Transforming the Customer Experience

Category : Customer loyalty

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Episode 020 – Get Customer Feedback & Insights with Focus Groups


  • Listening to customers is the goal
  • Data drives a lot of CX work
  • Conversations give you the reasons BEHIND the data
  • Focus groups are a great way to have conversations
  • General fishing, proposed changes, specific topic focus
  • Feed off the energy and questions from the group
  • Uncover questions, priorities, issues, not on your radar
  • Participants tend to springboard off each other
  • Be strategic about focus groups
  • Suggested Methodology
    1. Be Clear on Purpose Use of Outcomes
    2. Determine appropriate participants – Invite them about 3-4 weeks prior to the event, logistics should be shared on the invite. I like to limit the group to 12-15. More than that and people will hide behind the numbers, somewhat like the Bystander Effect. They figure others will speak for them OR they may feel intimidated.
    3. Establish facilitator
    4. Craft questions to draw out information based on purpose – OPEN-ENDED
      1. “Tell me about…”
      2. “Share what drives these feelings…”
    5. Identify best location for the event – location, size, atmosphere
    6. Conduct the Focus Group – Again share the purpose, ask the questions and facilitate discussion, thank them for attending and sharing their input, explain how data will be used moving forward.
    7. Have someone taking copious notes – recording can be done with permissions, check with your legal counsel or state for general release statement
    8. Debrief with your co-leaders – what worked, what didn’t, what would you do differently, any urgent or immediate things to follow up on
    9. Summarize results and findings, including those in the debrief
    10. Send Thank You to participants along the lines of…

Thanks so very much for taking part in our Focus Group last week. We truly appreciate you taking the time and giving your honest feedback and insight on how we at “ABC Co” can best work with you and support your goals using our services.

We are currently compiling the information you shared with us to review with our Leadership Team. Your feedback and suggestions will be used to shape how we work with all of our customers moving forward.

As we pointed out, you may have thought of other things you would like us to be aware of since we met. Please respond back to this email with any ideas, questions, or suggestions that occur to you based on our conversation. We truly do use your input when designing our experience and systems.

Thank you!

11. Review report and findings with Leadership

12. Plan of action with timeline, assignments, and accountability.

If possible, let participants know how their input helped in specific areas.

Share with all of your customers you held a focus group, what was learned, and how you intend to use the data or what improvements can or have been made

When people see you take their feedback seriously, they’ll be more likely to share with you in any context.

So now you know more about focus groups and I hope you will take the initiative to hold some. It’s a great way to get inside the mind of your customers to help shape the way you work with them and serve them.

Also, please email me your experiences with focus groups and share what worked and what didn’t, and what you would have done differently had you known what you know now.

Lastly, be sure to subscribe to this podcast on iTunes or Stitcher to be sure you get every episode as soon as it is released.

Thanks so much for spending this time with me today. I’ll see YOU on the next episode!

Episode 011 – Using Empathy to Build HUMAN CX Relationships


Unless we understand empathy, it’s expression will always seem as “a mask” and not genuine.

Lifeless, automated, and robotic responses kill the Customer Experience.

Empathy drives connection in relationships. Empathy is the art of understanding and acknowledging a customer’s feelings and needs before trying to find a solution that meets them. When we take the time to understand the person and make them feel cared about, they will be more likely to continue to work with your company over time.

Empathy lets you share the feeling of someone’s joy or pain. Sympathy is feeling sorry for someone’s pain or situation.

Empathy does not mean you agree with the person’s perspective or feelings. It means that without fixing it, giving advice or making suggestions, that you demonstrate an understanding of the feelings they are expressing.

As Business Leaders, empathy is important in our company as it allows everyone to feel safe in their mistakes and encourages leaders to look for the real cause driving the poor performance. Being empathetic allows leaders to help struggling staff improve and/or correct the behaviors and actions to help them succeed in their role.

CX is all about relationships and communication. Communication needs to be focused on showing the other person they are valued, cared about, and focused on helping them.

