John DiJulius | Customer Experience Blog


FAB FIVE “Es” | Pre-hire screening tool | Engagement Indicator | Service Aptitude Index | Quote of the week

FAB FIVE – I hate platitudes. Don’t tell your employees to be present or to make or exceed expectations. Tell them how, make it black & white, and make it measurable. One of my new favorite systems for making a customer connection are the “5 E’s.”

  1. Eye Contact
  2. Ear-to-Ear
  3. Enthusiastic Greeting
  4. Engage
  5. Educate

Why? – I love these for five reasons:

  1. They are so simple to do
  2. They can be effective with every customer
  3. The first four take zero time to execute
  4. They demonstrate genuine hospitality
  5. No one else is doing them

Applies to B2B – Before I lose my professional service providers or internal customer service/support/call centers thinking this is only for retail-to-consumer models, it absolutely applies to you! It’s 100% if you are meeting customers face-to-face, and if (or when) your touch point is over the phone.  Numbers 2-5 should be non-negotiable every time.

Eye Contact – This eliminates the head down, uncaring, robotic feeling when the front-line just asks, “next?”  A great training method for this is to audit the employees by periodically asking them, “What was the color of the customer’s eyes?”

Ear-to-Ear – Smile.  A smile is part of the uniform, and a smile has teeth. Demonstrate a positive attitude and tell the customers that you are happy to serve them.

Enthusiastic Greeting – Your greeting must demonstrate genuine warmth and not just a trained greeting. It should be one that shows enthusiasm in the voice coupled with a smile and eye contact.  You are now giving genuine hospitality as if the customer was an old friend visiting at your home.

Engage – THIS IS THE ONE, the secret ingredient that most companies do a poor job of mandating, training, showing its importance, and hence they provide little direction to employees on how to execute. This doesn’t have to be a ten-minute conversation.  Every single customer can be engaged within the time it typically takes to serve them, be it 90 seconds in the fast food environment or a 45 minute meeting. This action demonstrates that they are not a herd of cattle, or one of a hundred customers.  It eliminates the “too task focused on the transaction” versus having an “interaction” with someone.  In the incidences where you know the customer — make that known.  Utilize any customer intelligence you can, from info in a database to recognizing their name badge, or a picture of their twins on the desk, a hat, college shirt, tie, glasses, or anything else you can point out.

Educate – This is the one that may slightly affect time of service in industries that are built around rapid pace (fast food) and may have to have an above & beyond action when it is warranted, i.e. a new customer unfamiliar with a menu. For the rest of us it should have zero impact on productivity and be demonstrated every single time. Think of companies like Nordstrom and Apple stores. Their employees are brilliant about their products and application.

Engagement indicatorAmazing new pre-hiring screening tool – If you are looking for people who have the potential to be customer centric service providers, auditing the first 4 E’s might be your most powerful tool.   Many of my consulting clients have incorporated the first 4 E’s into their interview process, literally counting the times an employee candidate demonstrates each.

Service Aptitude potential index – The 4 E screening does not mean employees have the Service Aptitude necessary to be service stars. Rarely do your new employees (or, unfortunately, existing) have the Service Aptitude level needed to deliver a world-class experience. It is your company’s job to have soft skill training initially and on going that dictates Service Aptitude. The “E’s” tell you if they have the Service Aptitude potential.

The Summit of The Customer Service RevolutionNEARLY SOLD OUT! America’s #1 Customer Service Conference – featuring the most amazing lineup of customer service experts and brand  executives.  This conference has sold out the last two years, so do not  miss your opportunity to bring your management team to the 2011 Secret  Service Summit November 3rd & 4th.

        Quote of the week

“Never underestimate the capability of people, including you. Another person’s capability will overwhelm you. Never think that the person can’t do it, just because he or she may have failed the first couple of times.”

Join John on Twitter and

receive a “Johnism”

@JohnDiJulius

~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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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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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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“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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CUSTOMER SERVICE IS AN INVESTMENT: SERVICE IS EVEN MORE IMPORTANT IN TOUGH ECONOMIC TIMES
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John DiJulius

John DiJulius - Presenter at The 2010 Secret Service Summit

Recently a survey was conducted in the US and eleven other countries exploring attitude and preferences customers have toward who they spend their money with based on the customer service they experience (read the entire article).

