John DiJulius | Customer Experience Blog


Restaurants on the Run | Michael Caito | Steve Job’s farewell | British Airlines
Changing the World by Creating a Customer Service Revolution…

ROTR Logo Restaurants on the Run – This is a multi-restaurant delivery and catering company serving cities all over the west coast, and it has an amazing success story built around a philosophy of “people taking care of people.” This isn’t lip service. They live this internally and externally. A long-time client of The DiJulius Group, they created a Secret Service Agent team made up of staff members.  Annually they give out a Secret Service Agent of the Year award, and the recipient will receive a prize such as a vacation for two at Disney World.ROTR SS

Competition on the Run – ROTR is a very aggressive company that excels in implementation and execution (Chapter 6 of What’s the Secret?). They recently introduced a service recovery program designed to focus on loyalty and retention processes, which forced them to take a much longer look at what they do when things do not go according to plan. This Michael Caitohas culminated in our Service Guarantee Program, which caused them to  launch  The ROTR Promise. The ROTR Promise says that they will give customers a $20 gift card if their order is not set up and ready to eat within 5 min of the quoted RTE Time.   This is a bold move and a powerful statement that none of their competitors have ever offered.  The DiJulius Group is thrilled to have Michael Caito, President & CEO of Restaurants on the Run, as one of our keynote speakers at this year’s Secret Service Summit, November 3rd & 4th in Cleveland, OH.

What America needs is more Jobs…Steve Jobs – Last week Steve Jobs officially removed himself as Apple’s CEO.  This may be the end Steve Jobsof an era. I regard Steve Jobs as one of the top five entrepreneurs and visionaries of the last 50 years. If you haven’t seen the Stanford University commencement he gave you have to take the time to watch this, it is legendary – Stanford Address. My favorite Steve Jobs’ quote is, “Don’t ask the customers what they want, give them something they cannot live without.” Here’s to you Steve!

Secret Service by an airline – I get dozens of RSS feeds on customer service stories everyday, but rarely do I get a positive story of an airline. British Airways Using iPads to Revolutionize Customer Service! Cabin crews working for British Airways are now using the iPad to streamline several boarding processes and in-cabin services to offer a truly personalized experience to flight passengers. With the iPads, the crew has access to each customer’s preferences and travel arrangements. A seating chart displays where each passenger is seated, who their traveling companions are, their Executive Club stature, and special meal requests. Read the entire article.

TA making price less relevant – TravelCenters of America, a long time consulting client of The TA DiJulius Group, has had and continues to have, unbelievable momentum. The company has posted amazing earnings the past two years in spite of the serious economic woes that are lingering.  TA has won multiple awards for their customer service excellence, including the 2010 Secret Service Summit Award.  Recently the Cleveland Plain Dealer did a feature story on TA’s success and when asked about why his company places so much emphasis on customer service, CEO Tom O’Brien said, “At the core, our company is in the commodity business. We sell two billion gallons of fuel, and we have some very stiff competition. If you can purchase fuel for the same price, why wouldn’t you send your drivers to a place where they can get a clean hot shower? They can sit in a full-service restaurant and be called by name, and be served by somebody who understands a little bit about the trucking business.”  Read the entire article.

Quote of the week

“We started off hoping to change a business, ended up changing an industry,

 community, people’s lives, and the way other companies do business”

Receive a “Johnism” of the Day – join me on Twitter

Secret Service Certification by John DiJulius

Customer Service Training Class This October 3rd is your opportunity to re-energize and change the way your company delivers world-class customer service.

This last class of the year, will provide new insight into the customer  service systems used by the top organizations in the world and show you  how to use them at your company.

12 candidates will be selected to be a part of this train-the-trainer class taught by best-selling author, keynote speaker,  consultant and THE Authority on delivering a world-class customer  experience John DiJulius.

This class is tailored to:

    ·    Corporate trainers

    ·    Consultants

    ·    Leadership teams

    ·    Small business owners

For details and selection process call Denise Thompson at 440-443-0023 and mention secret phrase “I’m a member of the customer service revolution” for early bird pricing.

 

Few seats remain available!

Any company in the world can do what you do,  

except deliver world-class customer service.”

FREE Teleseminar

September 14, 12 PM EST

  Teleseminar series

This September 14th join John DiJulius in the first of a NEW series of FREE Teleseminars based on the X-Commandments of world-class. 

 

The  first teleseminar will expand on The State of Service in  America.  Why are companies realizing poor service is a sure way to go  out of business? How the top service companies endure all economic  climates? How do you compete on experience not on price?   

