John DiJulius | Customer Experience Blog


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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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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