S2E20 The Give More Edition with John DiJulius
James chats with John DiJulius. Have you ever wondered why there are some brands that customers just can’t live without? And do you think it’s possible to make price irrelevant? John will show you how to do both. He is the world authority on customer experience an international consultant, keynote speaker and best selling author of five customer service books.
His newest book, “The Relationship Economy – Building Stronger Customer Connections in the Digital Age” could not be timelier in the world we’re living in right now. He’s worked with some amazing companies like the Ritz Carlton, Lexus, Starbucks, Nordstrom, Nestle, Marriott, PwC Harley Davidson, the list goes on and on and on.
They chat about human interaction, building real relationships, salons and spas, the touchscreen age, price irrelevance, getting bored, and of course great customer experience.
John’s latest book: Buy from Amazon
James Nathan 0:57 Hello and welcome to The Only One Business Show with me your host, James Nathan. Have you ever wondered why there are some brands that customers just can’t live without? And do you think it’s possible to make price irrelevant? My guest today will show you how to do both. He is the world authority on customer experience an international consultant, keynote speaker and best selling author of five customer service books. His newest book, “The Relationship Economy – Building Stronger Customer Connections in the Digital Age” could not be timelier in the world we’re living in right now. He’s worked with some amazing companies like the Ritz Carlton, Lexus, Starbucks, Nordstrom, Nestle, Marriott, PwC Harley Davidson, the list goes on and on and on. Please welcome an amazing gentlemen and really great pleasure to have on the show today. John DiJulius.
John DiJulius 1:51 Thank you. It is such a pleasure and an honour.
James Nathan 1:54 Well, it’s lovely to get you here. How’s things in Cleveland today.
John DiJulius 1:58 Snowy, very snowy, but pretty.
James Nathan 2:01 We haven’t had snow here yet it is minus something at the moment. But at any point now, any point now to start to look a lot more like Christmas, which is always always always lovely. John, how did you get started in the world of customer service take us back in your history.
John DiJulius 2:18 You know, by an accident. When we opened 27 years ago me and my wife opened a very small hair salon, four chairs, 900 square feet, and we had no money, no customers and no employees. And there was a, you know, you could throw a rock and hit 10 salons in either direction. And so we couldn’t outspend them, advertise them. We couldn’t, you know, build a nicer place than they had. So you know, my focus was just to offer a world class customer experience. Not only that they couldn’t get in the salon and spa industry, but anywhere else, anywhere else. I wanted it be the best experience in their day and it started working and all of a sudden, you know, we started knocking down walls and expanding and doing that a few times and opening up, you know, bigger more locations and so as a result in the mid 90s, because of our growth and our reputation for customer service, people started asking me to speak and every time I spoke that would lead to two or three more opportunities of organizations hiring in me and then I wrote my first book on customer service in 2002. And that pretty much vaulted me out of the salon industry, and full time speaking and consulting.
James Nathan 3:45 You know, it’s interesting I often talk about, about hair salons as kind of the the Jedi Knights of repeat business, you know, that absolutely magnificent and getting people to come back. But that service level thing of really wanting to be a part of it is certainly very special. And you’ve still got the chain, it’s a chain now isn’t it? Am I right?
John DiJulius 4:06 I still have them. I’m not actively involved, but I still have them.
James Nathan 4:11 Fantastic. And the latest book Relationship Economy, where does that fit within the whole scheme of customer relationship and service excellence?
John DiJulius 4:22 Well, you know, we’re at a seismic shift happening in the world today. And with all the conveniences and benefits technology is bringing us it’s come at a significant cost. And that cost is just human interactions that which is vital to customer loyalty, employee satisfaction and overall happiness and the pendulum has swung so far over to high tech, low touch or no touch that you know, today’s illiterate or those who have an inability to make a meaningful connection with others.
James Nathan 4:55 I talked about the the world being a click away and it certainly is, but that disruption, the digital disruption has changed business in other ways, hasn’t it?