Here is a summary of the findings.

  • The majority say customer service is even more important to them in today’s economic environment
  • 61% will spend an average of 9% more when they believe a company provides excellent service
  • Only 37% feel businesses have increased their focus on providing better customer service
  • 27% feel businesses have not changed their attitude toward customer service
  • 28% say companies are now paying less attention to good service
  • 91% consider the level of customer service important when deciding to do business with a company
  • 81% of consumers are likely to give a company repeat business after a good experience
  • 52% will never do business again with a company after receiving a poor experience
  • The three most influential factors when deciding which companies they do business with include:
    • Personal experience (98%)
    • A company’s reputation (92%)
    • Recommendations from family & friends (88%)
  • Just about half of consumers use online postings/blogs to get others’ opinions about a company’s customer service reputation

World-Class Customer Service Companies recognize the value
“Customers expect superior customer service especially in this tight economic environment,” says Jim Bush, Executive VP, World Service at American Express. “Many customers say companies haven’t done enough to improve their approach to customer service, yet it’s clear they’re willing to spend more with those who deliver excellent service, suggesting substantial growth opportunities for businesses that get customer service right. It’s important to see service as an investment, not a cost.”

“We know that luxurious touches don’t matter to guests unless the service surpasses the setting,” said Simon Cooper, president, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company LLC. And Susan Reilly Salgado, managing director of Danny Meyer’s learning business, says, “Service is about the technical delivery of the product, while hospitality is about how guests feel during that transaction.”

How Service is Valued Globally
The report found that consumers from different countries feel that customer service has become more important to businesses in the current economy.

Consumers feel that companies have increased their focus on providing good customer service

Best

  • India 65%
  • Japan 49%
  • Mexico 47%

Worst

  • Australia 29%
  • Germany 34%
  • Canada 35%
  • Italy 35%

In summary, customer loyalty is the strongest asset a company can have in any economy.  There are significant growth opportunities for companies that want to compete on the experience they deliver versus getting caught up in the price wars.  There are fewer players competing in the experience arena. Customer Service must be viewed as an investment, not an expense!

~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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TRAINING TO PROVIDE A WORLD-CLASS EXPERIENCE
John DiJulius

John DiJulius

[tweetmeme source=”http://www.twitter.com/dijuliusgroup”]Quality training must include systems and processes that remove variation and provide a consistent customer experience.  A common misconception is that the only way to get better people is to pay more than everyone else. There are many great examples of world-class companies who do not necessarily pay better than their competitors. In fact, employees at Disney, Starbucks and Nordstrom are hired from the same labor pool every other organization uses and are paid the going rates. The real reason why Disney employees are so good at customer service is how well they are transformed into Walt Disney Cast Members, which occurs in their training.  In most cases, the most recently hired, least trained, lowest-paid employees deal with the customers the most.

What determines the consistency of delivering the experience is the quality of the systems and training that every new and existing employee goes through. Just like in sports, the contest, match, or game, is decided long before the actual event takes place. It is won in the practice and the preparation leading up to the event.

Inadequate training is definitely the biggest underlying reason for the inconsistency and scarcity of great customer service. Companies skimp on training because it costs money, but companies that invest in customer service by training their new employees reap great financial benefits.

To be a world-class customer service organization, your training should include the following:

  • A company orientation that covers company policy and the company’s history.
  • The functional components of the specific job.
  • The operational procedures of the job.
  • All technical training, including product knowledge, use of equipment/tools, software and other technology, plus scope of services.
  • Experiential training on soft skills (especially how to create relationships and personalize encounters), preventing customers from feeling like transactions, and customer recovery techniques.
  • On-the-job shadowing.
  • Testing and certification, including extensive testing on experiential skills.

Map the Customer’s Experience Journey

Identify all the significant points of interaction, called “stages,” that your customers may have with your company. Once you have mapped out your customer experience stages, you need to get your employees involved in helping to create what those stages should look like. You then break each stage down into four individual components:

1) Service Defects – All the things that can ruin the customer’s experience at this stage.

2) Operational Standards – All the tasks or jobs for each stage.

3) Experiential Standards – The actions that will create an exceptional experience and a raving fan.

