John DiJulius | Customer Experience Blog

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At John Robert’s Spa, we have always made our Service Vision crystal clear to our employees, starting in the interview process.  Our Service Vision has been the same since day one: February, 1993. Stacy DiJulius, founder of John Robert’s Spa, was passionate about bringing something more to the beauty industry than just good hair.  Stacy’s vision was, as a team, to “Enhance the quality of lives around us.”

Whose lives? Team members, guests, and community.

How? Through providing the “JRX,”  The John Robert’s Xperience.  The JRX is delivered by providing three critical elements of the John Robert’s Xperience, so when we provide one or more of them, we become more of a non-negotiable entity in our customer’s lives and make price significantly less relevant.  The three critical elements of the John Robert’s Xperience are Fashion, Escape and Confidence.

  • Fashion – Our guests trust us with the most sacred thing they have, their appearance. They depend on us to have cutting edge skills and expertise that will guide them to look their absolute best. They should not be able to find a more highly trained service provider anywhere in the industry.
  • Escape – It is a stressful world out there, and everyone is trying to balance so much between work and home life. We are that one place where they can get away for a 60 minute vacation, unwind, and be replenished.
  • Confidence – Self-esteem cannot be measured. But we put the bounce back in people’s step. The one they get when they know they look their best. The confidence that gives them a huge advantage in their daily lives.

When we get our team members to focus on selling fashion, an escape & confidence we become an incredible value.  When we sell a 5:30 haircut or manicure, we sell an expensive haircut or manicure.  Which is why we focus on marketing the JRX 365 days a year to our team members in countless ways.  I know this has been a key reason we had 16 consecutive years of positive sales growth. Last year, during one of the most difficult economic times, we were only down 4% compared to the rest of our industry which was down over 20%. This year we’ve had more than 5% growth over last year.

The success of Superquinn grocery store, 17 locations in Dublin, Ireland, can be traced to whatSuperquinn the owner, Feargal Quinn, calls the “boomerang principle”; doing everything to keep customers coming back, which often means looking past short-term expenses to long-term customer loyalty.

Here is how Superquinn does not let the boomerang principle be a fancy buzzword: They have a concierge on the premises who recommends restaurants or helps organize parties; a greeter who looks after shopping carts, offers coffee or soup to shoppers, and is responsible for recognizing and directing new customers. Superquinn also provides an umbrella service for unprepared shoppers who get caught in a sudden downpour, package carryout to customers’ cars, and a delivery service to customers’ homes. Every Superquinn store is equipped with a playhouse area, staffed by trained child-care specialist, where Superquinn customers can leave their children to play, free of charge, while they shop.

Superquinn also has a Superclub program, which is a loyalty program. It is not like all the rest; its uniqueness is in how Superquinn uses the loyalty program to create services that are valued by customers. For instance, customers can get reward points on their cards for pointing out problems in the stores such as wobbly shopping carts or an out-of-date product. This has turned their entire customer base into Quality Control Agents while having fun at the same time. The Superclub card also makes it possible for Superquinn to understand its customers. The card clearly identifies customers as members of a particular household, which allows them to collect the purchase history of the entire household. When the customer checks out with the Superclub card, his or her name is displayed on the cashier’s screen, allowing the cashier to address the customer by name.

~John DiJulius 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. 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.  He will be presenting in SAN DIEGO this September 15th, 2010.  Click here for details.


Key to a Service-Oriented Culture is Employing People with Service DNA ~ by John DiJulius
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John DiJuliusHaving a service vision for your company is only the first step in developing a top-flight, customer experience oriented business. Even the most visionary organizations can’t pull off top service if they don’t have a world-class internal culture. That is accomplished only by attracting, hiring and retaining only those people who have the all-important service DNA.

As business leaders, we need to have standards that require prospective employees to earn the right to be a part of our company. Having a set of non-negotiable hiring standards will turn your prospective employees either on or off.

People need to earn the right to work for you. The main objective of any human resource person who conducts first interviews with prospective hires is to try to scare the applicant out of working for you. If the applicant doesn’t scare, chances are high that he or she is a good fit for your company. What “scare” really means is to help candidates recognize that a job at your company may be either a much bigger commitment than they wanted or exactly what they have been looking for. In order to do this, your company needs to have its own set of non-negotiable hiring standards.

Very similar to creating the service vision, there are two distinct parts of creating your hiring standards:

  1. creating the values that truly embody what your company stands for and
  2. being able to articulate those values to potential, new and seasoned employees so clearly and passionately that, within minutes, you can tell if your are turning them on or off.
Otherwise, it will just be another company slogan.