John DiJulius 5:05 Totally. I mean, totally. And listen, technology is not the enemy. I love technology and I’m guilty of having every gadget and using every device I can but I’m using it to eliminate the human experiences and I’ll give you an example there’s a wireless carrier in Canada, that now penalizes their customers if they call in to speak to support or about their bill and they charge you $10 so, on your account if you want to speak to a human being so you know, that’s going too far.
James Nathan 5:40 Like drives you crazy when you can’t contract them without having to pay for it but having to pay for it just you know, that even even Amazon now allow you to well, they find you don’t they of course, but you know, they had to change things because people like to talk to people don’t they.
John DiJulius 5:55 You know, listen, no one’s loyal to an app. No one’s loyal to you know website. You know, the emotional connection is made with other people and it’s easy to fire a company, but it’s not easy to fire someone you know and someone that has been there for you. You give give people you know and have built an emotional connection with you a second chance and, you work with them and that’s the key and that’s where too many businesses are, again going too far over to the high tech no touch for productivity and listen, we need to marry the digital with the human and you use the digital and technology for you know, fast, you know, transactional parts of the experience freeing up your customer facing employees to work on what’s most important building those relationships that delight the customer and, really delight the employee
James Nathan 6:55 You know it’s so it’s when you say that kind of that convenience thing and using that technology Obviously, you know, lots of supermarkets these days you go in you grab whatever you need, you swipe it yourself, you stick your card and on and off you go. And there’s a one that’s just opened in London Sainbury’s have opened a completely digital shop. So you go in, you load your app, you go in there, you scan on your phone, and you walk straight out, no checkouts at all. But they still have to have people there because no one can work the silly thing. They have to stand there and the queue for being helped is is enormous. Sometimes it’s just…. I don’t know this technology go too far in places like this, do you think?
John DiJulius 7:36 Oh, always always. I mean, this I like the opportunity. I like the option. But, you know, but they say by 2025, the year 2025. There’ll be more machines in the workforce than human beings and artificial intelligence will have everything. Be able to everything that we’re doing today from lawyers to judges, to doctors to nurses driving to construction. And something my just found out. I never heard of this. But there’s artificial intelligent brothels? I’m not, I’m not endorsing. I’m not judging. I’m just reporting.
James Nathan 8:13 You know John, every time I do this podcast…… You know, I, every now and then I’m just completely surprised by what somebody said.
John DiJulius 8:22 Someone said that to me talk about, you know, you don’t need another human being as long as you live, I guess.
James Nathan 8:28 Well, you know, what a sad world it’s, it can be very isolating can’t it, the digital world. You talk about the touchscreen age. What do you mean by that?
John DiJulius 8:39 So the touchscreen age we’re all living in and it’s not generational specific. I know, us, you know, old fogies love to beat up on the millennial generation. And but you know, firstly, we got to remind ourselves, is there the generation we raised, and they’re the ones that we handed an iPad to occupy them so we could be, you know, be productive in our lives. But the touchscreen age…. we have we have everyone using devices from grandparents to six year olds. And as a result, there’s a rapid decline in people skills that has just caused so many negative ramifications. We have a lack of social skills. Doctors have said a lack of social relationships is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day, has the same side effects. Lack of social relationships is smoking 15 cigarettes a day, as well as doctors have also recognized a term called digital dementia. And they they have looked at heavy users of digital devices and they’ve done brain scans. And they are similar to patients who have sustained brain injuries. That’s really scary.
James Nathan 9:49 That’s frightening, isn’t it? It’s some… I mean, there’s lots of things I love about them. I’m, you know, my father, unfortunately my dad’s no longer alive. He I wish he had been while when we had this technology because it would have been so nice to be able to you know, send photos and let him see Facebook and you know follow what people, were doing day to day where, where we weren’t able to do that before but the negative side of that kind of isolation that can come from it, I think is quite worrying.