The tone you use is crucial in conveying sincere empathy.

Leave your ego and perspective at the door and truly make the effort to see things from the other person’s viewpoint.

Actively listen. Validate their perspective. Check your attitude for the desired outcome.

Phrases that Convey Empathy

I can understand why you are frustrated…

I understand the situation and I’m so sorry you feel this way. This isn’t how we want any of our customers to feel.

I can imagine how upsetting it is to…

I’m so sorry to hear that…

I’m sad you had to contact us about this…

I’m glad you called so we have the chance to help you with this…

Empathy IS teachable. Everyone is born with Empathy and make the effort to develop it further.

Relate to a similar situation or experience that generates the same emotions or feelings – a missed plane, last-minute cancellation of plans, lost keys or wallet, etc.

It all relates back to Theodore Roosevelt’s famous quote – “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.

Episode 005 – CX From the Customer Perspective


  • Customer Perspective is really the only thing that matters in any Customer Experience work.
  • I know that you are doing what you think is best for your business and your customer. I know that most of you, simply because you are listening to this podcast, are looking to create solid experiences for your customers that will bring them back to you time and time again.
  • But what if your customers don’t think the same way you do? What if you think the billing process you currently have is fine, but it’s driving your customers nuts? What if they think your invoicing or billing practices are inconvenient or confusing?
  • That’s the rub. Many companies feel what they have in place is just fine. And, in all likelihood, it probably does the job. But just consider this… your customers aren’t comparing you to your competitors. They are comparing you to wherever it is that they do business where they feel important, valued, and listened to. So if they make a suggestion to you, or even complain, about your billing practices and you don’t at least seriously consider it, you have a problem on your hands.
  • Because who drives your business? Yes, you are leadership… but your customers are giving you their money that helps you stay in business. If they leave, you won’t have a business to run.
  • Now I’m not suggesting that you will go out of business simply because your invoicing is confusing, but if you aren’t taking suggestions or feedback in one area of your business seriously, you likely aren’t taking it seriously in other areas as well.
  • Remember back in episode 1 we covered what CX is… I spent some time talking about how it is customer driven… it’s an OUTside IN approach… meaning you find out what is important to your customers, you find out what they prefer, and you make things happen as much as possible as you can according to their preferences, I promise you, they will stay loyal to you.
  • You are basically telling them… hey, we value you… thanks for your business… Let us know what you like and we’ll try to do it.
  • Because every single human alive has their own opinion and perspective. And everyone’s perspective and belief is their reality. Remember I warned you there’d be a lot of psychology lessons along the way here. Our perspective is what drives our beliefs, decisions, and actions.
  • So in business, the customer’s perspective is their reality. If they believe that your billing practices are confusing, then pay attention to that. Because if you want to keep them as your customer, you need to address it.
  • Now, there is a possibility you don’t need to change a single thing. Maybe what you have is a very clear and logical billing system, but it’s confusing to your customers because they don’t understand it.
  • That’s why you need to ask your customers for their perspective along the way.

