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.”

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~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.

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Bad Rules

By Shep Hyken

Presenter at The Secret Service Summit

Shep Hyken

Shep Hyken

Recently I took my wife to a new and very popular restaurant. This place is always busy and it is hard to get a reservation. On this particular Saturday night they were extremely busy. On our way out I told my wife to stay in the restaurant where it was warm while I went outside to give the parking attendant the ticket to get our car. I then wanted to go back inside to wait with my wife while the valet went to get the car.   One problem.  The doorman wouldn’t let me back in the restaurant. The manager had decided that it was too crowded in the restaurant, so no one would be allowed in until people had left.

I pleaded with the “guard” at the door telling him that I had just come out to give my ticket to the valet parking attendant, and that my wife was waiting inside for me to get her. I even tried to get him to look at my credit card receipt. His response was, “I’m just doing what they (the management) told me to do.”  I told him that was ridiculous. Eventually my car arrived and my wife, being far more intelligent than the guy guarding the door, knew to come outside. As we drove away I told her the story. It was so ridiculous, that we actually had a bit of a laugh over it.

A couple of thoughts… First, I knew why the management of the restaurant had made the request not to let more people into the restaurant. So did the guy guarding the door. The place was crowded.

Second, did management ever think that my particular situation would happen? Probably not.  I’m not referring to me walking out to get my car and wanting to go back in to get my wife. I’m referring to management ever thinking that the doorman might take the request so literally that they wouldn’t let paid customers back in.

Do you or your company have rules and policies that customers might think of as dumb, ridiculous or inconvenient? Do the people you work with understand the concept of the rules and policies, or can they be misunderstood to a point of ruining a customer’s experience? Put another way…

What have you done to get in the way of success?

Bad Rules Part Two or… How To Say No.

There is an old saying, “Rules are made to be broken.”

There are some management people out there that would say this doesn’t work in business. They’re right –- up to a point. When it comes to customers, should there be rules? Of course there should. Some of them may favor the company and not the customer, and that’s okay. However, great companies know how to get around them. For example, Outback Steakhouse has a slogan that is, “No Rules – Just Right.” Do you really think that Outback has given permission to employees to break all of the rules and policies of the company? No!

My friend, Jon DiJulius, just wrote an article about Cameron Mitchell Restaurants that has a service promise that states, “The answer is ‘Yes.’ Now, what’s the question?”

They have removed the word “No” from the vocabulary of their 2000 associates. (By the way, I highly recommend Jon DiJuilius’ book titled Secret Service.) How do they get around that? Read on…

These companies have created a culture that looks for alternatives to rules and policies that could negatively impact the customer. The key word in that last sentence is ‘alternatives.’ The good companies teach or train their employees on how to come up with alternatives to anything that might get in the way of taking care of the customer. For example, a restaurant may be out of something. Rather than just say “we’re out,” the server could suggest alternatives. At that point, they may have to sell into the suggestion, but that is really what they should be doing anyway – especially if it is going to enhance the customer experience.

So, we’re trying to teach our employees to work around having to tell a customer anything they don’t want to hear. This is about being flexible, which I’ve written about before. But, now we approach it with a concept I term the service alternative, which is simply offering the customer an alternative that is acceptable and that may not just meet, but maybe even exceed, the original expectations. Getting there is not difficult. There are several questions to ask that will help get you the answer.

Is what the customer asking for really unreasonable?

Is what the customer asking for going to hurt the company in any way?

Will it compromise profit?

Is it illegal or will it cause harm to anybody? (In this instance it is always okay to

say, “No!”)

What can I give the customer that is a reasonable substitute?

Will this substitute meet or even exceed the original expectations?

This is the thought process that creates a culture where you can avoid the word,

“No.” It is customer focused, versus company or operations focused. Teach employees to ask themselves these questions. Even better, have a meeting and create different scenarios that force a service alternative. Brainstorm them. Publish these as examples in the employee handbook as a guide and primer to having to deal with negative news for the customer.

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