  

To register follow these 2 easy steps:

  1. Become a member of the customer service revolution
  2. On September 14th at 12PM EST, you can listen in from your phone simply by dialing 214-775-0917 ID 742574# Or from your computers by going to this link:   http://InstantTeleseminar.com/?eventid=22213515 AND using PASSWORD 914TDG

Add this teleseminar to your Facebook or LinkedIN calendars so you don’t forget:

 Facebook Event LinkedIN Events

Register FREE today!

~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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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
[tweetmeme source=”http://www.twitter.com/dijuliusgroup”]
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.



EMPATHY OUTWEIGHS ACTION

Marriott World Center Orlando

Recently I was a keynote speaker at a company’s annual conference held in Orlando, Florida. Their meeting was held at the Marriott World Center, the largest Marriott property in the world.  When I arrived from the airport at around 10:00 am, I requested of the nice bellman to please have my luggage sent directly to my room so I could meet with the meeting planner and then deliver my keynote.

Unexpected Surprise

By the time my presentation and book signing were completed, it was now 5:00 pm. I was free, but I had a productive night scheduled. My plan was to run up to my room, change out of my suit and tie and go work out. I would then come back to my room, order room service and get caught up on several days of piled up email.

Well, things didn’t work out as planned. When I got to my room, I searched for my luggage, but it was nowhere. I then called down to the front desk, informing them that the bellman never delivered my luggage as requested.  Shortly after, the front desk called me back and said they were unable to locate my luggage, but would try to as quickly as possible.  So here it goes again: yet another horrible customer service experience!

I sat in my room, in a robe, like a prisoner. I had no workout clothes, couldn’t go to the gym like I had planned, my evening schedule was being compromised, and everything was getting pushed back. Why me?  I was working myself up, getting stressed over the inconvenience, and imagining a horrible night’s sleep as a result.

Opportunity to be a Hero

What seemed to be hours later (actually only 10 minutes at most since I called the front desk looking for my luggage), the phone in my room rang. “Mr. DiJulius, this is James. I am the head bellman. I want to apologize for your inconvenience. We haven’t found your luggage yet, but I promise you we will soon. Can I ask you if there was anything in particular you needed that I can send up to your room?”

I responded with, “Just my work-out cloths. I was planning on getting a work out in.”

James responded, “Mr. DiJulius, I apologize. If we do not locate your luggage within the next 15 minutes, I would be happy to get you a pair of workout shorts, tee shirt and tennis shoes from our store outside our spa. Can you tell me your sizes?”

I responded that he didn’t have to do that!  I could easily flip -flop my plans and get my emails done first, and hopefully by then my luggage would be found and I’d work out then.

James said, ”Are you sure?  I promise you, I will personally find your luggage and get it to you ASAP! You are the last person we want to inconvenience, and I am truly sorry.”

I responded, “James, I appreciate your effort, really. I am fine. There’s no inconvenience. Thank you.”  Within 15 minutes James brought my luggage to the room, and I thanked him and gave him a big tip for his effort.

Attitude Adjustment

What happened here? One moment I was an angry guest, working myself up, feeling sorry for myself: poor me, why does this have to happen to me, my entire night is screwed up, not realizing that I had an option of rearranging my plans.  The next minute I was feeling bad for the bellman, telling him I was fine with plenty of things to do, it wasn’t an inconvenience at all, stop with the fuss.   Why did this attitude transformation occur? (I went from being a potentially angry dissatisfied customer to telling them they were making too much of a fuss.)  Because this particular Marriott properly trained their associates to recognize when something goes wrong, empathize immediately with the customer, and instead of focusing on the problem, (missing luggage) to focus on the inconvenience and offer solutions and alternatives.  As a result of James’ sincere empathy to my horrible situation (exaggerated in my mind), the situation flipped and I was feeling badly for him and how hard he was trying to please me.

While they may complain about the Service Defect,

They are going to rave about how we handle it!

World-Class customer service companies train their employees to be Zero Risk. Commandment VII is anticipating your service defects and having service recovery protocols in place to make them right.  We can’t eliminate things from going wrong, but what we can do is reduce errors and be better prepared to be a hero when things do go wrong.  With over 2,000 visitors per day, just on that sheer volume, Marriott is going to misplace a small percentage of luggage from time to time.  They know this and they are prepared.

  • Have you recognized the reoccurring service defects in your operations?
  • Have you trained your employees on how to show empathy and recognize the inconvenience versus the problem?
  • Do you have protocols in place to turn your potentially upset customers into even more loyal evangelist?

~John DiJulius is a best-selling author, keynote speaker, consultant and the President and CVO of The DiJulius Group.

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