John DiJulius | Customer Experience Blog

It’s about TIME | AMAZON’s Bezos | The New Word of Mouth

“Changing the World by Creating a Customer Service Revolution…

It’s about TIME – Speed of time and speed of service are as critical to the customer experience as anything.  Too often it is part of fundamentals, but does not get the time it deserves in operations, training, and mindshare of all employees. Everyone in the organization has to understand how valuable time is to the customer.

No time to Wait – In the great book, The Amazement Revolution, by my good friend, Shep Hyken, (who has been a keynote speaker at the Secret Service Summit) articulates very well the importance of time. Hyken shares how consumers consistently report to researchers that they are working harder and longer hours than ever before, that they experience serious stress in their lives because of the lack of available time to do everything they want to do, and that they flat-out resent being kept waiting. It is vital that business demonstrate to their customers that their time is always regarded as a critical resource. Their time will always be respected by sending silent cues and signals such as, “I am here. I see you. You are the most important priority for me right now, and I am not putting any other task in front of the task of serving you.”

New Word of Mouth – Word of mouth use to be the most influential tool to a brand’s reputation.  Today is a new age, and through social media outlets, the voice of the customer can create brand evangelists or brand assassins at warp speeds. College Works Painting, headquartered in Southern California, has always prided themselves on being at the top of their industry for customer service; but they found out the hard way about the new word of mouth. One unhappy, disgruntled customer created a blog where he complained aggressively about the job that was done for him.   His blog dominated the search engines for four years.  As a result of this brand terrorism CWP estimates that it lost millions in revenue and countless employee candidates.

Just say Yes – As a result of the beating CWP took from that nasty blogger, CEO Matt Stewart now Matt Stewart shares the lessons he learned. “After committing to truly becoming a world-class customer service organization, we changed our entire culture and attitude toward every customer we contact. We don’t care who is right or wrong, we look at ourselves through the eyes of any customer, and we fight for 100% satisfaction.  We say ‘sorry’ more, we say ‘yes’ more, and we move very fast and very transparently. Our philosophy is Yes is always the answer, now what is the question? This is a way of life for us, and for me personally.”  You can hear Matt live, as he is one of our keynote presenters at this year’s Secret Service Summit.  Matt will share how he has helped to build multiple successful businesses based on delivering a world-class customer and employee experience.

“…To be the earth’s most customer centric company” – A pretty ambitious goal, but I wouldn’t bet against the author of that statement, Jeff Bezos.  Recently Success Magazine featured the founder and President of in their August issue and as always, the pioneer stressed how Amazon’s Jeff Bezos from Amazonsuccess is built around fanatical drive on the customer experience. Some excerpts from Bezos: “The customer experience is the critical guiding hand. Our vision is to be the earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”  With that type of vision from the President, is it any wonder why has revolutionized not only ecommerce, but also retailing and publishing as well? The article said, “If the Internet were rock & roll, Bezos was its Elvis.” Bezos cites the fundamental differences between an entrepreneur and professional management, “entrepreneurs are more stubborn about the vision and keep working on the details. One of the dangers about bringing in professional managers is the first thing they want to alter is the vision. The rule of thumb is to be stubborn on the big things and flexible on the details.”

Quote of the Week –

“We are not for everyone, nor do we want to be. We are for the 1% who wants to emerge as

the best-of-the-best and are not afraid to work harder and challenge themselves

to see how much greatness they actually have inside.”

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

~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. Learn more about The DiJulius Group or The Secret Service Summit, America’s #1 Customer Service Conference.

Comments Off on It’s about TIME | AMAZON’s Bezos | The New Word of Mouth


I have this niece who is 20, and I have been bugging her for years to come work for me. I’ll even send her to beauty school! She is one of those bright, bubbly cute girls who lights up a room. She has a great personality and any business would love her working for them at the front lines as a receptionist, hostess, or any customer contact position.

ImageI got to see her over the holidays and asked her what she was doing. She said she has been working for a while at a Café and enjoys it.  I asked her what it was like and what her responsibilities were. As she explained them, one of the jobs the owner has given her was to make sure people who are not paying customers do not use the bathrooms.  My eyes lit up. I said, “Really?” She replied, “Yes, we even have a sign on the door that says so. Just today I saw someone who wasn’t buying anything headed to the restroom, so I ran after him and made him leave.  My owner says if they can’t pay for things, they don’t get to take advantage of our facilities because he then has to pay me to go in and clean up after them.”

I was shocked! This is my sweet adorable niece with the same family DNA. How could she think like this?  You are probably thinking how wrong I am about my niece, and that I shouldn’t want an employee like that.

Well, for starters, each of us has plenty of employees currently working for us, and I would love for her to work for me– with the proper customer service training, of course.  Her mindset is not unusual. It is more the norm.

It all goes back to Service Aptitude. No one is born with it; it is not innate. People’s Service Aptitude comes from two primary places: 1) life experiences and 2) previous work experiences.  Think about that. That’s it! No one is born with high service aptitude.  Most life experiences before the age of 25 don’t afford the know-how of what world-class service looks like.  And considering that nearly 80% of businesses out there are Average at best at customer service, that means employees have previously worked elsewhere. Not only were they not trained on what excellent service looks like, but they were poisoned with a policy-driven iron fist that teaches them that customers are out to take advantage of businesses and must be caught and stopped.

We all agree that the experiential side (how our customers are treated and cared for) is just as important as the technical/operational side of what the customer receives. However, our training contradicts that. We would never think of having an accountant, lawyer, nurse, doctor, hairdresser, or technician perform work without the proper technical training, certification, and licensing. Yet most companies have little to zero customer service certification.  To my knowledge there is no degree or even a college course that prepare our youth.

Action Plan

Don’t be discouraged.  This is the majority of our workforce. Keep reminding yourself that it is not their fault; it is our responsibility as an organization and as leaders to improve their Service Aptitude to a level that is acceptable before we allow them to interact with our customers. Make sure you re-evaluate what your soft-skill service training looks like, how well your existing and new employees know and understand your Service Vision, and how they impact it.  Be sure they know your Customer Bill of Rights, your Always & Nevers, the Secret Service Systems, what your service recovery protocols are, how they can easily go Above & Beyond, and that they have the permission and autonomy.

~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.


[tweetmeme source=””]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 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.


[tweetmeme source=””]

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.


[tweetmeme source=””]

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.


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.

Comments Off on WHY? ~ by Nicole Flesher

Becoming World-Class is Not an Event, it’s a Cultural Evolution ~ by John DiJulius
[tweetmeme source=””]

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.

%d bloggers like this: