John DiJulius | Customer Experience Blog


World-Class is not prejudice | Chick-fil-A 40 years of double digit sales growth | Do your customers have permission to spend more money | 3 Must Do’s for Social Media Management Making price irrelevant…

World-Class is not only for the high-end luxury brands – Would you be surprised if I told you about an upscale restaurant that regularly has fresh flowers and fresh ground pepper at every table, meals brought while you are seated, and regular acts of kindness such as employees carrying food for women with strollers and opening doors for elderly?  What if I told you this was not an upscale restaurant, but rather a restaurant that competes in the fast food industry. Yes, I am talking about Chick-fil-A, regarded Chick-fil-A Website as one of the truly great world-class customer service anomalies, like Zappos, Southwest Airlines, and Starbucks. Chick-fil-A is truly an innovator, disrupting a stale industry (quick service restaurants) and serving as a case study business model from which any industry can learn. Chick-fil-A has more than 1,500 locations and has an unheard of 40 consecutive years of double-digit sales increase.

Mark Moraitakis Every guest feels cared for in a way that cannot be duplicatedMark G. Moraitakis is the Director of Service Innovations and a nearly 30-year veteran of Chick-fil-A. Mark is one of our amazing keynote presenters at this year’s 2011 Secret Service Summit November 3rd & 4th.  Mark will share the key reasons for Chick-fil-A’s incredible success, and how they have revolutionized the customer experience model in the quick service restaurant arena that can be applied to any business. Mark describes the purpose of CFA restaurants: to ensure every guest has an experience where they feel cared for in a way that they cannot get anywhere else.  

A WIN-WIN Customer Experience – Last week I did an Experiential Tour Workshop with a group of executives from one of my consulting clients.  We visited several customer experience revolutionary retailers from different industries, found the common themes they all share, and discussed how those themes can be applied to their business.  One common theme that reoccurred was an improved experience that greatly benefitted the customer, left them surprised and appreciative, but also greatly benefited the organization.  For instance, if Nordstrom does not have your size in a style that you want, they will order it and ship it to your house or office for no extra charge.  Wow, that means I do not have to comeback next week and pick it up! Love that! What it also means is that at other retail stores, more than half of the customers do not come back to pick up their items because it is inconvenient and they lost the urge to purchase that item a week later. This excellent customer service system also ensures Nordstrom closes more sales.  

Give your customer permission to buy more – Have you ever ordered at a drive thru only to realize that you forgot something, yet you are too afraid to add it on at the pickup window because you think it will cause mayhem to the drive thru attendant?  I personally do not want my customers to ever fear buying more.  So what if, as you pulled up to the pickup window, there were a sign that said, “Did you forget anything? You can add it on here.”   This sign would make the customer thrilled that they can still get what they wanted and the restaurant gets more sales.  Win-Win.

FREE teleseminar September 14th – The DiJulius Group is staring a monthly teleseminar series for members of the customer service revolution personally conducted by John DiJulius on how to create a world-class customer experience organization.  Find out the secrets to becoming the best in your industry, making price irrelevant to your clients and changing the world by joining the customer service revolution.  Sign up to become a member.

Quote of the week –
Your success depends on the capacity of other people to carry out your vision to the end.
Your individual effect on the outcome becomes less and less. As others, through empowerment,
take on significant responsibilities with zealous commitment, many more will enjoy success.

Receive a “Johnism” of the Day – NOW you can join me on Twitter!

~John R. DiJulius III best-selling author, consultant, and keynote speaker, is the President of The DiJulius Group, the leading customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on customer experience trends and best practices. Learn more about The DiJulius Group or The Secret Service Summit, America’s #1 Customer Service Conference.

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It’s about TIME | AMAZON’s Bezos | The New Word of Mouth

“Changing the World by Creating a Customer Service Revolution…

It’s about TIME – Speed of time and speed of service are as critical to the customer experience as anything.  Too often it is part of fundamentals, but does not get the time it deserves in operations, training, and mindshare of all employees. Everyone in the organization has to understand how valuable time is to the customer.

