John DiJulius | Customer Experience Blog

28 Customer Service Skills learned at The Summit
2013 Secret Service Summit – Two weeks ago The DiJulius Group presented our annual Secret Service Summit, and it was clearly the best one we have done in five years. As expected, we sold out with about 450 attendees! This group of speakers was the highest rated roster we have had so far. Best of all was the energy in the room!  A world-class Customer service conference unlike any other. Everyone came to find out how to raise hospitality and Customer experience to the next level. The passion in the room was indescribable.

Let us recap some key takeaways and invaluable Customer service skills learned this year:

“Absolutely outstanding! He really drove home his message. I feel privileged to have sat in on his presentations.
Thank you.”
Key takeaways:
  • Culture – Your employee culture can’t be bluffed, bribed or bullied, but it will give you what you want; you just have to give it what it wants first. It wants context – Why are things happening? It wants predictability – What is going to happen next? It wants a positive sense of self – What is the character, the true intention and the higher purpose of the work I do and the company I do it for?
  • Leadership – Emotional commitment is what your company wants when it says it wants leadership. The key neurobiological source of emotional commitment comes from living your own deepest personal values in the relationship with your company and the environment at work.
  • Branding – Becoming a brand means transferring the sustainability of your company to your Customers, who will advertise and sell for you, and step up to protect you if you stumble or get attacked. “Branded” is a tribute, not a verb – you can’t claim it; it has to be given to you.
“I truly believe in changing the world through service, and obviously Holly does, too. I just want to give her a hug and thank her for not leaving me to feel like I am dancing alone.” 
Key takeaways:
  • Service is a Feeling. We need to pay attention to the human needs behind the business needs. The need to be truly heard, acknowledged, remembered and respected.
  • It is simple but not easy, so wearing the “turtle hat” and embodying the metaphor, reminds us to stick our necks out, have a hard shell so we don’t take things personally and be slow to respond with a negative emotional trigger.
  • Being Right Is The Booby Prize. This is the place service breaks down the fastest. If we could let go of having to be right we could actually serve people with little confrontation and upset. It doesn’t mean we don’t have guidelines; it simply makes the distinction to serve people as opposed to holding on to our righteousness
“This was my favorite presentation from both days, perhaps of the three conferences I have attended so far. This young man is so wise beyond his years and so articulate. I find him inspiring and his message very powerful.” 
Key takeaways:
  • Life doesn’t always go according to plan
  • The only disability in life is a bad attitude
  • The importance of wearing your armour of positive attitude is that it is the most powerful combatant to anything life throws at you.
“Outstanding on many points… content, delivery, ability to engage audience.
I could listen to Sasha talk for 2 days. Bring him back next year!” 
Key takeaways:
  • The New Normal has changed Customer service forever. It’s time to find new ways to relate to Customers.
  • Empathize and advocate for your Customer’s needs publicly.
  • Social media is the environment, brand content is the recipe.
“I feel very honored to have heard his presentation. Very powerful, will stay with me for the rest of my life. I will use what I learned from him in my daily life with my family, friends and co-workers.
Reon’s message is so simple, yet so incredibly profound.”
Key takeaways:
  • Having the courage to move forward in life without fear
  • The ability to truly forgive those who have wronged and/or hurt you
  • A focus perspective on what is really important in life
“Great piece to push our teams to action.
Great messages, and perfect content for the end to help deal with idea overload.” 
Key takeaways:
  • Win On The Basics. When looking for ways to differentiate our business it’s easy to get carried away with “wow” factors that we overlook the most powerful “wow” factor of all: be the best at what Customers value most. Your goal should be to be so good at the basics that you are cutting edge.
  • Create WIN/WIN Relationships. Market leaders and winning brands are those that are best at creating wins for Customers, employees, business partners, and the community. We should always strive to create wins, opportunities, and solutions for others. It is the ultimate power strategy in business and in life – be sure the other guy wins!
  • Take action. People in extraordinary companies have great ideas and take decisive action on them. People in mediocre companies have great ideas, too, but they never get past thinking about them, talking about them, and having meetings about them. Your ideas have no value until you take action. Stop thinking about it and DO it!
“So inspiring and goes to show that regardless of the business you are in, Customer service is so important and can be done. Loving the Customer RIGHT WHERE THEY ARE was an amazing message.” 
Key takeaways:
  • If you compete in an industry where world-class Customer service is not the norm, even more the reason to make it your distinct competitive advantage.
  • You can dramatically increase employees’ service aptitude and solidify their awareness to your service vision, pillars and Nevers & Always by making it fun through interactive eLearning games, i.e. Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, Matching.
  • Creating a world-class Customer service organization is a long-term commitment by the entire executive team and needs a dedicated champion, i.e. Customer Xperience Officer.
“John’s openings were some of the best examples I’ve seen him present.” 
 Key takeaways:
  • Companies need to systemize hospitality to make it easy for front-line employees to genuinely connect with each Customer
  • Online retail satisfaction is rising while brick & mortar is declining because retailers are failing at their biggest competitive advantage– building human relationships with the Customer standing in front of them.
  • Hire for attitude not aptitude
The 2013 Secret Service Systems Award Winner – Chick-fil-A 
The Secret Service Award recognizes Customer service excellence in three categories:
  1. Creating Secret Service Systems
  2. Creating an Experience Epiphany
  3. Revolutionizing their industry
Chick-fil-A has revolutionized the quick-service industry as well as best practices for world-class hospitality for nearly every industry. Some highlights of best practices of CFA that were recognized:
  • Their service vision – Making every guest feel cared for unlike anywhere else
  • The Core 4 – Create eye contact, share a smile, speak with enthusiasm, and stay connected
  • 2nd Mile Behaviors – Carry meals to the table for high-needs guests, clear trays from tables and refresh beverages every 15 minutes, and carry large orders to cars.
  • Their ability to get their front-line employees to be true brand evangelists.
Registration is now open to next year’s Secret Service Summit. Learn more about America’s #1 Customer Service Conference.