Episode 004 – It’s All About the Money

Episode 4 – It’s All About the Money


  • Money and profits – not bad words
  • CX is now recognized as the tipping point
    • in 2014, 89% of companies planned to use CX as their primary competition platform by 2016. It’s 2018 now… that means that 89% of companies are aware of CX, what it is, and are trying to use it as the tipping point to gain customers. If you are new to this concept… you are in the right place, and not a moment too soon.
    • in 2014, $3.7 Billion dollars were spent on CX programs. In 2019, it’s expected to nearly triple to $8.3 according to Markets and Markets 2015 report.
    • Back in 2015, customer relationships were ranked =THIRD of top challenges for CEOs, stated by AMA in 2016.
    • 80% of businesses believe they provide “superior” customer service. But only 8% of their customers would describe the service they’ve received in such glowing terms. When customers aren’t happy, there’s often significant damage done. In fact, U.S. businesses collectively lose an estimated $83 billion a year due to shoddy customer service. This comes from The Customer Experience Index released by Forrester in 2012.
    • So knowing all of that, how have things changed? Not much, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, the Temkin Group, American Marketing Association and MaritzCX, most companies still struggle with making any real improvements.
    • Why? In the research I do and the work I do with clients, my observations are there are high expectations with no real plan or accountability.
    • You can’t wish for results. You have to DECIDE. You have to DECIDE if you are only Interested or truly Committed. So if there hasn’t been much improvement in the past 5-10 years, why is everyone all up in arms about it? Because the key is that MOST companies haven’t noticed a difference. SOME truly have and that is where the magic happens.
    • Once you commit and quitting and failure are not options, you almost have no choice but to see improvements.
    • Lifetime Value of a customer is the first important number you should know. If you don’t, it’s fairly simple to calculate
  • For our purposes here… this is extremely simplistic and should not be used as any final number for accounting purposes, but its a good place to start.
  • Start with your sales in the last 12 months or fiscal year. Divide that number by the total number of customers, not repeat sales, but the number of unique customers of your company, and that is your average spend.
  • Remember, we are not going to complicate this yet and break things down by tiers or levels of spending, right now we want the average spend per year.
  • Now… how many years is it reasonable to hope or expect that a happy customer would likely do business with you?
  • That is the extremely simplistic calculation of your average lifetime customer value.
  • Two examples… If you run a grocery store, you make think that a customer is worth about $100 to you as you see them walk through the front door. But people need to eat, and they need to eat daily, that means they’ll need more food. So, to keep it simple, let’s assume they come back every week and spend another $100 in your store. Over a year, they spend about $5,000 in your store. That’s not something to just throw away, but you also wouldn’t have to close up shop if that person moved out of town. 
  • Let’s assume they stay in your neighborhood for 20 years… do the math… $5,000 times 20 years becomes $100,000 spent in your store. I don’t know of any company that wouldn’t be concerned about losing $100,000 if the customer felt that another grocery store a few blocks away had better parking, better lighting, longer hours, kept the floors clean, always had the most popular food items in stock, and made sure that all of the carts had wheels that rolled the same direction.
  • Did you notice something about those small items I just mentioned? Not one of those had anything to do with customer service! We didn’t talk about friendly staff, people who would walk you to the product you needed rather than just wave in a general direction or suggest an aisle number. That’s because as we talked about in episode number 1, the CX is EVERYTHING, not just customer service skills.
  • Now, for a contract example… one of my clients is in a contract business model. Their average customer spends $12,000 annually with them for a contract term of 5 years. That’s $60,000 per contract. They have typically experienced an average of 3 contract renewals per customer, so that brings the lifetime value of each customer to $180,000. Now, they have some that are worth many times that amount, and some that are worth significantly less.
  • Don’t consider your customers as mere dollars walking through your doors. THEY ARE PEOPLE. As Marilyn Suttle states, “People do business with people, not with companies.”
  • So CX considers everything about your business from the customer perspective as people. what are their irritations? If the irritations persist, they’ll leave. you might not think that a gas station that can’t seem to understand that they need fluid in the bins that the windshield squeegee are left in need to be filled would be that big of a deal or that customers would leave over that. But they do. I’m married to one of them. It annoys him to the extent that he will drive a few blocks out of the way and maybe spend just a bit more to have the squeegee be wet enough to do the job it was designed to do. And he’s not an uptight guy, really! But that is a very simple example of something in the experience impacting the buying decision of the customer.
  • And that brings me to my next point… Now that you hopefully have a general idea of what your average lifetime value of your customers is, now we can see what it will do to your bottom line if you focus, or don’t care about, the CX.
  • transactional businesses are focused on return frequency and spend per visit.
  • Contract, or subscription, businesses are concerned about retention, cross-sell and up-sell.
  • Medallia found that in transaction-based businesses, the customers who had the best past experiences spend 140% more compared to those who had the poorest past experience.
  • They also found that contract based customers, they used a gym as an example, who had poor experiences only had a 43% chance of renewing their contract a year later. Conversely, gym goers who rated their experience one of the top two options had a 74% likelihood of renewing.
  • So use the numbers in these studies and consider your average lifetime value of your customers and see the impact that makes.
  • It’s also important to share this Lifetime Value with every single one of your staff. It’s important that they understand that how they work with, engage with and serve your customers has to be good enough and deserving to earn that amount from your customer. When I deliver presentations and state it like that, I can tell it makes a difference with people. You’ve got to be good enough, actually MORE than good enough to earn that money from your customers. Because if you aren’t and you irritate someone on the wrong day, or a minor irritation festers, your customers will leave.
  • The reasoning that some companies state for not focusing on or investing in CX is that it costs too much money. However, executives in companies that are seeing CX  improvements state the opposite. They claim delivering great experiences actually costs them less to serve customers well than before the focus began. Example, when a customer is unhappy or upset, they are more likely to require much more support and/or return the product. Sooo…. the natural thing to do would be to fix the true issue and since returns would now be down, you are reducing the cost it costs you to take care of your customers… less product to toss or return to the supplier and NO staff time in resolving the issue in the first place.
  • Now we’ve all heard stories of staff going above and beyond to delight customers. That is part of the argument for CX focus costing too much money… but let’s be realistic, that’s not realistic to expect to deliver day in and day out.
  • As Shep Hyken says… Amazing CX doesn’t have to be over the top… it just has to be better than average… consistently.
  • Basically, customers are literally VERY SATISFIED when they get what they expected and feel they were treated fairly. If you can be nice and human on top of that, you have a customer for life.
  • Another thing to consider, John Goodman states that price sensitivity doubles when a customer experiences problems and doubles again when those problems happen again or multiply. That’s why companies that provide consistently positive customer experiences can maintain higher margins. Any of you familiar with Nordstrom, Apple, or the Ritz Carlton brands?
  • So that brings us to the companies that HAVE seen improvements.
  • And one thing I want to make clear, this is not about improving survey scores or rankings. Those can be easily swayed and influences and often have other consequential negative effects. We are truly talking about the entire experience, by focusing on what is important to your customers.
  • Now, of the 28% of companies surveyed by MaritzCX who consistently apply CX practices, 66% of those report successful impacts in their businesses.
  • Companies that have proactive identification of customer needs have double the business success than those companies doing merely basic customer recovery.
  • And while only 1 in 5 companies report optimizing employee rewards based on CX performance, 69% state that their CX efforts are driving business outcomes.
  • Bottom Line… Be so good at the CX that your prices become irrelevant.


