Welcome to the customer service revolution!Interview
John DiJuliusPresident of The DiJulius Group
REGALIX: WHEN DID YOU FIRST BEGIN FOCUSING ON CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE AND WHY?
JOHN: As soon as we opened our first business, a small hair salon, trying to compete in an area that has literally dozens of salons up and down the street. Why would anyone come to us over any of them? We had really good hairdressers and nail technicians just like all of them. But salons did not have a good reputation for being well run businesses and were notorious for poor customer service. So I knew what I wanted our niche to be. Not a hair salon that provided great customer service, rather a world-class customer service business that would be benchmarked against any business our guests would encounter.
REGALIX: WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE AND CUSTOMER SERVICE?
JOHN: Customer Service – Employees have to execute in order to complete the transaction. Your competitors do it and it is unnoticeable by the customer unless it is not done. Deliver product/service, reacting to request, a service can be being accurate, on time, as promised, and professional.
Customer Experience – An event/occurrence which leaves an impression on someone. Actions that team members do not necessarily “have” to execute (even though it may be a company non negotiable standard). It is what makes the customer say “WOW”, a delightful surprise (knowing the customer’s names, company history, personal history, preferences ready before they even ask, etc.). It is the reason why our customers return, refer others and become brand evangelists.
Service is what you do (activities), Experience is how you do it.
REGALIX: WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE BEST APPROACH TO CUSTOMER SERVICE SUCCESS?
JOHN: World Class starts at the top.
Typically, when I get done speaking at a conference, I get one or two types of questions from attendees.
First, “Can we really get our frontline employees to buy into this and treat Customers better?” I respond, “Absolutely. If you follow the plan, you will create a world-class Customer experience organization.
It takes time, but be relentless and follow the plan. The other question I get is, “How can I get my boss/President/CEO to buy into this?” And I respond, “Have him or her come to my next presentation, or get them the book.” But what I am really thinking is, You are sunk. If the top people can’t passionately believe in the Customer experience, the company will never embody it. What do Howard Schultz (Starbucks), Walt Disney (Walt Disney World), Tony Hsieh (Zappos), Richard Branson (Virgin Airlines), Steve Jobs (Apple), Horst Schulze (The Ritz-Carlton), Truett Cathy (Chick-fil-A), Herb Kelleher (Southwest Airlines), John Nordstrom (Nordstrom), and Jeff Bezos (Amazon), have in common? Each of these leaders are obsessed over their company’s Customer experience, down to the smallest detail. They passionately articulated their vision for world-class experience every time they spoke, to anyone and everyone who would listen. And their companies are all known for world-class Customer service. Service Aptitude starts at the very top.
REGALIX: WHAT ACCORDING TO YOU REALLY TAKES TO GET THE BEST SERVICE OUT OF THE COST CENTER AND ONTO THE FRONT LINES OF INCOME GENERATION?
JOHN: Service Aptitude
Companies don’t engage emotionally with their Customers – their employees do. If you want to create a memorable company, you have to fill your company with memorable people. The quality of your Customer service, and the level of your organization’s Customer service, comes down to one thing and one thing only: The Service Aptitude of every employee you have. From the CEO to the account executive, sales clerk, call center, receptionist, corporate office support team, to every front-line employee—it’s all about Service Aptitude!!! The most critical component in building a world-class Customer experience culture is the Service Aptitude of every individual employee in your company.
“Service Aptitude: A person’s ability to recognize opportunities to exceed Customers’ expectations, regardless of the circumstances”
Service Aptitude scarcity
No one is born with it; it is not innate. The vast majority of the workforce has extremely low Service Aptitude, especially when they are entering the workforce after finishing school, regardless if that is high school, college, graduate school, or a trade school. As a result of poor training and paranoid management, many employees, including management, don’t have high Service Aptitude even after years of working. And sadly, a high percentage of senior-level executives continue to have low Service Aptitude during their careers. Why? Why is high Service Aptitude so rare? What dictates it, and what impacts it? There are three things that shape everyone’s Service Aptitude:
- Life experiences
- Past work experiences
- Current work experiences
REGALIX: IN YOUR BOOK, ‘THE CUSTOMER SERVICE REVOLUTION’, YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT HOW TO CREATE YOUR VERY OWN CUSTOMER SERVICE REVOLUTION. WOULD YOU SHARE SOME LIGHT ON THIS?
JOHN: What a Customer service revolution really is?
The DiJulius Group (TDG) is a Customer service consulting firm headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio. TDG’s purpose is “to change the world by creating a Customer service revolution.” We are so proud that hundreds of organizations all over the world have adopted this as a major part of their business strategy, as they distance themselves from the competition. However, for it to be truly successful – so it is not just another mantra, annual theme, platitude, or flavor of the month – it is critical you understand what creating a Customer service revolution really means:
“A radical overthrow of conventional business mentality designed to transform what employees and Customers experience. This shift produces a culture that permeates into people’s personal lives, at home, and in the community, which in turn provides the business with higher sales, morale, and brand loyalty – making price irrelevant.”
Let’s break that definition down to its core:
“A radical overthrow of conventional business mentality . . .”
This is an approach or mind-set to business unlike what anyone has ever thought about previously. It’s radical and unconventional. This unique concept consumes businesses leaders and entrepreneurs, energizes them, and ultimately inspires them to create breakthrough companies, products, services, and ultimately, experiences.
“. . . designed to transform what Customers experience . . .”
Revolutionary companies create “experience epiphanies” that fill a gap Customers didn’t know existed. World-class Customer service companies create enduring relationships and personal connections.
“. . . and employees experience.”
Experience it forward. What employees experience, Customers will. The best marketing is happy, engaged employees. Your Customers will never be any happier than your employees.
“This shift produces a culture that permeates into people’s personal lives, at home, and in the community. . .”
Genuine hospitality is not something you do; it is something that is in you. It is something in all areas of your life – with your Customers, employees, family, and neighbors. Service to others is what we owe for the privilege of living on this earth. It is the very purpose of life and not something you do only when it is convenient.
“. . . which in turns provides the business with higher sales, morale, and brand loyalty . . .”
The only businesses surviving with long-term sustainability are the ones fanatical about differentiating themselves through the Customer experience they deliver.
“. . . making price irrelevant.”
Based on the experience your Customers consistently receive, they have no idea what your competition charges.
I love the phrase – “making price irrelevant”, especially because it sparks conversation and debate. Is it possible to actually make price irrelevant? Absolutely! What it does not mean is that you can double your prices or even raise them 20 percent tomorrow and not lose a Customer. What it does mean is that, based on the experience your business consistently provides to your Customers, a significantly fewer number of Customers will be price-shopping you. Every one of us is price sensitive to some degree. Typically, with the majority of companies where we do business, we know how much they charge versus how much we can get the same thing from somewhere else. However, all of us have a few businesses we are loyal to because of something that they repeatedly do for us or give us, or because of how they make us feel; thus, we have no idea what their competitors charge, nor do we care. Where do you compete, in the price wars, or experience wars? I prefer to compete in the experience wars – a lot less competition. Many times when a Customer complains about the price, it isn’t because they were not willing to pay for it; it is because the experience didn’t warrant it. Price is something you offer when you have nothing else. In fact, 85 percent of US consumers say they would pay 5 to 25 percent more to ensure a superior experience.
Think about the companies that literally revolutionized their industries, companies like Zappos, Amazon, Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, Southwest Airlines, and Apple. Each line of that Customer service revolution definition applies to their radical approach to trashing the traditional industry mold and rewriting history.
I invite you to join the revolution!