No time to Wait – In the great book, The Amazement Revolution, by my good friend, Shep Hyken, (who has been a keynote speaker at the Secret Service Summit) articulates very well the importance of time. Hyken shares how consumers consistently report to researchers that they are working harder and longer hours than ever before, that they experience serious stress in their lives because of the lack of available time to do everything they want to do, and that they flat-out resent being kept waiting. It is vital that business demonstrate to their customers that their time is always regarded as a critical resource. Their time will always be respected by sending silent cues and signals such as, “I am here. I see you. You are the most important priority for me right now, and I am not putting any other task in front of the task of serving you.”

New Word of Mouth – Word of mouth use to be the most influential tool to a brand’s reputation.  Today is a new age, and through social media outlets, the voice of the customer can create brand evangelists or brand assassins at warp speeds. College Works Painting, headquartered in Southern California, has always prided themselves on being at the top of their industry for customer service; but they found out the hard way about the new word of mouth. One unhappy, disgruntled customer created a blog where he complained aggressively about the job that was done for him.   His blog dominated the search engines for four years.  As a result of this brand terrorism CWP estimates that it lost millions in revenue and countless employee candidates.

Just say Yes – As a result of the beating CWP took from that nasty blogger, CEO Matt Stewart now Matt Stewart shares the lessons he learned. “After committing to truly becoming a world-class customer service organization, we changed our entire culture and attitude toward every customer we contact. We don’t care who is right or wrong, we look at ourselves through the eyes of any customer, and we fight for 100% satisfaction.  We say ‘sorry’ more, we say ‘yes’ more, and we move very fast and very transparently. Our philosophy is Yes is always the answer, now what is the question? This is a way of life for us, and for me personally.”  You can hear Matt live, as he is one of our keynote presenters at this year’s Secret Service Summit.  Matt will share how he has helped to build multiple successful businesses based on delivering a world-class customer and employee experience.

“…To be the earth’s most customer centric company” – A pretty ambitious goal, but I wouldn’t bet against the author of that statement, Jeff Bezos.  Recently Success Magazine featured the founder and President of Amazon.com in their August issue and as always, the pioneer stressed how Amazon’s Jeff Bezos from Amazonsuccess is built around fanatical drive on the customer experience. Some excerpts from Bezos: “The customer experience is the critical guiding hand. Our vision is to be the earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”  With that type of vision from the President, is it any wonder why Amazon.com has revolutionized not only ecommerce, but also retailing and publishing as well? The article said, “If the Internet were rock & roll, Bezos was its Elvis.” Bezos cites the fundamental differences between an entrepreneur and professional management, “entrepreneurs are more stubborn about the vision and keep working on the details. One of the dangers about bringing in professional managers is the first thing they want to alter is the vision. The rule of thumb is to be stubborn on the big things and flexible on the details.”

Quote of the Week –

“We are not for everyone, nor do we want to be. We are for the 1% who wants to emerge as

the best-of-the-best and are not afraid to work harder and challenge themselves

to see how much greatness they actually have inside.”

        Receive a “Johnism” of the Day – join me on http://twitter.com/johndijulius

~John DiJulius best-selling author, consultant, and keynote speaker, is the CVO of The DiJulius Group, the leading customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on customer experience trends and best practices. Learn more about The DiJulius Group or The Secret Service Summit, America’s #1 Customer Service Conference.

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IT ISN’T THEIR FAULT, THEY DON’T KNOW ANY BETTER!

I have this niece who is 20, and I have been bugging her for years to come work for me. I’ll even send her to beauty school! She is one of those bright, bubbly cute girls who lights up a room. She has a great personality and any business would love her working for them at the front lines as a receptionist, hostess, or any customer contact position.