Culture’s Impact on Customer Experience

Culture's Impact on Customer ExperienceDefinition of Culture – The sum of attitudes, customs, and beliefs that distinguishes one group of people from another. 

Corporate culture refers to the shared values, attitudes, standards, and beliefs that characterize members of an organization and define its nature. Corporate culture is rooted in an organization’s goals, strategies, structure, and approaches to labor, customers, investors, and the greater community.

Culture is based on shared attitudes, beliefs, customs, and written and unwritten rules that have been developed over time and are considered valid. (The Business Dictionary).

Needle (2004), stated that organizational culture represents the collective values, beliefs, and principles of organizational members. Culture includes the organization’s vision, values, norms, systems, symbols, language, assumptions, beliefs, and habits

Deal and Kennedy succinctly define organizational culture as “the way things are done around here” (Deal & Kennedy, 2000)

Every company has a culture whether you’ve defined it or not. The key is to be in the driver’s seat of defining your culture and being deliberate about shaping it before you are trying to reign in an undesirable culture that has taken hold.

If you find yourself in the latter position… take heart, all is not lost. It is very doable, provided you make the commitment and persevere through the process.  

When you begin the discussion of defining the DESIRED culture of your organization, this is the time to consider….

What does it look like to work IN your company and WITH your company? How is the engagement between leaders and staff, staff and customers?

What is the environment like? Relaxed and casual, or professional and formal? Is it an open working environment or one that uses high walled cubicles?