 2013 Secret Service Summit complete audio – Whether you were there seeing it unfold live or you were unable to get a ticket, we now have it available for you to hear and share with your entire organization. This group of speakers was the highest rated we have ever had. We captured the amazing content offered by all the brilliant leaders, authors, and motivational speakers of the 2013 Secret Service Summit Audio Series.

~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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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”


~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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Making price irrelevant…

Price complaints are not about price – Too often when a customer complains about price, employees and companies use the “price crutch” and immediately think it is because the customer is not willing to pay so much, and they then resort to the price wars. I know from my own experiences dealing with thousands of customers in my first business, John Robert’s Spa, that any time we received a complaint on our price, it wasn’t because our prices were too high or the customer was not willing to pay, it was because the experience we delivered didn’t warrant charging the price we charged.  I can’t tell you how many times I had guests complain about a haircut with a service provider who charged $45, so to make things right, we would give them a complimentary haircut with one of our seasoned master designers who charged $80-$110 for a haircut. The guests would love it, remain a loyal customer for years to come paying full price every time and never mention price again. So was the price too high or the experience too low?

Whatever/Whenever – How do you know when your  service aptitude is still too low? When you read a best practice and you think, “that is too over the top,” it wouldn’t work in my business . Let’s see how you do with this one: If you are a professional service provider, on your business card and email signature, post “Available 24/7,” and include your cell number. Did you pass the service aptitude test? I am the biggest advocate of personal time with family and leaving work behind. However, everyone I have met who has done this, including myself, all agreed that none of their clients have taken advantage of them or called them on a Sunday unless it was an emergency, and they were glad they did. It is more the demonstration of I am “always at your service” and peace of mind for your clients. Do you think if they have service providers like that, they are price shopping them? I doubt it.