ImageI got to see her over the holidays and asked her what she was doing. She said she has been working for a while at a Café and enjoys it.  I asked her what it was like and what her responsibilities were. As she explained them, one of the jobs the owner has given her was to make sure people who are not paying customers do not use the bathrooms.  My eyes lit up. I said, “Really?” She replied, “Yes, we even have a sign on the door that says so. Just today I saw someone who wasn’t buying anything headed to the restroom, so I ran after him and made him leave.  My owner says if they can’t pay for things, they don’t get to take advantage of our facilities because he then has to pay me to go in and clean up after them.”

I was shocked! This is my sweet adorable niece with the same family DNA. How could she think like this?  You are probably thinking how wrong I am about my niece, and that I shouldn’t want an employee like that.

Well, for starters, each of us has plenty of employees currently working for us, and I would love for her to work for me– with the proper customer service training, of course.  Her mindset is not unusual. It is more the norm.

It all goes back to Service Aptitude. No one is born with it; it is not innate. People’s Service Aptitude comes from two primary places: 1) life experiences and 2) previous work experiences.  Think about that. That’s it! No one is born with high service aptitude.  Most life experiences before the age of 25 don’t afford the know-how of what world-class service looks like.  And considering that nearly 80% of businesses out there are Average at best at customer service, that means employees have previously worked elsewhere. Not only were they not trained on what excellent service looks like, but they were poisoned with a policy-driven iron fist that teaches them that customers are out to take advantage of businesses and must be caught and stopped.

We all agree that the experiential side (how our customers are treated and cared for) is just as important as the technical/operational side of what the customer receives. However, our training contradicts that. We would never think of having an accountant, lawyer, nurse, doctor, hairdresser, or technician perform work without the proper technical training, certification, and licensing. Yet most companies have little to zero customer service certification.  To my knowledge there is no degree or even a college course that prepare our youth.

Action Plan

Don’t be discouraged.  This is the majority of our workforce. Keep reminding yourself that it is not their fault; it is our responsibility as an organization and as leaders to improve their Service Aptitude to a level that is acceptable before we allow them to interact with our customers. Make sure you re-evaluate what your soft-skill service training looks like, how well your existing and new employees know and understand your Service Vision, and how they impact it.  Be sure they know your Customer Bill of Rights, your Always & Nevers, the Secret Service Systems, what your service recovery protocols are, how they can easily go Above & Beyond, and that they have the permission and autonomy.

~John DiJulius best-selling author, consultant, and keynote speaker, is the CVO of The DiJulius Group, the leading customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on customer experience trends and best practices. John DiJulius is the innovator of a methodology called Secret Service a customer service system which consistently enables organizations to deliver World-Class Customer Experiences. Find out more about The DiJulius Group or The Secret Service Summit, the #1 National Customer Service Conference.



ZERO RISK

You can make the argument that in business, achieving Zero Risk is as important as consistently achieving delivery of your non-negotiable service standards. Zero Risk addresses an intimidating array of issues such as service defects, lack of concern about the customer’s experience, and incidents or emergencies that aren’t a company’s fault.

“These all produce unhappy customers.”

But what does Zero Risk look like from the consumer side? As a customer, Zero Risk means you have a sense of security knowing that when you deal with a company, if something goes wrong, that company will make it right. There’s no risk (Zero Risk) on the customer’s part to deal with that company or business.

How many Zero Risk companies do you deal with? The following scenario happens every day.  You are unhappy with your experience as a customer. You express your displeasure to a front-line employee who looks at you like a deer in your headlights. At best, that employee may say “Sorry” — but that’s it. The employee isn’t allowed, or required, or trained to fix the problem. It’s obvious that nobody at the company cares whether you are disappointed, and you realize it is a waste of time and energy to try to do anything about it. So you just stop reporting your displeasure, and more importantly, you stop going back. Dealing with a company like that is High Risk and the opposite of Zero Risk.