How do you welcome people in – both as staff and clients? Your culture will be apparent the moment you greet your first candidate or client. The friendliness factor, the thoroughness and follow up displayed exemplifies the culture of your company. Are you a company to be taken seriously, or are you one that looks great on paper, but in practice…. falls short?

Is there clarity around the purpose of your company and product or service? There will be a measurable impact on the success of your company when staff truly believes that what they do matters to the success of the company and the overall customer experience.

How much autonomy will you give your staff? Will they be trained and empowered to fulfill their responsibilities within the organization and with clients?

Do you want a more formal and rigid top-down management style or do you want to empower people to act with the entrepreneurial spirit? Questions such as these will feed into the amount of risk your staff is willing to take in making decisions or working to solve issues for your customers and clients.

Take action in defining – or redefining – your culture by having purposeful conversations with key leaders around the desired culture of your company. As your discussions progress, the process will benefit by giving staff the opportunity to provide input. Staff will have different perspectives and ideas to be considered when crafting the ultimate outcome.

I stress that Leadership should have the most input on the desired culture definition. Leaders are guiding the direction of the company and if they are true leaders, they should have the insight and understanding on the best course to travel.

Make sure your culture is Unique! Even though you may have several competitors in the same space or industry, your culture as a company within that space needs to feel unique. Books are written about Zappos, Ritz Carlton, Nordstrom, Disney, Apple for a reason. They are successful companies with strong cultures. But don’t try to copy them or be like them. I tell my clients to try to be as impactful as them. All of those companies have competition in their space… yet they are unique.

I have my clients show me a marketing brochure. If I can remove my client’s company name and insert the competitions, yet all of the information is still accurate… then there is a problem. It all blends in. What makes you stand out? What makes you different? Your culture will help shape these answers. If you can’t think of anything… start figuring out what customers want that they can’t easily find as far as working style. That will help shape your culture and vice-versa.

Key components in setting a successful organizational culture…

Setting the culture begins at the top. Regardless of the size of your company, the leaders set the tone and example in the congruency of their attitudes, actions, words, and considerations when working with customers, selecting products, and engaging with staff.

Hire people based on competencies AND culture fit. I can’t stress this one enough. My experience shows that 90% of all customer experience and culture work is accomplished simply by hiring the right people that will support and sustain your desired culture. Should you have staff that work against it, or at the very least – don’t support it, this work can be extremely frustrating and ultimately futile. Even just a few people with the wrong attitudes can throw the entire program off course.

You have two people you are considering for the same position. One is competent, yet lacks the years of experience the other does. Yet, the first one actively engaged in the interview when you discussed the culture of your company. You gleaned the impression that they would be very helpful in sustaining the culture you are working hard to execute for staff and clients. The candidate with years of experience didn’t openly say they didn’t like the described culture, but they asked a few times if they could bring in ways of doing things that had worked for them in their past job, if they could work as they needed to on their own as long as the desired outcome was achieved.

Guess which one will be successful in your company? The first candidate. Provided they have the necessary credentials and training, you can train skills and competencies specific to your company. You just can’t train attitudes easily at all. The wrong attitude can derail your culture work.

Open communication promotes success. Companies with free and open communication are far more successful in establishing an engaging culture. When staff feels free to ask questions and discuss core issues with leadership, they’ll be much more engaged and the culture is strengthened, thus the company “team” is united in working in the best interest of the customer and the company reaps the reward of their continued loyalty.

Consequences of not focusing on Culture?

You can be successful in spite of yourselves, but that is not the norm. Not taking the time to actively shape the culture is indicative of a “non-directional” culture prone to reactionary decisions, inconsistencies in customer experiences, and intermittent lucky successes.

