We had the pleasure of hosting customer service and experience expert, Shep Hyken earlier this month for a half hour Q&A session on why customer experience matters so much and what businesses must do to create the best experiences for their customers.
Shep, has been guiding organizations and customer experience professionals since before the industry knew what the term ‘customer experience’ meant.
In addition to being a customer service and experience expert Shep is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author and has been inducted into the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame for lifetime achievement in the speaking profession.
Shep works with companies and organizations who want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. His articles have been read in hundreds of publications, and he is the author of Moments of Magic®, The Loyal Customer, The Cult of the Customer, The Amazement Revolution, Amaze Every Customer Every Time and Be Amazing or Go Home. He is also the creator of The Customer Focus™, a customer service training program which helps clients develop a customer service culture and loyalty mindset.
But above everything else, Shep practices what he preaches which makes us all want to listen to what he has to say. He was kind enough to take time out to answer our questions.
We kicked off the session by getting everyone on the same page by asking Shep what customer experience really is and why it’s important for companies.
Shep tells us how back in the day customer experience used to be called customer service and and those words were almost interchangeable! But today, customer service is part of the overall customer experience and it is end to end – from the moment a customer thinks about doing business with you to every interaction in-between.
“Customer Experience is interactions with people, the product and anything related to the experience a customer has doing business with you.” – Shep Hyken
Shep adds that by delivering a great customer experience the price is going to be less relevant, given the product does what it’s supposed to. As long as a business is competitive and it’s delivering this great value in the form of the experience and the service the customer receives, as a business you get to enjoy (ideally) a less competitive environment from the standpoint of having to charge the lowest price every time.
Giving the example of Amazon and how people find them to always have the best price, Shep tells us how the e-commerce giant allows you to buy a product from a 3rd party vendor at a lower price if you like. Amazon allows users to navigate to another vendor, but by delivering the amazing experience they do, it gives them the confidence that fewer people will click on the 3rd party vendor.
“You’re no longer compared to your direct competitor – you’re compared to the best the customer receives from anyone” – Shep Hyken
Here’s an old interview of Jeff Bezos where he talks about this focus on customer experience.
Jeff was ahead of his time and has disrupted the industry with the level of service Amazon brings to the table.
In Shep’s book “The Convenience Revolution”, he talks about convenience as a way to differentiate from the competition. The point he makes in the book is that the best companies are the ones that make it easy for people to do business with them.
“The experience businesses bring should be frictionless and it should be all about convenience.” – Shep Hyken
According to a study by Siegel and Gale if you were to have bought a portfolio of stocks 10 years ago with the top 10 companies rated for best customer service and made sure you had the top performing companies in your portfolio each year, you would have doubled your investment. However, Shep points out that Siegal and Gale came up with a simplicity report the same year that focused on the companies that are easiest to do business with, like Amazon, Netflix and Uber. Shockingly, these companies outperformed by more than 679% in the same 10 year period and offered an 830% return on investment.
“A customer’s experience with a business starts with the first touch. It could be your website, marketing material, sales and customer service and support interactions – they all have an impact on the overall Customer experience.” – Shep Hyken
With regard to the things businesses can do to provide a better customer experience, Shep talks about how the customer experience can always be improved, and that businesses need to be able to identify where things need to get better. To do this effectively, one needs to journey map the heck out of their business!
“Make sure you’re aware of every touch-point, human or not, so you’re able to track every interaction and then give your people the tools they need to deliver a great customer experience.” – Shep Hyken
Here are 6 areas of convenience that Shep walked us through that take the customer experience to the next level.
- Frictionless – Make it easy for people to do business with you.
- Self Service – Put control in the customer’s hands. Anything you can provide them where they get control. Let customers move at their pace
- Technology – What tech can you incorporate in your business to make life easy for your customers
- Subscription Model – Beneficial to the customer and company. Things happen on-time like clockwork. By paying a small fee you’ll always have the latest and greatest version of the product. Great examples are the Dollar Shave Club and Microsoft’s product licensing
- Delivery – taking it to the customer
- Accessibility – hours of operation, location and how available you are to your customers.
To get better one needs to measure everything. To identify whether you’re doing things right always be measuring churn says Shep.
“If you can’t measure it you can’t improve it” – Peter Drucker
Come up with metrics that helps you see where you are. You can use simple surveys such as CSAT and NPS to benchmark and work to get better.
A great way to know where issues lie is to speak with your customer support people and ask them what the most common customer complaints are. Sit down and work on coming up with ways to address these issues.
Many businesses look to hire cheap resources and train them to fit certain customer centric roles. Unfortunately you can’t always train people to be more empathetic and caring.
“You can train people to be better at customer service but you have got to come with the tools” – Shep Hyken
Shep tells us about how according to Jim Bush – Head of customer service worldwide at American Express pointed out that Individuals that have a hospitality background tend to be better candidates for customer service roles, as you can always teach employees to flip through screens. It’s the hospitality mind-set that they come up with that makes them ideal candidates for the position.
Even with the right employees results cannot be achieved unless you’re taking care of your employee base. To ensure growth your employee base must be happy as their well being is key to a successful business.
“Employee golden rule – Do unto your employees as you want done unto the customer” – Shep Hyken
Leadership has to decide what they want as a company culture. The leader has to demonstrate the behavior they want their employees to emulate and they have to be the role model.
Shep walked us through this concept he has called FUN, where F stands for fulfillment, U for Uniqueness and N for Next. This concept forces you to ask three important questions:
- Do we have people in the right job that Fulfills them?
- Do they have a unique talent that’s special that fulfills them and that you can take advantage of? – give them what they need that helps exploit their unique talent?
- Next – what can you do to get employees excited about coming to work? Could be a new project or service or a new product.
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