Today, we expect very little from companies. We feel it is a waste of time to complain because companies will be defensive and will not take responsibility for the problem. By now you probably have heard the urban legend about a customer who returned tires to a Nordstrom store and Nordstrom refunded the money even though it has never sold tires. It doesn’t matter whether or not the story is true.  What does matter is that Nordstrom has an almost mythical status for its “no-hassle” customer service.

I admit that I love to shop at Nordstrom. They have made price irrelevant for me because they provide great service, and I know they are a Zero Risk company. I don’t have to worry about returning an item within 30 days or saving my receipt because Nordstrom just doesn’t haggle over these details.

I have a personal “tire experience” story with Nordstrom. One day, as I put on a nice pair of shoes, I noticed that the tongue was damaged in one of them. At first I thought nothing could be done about the situation because the shoes were nearly a year old. But then I remembered that my wife had purchased them at Nordstrom.  I decided to put Nordstrom’s reputation to the test. I took the shoes to my Nordstrom in Beachwood, Ohio, and asked for the general manager.  Fran Broda introduced herself to me as the general manager and asked how she could assist me.

“My wife purchased these shoes here nearly a year ago, and one of them is now defective.” Fran looked at the shoe. “I don’t believe Nordstrom has ever sold this brand of shoes.” I firmly disagreed.  “I am pretty confident my wife purchased these here. She buys all my shoes from Nordstrom.”

“Regardless, let me see what we can do. We should be able to repair it. Can you leave it with us for a few hours?” she replied.  I have to admit that I was a little surprised.

At first I felt that she was trying to get out of fixing the shoe. (Maybe the tire story really was a myth.) Could their customer service be overrated? I was sure I would have to pay for the repair, especially as Fran wasn’t admitting to having sold them in the first place. A few hours later, I returned to Nordstrom. The shoe was fixed and as good as new.  Better yet, to my great surprise, at no charge!

Driving home, I thought, “That was Zero Risk. They stood behind their product and fixed it, even though my shoes were nearly a year old.” I gave them a 9 on a scale of 10, losing 1 point because Fran tried to say Nordstrom’s hadn’t sold the shoes to me. When I got home, I told my wife the story. She immediately told me that Fran Broda was right! My wife remembered buying the shoes someplace else. So Nordstrom scored a perfect 10. At no charge they had repaired a used shoe that they hadn’t even sold!

“Nordstrom is truly a Zero Risk company.”

~John DiJulius best-selling author, consultant, and keynote speaker, is the CVO of The DiJulius Group, the leading customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on customer experience trends and best practices. John DiJulius is the innovator of a methodology called Secret Service a customer service system which consistently enables organizations to deliver World-Class Customer Experiences. Find out more about The DiJulius Group or The Secret Service Summit, the #1 National Customer Service Conference.

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ARE YOU GETTING ENOUGH COMPLAINTS? No news is sometimes bad news

Think about the last several times you had an experience less than spectacular. You left a business frustrated or hung up the phone more stressed than before you called. Unfortunately all of us can remember several probably in the past 48 hours. Next, think about contacting the company management about your dissatisfaction.  If you are like most people, you don’t bother to waste your time.  I never do. But then the customer service consultant voice starts talking to me on my way home.

Voice in my head:

“Why didn’t you tell anyone?

Me:

“I don’t know, I just didn’t, leave me alone”

Voice:

“But why?”

Me:

“Because they don’t care”

Voice:

“How do you know?”

Me:

“Just a feeling I got, no one there seemed to care. I would have had to wait for a manager to come out, then explain my story to him, and I know he would have thought I was trying to get something for free, and he probably would have been defensive. I would have preferred to talk to him 20 minutes sooner than waste my time.”

Voice:

“Maybe, but how often do you think this happens with your customers and clients in your businesses?”

Me:

“Uhhhhhhh, good question! How about minding your own business while I turn up my radio!”

