What’s the Secret?


To providing a world-class customer experience.

By John R. DiJulius, III
Reviewed by Angela Wilson Pennisi, PT, MS, OCS

I ordered this book after John DiJulius’s compelling presentation at the PPS Annual Conference in New Orleans last year. As owner of a successful spa and consultant to world-class service companies like Disney, Nordstrom and Starbucks, his message hit close to home as I have slowly grown my single location practice in Chicago from a solo practice to a practice of six clinicians. When you are very small, sharing and living your vision is not difficult—you are walking the walk right alongside your staff every day. However, as you grow and spend more time on management and practice building activities, communicating culture to newer staff members becomes more challenging.

Many of us most likely have a mission posted on the wall in our clinics, which is typically broad enough to encompass the nuts and bolts of how each staff member will care for their patients. I particularly think of our mission as telling the world what we stand for and helping them make the decision that our clinic is where they belong. However, What’s the Secret? provided a great framework for developing a service vision, which will help guide each and every staff member throughout the day—particularly for those times when you are not standing next to them.

The book begins with an overview of the crisis in customer service today and the factors contributing to the crisis. An online quiz can help you and your staff members rate your clinic’s current Service Aptitude Level. The second section contains ten commandments of service and is devoted to helping you develop a service vision, creating a world-class culture, attracting and hiring staff members who support that culture, training for service, and creating systems that promote an above-and-beyond culture. Finally, DiJulius offers metrics for measuring your customer’s experience to help you assess your progress.

In addition to assisting us in creating a service vision, we used the book to brainstorm with our staff and create a list of Nonnegotiable Experiential Standards. John Roberts’ Spa refers to these as Always and Never Standards.

Examples of “Never Standards”

  • Point
  • Say “no”
  • Say “not a problem”
  • Make a blind phone transfer internally
  • Overshare with a guest
  • Gossip
  • Criticize other team members
  • Show frustration publicly
  • Criticize competitors
  • Accept “fine” or “okay” from a customer who is asked how everything was today
  • Only say “I don’t know”
  • Have a conversation with a coworker in front of a guest that is unrelated to the guest
  • Make the customer wrong

Examples of “Always Standards”

  • Take them there
  • Do warm [phone] transfers
  • 10-feet greet
  • A smile is part of the uniform
  • Greet by the name after you learn it
  • Say name two to four times
  • Genuinely say, “certainly,” “absolutely,” and “my pleasure”
  • Do what it takes to make it right
  • Own it—even if it is not your fault
  • Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t
  • Anticipate and deliver on the guest’s needs

We spend plenty of time training our staff on Medicare documentation requirements, evidence-based practice, and billing and coding. Developing these types of Always and Never Standards can help make your internalized customer service standards part of your clinic’s culture.