John DiJulius 10:19 No, absolutely and and listen to all the business people listening, make no mistake about it, the lack of social skills our society has today is the responsibility of business leaders to fix. We can’t skip this generation and employees right. The next generation, you know, and this generation, the next generations are relationship disadvantage at no fault of their own. And, so we have to teach them, we have to teach them and what may be common sense to baby boomers and about relationship. The Art of building relationships is not common sense to them. And so that’s really where the book goes is how to develop relationships building techniques and to train that to your employees because the ones that are doing it are just dominating.
James Nathan 11:14 So obvious, aren’t they, but it’s so….. aren’t we going back in time? I was in my favorite coffee shop this week. You know, Mario’s there, he saw Hi James, how are you? Espresso today? And, you know, he knows me. He knows what I’m all about. He’s, you know, we’ve built a proper level of rapport between us. And I wouldn’t go anywhere else. I really wouldn’t.
John DiJulius 11:36 And James I betcha there’s there’s there’s several places possibly more convenient to where you live or where you work. And they could be cheaper. But you won’t go anywhere. And that is exactly what the definition of making price relevant is that your your cafe is doing to you is that the experience that they’re providing consistently, and you have no idea what their competition charges because you’re not out looking. You’re not price shopping.
James Nathan 12:05 John, I don’t know what the competition charges and I don’t know what they charge. If you ask me right now what does it cost me to buy a latte? And I have no idea. I don’t care.
John DiJulius 12:14 And that’s and that’s why I say making price irrelevant is you know, we all have, you know, a few businesses were so loyal to now I’ve been the idiot that’s driven three extra mile to save 50 cents on something not realizing I just lost and that exchange, but, you know. One of mine is, his name Hoop. His real name is Brian Hooper. And he’s a handyman I use, I’ve used him for 30 years in all my businesses changed. It doesn’t work for me, but changes everything from light bulbs, you know, knocking down walls, doing basements and remodelling all this and greatest guy ever. And whenever I hear someone that needs something to go, you gotta use Hoop. And they’re like, what’s a Hoop? My God, I tell them how great he is and just like you said, someone always says to me, well, how much does he charge an hour because my handyman charges 105. And like you, I’m embarrassed to say, I have no idea. I could, you know, call my assistant, she could pull up his last invoice, but I don’t care. He might be 150 he might be 80. I don’t care because I know I save over the long run with peace of mind, trust. He saves me money from doing what’s right. Not always what’s best for him.
James Nathan 13:25 Well, that that’s the mark of a good person, isn’t it? Who does, or anyone in business? Who does the right job rather than the job that works for them? What…. when we were talking about touchscreens a minute ago, and I know what I really enjoyed, and in the book talking about mental stimulation addiction, is that connected? What, how do you what’s going on there?
John DiJulius 13:47 Yeah, I mean, you know, James, I guarantee you probably, you know, will painfully recognize what I’m gonna described you, and I do. So I’ll go to a doctor’s office, let’s say and I’ll be sitting there waiting and, you know, I pull up my iPhone and I’ll look at all my different things, texts, emails, all my social media channels, ESPN and headline news. And then I put it down. And without even thinking about 15 seconds at the most go by I pick it up and search all those sites again, like what could of happened in 15 seconds? And so they say, you know, mental stimulation addiction is a crisis because our society is less creative and less innovative, because our brains are atrophied. You know, if we’ve ever had a cast on something our leg and you take the cast off, and that muscles just shrivelled up well, that’s what we’re doing to our brains because we’re outsourcing our brains to our digital devices, and we don’t sit and we don’t get bored and that boredom is where the creativity comes. You know, you always say get your best ideas in the shower as well. We either need to take more showers. Right or do yoga, do meditation, you know. So in the book I talked about the first place we got to start building a relationship was with ourselves. And you got to find ways to be bored and let ideas come to you. And I’ll give you one example that I’ve been doing, you know, like to run and I’m always listening to a podcast or ESPN or something when I run, and now I try a couple days a week to not listen to anything, which at first was like, unbearable. But I will tell you when I get home, I have to run panicky looking for a note paper and pen because I have so many ideas that came to me. But if we didn’t do that, if I didn’t do that those ideas wouldn’t have been allowed to come into my mind.
