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Brand Experience

  • Consider Life Stages to Understand the Female Consumer

    Editor’s note: This is the second in a series, entitled “The Decision Maker.”

    Without a thorough understanding of the female consumer, you won’t be able to personalize and tailor the experience you provide in your dealership.

    So how do you go about understanding The Decision Maker?

    To truly understand The Decision Maker; the woman you will want to create female consumer persona’s.

    Creating a consumer persona is a great exercise to do as a team. Not only will it provide a greater understanding of the “Chief Purchasing Officer” – remember, that’s the female in the household – but it will allow your team to be part of the solution. It’s important to remember when creating a persona for the female consumer that she wants to be understood first as a woman and second as a consumer.

    You are probably thinking, “How do I create a persona for the female consumer?” The three steps below will give you a head start.

    Step One: Separate your female consumers into Life Stages

    Age is no longer an adequate way to segment your consumers. 40 is the new 30, and 30 is the new 20. Women are getting married later in life are having kids into their late 40s. By looking at your female consumers through their life stage, you will have a better understanding of her wants and needs at that moment in her life. And remember, the female consumer wants to be understood as a woman first and a consumer second.

    Harbinger has created six life stages for the female consumer, which is a great place to start when building female consumer personas. That, when paired with your dealerships demographic and geographic information, will prove to be very valuable in understanding the female consumer.

    Step Two: Define the goals and challenges she has in each life stage

    Once you have your female customer broken down into life stages, the second step is to define the goals she has and the challenges she faces at each life stage.  You will now be able to determine how your dealership and its vehicles can help her fulfil her dreams and resolve her challenges.  It’s also great to define the objections she’ll have when shopping for a car or bringing her car in for service.

    Step Three: get personal!

    Don’t stop there. Take your female consumer persona one step further by uncovering some personal details about her too. I like to use acronyms to help teams do this. For this, I am going to use WOMAN as my acronym.
    •    Wants
    •    Occupation
    •    More (dreams, family)
    •    Activities
    •    Needs

    Uncovering these details will allow your team to have a holistic view of your female consumer persona at each life stage.

    *This is also a great exercise to complete for the male consumer- he also has some say in the vehicle purchase!

    What’s next?

    Once you have developed your female consumer personas, put them to work! Create a training document that each existing and new team member is required to know. You can train your team through daily huddles, group or department meetings and on-the-fly coaching.

  • A Series on The Decision Maker; The Woman

    Most of us who work in the Automotive Industry is aware that only one in five employees in dealerships are female. We are also aware that the majority of decision-makers when purchasing a car are female, and that’s a huge disconnect. What we might not be aware of is this; 85% of the world’s executives are male. Ultimately, the car-buying experience is designed by men, delivered by men, for men.

    A Tailored Experience for the Decision Maker

    So why would you want to take the time to create ways to tailor your Consumer Brand Experience to the female consumer? Of course, there’s the obvious: she’s the Chief Purchasing Officer in her home. Women also hold 80% of the influence when purchasing a vehicle and approximately 65% of buyers are women! And that if that isn’t enough reason, she is also your number one referral source.

    Carl Sewell, the author of ‘Customers for life,’ states that the lifetime value of a customer equates to $517,000. By not curating an experience for the female buyer, not only are you losing her lifetime value, but you are also losing the potential of her referral network.

    Perception = HER Reality

    Here’s the kicker: the female customer is built differently than men. It means the excellent experience you think you are providing actually isn’t – not in her opinion anyway. Perception is the reality, and it no longer matters what you think is exceptional service. It only matters what she feels is exceptional service.

    When it comes to perception and seeing, feeling, hearing, and sensing things, there is no such thing as objectivity. The consumer sees, hears, and feels from where they stand, not from where you, the sales associate, stands.

    There is often a big gap between what experience we are providing and what the consumer -especially the female consumer – thinks he or she is receiving.

    A study by management consulting company, Bain, calls this disparity the “delivery gap.” In a study of 362 firms, Bain found that 80 percent believe their business offers a superior proposition or experience. However, only eight percent of customers held that same view. The extent of this difference is extraordinary.

    We may think we are providing an experience that is welcomed by our consumers when in fact we are offering them an experience that we feel is right for them.