4) Above-and-Beyond Opportunities – Common situations that we want our front-line employees to recognize and be prepared for in order to make a customer’s day.

Let your team help create this experience. Once you have your final version of service defects, standards, and above-and-beyond opportunities, you can create a training manual that all new employees get trained and tested on during their first two weeks with your company.

Action Plan
It is imperative for companies to ensure that every employee – new and existing – truly understands the organization’s Customer Experience Promise. The Customer Experience Promise is what the organization is supposed to deliver to their customers, consistently, at every stage of interaction. Every employee needs to understand the importance of each point of contact, what to avoid, the company’s non-negotiable standards that every customer must receive, and the potential opportunities to really “wow” them. Organizations need to make sure their Customer Experience Promise is structured in such a way that all employees learn, understand and execute it.

~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.



EVERYTHING SPEAKS: CUSTOMER SERVICE IS PROJECTED IN MANY DIFFERENT WAYS


[tweetmeme source=”http://www.twitter.com/dijuliusgroup”]Your customer service has many legs and pockets.   It is not only the way your employees interact with your customers, but it’s all the messages being sent to your customers in countless ways. Everything speaks: verbal cues, systems, technology, physical signage, uniforms, etc.  It is imperative you take a step back and review any negative cues that are making your business appear less than world class.

Verbal – Medical practices are the leaders in negative cues of all kinds. First, negative verbal cues: when a patient is checking in and the receptionist says, “We need to VERIFY your information.”  Verify makes me feel like they don’t believe who I am; that maybe I am trying to use someone else’s insurance information.  How about saying, “we need to CONFIRM your information?”  Another example is when a patient is being seen by a doctor and a nurse comes into the room during the exam and says, “Your 10:30 is here,” or “You have a call on line 2.” At that point I am convinced the doctor is now rushing and more concerned with the patient waiting rather than focusing on me. Some great medical practices have created both verbal and non-verbal codes for this.

Signage has by far the highest occurrence of negative cues.  I have collected so many examples over the years and am constantly receiving more each week from all of you.  Businesses are so concerned about getting taken advantage of by 2% of customers that they end up insulting 98% with threatening signage.  Here are just a few examples:

This is an actual sign on the glass door at the entrance to a high-end wine bar located in a beautiful shopping area.  There are 12 things they tell you that you cannot wear. But they have a line underneath it all that says, “Business casual or business attire is suggested.”  Couldn’t they have just put that on the door?

This one is so popular that Amazon.com actually sells it!  I have another one that says, “No English, No Service!”


I was recently speaking to a group in Sydney Australia, where a partner of one of the most successful real estate companies in Sydney approached me. The partner confessed that he has some negative cues.  When they have an open house for potential buyers, they display the following sign on the door that reads, “CONDITIONS OF ENTRY,” and it proceeds to tell you that you cannot enter with food or drink or shoes or unaccompanied children or a slew of others barriers to viewing the house.  I was so excited when this gentleman said, “I realized we could position this notice in a more positive way by saying:

Out of respect for the homeowner, we appreciate your removing shoes…

He got it!

On Stage vs. Off Stage
Do your employees really know what is considered on stage and off stage? I recently worked with some QSRs (quick-service restaurants) and after touring some of their locations, I repeatedly saw their employees on break, standing in front of the restaurant where customers were walking by, smoking.  This goes back to last week’s service aptitude article.  This is not their fault.   To them, they are on break and can do what they want.  It is management’s responsibility to make them aware that even though they are not interacting with customers while on break, if they are in uniform where customers can see them, they are “on stage.”  This can apply to all our businesses. I worked with a hospital and found nurses chatting behind the nurses’ station forgetting that they still can be seen and heard by patients and their visitors.

It is critical that you do a periodic review of the negative cues that can be expressed in numerous ways and can project a less than world-class image.

About the Author
~John DiJulius is President and Chief Visionary Officer of  The DiJulius Group, a customer experience consulting firm used by top organizations, to create, develop, and improve their customer service systems. Our customer service consulting engagements help improve and maintain a healthier corporate culture and performance; lower employee turnover costs; increase customer retention factors; generate more referrals and make price less relevant. Companies across the world use The DiJulius Group to create World-Class Customer Experiences every day.  John will be a presenter at The Secret Service Summit 2010.




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