Panel of Experts – Besides having an amazing lineup of keynoters, customer service experts, authors, consultants, and brand executives from companies like Nestle, Chick-fil-A, and Starbucks at this year’s 2011 Secret Service Summit, November 3rd & 4th , we also have an incredible panel of different industry resources who will provide fantastic insights from behind the scenes of building and running world-class service organizations.

Secret Service Summit Panelists
  • Professional Service Providers – Rick Sonkin, Managing Partner of Sonkin & Koberna Co., LPA. Rick will share how his firm has broken away from the stereotypical law firm client- service mentality, and how Sonkin & Koberna has gown significantly as a result of superior client services.
  • B2B Sales – Melissa Gottlieb, Vice President of Sales, Smart Business Magazine. Melissa went from managing a group of good sales people to developing a world-class customer service team whose primary job is to help their accounts grow. Sales happen as a result.
  • Medical – Ellen Jo Plate and Dawn Holsted -TLC Laser Vision. Laser eye surgery, while an amazing procedure, competes more with discretionary money and economic conditions than anything else. Three years ago Ellen Jo and Dawn committed to making the patient experience TLC’s greatest competitive advantage. The systems they created and implemented have shown extremely impressive results. Ellen and Dawn will share how they transformed an entire company with 60 locations throughout US and Canada into a service culture.
  • E-commerce & Social Media – Ron Higgins, President & CEO of Cogneato Internet Technologies.  Ron is an expert on the internet, websites and how your online presence speaks volumes about your customer service.
  • Customer Satisfaction Measurement – Darlene Campagna, President of Direct Opinions. Direct Opinions is one of the top customer research and satisfaction companies. Darlene will share insight into how true customer loyalty is developed. She’ll explain how, by identifying the needs, wants, and expectations of your customers, your business is able to maximize customer satisfaction and retention.

Quote of the week

“You have greatness within you, you have something special. If you could only get a glimpse of a larger vision of yourself, of who you really are, of what you bring to this world, of your uniqueness, then the world will never be the same again. You make your parents, school, and community proud; you can impact a million people’s lives.”

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~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.

DayMaker Revolution | Valet Attendant to President | David Wagner | Free Teleseminar | Quote of the Week
September 21, 2011, 9:08 am
Filed under: Customer Service, John DiJulius | Tags: , ,
Making price irrelevant…

The Daymaker Revolution –

Do you have a great book that every so often you pick up and read to re-inspire you? Well mine is, Life as a Daymaker, by David Wagner. You have probably heard me share stories from the book in my presentations or read about it in my first book, Secret Service. I am actually reading it again right now,

because it is one of those easy-to-read books that heightens the awareness of how I want to be. It makes me more intentional. One can find ways, easy simple ways, to make people’s day (even strangers) in

David Wagner 
David Wagner

just a few seconds. I always joke that one of the worst things I ever did was read the book to my three boys, Johnni, Cal and Bo. The book has these great examples of things like– pay the $1.00 toll of the person behind you that you have never met before. That example has cost me over $100, because one of my boys reminds me every time we are on the turnpike. Think about the last time you were a Daymaker. I hope it was recently. Did you make someone’sday, where it couldn’t come back to benefit you directly? Who felt the best at the end of the day? The Daymaker always does. When we work in companies that inspire day-making experiences, it gives autonomy to their employees without needing permission to ‘wow’ a customer or co-worker, and you no longer have people who are working a shift, trading hours for dollars. They have a purpose, a reason to come to work, and a reason to run home and tell their family, “You wouldn’t believe what I got to do today…”


An Amazing Valet Attendant – I saw David Wagner, author of Life as a Daymaker, speak for the first time back in April 1994, and that was the day I said, “I want to be him! I want to do what he does.” That is when I knew I wanted to start speaking and hoped that maybe one day, I could give a little of what he gave me and the audience that day. I have seen David speak over 40 times since then, just Life as A Daymakerrecently two months ago, and I still get the same buzz from his message. He started the Daymaker revolution, which in itself is an amazing story. One of my favorite stories about David is when he talks about how he wanted a job at a certain company so badly when he graduated from school, but the only position they were hiring for was Valet Attendant, which wasn’t what he went to school for.  