    The golden rule that Grandma preached as we grew up – to treat others the way you would like to be treated – is a thing of the past. The higher standard that is demanded by customers in this day in age, especially the female consumer, is the platinum rule – treat others the way they want or need to be treated.

    By designing your consumer brand experience from her point of view, you will be able to speak to what she sees, hears, smells, and feels and ultimately close the “delivery gap” between perception and reality.

    So HOW Do you Close the Delivery Gap?

    In this four-part series, we are going to unpack one tip each week on how you can tailor the consumer brand experience in your dealership for the woman consumer. We will give you excellent ‘how to’ knowledge that you can take back to your dealership.

    If you’re not leveraging your female customer base to increase loyalty and referrals, then you’re missing out on top line sales.

    Join me next week for the second blog post on The Decision Maker Series!

  • Action Speaks Louder than Words.

    A few weeks ago I wrote an article called Inspiration Just isn’t Enough! That outlined the vast gender gap in the automotive industry and how inspirational words just isn’t going to cut it.  If we want to make a difference, we have to be the difference.

    The definition of insanity is “to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different outcome”. If we were to put the automotive industry up against this definition, it is clear as day that we are insane!

    No one is going to come with a magic wand and cast a spell that makes automotive dealers, and OEM’s the top place to work for females or a place where female consumers feel comfortable; we have to choose to do something different and action the changes necessary to see a different outcome.

    GM is Breaking the Cycle

    There is one brand that is taking a significant step in the right direction, and I wanted to take a moment to outline who it is and what they have done!

    In a recent article The ‘Extra Oomph’ that changed GM, Auto News featured GM’s Mary Barra, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer who is the first female CEO of a major global automaker. Barra states “Corporate culture doesn’t change quickly, but it’s critical to have a strong culture to motivate employees and to cultivate an environment that breeds success.” In her effort to build a strong culture for females in automotive GM has established the GM’s Women’s Retail Network. 

    Recently, GM has also developed three core values for the company: The Customer is our Compass, Relationships Matter, and Individual Excellence is Crucial. Having core values like these is a step in the right direction to attracting female candidates and ultimately female consumers; these values outline that people come first, decisions are made with the individual in mind and culture matters.

    I challenge you to think about this: If women don’t want to work for you, why would women want to buy from you? GM understands this, and is breaking the script!

    What Can We Learn From GM?

    More Automotive Brands need to create a network of tools, resources, and pathways that support women in the industry to grow without worrying about the glass ceiling that has been above their heads for decades.

    Programs such as:

    • Employee resource groups for women that support women in the current environment
    • Female-driven 20 groups
    • Education for personal development and succession and;
    • Mentoring programs that connect other male and female executives with up and coming female team members

    Programs like these will help bring more women into the workforce and keep them there, a classic tale of  “if you build it they will come”. Having more of a female presence at the dealership and executive levels will, without a doubt, attract women consumers to your brand. It is in the best interest of the Automotive Brands to build a culture that women can get behind; if you do this both female employees and consumers will take notice!

    I will drive my point home by reiterating this “The purchase share of women around the world will continue to rise, and with the lack of women at the table, decisions will remain to be made by men, delivered by men, for men. Continuing to lead in this manner will proceed to affect dealerships lack of or decrease in loyalty, retention, referrals, and overall all top line dollar. It’s in your best interest to be ready to serve the women who are purchasing your vehicles; every day of the year!”

    It’s time to take action. Let’s stop talking about all the incredible ways women can help move the automotive industry into the 21st century and start breaking the insanity cycle by doing what needs to be done to make it happen.


  • Complete the Journey to Get Ahead

    Building a Formula One (F1) car is an intricate process; engineering, materials science, and cutting-edge software comes together as these machines are developed and designed from scratch each year – McLaren F1 team might change up to 70% of a car’s mechanical per racing season and is continually monitored with more than 200 sensors built in a car, generating 25 billion data points on a Grand Prix weekend.

    Communication and collaboration of 1,000 plus member teams is integral to success, as the team continually measures, analyzes, and evaluates every detail with a maniacal focus on how the slightest modification of any part affects all other aspects and the overall performance as it rebuilds and fine-tunes these cars for a race.


    Does that sound familiar?