Ouch! This happens all the time. We do it as customers, and our customers are doing it to us!!  If we are not making it easier for our customers to give feedback, then it is happening to us more than any of us realize. Our customers have better things to do with their time than hunt us down and complain.

Management Service Recovery Training

Customer Satisfaction and Resolution GRAPHIt is difficult to expect your front-line employees to handle service recovery when they have poor role models. Service Management Group (SMG), headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, who measures the customer experience for multi-unit businesses, found some startling information when tracking customer complaints. SMG discovered that managers were the main cause of the very worst problems. These were the situations in which a customer complained directly to the manager. But the manager made the original problem worse by being defensive or unwilling to solve the problem. One-third of worst problems-the ones where customers called into the company’s headquarters to complain-were about the manager’s failure to resolve the original complaint!

Give Permission, Make it Easy

There are several ways to give permission for our customers to communicate with us. Now I am not talking about satisfaction measurement devices that ask customers their level of satisfaction and how likely they are to refer.  That is very vitally important, I spent an entire chapter on it (13) in What’s the Secret?. This is something totally different.  I’m talking about giving your customers permission to communicate easily, in a non-threatening way; and not only giving them permission, but asking for their advice, their feedback, both positive and negative. Few companies ask their customers for praise, and lose the opportunity to celebrate and perpetuate that type of outstanding performance. However, very few companies have the courage to ask their customers for feedback if their experience was below what they were expecting.

How Accessible Are You?

 

Here’s a refreshing approach. When you shop for a car at Motorcars Honda/Toyota in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, you will notice a red phone in the middle of the showroom with a sign that reads: “Hotline to Owner Chuck Gile.”  Customers know that if any issues arise, they have the power to talk to the top executive in the organization. That provides great peace of mind and a zero risk of doing business with a company. On top of that, the red phone sends a message to all employees, demonstrating the lengths Motorcars will go to make the customer happy.

Grillsmith Restaurant, a Tampa-based chain, posts a sign that says, “I want to hear from you” with the GM’s picture on it and all the contact information, including the cell phone number.

Got Service? Prove it!
John Robert’s Spa rolled out an Experience Guarantee, where guests can pay what they think is fair if they were not totally satisfied with their experience, no questions asked. Did JRS get burned? Hardly. Any time John Robert’s got “short paid” it was deemed justifiable by the Salon Coordinator. It gave JR great feedback on who were the employees not providing the experience promised and more than 80% of the guests who didn’t pay full price, returned again.  John Robert’s retained 80% of their dissatisfied customers!  I would say it is working.

It is so simple: it is just marketing to your customer on everything: invoices, orders, at checkout, on the website, even in bathrooms.  Here are some examples of what companies have used:

 

Please tell us about your experience.
It is very important for us to know how we can be the best 

We want your advice on how we can be better

Did we hit the mark today? Tell us
Did we miss? Tell us, please!

Was someone a hero for you today?
We want to recognize them.

Were we the best part of your day?
If you can’t answer yes, that is unacceptable to us.
Please share with us why we were not.

Action Plan
How easy are you making it for your customers to share their experiences? Do you give them the impression you care, that you want to know, that exceptional experience is the only thing you will accept?  If you are not getting enough complaints, that may be telling you something.

 


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Is Your Training Contradicting What You Are Preaching? Company Leadership sends the message to employee that Service is not important

If you ask managers of any business how important their customers’ experience is to customer satisfaction (i.e. engaging, memorable, personalize, relationships, etc.), along with the quality of service or product they deliver, nearly every manager would say that the customer experience is critically important. Yet they contradict themselves by their actions.

Managers get frustrated because their employees and professional service personnel think it is all about the expertise. ‘Wowing’ the customer consistently takes a back seat. Why? Because it is just lip service by management! Want proof? Think about most professions; nearly all the degrees, licensing and on-going education is spent on the technical expertise of the profession. Now compare that with how much customer service training is put into a new employee and how much on-going training is put into an existing staff?  How many colleges offer Customer Service as a major, a minor, or even a class?