Possible Indications of Needing Culture Work

  • Employee turnover
  • Customer churn
  • Lackluster performance by employees
  • Disengaged staff
  • Minimum expectations delivered by staff
  • Low attendance at company events
  • Employee -vs- Leadership mindset
  • Declining customer loyalty and satisfaction

Prioritizing the definition and execution of your ideal Culture will pays off in many ways…

  • Morale will increase
  • Staff will willingly engage outside of their own responsibilities do more than the minimum
  • Everyone will understand and embrace the purpose of the company and actively work to support and promote it
  • Staff will feel empowered and engaged resulting in more thoughtful decisions to benefit both the company and the customers
  • Customers will benefit by doing business with a company where they feel they are part of an organization actively working to help them succeed in their responsibilities and goals
  • That Customer Experience will increase customer loyalty and generate referrals
  • Increased referrals and loyalty promote higher sales, resulting in higher profits, resulting in the successful longevity of the company.

It’s a beautiful thing…

Listening to Customers Tells You Everything You Need to Know…

Listening. We all know how to do it… but few know how to do it well… and it could be driving your customers away if you don’t do it well. Listen well and you’ll increase sales and customer loyalty.

Even though communication involves two parts – speaking and listening – I believe that listening is actually 2/3 of successful communication.

Someone can speak all they want. But if the other party doesn’t listen – REALLY listen – nothing that was said matters… at all. And yes, there is a huge difference between hearing and listening. Hearing means you heard words and sounds. Listening means you understand the purpose, content, and context of the message.

About 70 % of all lost customers left because they didn’t feel valued or felt the service experience was lacking. And they should. If you don’t feel valued or that the experience was at a minimum “good,” why on earth would you continue to do business there?

Much of what goes into creating a memorable and desirable experience is derived from LISTENING to what customers tell you they want… what they like… what they don’t like… what they need… what is becoming a challenge for them… what they are confused about… what their last option didn’t do for them that caused them to leave and find you… etc.

LISTEN to the customer. Listen when they call to complain. This is an opportunity for you to be the hero and solve their problem. You can teach them how to get the most benefit from their purchase/contract/etc.

LISTEN to what is confusing for them. Make changes based on things that are becoming a trend or an issue over a certain threshold. Focus on making that form, procedure, instruction, etc simpler. The customers that voiced their issues will know you listened to them. They’ll feel valued for you taking their concern seriously and making changes as a result. They’ll feel you really want to do right by them to earn their loyalty… and they’ll stay.

LISTEN to what they like about your company and your product. Use that feedback as a springboard to determine how you can integrate those high points into other areas of your company. You know you are doing or providing that well – identify what makes it so and carry it through as far as possible. And in most cases – don’t change much unless absolutely necessary. They’ve told you they like it. Mess with it and they may not.

LISTEN to what they don’t like about your company and product. Seriously listen to that feedback. Hopefully it came about during a conversation which will provide the opportunity for you to ask probing questions to truly understand their perspective, the issue and to identify the cause.

LISTEN to suggestions customers make on something they feel would make a positive impact to them. You won’t necessarily be able to do or provide exactly what they are asking, but you may be able to generate ideas that are on the right track or come close.

Bottom line… LISTENING to your customers is really a crash course on how to stay in business long term and build a loyal customer base. Your customers are telling you exactly how to keep them coming back to you – because they want to.




Personalize to Improve Your Customer Satisfaction & Make Your Customers Happy!

Improving customer service and profits… many companies make this so very complicated. Once you realize that you can design service into your processes, it makes much more sense. The magic happens when you’ve committed to the mindset and process required.

Here are a few strategies to get you started…

  • Make sure that you learn and USE your customer’s names at least once during your conversations. Even if it’s when you say goodbye… it makes an impact and sends the feeling of a relationship. Example: “It was nice catching up with you today, Kristina. I’m looking forward to seeing you again soon.”  “Thanks for calling with your question, Kristina. I’m always happy to help.”
  • Take an objective look in the mirror and ask yourself WHY people should like to do business or work with you. If you can’t think of many, you may want to think of what you need to focus on to make working with you desirable. Remember the saying… If you want friends, BE a friend. This same concept holds true in business as well. Want more clients/customers? BE friendly and NICE. The #1 reason people stop doing business with companies is because they are treated rudely and indifferently.
  • Go a little out of your way to show your customers/clients they are important to you and you value them. Ask them questions that show you care and are interested in what they are saying or about their industry/business.
  • “The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.” – Jimmy Johnson
  • Let them know in your conversation or email that you truly enjoy working with them and value their business. Most companies don’t do this and people notice on the rare occasion that it happens. This is your chance to stand out.