    Within a dealership, there is a magnitude of customer touchpoints which produce an abundance of data points for each interaction telling you how your team is performing.

    The Customer Service Index (CSI) is an ongoing discussion in dealerships, across all brands. With this focus, you know which metrics your team members ‘drop the ball’ leaving your customers dissatisfied. When reviewing your CSI scores, the most logical next step is to create a ‘policy’ or training program around that underperforming CSI metric. However, when we do this (and only this), your team misses the big picture, and the customer will suffer somewhere along the way as the CSI metrics are all connected and impact one another. Just like the F1 team, one small change affects the performance of the vehicle; each CSI metric affects the entire journey your customer has with your dealership.


    What is a Brand Experience?

    I define the Brand Experience (BX) as the sum of all interactions a customer has with a brand, across all touchpoints and all phases of the customer lifecycle, including how customers perceive these interactions.

    I want you to think of each CSI metric as ‘touchpoint’, or moment, in your customer’s interaction with your brand. Each one of these touchpoints affects the other, and when combined they create a start to finish journey, “the sum of all interactions a customer has with a brand”.

    Ask yourself, does my team have an understanding of how each person/department/touchpoint affects the other? If the answer is yes; Bravo! If you have answered no, then you have some work to do.


    Focus on the complete journey

    While it is essential to pay attention to the details (or the one touchpoint that doesn’t seem to be working) you also have to look at how those touchpoints work together and contribute to the overall customer journey.

    A preview of Foresters annual production report warns that in 2018 “30% of companies will see further declines in Customer Experience (CX) performance, and those declines will translate into a net loss of a point of growth”. Why? CX initiatives tackled low-hanging fruit to put early points on the board.

    You will lose every time by only focusing on the ‘low hanging fruit’ or the CSI metric that is not performing; this is a ‘band-aid’ solution. Smart Dealer Principals will make CX an integral part of their overall Brand Experience strategy and identify how each touchpoint impacts each other and the Brand Experience, inclusively.


    How to start the change

    If you want your Brand Experience performance to be top notch and noted in that regard by your customers, you will have to work hard to ensure a seamless experience throughout their entire journey.  Here are four things your dealership can do to start the change and improve your overall Brand Experience:

    1. Review (or create) a journey map; bridge the gap between individually focused CSI metrics and a holistic brand journey.
    2. Change the conversation; When sharing CSI results don’t focus on a single metric; change the language, talk about the impact each touchpoint has on the other, not just the one ‘problem area.’
    3. Empower your team to make it right: We all drop the ball sometimes, we are human after all! It’s how we recover from the situation that will make or break the customer’s overall experience. Empower your team to ‘pick the ball up’ and make it right at every touchpoint in the customer’s journey.
    4. Be consistent! No matter what touchpoint the customer interacts with your team, be consistent with the Brand Experience you deliver! Remember this mantra: Every Customer, Every Time.

    Step out in front of the competition; look at your dealership’s overall journey from 30,000 feet and bridge the performance gaps between touchpoints. And like the 1,000 member team focused on how to improve the performance of a F1 car each year, your team needs the same focus to enhance the experience you provide your customers.

  • Inspiration Just isn’t Enough!

    The gender gap in Automotive is not a gap at all; it’s a canyon. Catalyst Knowledge Centre of Information states that women occupy only 26.6 percent of positions in the automotive manufacturing industry and only 16.9% of executives in vehicle manufacturing. Even more staggering, only 1/5 employees in dealerships are women, yet nearly 65% of car buyers are women. That’s not a gap; it’s a canyon.

    I noticed an increase in participation from automotive brands this year in spreading inspirational messaging on International Women’s Day (IWD).  Here are a few examples:

    Honda’s IWD Video shows a woman in the driver seat.

    Mac Laren’s video show’s their female employees talking about the experience of working at Mac Laren and their future career ambitions

    Mercedes pulled together an inspirational video called ‘iconic You’ and has branded it ‘She’s Mercedes’; to highlight a few.


    International Women’s Day Ad’s aren’t Enough!

    While it’s good to show our support on International Women’s day, the critical question becomes where is that support every day of the year? Why aren’t we giving more females a seat at the table all year long? And is IWD a clever marketing pitch to make automotive brands appear to support gender equality.