A world-class culture does not compromise values; rather, it remains faithful to values, even when remaining faithful means doing things differently from everyone else. A legendary culture is created in the head and the heart of the leader and passed from team member to team member.

Build the culture and the customers will come

If you truly want to be a world-class customer experience organization, then you have to be the employer of choice. And to do that, you need to be known for four things:

  • Being a great place to work
  • Providing great training
  • Having superior customer service
  • Offering unlimited opportunity

If you can create that type of reputation, you will never have a shortage of applicants.

The employee career experience

The employee career experience encompasses the traditional stages an employee has during his or her career with your company. These stages are quite consistent from company to company; recruiting, screening and hiring, orientation and training, 90 days after hire, six months after hire, one year after hire, two years after hire, and after five or more years of employment.

Because the employee’s mentality is different at each stage, managers need to be trained how to coach, so they effectively emphasize and avoid certain factors at each stage. By creating this, you are designing a blueprint on how to create a positive working environment. This blueprint teaches new managers – and reminds experienced managers – how to create a great culture throughout an employee’s career in a way that continually reinforces his or her emotional capital in the company.

There are three components of each stage: service defects, standards and above-and-beyond opportunities.

Service defects are the things that the company and management need to avoid at each stage because those things can cause the employee’s morale to take a nosedive.

Standards are actions we want the company and management to deliver at each stage because those are the things that will differentiate the company from any other company for which the employee has ever worked.

And finally, above-and-beyond opportunities allow management to demonstrate a culture of going out of their way to care about the individual employee, leaving a reoccurring impression that this company is unlike any other for which they have worked.

I have never come across a world-class customer service organization that wasn’t a world-class company to work for — not only vertically (management to employee) but horizontally (employee to employee), as well.

WHY? ~ by Nicole Flesher

[tweetmeme source=””] of my 5 year old, I have become very familiar with this question. For the last two and a half years, I have been asked WHY about every possible thing there is. After about a year I realized how effective the question really is. It really gets you the answer you want! If you start thinking like a toddler, you’ll get your answer.

As a service provider I started asking my guests WHY. (My way of incorporating Secret Service into their experience.) I would ask questions and I would get answers. It is important in building a relationship with a guest. It became an effective tool in getting to know my guests. Vacations are a perfect example of where you can ask WHY?  WHY

WHY they chose that destination is always so interesting to me. It tells so much about them. For example, if a guest tells me she just got back from Hawaii and I respond with how exciting that had to be; I then ask her WHY she choose Hawaii.  She tells me it was her honeymoon spot. A simple question opens the door for so many more opportunities to build the relationship and deliver Secret Service. Then wedding talk comes, and it’s a whole web of information. I then record that info. I know when she got married, and where she went on her honeymoon. By recording that info into our database, it gives other service providers the opportunity to deliver Secret Service as well. It’s a great start to building a relationship and a loyal guest. It makes the guest feel very special.

I started to notice I was doing this in all parts of my life.  It wasn’t intentional –it just became my way of thinking.

One of my favorite WHY stories took place during a haircut with a new hairdresser.  It was my first visit with Brian and during a very normal conversation I asked WHY he chose this industry? He gave me an answer he was so sure of!! It was refreshing to hear for two reasons.

  1. he really knew exactly what it was about this industry that he loved, and
  2. because he reminded me WHY I love this industry so much.

Brian’s answer: “Nicole, ya know what? I love this industry because of the opportunity we are given to change a life!” It most definitely was not what I expected to hear coming from a 22 year old guy who rides a crotch rocket and has only been doing hair for a few years. I didn’t have to ask WHY after that because he just kept going.

He touched on the relationship building part of our business, and how important it was to him. He told me he built a steady clientele within his first year on the floor.

Everything he said was impressive to me. It was a reminder of WHY I loved this industry and it was a reminder of how crucial it is to build a relationship with people. He gave me a wonderful hair cut, but the reason I will continue to get my hair cut by Brian is because of his passion for what he does. I don’t mean his passion for cutting hair.  I mean his passion for changing and impacting lives. It’s his purpose.

My service ended, I started to ask myself a few questions.  WHY being one of them, big shock coming from me right?