How many companies require their professional service providers to have certain levels of customer service training and/or licensing before they are allowed to work with customers, patients, or clients?  Hardly any.

Medical brilliance is a Commodity
A recent study found that, of the doctor’s surveyed, most seemed to overrate the patient service they provide. The following results are from research conducted in 2010 by The Management & Business Academy, sponsored by CIBA Vision and Essilor.

  • 97% of practices rate the quality of the service they provide as above average or higher.
  • 32% rate their service as “outstanding” – the best in their community.
  • When patients rave about the service of an optometric practice, they most commonly mention the quality of the human interaction that occurs during an office visit rather than the technical quality of the exam or the technology used in the practice.
  • The most frequently mentioned comment from highly satisfied patients is that “staff is friendly.”

This study presented research of highly satisfied patients, and rarely did the highly satisfied patients ever mention the technical competence of the doctor or staff, the technology used by the office or thoroughness of the exam.

What does this mean?
Patients expect excellent medical treatment and trust they will receive it at most professional medical practices and hospitals.  As a result, medical brilliance by itself is a commodity and unacceptable today as a single measuring tool.

Want more evidence of how important demonstrations of caring and compassion can be in the medical world?
Consider the following findings from the book Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell

  • The risk of being sued for malpractice has very little to do with how many mistakes a doctor makes.
  • Analysis of malpractice lawsuits shows that highly skilled doctors get sued. In nearly every single malpractice case, the patient was quoted as saying something negative about how the doctor made them feel.
  • At the same time, the overwhelming numbers of people who suffer an injury due to negligence of a doctor never file a malpractice suit at all. Why? Because of the bond they had with the doctor. They would never consider suing the doctor or his practice, even though there was negligence on the part of their doctor.

WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN?
Patients don’t file lawsuits because they’ve been harmed by shoddy medical care only. It is how their doctor treated them on a personal level. People don’t sue doctors they like.

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“THE SIX COMPONENTS OF A CUSTOMER’S EXPERIENCE”

In order to create brand loyalty and customer evangelists, you must operate at a high level in six distinct areas of business and constantly evaluate your company’s customer service across each category, separately, and as categories overlap:

1. Physical: Deals with the actual brick-and-mortar component of your operation. These are the physical elements that are more permanent or long term, that cannot be changed daily.

2. Setting: Refers to the controllable setting you create daily. As Disney says, “Everything speaks from the doorknobs to the dining rooms sends a message to the guest.”  The setting communicates a message about what you can provide your customers. This isn’t always visual, it may be the music your customers hear when they call and are placed on hold or the mood your web site creates. The setting reveals the characteristics of your business as they appeal to the five senses of your customer: sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste.

3. Functional: Refers to the ease of doing business with you-return policies, hours of operations, and other factors. Functionality has nothing to do with human interactions, such as being pleasant or saying please or thank you.

4. Technical: Refers to your staff ’s level of expertise in their particular skills and in the company’s systems and equipment, such as product and job knowledge. Again, this has nothing to do with whether they are nice.

5. Operational: Refers to the actions that team members must execute behind the scenes before, during, and after a customer’s experience. These actions assist in the day-to-day transactions with customers, the tasks, compliances, and duties of our jobs.

6. Experiential: Refers to the actions that team members execute while interacting with the customer. Those actions that make the customer say “WOW!” The customer is delightfully surprised. Experiential actions are the reason why customers return, refer others, and become brand evangelists. These include Secret Service, personalization, anticipating customer’s needs, and others.