    Messaging like the Mercedes’  “motivational” Iconic You Video makes you feel good and is a definite message that is moving the industry in the right direction. With that being said I hate even to mutter the words ‘ I don’t want automotive brands to do that’ just as we are ‘turning a corner’; any awareness brought to the movement of women in automotive is positive. However, awareness and inspiration aren’t enough; the conversation has to move into action. Automotive brands have to ask themselves, what’s next? How are we going to keep this conversation alive outside of this one day each year? Furthermore, what is our commitment to increasing women’s footprint in our dealerships and at the Corporate/OEM level?


    The World is Ready, why isn’t Automotive?

    In the last few weeks I have read the following headlines;

    Canada’s Royal Mounted Police just appointed their first female chief.

    Deputy Gina Haspel will take over, becoming the first woman to lead the CIA.

    The nation’s currency will feature its first Canadian Women

    Women around the world are being put into positions of power by leaders ready to take action rather than sit on the hope of an inspirational message, and if the leaders of the world are prepared to take a stance, why is the Automotive Industry lagging behind?


    What is the Automotive Industry Waiting for?

    Why wait? The future is coming, whether we like it or not. The purchase share of women around the world will continue to rise, and with the lack of women at the table, decisions will remain to be made by men, delivered by men, for men. Continuing to lead in this manner will proceed to affect dealerships lack of or decrease in loyalty, retention, referrals, and overall top-line dollar. It’s in your best interest to be ready to serve the women who are purchasing your vehicles; every day of the year

  • Is your Brand Experience Designed for the Decision Maker?

    Is your Brand Experience Designed for the Decision Maker?


    I walked into my local dealership for a routine servicing on my vehicle, while I waited I wondered into the showroom and watched the interaction between the sales associates and the customers. I watched two female and four male customers all looking at cars and needing assistance. There were four Sales Associates on the floor, all four of the Sales Associates went directly to the male Customer. I continued to watch and wait to see when either of the female Customers would be served (or I would be served). It took 15 minutes for the females to be acknowledge, and when they were acknowledged the same approach that was take with the male Customers was use with the female Customer. Both female Customers got noticeable frustrated and left the dealership with no regard from the Sales Associates.


    From my car shopping experience, I have come to realize that the auto industry is a male dominated industry, however this experience got me to thinking and led me to do some research on how dominated this industry actually is by males and what impact that has on the customers experience in a dealership and their sales.


    Through my research my observations were solidified, the car buying experience is delivered by men, for men with very little regard for the female Sales Associate or the female buyer.


    Research shows that 84% of the decision makers when buying a car are women, however only 18% of the Sales Associates in dealerships are women, leaving the car buying experience to be delivered by men. This question came to mind- How can you expect an increase in customer loyalty, referrals, and higher close rates when the ‘customer’s experience’ is tailored for the male shopper and the majority of the buying decisions are made by a woman? That seemed like a huge disconnect to me and as a customer experience consultant this troubled me. I began to dig deeper into the car buying experience offered at dealerships.


    I found that dealerships are transnationally sound. From the sales process to the F&I process and everything in-between dealerships are very buttoned up. However, there is a lack of training and commitment towards turning the transactional process of purchasing a car into an interaction, using soft skills, and showing compassion and empathy towards the Customer. If we want customers to be loyal to us (both male and female), then we need to connect with them on an emotional level speaking to the limbic part of the brain- where decisions are made. Simon Sinek States that “People don’t buy what we do, they buy why we do it”. Customers don’t buy what you do (selling cars), they buy the trust and relationship with the sales associate and the brand (why we do it).


    Their Perception is Their Reality

    When it comes to perception — seeing, feeling, hearing, sensing things — there is no such thing as objectivity. The customer sees, hears, and feels from where they stand, not from where you (the Sales Associate) stands.


    There is often a big gap between what experience we are providing and what the Customer thinks he/she is receiving.

    A study by management consulting company, Bain, calls this disparity the “delivery gap.” In a study of 362 companies, Bain found that 80 percent believe their firm offers a superior proposition (experience). However, only 8 percent of customers held that same view. The extent of this difference is extraordinary.

    We may think we are providing an experience that is welcomed by our Customers when in fact we are providing them an experience that we feel is right for them.