James Nathan 15:42 You know what john I was talking to to James Taylor this morning who…. recording another episode of this show and he’s a world expert in creativity. We were talking about showers and having a notebook outside and being around nature and how being in nature actually inspires you to think and to spend time just with your thoughts, taking things in different directions rather than, you know, sitting at a computer and trying to knock out some, you know, wonderful, wonderful thing. It sounds like that’s what you’re doing. You mentioned meditation as well. Is that something you get involved with?
John DiJulius 16:20 I don’t, I’d like to. You know, I’ve tried yoga and I’m a little high strung, but it’s something I’m trying to gravitate towards more, but I do sit and just chill a little bit and it helps. I like to get out because I have spas I like to get regular massages, which is another source of…. man when I get up after the massage, I’m looking for anything to frantic because so many thoughts come to my head. And so if any of your listeners are feeling, you know, a lack of creativity, that’s where they got to start is like James said, you know, build that relationship with yourself. Put yourself in situations. There was a great TED Talk called From Boredom to Brilliant and that’s what it means is when you’re most bored is when your brain, it becomes most brilliant.
James Nathan 17:10 Wow that’s it that’s a fantastic thought I’m gonna have a look at that as soon as I, soon as I get a chance. John what a businesses need to do differently now then to compete in the new economy and the relationship economy?
John DiJulius 17:23 Well, I mean, the relationship economy is where the primary currency is the emotional connection made with customers, employees and vendors that result in your organization becoming the brand people can’t live without. So they got to use a technology to perform the basic tasks enabling employees to build relationships that result in higher customer loyalty, retention, lifetime value, and job satisfaction. They need to, you know, do the same thing, create a culture that creates emotional connections with their employees. Turnover is high and it’s because we’re, you know, not building it internally. And finally, the most important part of this is they have to create a relationship building training for new and existing employees. That is not common sense anymore. And that is the key is making sure you have soft skill training just as much as you have the operational and process training.
James Nathan 18:22 You know, I will obviously we were in very similar worlds. John, we talk a lot with businesses who are very good at training, the technical, not training the soft. When they talk to you about the ROI, they say John yeah, great. Okay, but it’s going to cost us money. And what are we getting back from it? What do you say to them?
John DiJulius 18:40 Oh, that’s my favourite. I mean, there’s irrefutable evidence of the return on investment. I mean, the Watermark Group did a 11 year study from 2007 to 2018. And obviously, that covered both the great recession to you know, an economic boom and they compared three types of companies and these companies, the first company they looked at was the customer experience laggards the bottom 20% and over that 11 year period, they enjoyed a 63% return on investment, they compared that to the s&p 500 who over that 11 year period had 138% return which was you know, more than double the customer experience laggard and then the top 20% customer satisfaction companies across all industry had 183% return on investment which was which is 133% more the s&p 500 and over 300% over the laggards and so it just It baffles me that why everyone doesn’t make you know, customer experience their single biggest competitive advantage.
James Nathan 20:01 Well, when you start talking about numbers like that, it’s a no brainer, isn’t it? Absolutely. When we start training people, when we start explaining to them, well retraining them in relationship building rapport is obviously a big, big part of that. And you’ve got a little acronym, haven’t you? Which I really love Ford. What is Ford stand for?
John DiJulius 20:23 Well, you know, we’re all pre…. I mean, we’re all genetically coded to be preoccupied with ourselves, right? It’s my flight that was delayed. It’s my client that’s upset with us. It’s my son that may have gotten in trouble yesterday at school. And, you know, that’s a hard thing to battle and so, but when you meet people, you got to keep the focus on them. We got to remember that everyone has an invisible sign above their head that says, make me feel important and the greatest gift we can give anyone is the gift of our attention. And so how do you do that? And so what we teach ourselves, our clients, my three boys, is whenever you meet someone you have to focus on their Ford. And if you can focus on their Ford, you not only built a relationship you own the relationship. And so Ford stands for family, occupation, recreation and dreams. You know family, is he married? Does he have kids how old are their kids. Occupation? What’s your job title? How long has she been doing it? What company does she worked for. Recreation might be one of the hottest buttons, that’s you know, what do you like to do with their free time? Are they runners? Do they love dogs? Hot yoga, whatever, coach Little League whatever that may be and then their Dreams what’s their their their on their bucket list? What’s their encore career what is you know their dream vacation?
