiday offer: 10 books for $150 Nothing says “you care about Customer service” more than the gift of this signed copy of the book that is changing the world of business.  To purchase use online code: 10XMAS, offer valid through Sunday, December 22nd!







The only businesses surviving with long-term sustainability
are the ones fanatical about differentiating themselves through the Customer experience they deliver


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:



  • 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


  • 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 or fax back to 440-484-2373.


Very limited seating.




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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Most important eService EVER; Brand new C-SAT
What’s the real Service Aptitude Level of your company?

Company Service Aptitude Test (C-SAT) – When it comes to Customer service, do you know the rating for your company, location or department? The DiJulius Group has created an incredibly powerful tool called the Company Service Aptitude Test. The C-SAT not only pinpoints the Service Aptitude Level of your organization, but more importantly, it lets management know where the strengths and opportunities are in order to get to the next level. The C-SAT is based on the Ten Commandments to providing a World-Class Customer experience from the groundbreaking book What’s the Secret? These are the 10 principles shared by every great Customer service organization. 
There are five levels of Customer service – It will take approximately 15 – 20 minutes to answer all the questions. Scores may then be averaged to find an overall company score. Every manager in your organization should take the C-SAT. These are the 10 principals shared by every great Customer service organization. Now your management can take the C-SAT.

NEW Customized Group C-SAT – The DiJulius Group is now able to compile and group the results for your entire organization or business unit. When you have every manager and senior executive take this test and then compare the results and individual answers to each question, you will be shocked at how they differ. For example, some leaders will give the highest rating (Extremely Accurate) while others will give the lowest rating (Extremely Inaccurate) for the identical question. It is critically important to uncover the reason why. Obviously someone, or maybe many people, have the wrong assumption that needs to be addressed. See sample report on one question below:



Shocking varying results –  In the example above, out of 20 managers who took this C-SAT for the same company, 3 managers (or 15%) answered “Extremely Accurate” for this questions, while 4 managers (or 20%) answered “Extremely Inaccurate”.  Those are the complete opposite answers for the same question and for the same company. When you go over this report with your management team, you not only uncover which parts of your organization’s Customer service need to be addressed, you uncover inconsistencies of management thinking.  This unique reporting service comes with a one-on-one consultation with one of our world-class consultants to go over the immediate opportunities that might surface. Contact David at to learn how this tool can be your first stepping-stone to becoming a World-Class Customer service organization.



 Create raving team members and they will create raving clients 


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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The biggest influence on Customer service in 50 years
February 27, 2013, 9:17 am
Filed under: Customer Experience, Customer Service, Social Media, What's the Secret?

The biggest influence on Customer service in 50 years – The biggest influence, no question, is social media, on so many different levels. You may even be sick of hearing about it, but each of us needs to do a social media audit of how well we are positioned for this revolutionary turning point in business. A case in point was shared in a recent HBR blog titled, “What’s New About Serving Customers (and what’s not)”, by author Micah Solomon. He shares how a restaurant owner responds to even the smallest on-line criticism with outrage. For example:


If any other jerks like ”Jjhamie319” are thinking of coming to my restaurant, listen up: DON’T. I have enough work serving the rest of you people without this kind of grief.


Social Media is NOT just for marketing & promotions – I am actually turned off by companies that only shamelessly promote themselves. Share insights, educate your Customer, show them resources, and find ways to help others; ways that can’t come back to benefit only you.


You earn business by being generous with your knowledge & resources

without asking for anything in return.


Every business is under a microscope now – Companies can no longer hide if your Customer experience and treatment of people isn’t at a high level. You will be out of business. It’s that simple.  I ask my employees, “How would you behave if CNN were on sight shooting a documentary?”  With smart phones, everyone now has a video camera in hand. Check this out, caught on camera!


What use to be word of mouth is now word of mouse – What you do well and not so well will be broadcasted to hundreds, if not thousands, of potential Customers. They expect your company to be easy to contact and quick to respond. 