    A Radical Over Throw

    What if the auto industry took a step back and approached the Customer Experience from a different point of view? What if the dealership designed the Consumer Brand Experience from the decision makers point of view, flipped the lens and provided an experience that is tailored to this demographic?


    The golden rule that grandma preached as we grew up; treat others the way you would like to be treated is a thing of the past. The higher standard that is demanded by Customers in this day in age is the platinum rule- treat others the way they want to be treated.


    By designing your Customer’s Experience from their point of view, you would be able speak to what the Customer sees, hears, smells, and feels and ultimately close the “delivery gap” between perception and reality.


    Understanding your Customers (and the decision maker)

    I challenge you to take a close look at your Customer segments and create a customer profile for each of them. Go deeper than age, race, career and understand who your Customer is as a person. For example: Where do they shop, what social media do they use, and how do they spend their free time. This is the first step to seeing what the Customer sees and only then will you be able to understand how to provide an experience that will resonate with the them.


    With women holding 84% of the buying power in terms of the decision to purchase from you, you should ask yourself, would you sell a car to your wife, daughter, or mother in this fashion. It is essential to recognize that showing compassion and empathy play a huge role in how the female decision maker will feel about their interaction with you or how the husband, boyfriend, or son, communicates how they felt during the process. We need to speak to the emotions of our decision makers in order to speak to the limbic part of the brain that controls their decision making. Your Customers won’t remember what you said to them (they have already done their research), how you said it to them, they will, however, remember how you made them feel and that is what will form their perception of their interaction and time with you and the brand.


    We strive for Increased customer satisfaction, close rates, and referrals yet we often forget about the softer skills needed to provide an experience that warrants these results. We forget that the world is full of transactions and when a customer comes into the dealership, they want an interaction, especially the woman behind the decision.


    Even when a man stands in front of you in the dealership, know they are going home to discuss this purchase with the woman in his life. I have made the decision on each of our family car purchases and I can tell you that I purchased from a dealership that made me feel important in the decision-making process. I choose my dealership based on the relationship they created with me. The world of customer experience is changing, we can no longer deliver an experience we think is great, we have to deliver an experience that is right for the customer and decision maker.

  • Customer Service Vision, a Vision that Has an Impact

    Aspirational Purpose is Important, however…

    Having a solid understanding of why your organization exists and what gets you up every day to serve your internal and external customers is the foundation for any successful leader and organization. It’s important to remember, as Simon Sinek has taught us, “people don’t buy what we do, they buy why we do it.” This adage rings true for our internal and external customer. If you don’t have an aspirational purpose that drives employees to work every day with passion and excitement, then how can you expect your external customer to be passionate about your organization or be excited to do business with you? Although we need to have a larger than life purpose to get us up every morning we also need a ‘North Star’ that we can strive for with every customer, every time. My advice, perfect why your organization exists, ensure your employees know this, can recite it and believe it, then set that beautiful aspirational purpose on the shelf and start working on a Customer Service Vision that can be actionable by every employee, with every customer, in every interaction.

    A Customer Service Vision = Measurable, Observable, Trainable Action

    The first Commandant of The Dijulius Group Methodology is Customer Service Vision, and with good reason! Without a ‘North Star’, what are we striving for with each and every customer interaction? Without a daily focus, how will an organization realize their aspirational purpose? It is essential that organizations have something to rally around that can be easily measured, observed by leaders and fellow team members, can be trained, and most importantly can be executed with every customer, every time.

    When I work with clients, I explain the importance of a Customer Service Vision, Pillars & Sub-Pillars, and Non-negotiable Standards as a “World Class (WC) Customer Service Triangle” (diagram above) .

    The base of the WC Customer Service Triangle is the aspirational foundation, an organization’s why or purpose. Unfortunately, an aspirational purpose is not actionable with daily interactions. It is, however, achievable over a longer period of time, the mark an organization will leave and continuously strive for.

    On the opposite end of this triangle is the ‘North Star’, an organization’s Customer Service Vision. A Customer Service Vision is WHAT your employees strive to achieve in each and every interaction with your internal and external customers.

    A Service Vision should be:

    Easy to understand
    Simple, concise, & memorable
    Actionable & empowering
    Measurable, observable, & trainable
    The supporting structure of the WC Service Triangle represents HOW your organization and team members achieve the North Star and bring an organizations aspirational purpose to life over the long run.

