I am most humbled and appreciative to be invited to present a keynote program at the 2018 South Central Conference of York Rite Masons. The presentation will be on Friday morning, September 21, and is entitled “York Rite Masonry as a Customer Service Experience.”
The presentation draws upon the principles from our Creative Communication Network programs in Customer Service, facilitated by Randy Mayeux. We offer two levels of training. One is basic, designed for new or inexperienced employees. The other is advanced, entitled “Preeminent Customer Service,” designed for more established employees and work units. We have taught this for many companies, including TXU Energy, Dr Pepper/Snapple Group, Lucent Technologies, Hilton Hotels, and others.
This is my fourth time to present at this conference, to be held at the Love Field Hilton Doubletree hotel in Dallas.
I have again asked R:I: Reese L. Harrison, Jr., PGM, PGHP, to introduce me, who, if tradition prevails, should at that time, be the reigning Most Illustrious Grand Master of the Most Illustrious Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters of Texas.
“To say that a person feels listened to means a lot more that just their ideas get heard. It’s a sign of respect. It makes people feel valued.” (Deborah Tannen).
Listening is an essential and underutilized service behavior… Every day you have the opportunity to strengthen your relationships with staff members and customers by listening to them and helping them see the power that comes from “knowing” their customer.
Joseph Michelli, Prescription for Excellence
It starts here – with listening. All customer service, all business interaction, requires the attention given by you to the person on the other end of the interaction. And that starts with listening.
And there are some very physical aspects of listening. For example, where are you pointing your face, especially your eyeballs. I use the word “eyeballs” on purpose. The words “eye contact” seem to no longer be strong enough. So how about this: “eyeball to eyeball contact.”
So, if you point your eyeballs at the eyeballs of the other person, you have a much better chance of actually listening to them. Here are some places to not point your eyeballs when you should be listening to a person:
At your iPhone
At your computer
At someone else walking by
At a book or a magazine
Or anywhere else – except the person you are listening to…
And then, to genuinely listen, when the other person is talking, you actually listen to what he/she says, both the words and the body language. You do not take the time while someone else is talking to “figure out what you are going to say next.” You listen to the other person, and then, after a pause, it is your turn to speak. You pay attention to that other person, and then you respond to that person.
Listening may be the ultimate sign of respect. And everything else flows from good listening moments.
(And, remember – it might be even more valuable to remember to listen with “empathy”).
I provide a seminar on customer service, and have a keynote presentation called The Customer Never Forgets. I have studied customer service, read a lot about customer service, and written quite a bit on customer service.
But more than anything else, I am a customer. Constantly. Practically every day. Increasingly, my customer experiences are on-line. And most of these experiences are fully what I hoped – one-click, fully satisfied little miracles. I click my mouse, and my product shows up on my doorstep two days later. Wonderful!
But occasionally, not so wonderful…
Recently, a disappointing customer experience, which cost me a little embarrassment and about one hour of my time, which was completely the fault of the company providing the service because of a mistake by one of their people, made me think a little more about this whole “how do we provide a better customer experience?” question.
So here is a snapshot of my latest thoughts..
In my training, I state that all customer experience boils down to two critical elements: be nice, and, be competent. I am convinced that if a company provides both of these, they will, in fact, keep their customers coming back. If the product or service is what the customer wants, and the interaction between the company representative and the customer is nice and hassle free, you’ve got a real winner on your hands. (We’ll leave it for another discussion about what happens when a competitor has a “better” product or service to offer. That is a different issue).
If you force me to choose, I will take competence over nice. If the product or service is exactly what I want, and I can’t get it anywhere else for less, I will take a slight absence of “nice.” Nice without competence does not satisfy – I need to be able to rely on the product or service more than I need someone to treat me in a nice way. But, give me both, nice and competent, and I am happiest.
But the real moment of truth is when there is a problem; a “mistake; a “disappointment.” When the company messes up, this is the acid test. And when I call to say, “you have made a mistake,” the first thing I want is “empathy,” then I want it fixed. I am not happy if it is fixed first. And, no matter how nice the person is, after I sense empathy, if it is not then fixed, I am not happy.
Consider this as a way to think about providing that better customer experience:
|If I need a precise product||The company provides it, with no hassles||I am happy|
|If I need a product, but don’t know exactly what I need||The company suggests the right item/solution – I get it, try it, like it||I am happy|
|The company messes up||The representative of the company tries to fix it, but without empathy (including a genuine “I’m sorry”), before they then fix it||I am not happy|
|The company messes up||The representative of the company is really empathetic, but does not “fix it” well||I am not happy|
|The company messes up||The representative is genuinely empathetic, then fixes it||I am happy|
So – Empathy first, fix it second. This is what I need when a company messes up. And without that empathy first, I am not happy – and might look for an alternative.
I have recently presented synopses of two terrific books related to customer service excellence. One is Demand: Creating What People Love Before They Know They Want It by Adrian J. Slywotzky. This book is terrific on the issue of removing hassles. And people really do not like hassles!
The other is Prescription for Excellence: Leadership Lessons for Creating a World-Class Customer Experience from UCLA Health System by Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. Michelli is a superior observer, and he is especially good at pulling out insights that you can transfer into your own arena.