Regardless, he took the job and within weeks was the best valet attendant the company ever had. This lead to him being promoted and then recommended for a training position that matched his education goal. And he got promoted again, and again, until he was the General Manager of the business. He then purchased the business and opened up several more locations in Minneapolis and California. He then wrote a book called Life as a Daymaker, which became an instant best seller. His next move was to Maui. David says the reason for his success is that he parked cars very, very well.


Chief Daymaker Officer – I am thrilled for all of you to have an opportunity to hear David Wagner live at this year’s 2011 Secret Service Summit November 3rd & 4th in Cleveland. And because of the impact Life as a Daymaker has had on me, we are giving every person that registers for the Summit a complimentary copy of the book.


FREE Obstacles to World-Class Service Tele-Webinar October 5th – The DiJulius Group is staring a monthly teleseminar series personally conducted by John DiJulius on how to create a world-class customer experience organization. Find out what the secrets are to becoming the best in your industry, making price irrelevant and changing the world by creating a customer service revolution. Sign up here. 


Quote of the week –

The only ones who enjoy when your company delivers bad service are your competitors


Join John DiJulius

on Twitter to receive a “Johnism”


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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: 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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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


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


  • 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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LISTEN UP doesn’t just teach you how to network, we look at networking as a science.  You will often hear us talk about bringing the Orchestra. What that means is to remember and use the hundreds of tiny skills required to truly and interpersonally connect with others. The ability to blend the entire compilation of said skills into a flawless presentation of oneself is in itself a skill and one that you very rarely see.

I want you to think about The Cleveland Orchestra. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing them I am sure you will agree they are spectacular. Here the conductor has a wide variety of professionally trained individual musicians that can be brought into the mix. The conductor directs and blends all the different components of the orchestra right down to a single triangle to create a masterpiece. If you have ever studied a conductor in action you will notice how hard they need to concentrate. They are concentrating on every detail in order to make the presentation perfect and it shows.

How do I relate this example to Networking? In order to successfully Network you need to bring the entire, well practiced, perfectly conducted, professional orchestra. You need to not only understand the multitude of skills required you need to practice them. You need to conduct them with energy, style, grace and in a flawless manner.

While networking instead of musicians we conduct people skills that are at our disposal. We have greetings, handshakes, eye contact, energy levels, listening skills, manners, goodbyes and body language that are all being judged by those we come in contact. How we talk, walk, dress and interact with others to name a few are all constantly being perceived and evaluated. Are your interpersonal communication skills polished and ready to go?

Think about it, when was the last time someone WOWED you? The problem is a lot of individuals are giving presentations that sound less like The Cleveland Orchestra and more like a grade school concert band. They are going through the motions but the music is almost unrecognizable. Don’t let that be you… practice, practice, practice.

We have no idea who we will meet today who will change our lives forever. Also realize that everyone we meet is listening both consciously and unconsciously to our inner orchestra. Do we sound sincere, gracious, positive, energetic and optimistic or do we sound negative, insincere, uninterested, bored or self absorbed. My question is what kind of music are others hearing coming from you?

At LISTEN UP we are not teaching rocket science. A lot of what we talk about is common knowledge but it is common knowledge that isn’t common. A lot of people believe they already know how to communicate and network with others. The problem is many people are networking unarmed for the task. They are playing at a grade school level and never even realize it. It is not what you think of your presentation but rather what others think about your presentation that truly matters. We want you to be playing beautiful music and when you talk we want others to LISTEN UP.

About the Author

~Donald Wayne McLeod founded LISTEN UP LLC, an interpersonal communication consulting company, in 2007 after witnessing people’s inability to connect with one another and realizing his unique ability to facilitate them in that regard.  Donald has been featured in Inside-Business Magazine, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, The News-Herald, WEWS Channel 5 and WTOE Radio. Donald Wayne McLeod can be reached at, or at 216.210.5420.


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