Industry Research

Treat Every Limo Client As A VIP For Good Customer Service

Martin Romjue
Posted on December 20, 2011
Customer service expert John DiJulius says customer service should be redefined for a tougher, more competitive business environment full of fast changes.

Customer service expert John DiJulius says customer service should be redefined for a tougher, more competitive business environment full of fast changes.

Customer service expert John DiJulius says customer service should be redefined for a tougher, more competitive business environment full of fast changes.
Customer service expert John DiJulius says customer service should be redefined for a tougher, more competitive business environment full of fast changes.

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — The state of customer service in America depends on whom you ask.

A recent survey showed that 80% of businesses polled claimed to deliver good customer service. But out of 3,000 customers polled, only 8% said they got good customer service.

The reason: Many service providers don’t know what clients want, said John DiJulius, a customer service expert and author of What’s The Secret? To Providing World-Class Customer Experience. “There’s a different perspective with too much routine. When’s the last time your chauffeurs were in the back seat? Driven around? Do they know what it’s like to get up early, go to the airport, fly, get luggage, and wonder where their vehicle is?”

DiJulius threw out those challenges on Sept. 14 to a room full of operators attending the 2011 LCT Leadership Summit at the Ritz-Carlton South Beach. The owner and founder of The DiJulius Group has consulted for such big names as Ritz, Lexus, Starbucks and Nordstrom. “How can Ritz-Carlton, Disney and Nordstrom get thousands of employees to be motivated and do extra customer service? What is the secret?” DiJulius asked.

The best world class companies do two things, he answered:
1) Train for service aptitude.
2) Put themselves in the shoes and pressures of customers.

1: Aptitude and attitudes

In Miami Beach, for example, many front line employees don’t make enough to afford living there, flying first class, or staying at the Ritz-Carlton, DiJulius said. “Yet we expect them to deliver those types of experiences to customers and clients.”

Enter a concept that is hard for many businesses to understand: Service aptitude — an ability to exceed customer expectations regardless of circumstances.

“Service aptitude is not something we are born with,” DiJulius said. “The younger generation doesn’t get it. They can’t, and we didn’t either. But most people have the potential.”

Previous work experiences inform the ability to give world class service. Business owners must recognize the genuine potential for hospitality and increase their service aptitude. Prime employee minds to pay close attention and see things. “It’s easy to miss something you’re not looking for.”

“Business has never been tougher today,” DiJulius said. “Are you truly fanatical about differentiating yourself through customer service? Customer service training is like deodorant. It smells good for a while, but then wears off, and the smell returns. That applies to customer service and VIP experiences.”

2: From empathy to excellence

DiJulius got right to the point about what operators should focus on: “Make price irrelevant. Do not engage in price wars. Fight the experience wars instead.”

That means creating stellar and memorable customer service experiences. “What would a movie look like for one day in the life of your customers?” DiJulius asked. Role playing can be helpful in getting employees to understand clients.
“You can be more empathetic and compassionate when you know the circumstances and needs of customers and the pressures they face,” DiJulius said. “There is creativity in solving problems.

“You can build an experience because you know and respect where they are coming from, and the stresses they get from all directions.”

Key to excelling in service is creating a “Department of Customer Intelligence,” DiJulius said. Chauffeurs and reservationists should take notes on customers. They should jot down “customer intelligence” on clients and keep them on record to anticipate their needs.

Consider what you want to do differently now, and by six months from now, he said. Operators should plan out or anticipate future face-to-face conversations with clients.

Fair warning

The chauffeured transportation industry is a mature one, which can be good and bad, he said. He warned: “What got you here, won’t get you there. What got you here is going to keep you stuck. [Change and adapt]. Too many people are like blind sheep.”

 

SIDEBAR: Components of the Customer Experience

Engagement: Eye-to-eye contact, ear-to-ear smiles, enthusiasm, and natural engagement are good tools for genuine hospitality — and for finding the right employees. Be aware of how you make the customer feel, how you talk to them, and your attitude.  

Face time. Emphasize to younger employees the importance of social interaction. “They don’t have much experience in dealing with people or the face time of talking to people.”
 
Create a customer service statement for employees only. It does not need to be shown to customers.

Deliver meaningful experiences for customers: “What are experiences that boost the self-esteem of customers? Or help enlighten them? What is a good ‘Priceless’ commercial for your type of business?”

Build client trust: Customers don’t need to know what you did to be there. They just need to know you will be there. You want chauffeurs and the team to understand the burden you have to match.

Give everyone the benefit of the doubt: Less than 1% of people lie to a company to get something for free. Don’t worry about finding the 1%. Be charitable in your assumptions. Don’t remember the one person who rips you off.

Always your problem: It’s not your fault, but it is still your problem. Don’t win the argument at the expense of losing the customer. The answer is YES. Find an alternative if you can’t provide something to a customer. Ban the practice of telling customers, “My system won’t allow me to do that.”
 
Create inspired moments in each customer’s day: “Anticipate, connect, personalize, own. Own the experience; make it again. Take handcuffs off employees and let them make it right.” Use customer intelligence to personalize each customer’s experience. Surprise and delight.
 
Make people earn the right to work for your company: It’s better to lose a sale than your reputation. “The sale you can get the next time; a reputation you cannot recover from.” They should earn the right to be part of your culture and legacy.

Find the most committed employees: They tend to be volunteers for charity, campaign workers, and student athletes. “They are part of a cause, something bigger with direct impact. It’s not about the pay.”

 

NEVERS/ALWAYS

1: Never point; show them. Don’t make customers do the work. Have someone call back, look it up, and do not say NO. “It’s equivalent to the f-bomb. Focus on what you can do.”

2: Banish slang and cheesy language. Do not say “not a problem.” It’s an overused, annoying slang term. Instead, say, “Certainly, my pleasure.”

3: Do not do cold phone transfers. It must be warm with an introduction.

4: Never over share. Don’t get into personal problems and dysfunctions behind the scenes. TMI is unprofessional.

5: Never say, “I don’t know.” Only, “Let me find out.” Do not show frustration publicly.

6: Do not deliver bad news via e-mail; no gossip.

7: Always use your customer’s name and your name. Do a specific professional greeting.

8: Always deliver compliments. Make a smile part of the chauffeur uniform. Lighten up and have a personality. “Is there anything else I can do for you today? I have the time.”

9: Never cut someone off when they are speaking. Don’t assume; don’t pretend to know.

 

Related Topics: building your clientele, customer service, employee management, LCT Leadership Summit, staff management, staff training, wealthy clients

Martin Romjue Editor
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