You are either creating brand ambassadors or brand terrorists

doing brand assassination


People do not expect you to be perfect, but how you handle imperfection better be – We need to be zero risk to deal with. Zero risk does not mean we never screw up, but it does mean we admit we dropped the ball, and Customers are now more loyal because of the way we handled the problem. Read past eService Zero Risk


Customers expect companies to share their burdens – The same HBR blog shares this great insight: world-class Customer service companies have long since realized that what was once a Customer responsibility is no longer. This is why your bank tells you when your mortgage payment is due and your pharmacy reminds you that it’s time to refill your prescription. Amazon even notifies you when you already purchased a particular title for your Kindle two years ago, and refuses to let you accidentally pay for it again.




We do not lose any Customers to a competitor we wouldn’t lose anyway.


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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“The Summit meeting was invigorating. Upon arrival I assumed that it would be
the same old two day conference listening to boring speakers and taking notes.
Wow…was I wrong. Not only were the speakers amazing, but I really walked away
with a new outlook on how to run the business AND, on a personal level, that one
really MUST live life to its fullest.”
~2011 Secret Service Summit attendee’s feedback

The 2011 Secret Service Summit was one of the highlights of my professional career. It started with selling out 10 days before the event due to the amazing lineup of speakers and companies represented.  The hype didn’t disappoint, as you can see by a sampling of feedback we received, and we received hundreds of similar comments. Best of all was the energy in the room. A world-class customer service conference is unlike any other. Everyone is coming there to find out how they can raise their hospitality and customer experience to the next level. The energy in the room is indescribable — people were literally crying when the conference ended.

Whether you were there seeing it unfold live or you were unable to get away, we audio tapped it and have it available for you to hear or relive the amazing content shared by all the brilliant leaders, authors, and motivational speakers.  2011 Secret Service Summit Audio.

Recapping some of the major takeaways from each of the presenters:

Michael CaitoMichael Caito President & CEO, Restaurants on the Run

“Michael’s presentation was all about his passion. You could see that he lives and breathes with his company, and having an owner/CEO that close to service is refreshing.”

Disciplines for growth – People, Strategy & Execution
1) People – We use a job matrix to create clear expectations for each position and all new hires get a 90 day training plan.

  • selection
  • purpose
  • service

2) Strategy – We built  a strategy statement which defines our objective and strategy for the next 3 years.

  • hedgehog principal
  • advantage
  • strategy statement

3) Execution – We create accountability in the company by using Vital Factor Team Meetings, quarterly planning sessions and 1-1 “mops” with our direct reports.

  • vital factors
  • performance management
  • aligning resources

Jack MackeyJack Mackey VP of Sales for Service Management Group & Professional Speaker

“I LOVED Jack’s presentation. I was WOWED by how much I learned from him. Very impressive.”

Anyone can still make it in America when they bring a spirit of creative discontent to the challenges of winning and keeping loyal customers.

  1. All business is personal, it goes where it is invited and stays where it is appreciated
  2. Your operation is your customer service
  3. People only talk about what’s remarkable
  4. You can market all you like, but people believe what they experience
  5. Customers own your brand
  6. Even loyal customers like to try new things
  7. Innovation is how we compete for the future

Craig Russell-StarbucksCraig Russell, Senior Vice President, U.S. Store Operations Services Starbucks

“I liked how Craig suggested we should empower our employees to make it right, no matter what it takes.
Craig reminded us to always do the right thing for the customer.”
  1. Know your current state of employee’s understanding of what customer service is in your company – go to the front line and ask.
  2. Know your current state of customer service by observation – go to where the customers shop or engage with your company and observe, ask questions, and really try to not be an informed insider — but be a customer.
  3. Validate that you have a customer service vision and if not, BUILD one!
  4. Ensure the pillars that support the vision are actionable, simple to remember, resonate with the front line and are observable and measureable behaviors.
  5. Cascade your vision in a way that connects to your company’s core mission and culture. (At Starbucks it was the apron.)
  6. USE the model (The 10 Commandments) and continuously improve by benchmarking with other great companies!