    The support structure on the right represents the Pillars & Sub-Pillars of the Customer Service Vision. These are actionable points that outline HOW to achieve quality service, personalized customer interaction, and ways to go above and beyond for the customer.

    The support structure on the left represents an organization’s Non-Negotiable Standards and Never & Always. The Non-Negotiable Standards ensure that no matter how busy, large or small the organization is, every customer is experiencing world class service from all levels of the organization, with each touch point, in every interaction.

    Each part of this WC Customer Service Triangle plays a part in setting an organization up for success in executing World Class Customer Service, just like every team member plays a part in the execution. However, it is the Customer Service Vision that drives action and gives employees something to be accountable to.

    Every Customer, Every Time

    If you haven’t picked up on it yet, consistency is key to successfully providing WC Customer Service and executing a Customer Service Vision. Every Customer, Every Time has been a mantra of mine for years now. I often have our clients chanting it by the mid-morning of day one in any workshop I conduct! New research shows that it now takes 90 times to make or break a habit; this is why repetition and consistency are so important. Without consistency, there won’t be synthesis of your Customer Service Vision, without synthesis nothing will operationalize and your customers won’t realize the experience they deserve. Try it; chant it with your team. It feels funny at first, but I can promise it sticks!

    What are you Waiting For?

    If your organization doesn’t have a North Star yet, it’s time to create it. Give your organization’s purpose new life with an actionable, observable Customer Service Vision that can be executed with every customer, every time.

  • CX Experts: Your 2017 Focus

    Our CX Experts at The DiJulius Group Share What Your 2017 Focus Should Be

    Do you have a solid Customer Experience strategy for 2017? The experts of The DiJulius Group share some of their insights for what they believe will be key for this coming year.

    The following is by Dave Murray, Senior Customer Experience Consultant for The DiJulius Group.

    How To Prepare Millennials To Be Our Next Generation Of Leaders

    So much has been made of the Millennial generation. There have been countless articles and even books published on how to manage and lead this generation in the work force. This is nothing new. Every new generation brings change and new technology with them as they take their first positions. The primary difference now is that technology changes so much faster then ever before, with smart phones leading the way. The technology that Millennials were raised on is now making its way in to offices and storefronts. Change can be difficult, but change can also be very good.
    For me, the next challenge with the Millennial generation is not how to manage and lead them, but rather to ask how do we begin to train them to be the managers and leaders of the future? So often, promotions are granted to an employee based on the work they have done in their role, and does not take into consideration one’s desire or ability to manage others. I think the great opportunity with the Millennial generation is not only to keep them engaged, but also to be the leaders of the future.

    What Are Your Service Standards?

    The first few weeks of the year are a time to focus on what is important. Prioritize and create goals for the coming year. Is the experience you are delivering part of those goals? If your answer was no, here are some things you can easily do with your team to re-focus on your experience and improve it at the same time.

    First, what are your current service standards? How quickly do you ask your team to respond to voicemail and e-mail messages? Is this fast enough? You may have to look outside of your industry for the answer. Companies using social media and other tools are having real-time conversations with their customers. How does that stack up with your current standard? Remember, a consumer compares experience-to-experience, and not just within that industry. Being the best in your industry with today’s tech savvy consumer may not get you very far.

    The following is by Katie Mares, Customer Experience Consultant for The DiJulius Group.

    Create Your Followers

    It takes progressive leadership for the vision of World Class Customer Service to come to life and make it stick with team members. However, it takes the first follower to make this vision translate to customers.

    “A leader without followers is a person taking a walk…”
    2017 will bring a new focus to how we lead our people through the Customer Service Revolution. It will no longer be about systems and processes that are mandated. Our core group of employees are Millennials, who need to be a part of a bigger purpose, who want to believe in what they are told to do and who want to have the confidence in those they follow.

    Leaders who are brave enough to take on the challenge of creating a World Class Experience for their customers will need to create a World Class Experience for their teams…they will need to dedicate time and resources to create followers and brand evangelists in order for the customer to realize the shift in the experience and for the leaders of organizations to realize the upside.