James Nathan 21:43 When you go to….. I’m just imagining going into a networking event and you know breakfast somewhere chamber commerce wherever it might be and you know, people start talking and you know, it always delights me when they say hey, let’s talk business and I think no, let’s just find out who we are and what we know and like together and you know, build that kind of that nice thing. And I guess that that’s a really nice little analogy there to give people a kind of idea of what should I be asking about what should be thinking about how do I get to know this person?
John DiJulius 22:12 You know, I personally am not a networker. I’m probably the worst networker there is I never have a business card on me. And, you know, I don’t believe in networking, but I do believe in building social capital. Social capital is just a human library of resources of people you’ve just built that, you know, they can call you you can call them and share knowledge and introductions. And Tony Hsieh the founder of Zappos says it best he said, Stop trying to network in the traditional business sense. And instead just try to build up the number and depths of your friendships where you’re the friendship itself is its own reward. And I love that.
James Nathan 22:52 Yeah, I mean he’s not not that successful, but he’ll get there eventually won’t he Tony?
John DiJulius 22:59 He’ll figure it out.
James Nathan 23:01 So is that, when you said you don’t like networking? Is that where it comes from?
John DiJulius 23:06 Yeah, probably I’m just not a networker. You know, I, but I love to be an investigative reporter and I think we have to have an insatiable curiosity. And, you know, we’re dying to learn about others and a lot of this, you know, stems from, you know, major faults I had early on. If you would have met me 30 years ago, and you couldn’t talk to me about baseball or customer service. I just could not stand to be around you. I mean, that, you know, I’m embarrassed of that. But like my wife said, honey, we’re gonna go out with you know, Joanne and her husband, oh, good god no! You know, and, you know, because he wasn’t interested in what I was interested in. I really learned and now I just dive in. I find out what your hot buttons are. It might be fly fishing, which you know, would never be on my radar, but I will just drill you about fly fishing and three things always happen right from it. The first thing is, you know, I enjoyed it, I learned something and mostly because of the passion that other person might have. I might not go out and fly fish tomorrow, but I can see why he enjoys it so much. The second thing is that person loves me right because he got to talk for two hours about….. which means I want points at home with my wife, right which is which is most important. And then the third thing This always happens, I will find myself in the next six to eight months in front of a CEO maybe in his office, right, trying to acquire relations and I will see a picture of him fly fishing on the wall or whatever we might have talked about six months ago, and as a result of that conversation, I am able to go deeper with somewhat of an you know, intelligent conversation with him. It always comes back to benefit you in the strangest way,
James Nathan 25:01 Well, I absolutely agree with you. And I don’t know I love learning about people and I love learning about the things that they’re interested in. But I can’t remember who said it. And it just, you know, you read so many books in your life. But at some point, this quote came to me. I grabbed hold of which said, to be interesting, you just need to be interested. For someone to find them interesting, you just need to be interested in them. And I must find out who said it certainly wasn’t me, but I’ve definitely stolen it.
John DiJulius 25:28 I’ve said it a million times. You could say it was me, which would be true. I have said it a million times, but I am not the originator.
James Nathan 25:37 I’ll give it to you John. Whenever anybody asked me…. that was John Dijulius. That’s the man. what’s what’s what’s being in a client’s foxhole? What do you mean by that metaphor?