Brian didn’t build that clientele in his first year because he gave a good haircut. It sure helped, but it wasn’t WHY his guests returned. (You can get a good haircut a lot of places.) He built that clientele because of the way he made people feel. He is passionate, and he makes each guest aware of that passion. He comes to work and works from his heart. He is compassionate and empathic toward each guest, and he does everything he can to make sure they know they are the only thing that matters to him at that moment.  When a guest leaves a service provider who provides those qualities, their outlook changes. They walk away looking good, but they also walk away with a feeling of importance. He truly cares about making a difference in people and their lives. That is what this industry is about.  It’s about changing a life, changing the way people look, changing the way people feel, and giving others the confidence to do whatever their heart desires. We all become a little robotic at times: we come to work and we do our thing.  Sometimes our “purpose” can get away from us. Asking Brian WHY got me out of that robotic state and back to my purpose.

Ask yourself WHY. Ask others WHYWHY can help you deliver an experience that keep your guests coming to you, and WHY is sure to help you get out of a rut we all get in. It is also an effective question to ask yourself when things are going well. Ask yourself WHY are things so perfect right now. Answer that question and you now know how to keep things that way, or how to get them back if things happen to go the other way.  Making the WHY game part of your everyday life is sure to get you what you want, and where you want to be.

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Becoming World-Class is Not an Event, it’s a Cultural Evolution ~ by John DiJulius
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John DiJuliusWithout execution, systems in manuals are nothing more than ideas on paper. This is where most companies fail – the execution of these systems.

The two most important words in the success of implementing systems are consistency and continuity. Nearly every company has more ideas than it knows what to do with. Here’s a scenario familiar in every company: Some executives attend a fantastic seminar, get dozens of great ideas, and return to work all fired up to start executing. A month later, not one idea is being executed even 10 percent of the time. The managers are either  preoccupied with a crisis or have moved on to a new focus. Managers are not short on ideas; they are short on strategy that will result in successful implementation.

Select a path and stick with it

I can’t tell you how often I hear the same thing from the companies I consult: “A few years ago, our theme was ‘fish,’ last year our theme was ‘raving fans,’ and this year our theme is your book.” It’s no wonder nothing sticks. There’s no continuity from one generation of employees to the next because they joined under a different theme. There is nothing wrong with using any of those books and concepts as themes. What I am saying is pick a path.

The world-class customer service companies focus on one concept and build their training program around it. Over the years, every new employee goes through the same training, learns the same underlying concept and theme, reads the same book, and hears the same message.  That doesn’t mean the training doesn’t evolve. But you have a consistent foundation on which everyone has been trained. And it can’t just be new employees who go through intensive training; existing employees need to be retrained and re-energized on at least an annual basis. Beyond that training, world-class customer service companies advertise superior customer service to their employees on a daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly basis.

Implement slowly and properly

Let’s assume you have just successfully completed the Customer Experience Cycle Workshop with your entire organization. You should now have the buzz. Stop right there. This is when the train wreck so often happens. The workshop was easy; the hard part is implementation. Yes, you are excited about the buy-in to being world-class. Yes, you want to maintain the enthusiasm and the momentum. But now you must crawl before you can walk. A worst practice is to allow managers to roll out the implementation on their own or to introduce many new concepts every week. If you do either, in about 45 days, all of those great ideas will be a distant memory because not one of them will stick. The only result will be a loss of credibility. Employees will feel that all their work was just a bunch of rah-rah and hot air because nothing ever came of it. Customers will be disappointed by the inconsistency between your promises and their experiences.

Both your front-line managers and employees already have too much on their plate to digest and manage the execution of more than a few things at once. You need to create a roll-out calendar of new customer service systems. Never introduce more than two or three things per 120 days to any one department. This may sound like a slow process, but wouldn’t you be doing cartwheels if I told you that a year from now, you will have introduced 10 new initiatives that are all being executed consistently?

Manage the Experience

It is imperative that every manager is uncompromising about the execution of your standards. Your employees have to know that they cannot pick and choose. That is why it is very important NOT to have too many standards for every stage of interaction. Less is more, so keep it realistic to achieve. As soon as employees start to think no one is really paying attention or cares, the standards go from nonnegotiable to optional. To avoid this, managers have to routinely do audits of the standards and recognize when they are being executed and immediately coach when they aren’t. You can have the greatest customer experience on paper, but it is the leadership’s responsibility to make sure every employee is well aware of the importance of consistent, continuous execution.