    World Class Service starts at the top with a strong belief, commitment, and strategic plan, but most importantly it takes leaders who are willing to commit to serving their people and in turn cultivate a culture that lives and breathes by the customer.

    Getting Personal

    Leaders in Customer Experience understand that every customer is unique. They also realize that in order to keep their customers coming back for more, the experience they provide needs to be tailored to suit the unique needs of each customer. This seems like an impossible task…creating a personalized experience for each customer we come in contact with.

    2017 will be focused on using the information that is at our fingertips and creating ways to translate the information into a personal experience for customers. According to Accenture, 73% of consumers prefer to do business with retailers that use their personal information to make the shopping experience more relevant. It is no longer about what we think the customers’ needs are, it is about the actual needs of the customer, and they expect just that!

    With customers’ expectations of a personalized experience on the rise, it is vital to focus on gathering the unique information about each of your customers and using it to create a personalized experience that connects them to you emotionally. Technology allows employees to create a personal database on each of your customers. Role-play with your employees to teach them how to collect these nuggets of gold; then create processes they can follow to effectively use the information you have on your customers. This will allow your employees to create an emotional connection with your customers. This will have the customer wanting to interact with you over the competitors.

  • Hospitality Is Not Just For The Hospitality Industry

    Hospitality Is Not Just For The Hospitality Industry | Don’t Trust Your Customers | Uber Is Systemized Hitchhiking

    The DiJulius Group Welcomes Katie Mares, CXC
    Due to our rapid growth in Customer Experience consulting, The DiJulius Group (TDG) has added another Customer Experience Consultant, Katie Mares. A former Customer Experience Executive of multiple TDG clients, Katie has been working with the X-Commandments methodology since 2011. She is also an instructor in the CXE Academy.

    *The following is written by Katie Mares, CXC

    Who is Your Competition?
    Our customers have multiple interactions all day long on a daily basis. In fact, businesses are competing with all of the experiences people have from the moment they wake up until the moment they have the privilege to interact with that customer, sell to them, and convince them why they have the best product, food, or service there is to offer. As a result of this, a great deal of businesses put a focus on improving their customer experience. Emphasis is also put on developing the right Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure the Return on Investment (ROI) for initiatives like this. One of the most popular KPI that businesses look at is whether or not the customer is likely to recommend them. This particular KPI uncovers those customers that are ‘likely to recommend’, but it also sheds light on those customers who are ‘not likely to recommend’. Studies show that news of bad customer service reaches more than twice as many ears as praise for a good service experience. This is a pretty compelling stat. Understanding this, it would be in the business’ best interest to focus on perfecting the customer experience to reduce the number of ‘not likely to recommend’.

    If this isn’t reason enough to focus on establishing a World Class Customer Experience, here are a few more statistics that might sway some away from the dark side:

    It takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience. Source: “Understanding Customers” by Ruby Newell-Legner
    3 in 5 Americans (59%) would try a new brand or company for a better service experience. Source: American Express Survey, 2011
    Customer churn is attributed to the poor quality of customer service. (Accenture Maximizing Customer Retention Report)
    The Bottom Line
    The list of reasons you should have the customer on the forefront of your mind goes on and on. Let’s try this reason on for size. What if providing a World Class Customer Experience created brand evangelists and generated referrals all while increasing your profits? A study conducted by American Express shows that 7 in 10 Americans say they were willing to spend more with companies they believe provide excellent customer service.

    I learned early on in my career that providing a World Class Customer Experience plays a major impact on the bottom line. Because of this, I have spent the majority of my career focusing on people and the experience we provide the customers we interact with. I had the pleasure to work with The DiJulius Group at the beginning of my career (in retail) and together we successfully created and rolled out a World Class Customer Experience program that raised our ‘likely to recommend score’ from 64% to 77% across a fleet of locations yielding 13% organic growth year over year.

    Hospitality is Not Just for The Hospitality Industry
    As I transitioned out of retail and into the dental field I got to thinking, if retailers, restaurants, and other services put a focus on creating a World Class Customer Experience (and rightfully so), why aren’t we putting the same emphasis on the Patient Experience in a dental practice (or any medical practice for that matter)?