Remember to use these quotes and tips during…

  • The beginning or ending of any and all meetings – leadership, management, and staff
  • Huddles
  • Company or team bulletin board
  • Newsletter – either external or internal
  • Daily and / or weekly emails
  • Training sessions

I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments below!

Customer Loyalty Depends on the Word “WHY”

Many people assume that customer loyalty and customer satisfaction is based on asking one very important question – What is the likelihood of you referring others to do business with us? This is commonly known as Net Promoter Score, or NPS.  On a scale of 1- 10, 10 being the highest likelihood, you delight in the folks that score a 9 or 10, pay more attention to the 6, 7, and 8 scorers, and count on the fact that anyone scoring 5 or less is already looking elsewhere for your product or service.

But only asking IF customers will refer to you misses, in my opinion, the truly critical component.

Now, asking customers IF they will refer to you is very important. But, I’d really like to take it a step further and ask customers WHY they would refer to you. This is how you find out what it is in your organization that you do really well that makes an impact on folks -OR – that nothing in your company really stands out from the rest of the pack. 

Consider this… if you were to ask a current customer why they would refer others to do business with you, or would continue to do business with you themselves, and they responded back with “Because the folks here really seem to go out of their way to help me. I like the fact that everyone is really friendly and knows what they are talking about.” 

If you had that response, you would know that your customer service and the customer experience is something that your company does really well and you should capitalize on that. Continue to make it a focus. Recognize and reward those that truly exemplify the customer service skills and deliver amazing customer experiences you want to be known for.

The significance in asking people WHY they would recommend your company to others is understanding what is MEMORABLE about your company and the way you work with customers.  It goes without saying, you want to be creating positive experiences that make customers feel good about their decision to do business iwth you.

When customers need to take a while or can’t really come up with a specific reason WHY they would refer their friends to you, you need to take a step back and face the harsh truth that your organization is pretty bland. You aren’t making enough of a positive impact in any one area that has impressed them enough to make them want to come back or resist the draw of your competitors.

Fortunately, it’s a simple fix. Create positive experiences throughout your company that will draw your customers in, engage them, become their ally,  and ultimately build and nurture long term business relationships. All it takes is focusing on the customer – their needs, their struggles, how you can help them, how they want to receive your help, and communication. In future posts, I’ll explain exactly how to do just that.

What are your thoughts on taking it a step further and asking WHY people would refer to you? Take a moment and comment below.