Michael CoburnMichael Coburn Director of Customer Service, Nestlé USA

“I loved that he took us from bad to great. He took us on the journey and let us see how change can happen when you get the right people to lead it through!”

At Nestlé we needed to change our mindset from being merely transactional to experiential

  1. You’re never too good to get better – continuous improvement in the area of how you interact with your customer is critical to being world class.  In the Business to Business world, take care of your clients who in the end take care of your consumers.
  2. Involve your employees in the solution so that they are the ones driving it forward.  They will take it further than you might have even envisioned.
  3. Daily Huddles – A great way for your teams focused on delivering World Class Customer Service.  Don’t be afraid to force the issue and soon this will be a way of life that the employees could not imagine starting their day without.  Make sure management has a huddle as well, to model the way.

Matt StewartMatt Stewart CEO, National Services Group

“Matt Stewart is definitely a great speaker…he kept the audience so engaged w/his humor! I totally agree that we are all accountable for customer issues and his point of how we have to get past the place of right/wrong.”

The “Inner Marketer©” is what tells us we can do what others think we cannot.  It is what causes us to invent better, faster, cheaper ways of doing what we do today.  It is THE driver of change and improvement.   It should also be controlled.  We can savor the “Inner Marketer©” while we savor the utility of contrarian opinion:

  1. When addressing customer complaints we can look for the truth in every complaint and look to learn (we should never write off even the most ridiculous complaints.)
  2. When dealing with co-workers we can identify what is useful in even the most non-constructive feedback.
  3. When working with suppliers we can identify means of growth for our organization even when opposing a bad deal.

Applying this to customer service specifically… even the most ridiculous complaints contain some validity.  There is truth in ever rumor.  If we spend time identifying the valid, getting to know the complainer, and looking for improvement we can cease attacks from clients that will severely damage our brand and company.  Even one angry customer can cause incredible damage due to the power of the Internet today.  Beware of those looking to build Pinocchio websites that harm your company.

David WagnerDavid Wagner Author of Life as a Daymaker

“David’s presentation was so inspirational. I read his entire book on the plane ride home and was even more inspired to be a Daymaker myself. His talk about how we will live our “dash” was an excellent way to challenge all of us to go out and inspire others.”
  1. Talent without passion is a job. Passion without talent is a hobby. Being passionate about what you are talented at is your calling.
  2. Giving with no strings attached to customers, coworkers and people in general takes less energy than giving with expectations of what’s in it for you.
  3. How will you live your dash? Everyone has one; how will yours be defined? 1959 ?

Mark MoraitakisMark Moraitakis Director of Service Innovations, Chick-fil-A

“I read Truett Cathy’s book prior to hearing Mark speak at the event and I can definitely see why the Cathy family promoted Mark to the position he’s in today. I loved the, ‘Day in the life of..’ video Mark showed. It really supported his discussion on never knowing who you’re serving and serving your customers from the heart. The 2nd mile behaviors he talked about are also very important to
make price irrelevant.”
  1. Guests will remark about their experience – let’s do what we can to be sure the experience is REMARKABLE.
  2. Use what you’ve got.  For Chick-fil-A that is “craveable” food, our COWS, and our people.
  3. Food:  we freshly prepare our products – no freezer- to- fryer approach at Chick-fil-A
    COWS:  they are on a self-preservation campaign – they can be unexpectedly fun
    People:  we want our guest to feel cared for by going above and beyond.  This happens when we teach our team to offer world-class hospitality.
  • Be genuine:  serve from the heart to show honor, dignity, and respect
  • Be proactive:  anticipate the needs of others
  • Be personal:  connect in a way that create fond memories

John DiJuliusJohn DiJulius The Authority on World-Class Customer Experience

“DiJulius was amazing.  As always, I was again feverishly taking notes to get down all of the activities I could do w/my staff. I loved the never/always list, creating a day in the life of your customer, and creating an anti-no zone.”