5 Hours of “Service” ~ By©Jeff Nischwitz
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To better introduce you to our new Revolutionists, I am excited to share with you an article by Jeff Nischwitz.  Find out how your industry can benefit from Jeff’s airport experience. ~ John DiJulius

5 Hours of “Service” ~ By©Jeff Nischwitz

Recently, I had the “pleasure” of traveling back from a long weekend in Charlotte and I experienced the “best” (apparently) that the air travel industry had to offer.  Unfortunately, my day ended with a missed flight out of Philadelphia, and I was forced to spend the night at the Philadelphia Airport.  But that’s not what I take issue with.   I understand that stuff happens.  My issues are with the various “experiences” that I had along the way.

The shining moment actually came right at the beginning.  I was checking in at the Charlotte Airport, and my bag was under the weight limitation.  I told them that I wanted to put my jacket in my bag (if it didn’t go over the weight limit), but my jacket put the bag one pound over the limit.  To my pleasant surprise, they said “Go ahead; we’re not sticklers.”  A little thing, but a pleasant surprise to have my desires accommodated rather than following the one-pound over rule.  However, everything thereafter took a turn for the worse.

As I approached a confusing intersection, I asked one of the airport employees (who was clearly tasked with directing people) which way I needed to go to get to my gate.  Seeming annoyed, she gave me a quick explanation, and I started to head off in that direction.  When I immediately saw a sign that suggested that I was heading the wrong way, I went back and asked her to confirm her directions.  With a sarcastic and edgy tone, she responded, “Didn’t I tell you to go that way?”  A swing and a miss for this employee whose job it is to help people find their way.  Apparently, there’s a one ask rule in effect.

Later during my travels I learned that my flight was going to be delayed, which put me at risk for missing my connection out of Philadelphia.  Obviously, I was concerned and asked the service (interesting word) representative if she thought I would be able to make my connecting flight.  After asking me what time my connecting flight was, she responded simply, “You might not make it.”  Nothing more.  She did not check what gate my flight was leaving from or ask where I was flying.  It was a simple statement that I might miss my connection with no further input or assistance.  Another swing and a miss for this airline.

After a longer delay than even expected, we finally boarded the plane to Philadelphia and the pilot told us, “We will have you at the gate in Philadelphia by 9:45 p.m.”  This was hopeful news to me, since my connecting flight was scheduled to leave Philadelphia at 9:50 p.m.  I was optimistic that I might make my flight.  Unfortunately, the pilot had apparently been telling us what he thought we wanted to hear, rather than the truth.  We arrived at the gate in Philadelphia at 10:00 p.m.  At the time, the pilot certainly knew how long it would take his crew to ready the plane for take-off and he knew where he stood on the take-off priority list.  I understand that delays happen, but I would rather get accurate information than be further disappointed when they do not meet their stated commitments.  Yet another swing and miss when it came to the service experience.

Lest you think me merely a complainer, let’s look at the opportunities to easily get this right.

  • The first airport employee could have politely (and with a smile) repeated her directions, or perhaps clarified them, to make sure that I understood.  After all, my need was for directions and that was her job.
  • The desk person could have asked a few more questions to better understand my challenge and offered to check to see if my connecting flight was on schedule.  Several little things that would have demonstrated to me that she cared about my plight even if she couldn’t fix it.
  • Instead of giving me an overly optimistic estimate of our arrival time, the pilot could have given me a realistic estimate so that I would know that making my connecting flight was not a likely scenario.  I understand that delays happen, but I don’t like to be misled.

Five hours of mostly horrible service which all could have been averted with some simple, common courtesy and just a tad more proactive attention to me, the customer.  None of these “fixes” would cost more money and at most they would have taken a few more seconds to execute, but it would have changed everything regarding my experience.

But what’s the airport experience have to do with MY business you might ask?

  • Who in your firm has the most contact with clients regarding mundane or basic topics (e.g., directions, schedules, basic follow ups, etc.)?  Do they ever have a bad day or a day when they’re bored with the job … which might result in clients feeling like they’re “bothering” your team member?  I’m just saying…
  • When clients or prospective clients call into the office, do your front line team members ask questions to understand their needs (to see if they can help), or do they quickly transfer the call to someone else?
  • Do you or your team members ever provide overly optimistic time frames which result in your client being disappointed  because something didn’t go as promised?

No matter what your business, we all have opportunities to connect with and engage our clients based upon the experience that we provide.  We also have the same opportunities to “miss” with our clients, which may cause them to feel like they don’t matter.

What are your customers and clients experiencing that’s causing them to feel neglected, unimportant, and not cared about?  More often than not it’s the little things that matter the most in how your customers and clients “see” you and your value.  When it comes to the customer experience, you must sweat the small stuff.   The cost of missing the small stuff can be substantial.