    Let’s face it; visiting the dentist is not something many of us look forward to. Ultimately, it is a grudge buy. We have to go to the dentist to maintain our oral health. Don’t get me wrong, caring for your oral health is extremely important, but it is expensive, sometimes painful, and you don’t leave the practice with something tangible that you can hold and show off (like a Kate Spade handbag or the newest Apple gadget). Knowing that most of your patients are already hesitant to book an appointment and have a variety of dentists to choose from, it is important now more than ever to establish a World Class Patient Experience. Remember, you are not only competing with the dentist down the street but with every interaction your patients have before they commit to an appointment or booking treatment.

    Here’s the silver lining. If your patients leave your practice feeling cared for by a team that creates wow moments seamlessly throughout their entire visit, they will recommend you to a friend and they are far more likely to say yes to treatment.

    When I realized the importance of a Patient’s Experience in the dental practice, I made it my mission to pull from my customer experience knowledge in retail to create a World Class Patient Experience for the dental practices I was working with across the country.

    Where Do You Start?
    Going from good to great in Customer Service is a major project and can appear to be overwhelming. Where to start? Eat that elephant one bite at a time. I was working with a rather large group of practices spanning across the country. Before I began developing any processes or programs, I needed to better understand what the buy in would be from the field to carry this initiative to fruition. So I surveyed these practices and asked the following question: “What is the one area in your practice you wish you and your team had more training on?” The options given were as follows:

    A. Clinical Knowledge
    B. Treatment Coordinating
    C. Administration Processes
    D. Patient Experience
    E. Leadership

    An overwhelming 87% responded the need for more training on providing a better Patient Experience! We had buy in! Having teams committed to providing a World Class Patient Experience is half the battle. Now I needed to better understand what a World Class Patient Experience looked like in a dental practice. My advice, start off small. Buy in is critical, top down and bottom up. Without this, synthesizing the Patient Experience is next to impossible.

    Observe: Understand the Needs of the Customer Through the Customer’s Eyes
    With countless hours of observation in different demographics, I came to the conclusion that:

    There are seven stages in the Patient Experience Cycle, each as equally important as the next.
    The team has to work together seamlessly to ensure that the patient moves effortlessly through each stage in the experience; they all play an important role.
    If one team member drops the ball and another team member doesn’t step in to help recover from the situation, then the patient’s perception of their experience is easily tarnished.
    And fourth, more than in any retail or service setting, the ‘Secret Service’ component of the customer experience is most critical to the Patient Experience. Why? Because the patient wants to feel like the team, the hygienist and the doctor are interested in them as an individual and that all the Oral Health Education and Treatment Plans presented are tailored to them.
    Remember, patients are people and not a set of teeth. Someone once told me “treat others the way they need to be treated.” Ultimately, we need to understand what they desire from their time with you in the practice in order to truly make an impact on the Patient Experience.

    After a year of development and implementation, the impact on the KPIs set out were better than expected. First, patient attrition was reduced by 20%, internal referrals increased by 27%, and treatment acceptance doubled. Second, the greatest impact this journey had was that teams started to work together! They were more engaged and felt great about coming to work and doing their part in providing a World Class Patient/Customer Experience.

    The impact of establishing a World Class Customer Experience?

    Increased revenue
    Increased productivity
    Increased team engagement
    BRAND LOYALITY- from your team and your customers/patients!

    An industry Revolution

    Don’t trust your Customer
    Listening to your customers is a good practice for understanding what your business is currently doing right and wrong. However, the customer is the worst resource to determine your Customer Experience strategy. Revolutionary companies, the ones that totally disrupted and transformed their industries, did not use focus groups. It is hard to design by focus groups because most of the time, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.
    Customers didn’t ask for an iPhone, Zappos, or Uber, but today they can’t live without it.

    “The only way to come up with something new—something world changing—is to think outside of the constraints everyone else has. You have to think outside of the artificial limits everyone else has already set.” -Steve Jobs
    *Only 3 spots left for the 2017 CXE Academy Class contact

    Uber is Systemized Hitchhiking
    Think about this. 10 years ago, if someone would have asked what you would like in a cab experience, no one would have responded, “I would like to be able to stand on any street corner, at any time, and within minutes some stranger in an unmarked car will pick me up.” Watch this 75 second video on how Uber is systemized hitchhiking.