Let’s look at some real-life examples of these components:

• Your server is the most incompetent waitress (technical) you have ever met, but she is trying her hardest and being extremely nice (experiential).
• The place needs a good paint job (physical).
• The store where you shop is always out of what you want (operational).
• Your favorite store is difficult to get to and has barely any parking (physical).
• This salon has high energy and always smells great (setting).
• The quality of the food (technical) is unfit for human consumption.
• An associate overheard that you really wanted a diet drink and ran across the street to the drugstore to get it for you (experiential).
• At the diner, everything is themed 1950s style (setting).
• It is impossible to get a human being on the phone. No matter what you try, you cannot get out of the company’s voice-mail maze (functionality).
• The company has a 24-hour answering service and guarantees a call
back within 60 minutes (functionality).

• My sales rep always screws up my order (technical).

Specific examples of each of these six components are:

Physical

Brick and mortar

Building

Structure

Architecture

Location

Accessibility

Parking availability

Design

Décor

Public areas

Floor coverings

Signage

Spaciousness

Handicap accessible

Setting

Ambience

Candles

Theme

Lighting

Acoustics

Grounds

Furnishings

Comfort of chairs,beds, etc.

Mood

Signage

Sound system

TV placement

Noise level

Functional

Policies

Hours of operation

Ease of doing business

Accessibility to a human being

Product selection

Design of your web site

How well you are staffed

Reliability of vendors

Security

Payment options

Phone number on website

Technical

Employees level of

expertise

Speed of your technology

Computers

State of the art

technology

Ability to use your website

Equipment

Phone system

Software

Product knowledge

Quality of product

Timeliness

Knowledge

Operational

Daily tasks

Cleaning

Dress code

Preparation

Answering the phone

Duties

Checking people out

Processing orders

Functions of the job

Compliances

Paperwork

Experiential

Hospitality

Customer engagement

Personalization

Above and beyond

Using the customer’s name

Remembering preferences

Presentation of food

Verbiage/vocabulary of staff

Congeniality

Willingness to help

Anticipating needs

Service recovery

Soft skills

An example of physical excellence would be the beauty of Disney parks or how The Cheesecake Factory restaurants are designed. Starbucks has mastered setting, from the comfortable, inviting furniture to how well they merchandise their cafes, just as Disney has mastered how well they theme their parks and hotels. A couple of great examples of Functional excellence are Nordstrom department stores and Zappos.com who have simplified the process of returning merchandise.

Cleanliness is a great example of operational excellence. When you are considering your customer’s experience, you need to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Consider a hospital room, or massage or facial room. Because patients and customers are lying down for extended periods of time, they may notice the condition of areas of the room employees never look at.

As for the sixth component of the customer’s experience, experiential excellence, there is no need to provide specific examples here because the rest of this book is focused on experiential standards.

Keep in mind that it is important to constantly review how customer friendly your company is in each department. With regards to training of new and existing employees, the majority of your training will deal primarily with technical, operational, and experiential.

The vast majority of companies focus their training on the technical with very little if any emphasis on the experiential. Having been fortunate to work with some of the best customer-service companies in the world, I have both learned and helped create some amazing training that truly prepares new employees to be able to provide a world-class experience, regardless of their backgrounds.

Are any of the components more important than another? No, all are critical and all need to be reviewed and tweaked on a regular basis. The components differ significantly in terms of required people skills training. Physical, setting and functionality have little to do with training or people skills, but the other three components absolutely do involve people skills and training. There is a difference, however, in the training required for each component. It is much easier to train employees on technical and operational skills; they are job-specific, and they include easy-to-train subjects, such as product knowledge, and checklists. Also, technical and operational skills tend to be present and thorough because of prior education, degrees, licensing, certifications, and trade schools.

Many industries today mandate continuing education credit hours. The vast majority of companies are weakest in the experiential category.

~John DiJulius best-selling author, consultant, and keynote speaker, is the CVO of The DiJulius Group, the leading customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on customer experience trends and best practices. John DiJulius is the innovator of a methodology called Secret Service a customer service system which consistently enables organizations to deliver World-Class Customer Experiences. Find out more about The DiJulius Group or The Secret Service Summit, the #1 National Customer Service Conference.

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