Resolutions Don’t Work in Customer Service… Habits Drive the Customer Experience

Resolutions Don’t Work… HABITS Do
First off, I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday season and are looking forward to the promises and opportunities of 2015.
Many of you likely fell into the nostalgic traditions of setting New Year’s Resolutions with big plans and the best of intentions.
And… like the MAJORITY of folks, most (if not all) of those resolutions have already fallen by the wayside.
Frustrating, isn’t it.  Why does this happen? Because resolutions are only intentions. We all can think back on zillions (no exaggeration) of times we’ve had the best of intentions and can’t seem to make any of them stick.
The reason is because intentions are a mind game. ACTION is the cement to make things happen. You have to have action to take your intentions to fruition. 
I can say that I’m determined to complete my second full chin up in the next 6 weeks until I’m blue in the face, but that simply won’t happen unless I continue to ratchet my nutrition into check and continue my strength training. But, those actions of eating right and training are the ONLY way I’m going to get that second chin up to happen.
What does this have to do with your business and the customer experience? EVERYTHING!  
Think about it… you had to take many different actions to get your business to it’s current state. Whether that is a good or bad thing, a series of actions got you where you are.  To make any changes, you’ll continue to take actions. 
The most impactful actions are the DAILY HABITS that we make as part of our action plan. A daily habit and choice I have in my quest for strength is do I eat a donut or three eggs for breakfast? I eat the eggs.  I strength train HARD twice a week to increase my strength. I want results. I need to take action. My egg breakfast is a daily habit, an action DIRECTLY RELATED TO MY GOAL. 
If you want to be successful in business and in your quest to make more profits and increase your customer retention, you must take action to make that happen. Wishing it won’t make it happen. Wanting it won’t make it happen. Working at it will make it happen.
I have great plans for all of us in 2015. I spent some time the past few weeks mapping out content, workshops, and coaching programs to help each of you make more money, enjoy your business, improve the morale of your staff, and simply making the customer experience more natural to the DNA of your company.
I do need your help though. To make the information relevant and useful to you, I’m going to continue to ask for your feedback, questions, and challenges that hare keeping you from having the business of your dreams and giving you the biggest headaches. I’ve found that many of you have similar questions and it helps me when you’ve voiced your challenges specifically to your situation.  
So, remember make improving the customer experience a HABIT in your organization.  Here are some strategies and quotes to help you and your staff get there faster…
  • He who profits most serves best. – Arthur F. Sheldon
  • Be the difference between delivering what is expected and what is delightful.
  • Your customers are keeping your business alive based on what you promised to deliver. Be sure you know what promises you can make that you can KEEP no matter what. Disappointment is VERY hard to overcome.
  • As far as your customers are concerned, you ARE the company. This is not a burden, but the core of your job. You hold in your hands the power to keep the customer coming back. You have the power to make or break your customer’s loyalty. Do everything you can to exceed your customer’s expectations.
  • In business, you get what you want by giving other people what they want. – Alice MacDougall
Happy New Year and I’m honored to have you in my community to change the world of business, one experience at a time!
Helping you focus on your customers,

Customer Service – It CAN Earn You Loyal Customers!

I preach continually about the importance of Customer Service and am really happy to share this personal story.

Last week I was on my annual pilgrimage to Chicago with some good friends.  Every year, I mean EVERY year, we dine at Quartino’s restaurant.  We happened to find ourselves there about 8 years and have returned every year because the service, food, and prices are so wonderful.  Our friends think we are nuts for not trying any of the other venues, but we just don’t want to risk it.

Last week, we found ourselves waiting a few minutes for our reserved table at the appointed time.  I asked the hostess twice if she had an estimate of the wait time as we had tickets to a show later that evening.  She very politely apologized for the wait and assured us we’d be seated shortly.

Just moments after my second inquiry, the restaurant manager, Tony, appeared and genuinely apologized for our wait. He assured us that the table would be ready momentarily and thanked us so much for our patience.  We told him how happy we are with the restaurant and have come back every year because of the great experience we consistently have.  Upon hearing that, he thanked us for our loyalty and returned with a complimentary bottle of wine for us to enjoy for the remaining minutes we had to wait.  He then showed us to our table.

The remainder of the meal was, as expected, wonderful.  We enjoyed our meal while catching up on each other’s lives and lots of laughter.  The manager then stopped by at the end of our meal with a cocktail treat for each of us and gave me his card and asked us to email him next time we, or any of our friends, would be dining at the restaurant so that he could be sure we were well taken care of.

Now, this is the type of service experience I train my clients to deliver to their customers.  While we hadn’t waited too long, they were very kind and apologetic about having to wait at all.  The manager went above and beyond to make us feel like we were special patrons of the restaurant and really made us feel important and well taken care of.  He even followed up at the end and made sure that we knew how to contact him to be sure we’d receive great service at our next visit.

When you can connect all of the dots like this.. welcoming at the beginning, great care during, handling any mishaps with grace, and sending us off with a smile (and a blog post), you know you’ve done a great job.  They key here is that they do it CONSISTENTLY.

Keep it up, Tony and your team at Quartino’s!  Next time any of you are in Chicago, stop by and ask for Tony.  He’ll take great care of you.  You can also learn a thing or two from them to bring into your business.

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