John DiJulius 25:47 You know, I you know, we everyone has a foxhole, right? And we all mentally metaphorically have a foxhole, a personal and a physical I’m sorry, personal and professional. So If we’re under attack tonight and you know the world was going to end obviously that personal foxhole I’m bringing my significant other and depending on the day most of my kids right. If it’s a yeah now professional I say you only can fit three partners, three partners you know. The CEO can only fit three. Are you going to…. do you have a spot in your client, the CEO’s foxhole, you know. And where he says you know hey you know what about our banker? No, we could we could start over to round find someone probably cheaper right when they get to you can’t can they live without you? Can they fathom life without you and you know, the way you do that is first you got to love what you do and make it obvious. People have to hear your passion. Your clients should never meet anyone smarter than you at what you do. You need to go ugly early. And that means if it’s bad news, you make sure that you are transparent and you tell him. You got to be a resource broker. I have a client of mine that said this to me. He said to me, it just floored me when he said this. He goes, I hope I die before my banker. And I’m like, what? He says, Yeah, because I can’t I could not live without him. Like, what do you tie? I couldn’t care less. I wouldn’t even go to the funeral of my banker. Well, what are you talking about? And this is what he said. He said, my bankers might one of my most important advisors to that point that if I’m thinking of changing our wallpaper in our corporate offices, I would call him first. And then he says, I’m pretty sure, pretty sure my banker doesn’t know crap about you know, wallpaper, but I know he’ll know someone that does. And I was floored. That is how I want to be thought of that. There’s no one smarter at what I do than me. But I’m also there for my clients. Anything they need that I will make sure that they get the best you know that I want to be their resource. But
James Nathan 28:02 If you could be that, then you’ve got it by having you know, so I was talking to Bob Burg, who, you know, obviously, very well known for the for his expression, you know, but go giving, giving more. You know, you talk about giving more, which is a very similar concept. It’s the same, isn’t it? It’s being the person who can give and help and is available to do that whenever they need it.
John DiJulius 28:27 Yeah, those are my two favourite words. If I can get them tattooed on my forehead, I would. If it wouldn’t look too silly, but uh, give more. I love those words. And the reason why is you know, we live in a very cynical society today. And our agreement says, our contract our, you know, whatever, you know, says that you have to do A, B and C and I have to do X,Y and Z. But too often too many of us wait and make sure the other party does a, b and c before they do what they’re supposed to. So when I try to teach myself, my boys, my employees, my clients is do x y&z first and throw in w even though w wasn’t part of it, even though they weren’t expecting w, throw it in. Always do more. And don’t wait, don’t keep score and don’t have a good memory. Don’t remember three years ago when someone didn’t do what they say don’t let that ruin it. giving more is one of the best ways to build long term sustainable relationships. And that means if you borrow someone’s pickup truck to move furniture, you give them that truck cleaner and with more gas than how they gave it to you.
James Nathan 29:34 You know, what if we could finish right now and that would be enough, John, that is absolutely fabulous. But I want to ask you one big question. Just one, your big golden nugget. The one thing that you would like to leave people with today that will make their businesses, well, that’s something they can do that will make their businesses better for today, and better for the years to come. What would that be?
John DiJulius 29:56 Hmm, I think, the only thing I could truly brag about is the people I choose to surround myself. I’ve never been a collector…. collected baseball cards when I was really young until my mother threw those out. But since then, I think that that kind of scarred me and but you know, what someone told me about five years ago was that, you know, I do collect something very rare. And it’s unique people, from my closest friends, to I have three companies, to the people that lead my companies. I’m very protective on who I will let in. Because we are all you know, we’re the average of the five people we spend the most time with, we hear all those cliches, but it’s so true. And we it’s contagious. And, you know, the type of friends I have, they’ve been married for 25 plus years. You know, you got two types of people, you know, one that will say, you know, hey, let’s have another beer. You know, even though you told your wife, you’d be home in 15 minutes and the other says, Hey, you know, you need to get you need to get home, let’s let’s get up early and get out running. Right and it’s really important and all my successes….. It’s because who I’ve surrounded myself with I’ve been guilty of by association.
James Nathan 31:15 Fantastic John, thank you so much for your time, so many great thoughts and things there. It’s been lovely chatting with you.
John DiJulius 31:21 My pleasure. Thank you.