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Our Army is Getting Bigger – The Revolution is Getting Stronger
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John DiJulius

John DiJulius

We are excited to share with you that The DiJulius Group has added two Revolutionist, who can help us on our mission to Change the World by Creating a Customer Service Revolution.

We take this extremely seriously, which is why, in the last few years, we have dramatically broadened our reach and resources. We now offer public seminars, called the Secret Service Tours, that are held in different cities throughout the US. We do this to make it more affordable for companies to bring their management teams to experience our World Class Customer Experience workshops.

We also have our annual Secret Service Summit every November. This is an exclusive two-day event solely focused on the world-class experience, featuring over 10 speakers who are leading authorities, best selling authors and brand executives of world-class customer service companies, and we’ve added Secret Service Certification.  The certification course now enables companies to send someone on their staff to be trained by John to present the Secret Service keynote and also facilitate the Customer Experience Cycle workshop.

Nicole Flesher
Nicole Flesher

However, we realized that still wasn’t enough.  Given the economic climate these past two years, the value of customer service has never received more attention. As a result, The DiJulius Group has grown exponentially — in spite of the recession! Companies have realized that there is no greater asset in any economy than customer loyalty. And the ones not only surviving, but thriving, in these times are the organizations committed to truly providing a world-class customer experience.

The only way we can handle this increasing demand is by bringing aboard two Revolutionist! These speakers/consultants can provide the necessary depth required by our attendees, and help with the increased demand on The DiJulius Group from so many companies that already recognize the benefits from adopting our program.

These revolutionists not only can help provide an alternative when John DiJulius is booked and unavailable, but they have lower price points, which allows more companies the opportunity to receive The DiJulius Group’s resources and systems.

Jeff Nischwitz
Jeff Nischwitz

Who are these Revolutionist?
We have been extremely selective in whom we have added to our team.The DiJulius Group Revolutionists are outstanding presenters certified in Secret Service Systems and the facilitation of the Customer Experience Cycle workshop. In addition to their certification, they have also undergone extensive personal training sessions with John DiJulius. Both have an extensive background in customer service, not only as a service provider, but also as a trainer and presenter.  We have spent the last two years training them on our philosophies, concepts and systems.

It gives us great pleasure to announce The DiJulius Group’s Revolutionists: Jeff Nischwitz and Nicole Flesher. Find out more about our Revolutionists

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Have you truly benefitted from this recession like others have?
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John DiJulius

John DiJulius

Are we starting to come out of the recession? Is the worst over?  Am I the only one a little sad about this?  Don’t hate me for saying this: I know it has been a long recession and I know it is not over yet. But I truly believe there have been so many benefits to this recession that have made all of us much stronger and our organizations much better today — and especially in the future.

The recession is a horrible thing… to waste

Customer service is finally getting the attention it deserves

Okay.  So this might sound a little self-serving coming from a customer experience consultant.  However, good customer service has been considered a “nice to have” amenity by the majority.  So many of those companies are no longer around.  The rest of us have both appreciated our commitment and realized that customer loyalty is an organization’s greatest asset in any economy.

The recession is like a business enema

Less competition

Most industries have 1/3 fewer players today. I truly believe there are very few victims of the recession.  Most of the businesses that failed to withstand these times were benefiting from a tidal wave that they were not responsible for creating.  They were bringing down the professional reputation of our industry.

There are two factors which determine a company’s size and growth:

  1. Size of market – a.k.a. the size of the pie. How many customers are out there to fight over, and what they can spend.
  2. Market share – the amount of the pie we have.

This is repeat customers, loyal customers, customers who refer us, customers who are not looking for the best deal and shopping us to the lowest bidder. We have little control over size of the market. If it shrinks due to economic constraints and government regulations — it shrinks. But we do control market share.  That is driven by the customer experience that produces customer loyalty, which results in price becoming less relevant.

Show me you care about my business rather than just getting my business

Renewed Focus and Drive

People are creative and working harder than they ever have before, and sometimes for less!  Business is earned. Nothing is on autopilot.  Professionals are returning phone calls, people are following up, demonstrating they care, customers are being thanked.  There is a genuine authenticity happening.

Organizations have also had a rally cry that has forced employees and departments to come together, support each other, and fight the battle to survive.  This has created teamwork and a renewed sense of purpose.

Get yours before it is too late

We may have seen the worst of the recession. It probably will be awhile before we are fully back, but the clock is ticking, the opportunity is fading, and the window is closing.

Ask yourself, have you truly benefitted from this recession like others have?

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