7 Rules to Creating a Customer Revolution in your Industry

  1. Superior Quality
  2. Simplicity
  3. Easy to do business with
  4. Employee Evangelists
  5. Educate versus Sell
  6. Experience Epiphany
  7. Customer Engagement

Dick HoytDick Hoyt Motivational Speaker, Author, Father of the Century

“Dick is an amazing human being. Dick is incredible, as a father and a human being. His presentation was moving and inspiring. Made me want to get up and run!!! Made me cry!!! Inspired me that anything is achievable!!!! What an amazing story. I have shared it with all my friends and family, and can’t wait to share it with my staff.”
  1. Yes You Can
  2. Yes You Can
  3. Yes You Can

2011 Secret Service Summit Audio

2012 Secret Service Summit November 1st & 2nd.  Tickets are on sale now. Before the 2011 Summit was over, we had a rush of people buying for next year. We believe the 2012 Summit will sell out well in advance. Make your reservations now!

~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.


Getting to Benny

Making Price Irrelevant…

How to get to “Benny” – One of my consulting clients is a large professional service firm, trying to differentiate themselves from all the other firms competing with the exact same services offered. There are the typical challenges when helping an organization transform into what we like to call a Customer Service Revolution. It starts with the top executives truly focusing and committing long-term to demonstrate this is not flavor of the month, program of the year or management by best seller. In some industries it is changing an old paradigm, a stale stubborn mindset that screams: “We are not in the hospitality industry. I am a professional who brings a highly-valued skill set and intellectual capital that my clients desperately need.”

This organization is guilty of the same, which is what the key decision makers recognized and why they determined to change their culture.  After the first year, everyone was excited about the momentum that the “Project Client Xperience” had produced. Yet there was still a great deal of work to be done.  A percentage of the professional service providers, including partners, had not totally bought in.  At one of our regional workshops, I had one of the more influential partners (let’s call him Larry) ask if he could share a story with the group. His story was about how one of their largest long-term clients had recently changed their CEO.  Any time an organization changes a CEO, all vendors are in danger of being replaced. So Larry went on to share that he knew he had to quickly demonstrate to the new CEO (let’s call him Greg Benedict) how valuable and how brilliant they were, before it was decided to start shopping their services.

Larry admitted it was a struggle; every meeting they had that the CEO attended was short and very transactional. Every time Larry and his associates tried to make small talk, share advice or demonstrate their expertise, Greg, who is known by his close friends as “Benny,” was not interested in engaging in anything more than the facts. He just wanted bottom line answers. Larry knew that once their current contract was up, they were going to lose this large long-term client.

That is when Larry started thinking about all the “Project Client Xperience” training, systems and tools they had been going through. He admitted while he didn’t put much stock into it, he decided he had nothing to lose. So the first thing he did was figure out what Secret Service  he could do on Greg. He realized that there was very little customer intelligence he had learned in the few meetings. He remembered about F.O.R.D. (family, occupation, recreation & dreams), but figured it was virtually impossible to find any of this out until he started doing some research online, especially via social media.  Through that, he discovered (most notably) that Greg was an avid triathlon competitor and was a big supporter of MS causes.

At the end of their next meeting, Larry briefly mentioned that he was aware that Greg competed in triathlons and how it was a “bucket list” item of his own to compete in one. Larry said, “Greg’s eyes lit up like cannon balls! Next thing you know, we are in his office and he is showing me pictures on his walls of different events that he was in and telling stories. He told me that if he could do it — anyone could. Over the next few weeks he was sending me advice, books and articles on how to train. I also found he has a daughter who is challenged with Multiple Sclerosis and that is why he is such a big supporter.”

Larry said several months later he was competing in his first triathlon with new buddy, Greg. Additionally, he has since become a supporter of the annual event Greg holds every year for MS.  Larry went on to tell the group how Greg’s company renewed their annual contract with Larry’s firm, but best of all, Larry said, every note or email he gets from Greg is signed “Benny.”

How well do you truly create emotional connections with your clients?



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