Both of these books are worth reading. And, you can purchase my synopsis of these books, with audio + comprehensive handout, at our companion web site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com.
And, if you are interested in bringing my customer service training, or my keynote presentation, into your company or organization, click the “hire us” tab.
“Likable” — having qualities that bring about a favorable regard
So, I was talking to a consultant this morning. He has a client who provides a very common product – something that companies can buy from others, and they buy it constantly. So, they need to “set themselves apart,” and “product” is not the way to do this. Their product really is too common. He said that they need to get better at simple “customer interactions.” They need to learn “how to interact well” with their customers. This is a good, simple, clear phrase – “customer interactions.”
So, do you interact well with your customers?
I thought back through the books I have presented at the First Friday Book Synopsis, and remembered a section in Guy Kawasaki’s terrific book, Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions. The chapter headings alone in this book provide quite a “how to improve relations” agenda.
Chapter 2: How to Achieve Likeability
Chapter 3: How to Achieve Trustworthiness
Chapter 4: How to Prepare
Chapter 5: How to Launch
Chapter 6: How to Overcome Resistance
Chapter 7: How to Make Enchantment Endure
Chapter 10: How to Enchant Your Employees
Chapter 11: How to Use Enchant Your Boss
But it is chapter 2 that is especially useful for this issue: Chapter 2: How to Achieve Likeability. Here are some of the points, the steps to take to achieve likability:
• dress for a tie
• perfect your handshake
• use the right words (simple; active voice; short; common, unambiguous analogies)
• accept others
• get close
• don’t impose your values
• pursue and project your passions
• find shared passions (assume everyone has passions)
• create win-win situations
• default to yes
Think about it. If you are not likable, if your employees are not likable – there is a pretty good chance your clients and customers won’t like you. And people really do prefer to work with and work for people that they like.
So, how do you interact well? Being more likable is a good place to start.
And, being likable is an ongoing quest. As Guy Kawasaki put it, you have to “start over tomorrow with the enchanting job. And do it every single day… forever!”
You can purchase my synopsis of Enchantment, with handout + audio, at our companion site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com.
It’s in the sub-title: Prescription for Excellence: Leadership Lessons for Creating a World-Class Customer Experience from UCLA Health System by Joseph Michelli. Ponder the phrase, mull over the concept: “customer experience.” I am increasingly convinced that this phrase, “customer experience” is the best phrase to use to talk about customer service.
Think about the depth behind this statement: “It’s been my experience…” When a person utters those words, it communicates a whole lot. Each person passes judgment on a company within each and every experience.
In discussing this concept, Michelli refers to the book The Experience Economy: Work is Theatre and Every Business a Stage, published back in 1999 (this is a book I presented at the First Friday Book Synopsis over 11 years ago; Spring, 2000):
– from Gilmore and Pine, 1999, The Experience Economy:
• Even in difficult times, 50 percent of consumers will pay more for a better service experience.
• A full 68 percent will sever a customer relationship because they were treated poorly by a staff member.
• Companies that are successful in creating both functional and emotional bonding with customers have higher retention rates (84 percent vs. 30 percent) and greater cross-selling ratios (82 percent vs. 16 percent) compared to companies that are not.
And UCLA has developed a true customer-centric/customer-experience approach to their core business – taking care of patients. Principle 1 of their 5 core principles is this: Commit To Care — Care Takes Vision, Clarity, And Consistency. And the UCLA Health System requires each and every employee to sign the CICARE promise:
• “CICARE” – (pronounced “See-I-Care”) — the “short version”:
Connect with the patient or family member using Mr./Ms., or their preferred name.
Introduce yourself and your role.
Communicate what you are going to do, how it will affect the patient, and other needed information.
Ask for and anticipate patient and or family needs, questions, or concerns.
Respond to patient and/or family questions and requests with immediacy.
Exit, courteously explaining what will come next or when you will return.
(the longer version, teaches… elements of Courtesy; Professionalism; Respect)
I thought of all this as I had three different customer service experiences this week. I use these three “services” each and every month. They include Constant Contact, and two others. Here’s what I have experienced: whenever I call Constant Contact, the person I reach is easily understandable; is fully knowledgeable; is always polite – almost pleasant. And I always get what I need, with no hassle, and no feelings of frustration.
The second company (notice I am not naming the other two) is hit-and-miss. One time, I have a terrific customer experience. The next, maybe not. Every person I have ever called at Constant Contact seems fully ready to meet my need. This second company, I either get lucky, or I end up slightly to more-than-slightly frustrated.
The third company, well… don’t even get me started. With practically every call, the person is not all that pleasant – it’s as though I am interrupting his or her day with my question/need. They are not knowledgeable. They do not have answers. And though they are not rude, they are nowhere near pleasant.
Let’s think of these as three different spots on the customer experience spectrum. One, I would gladly recommend to you. (That’s Constant Contact). The second, I would recommend, because the service is really, really good. But don’t expect the same level of experience. The third, I’m about to drop – even though I like their “service,” and dropping it will mean more work for me. I’m simply tired of dealing with them, and I’m looking for an alternative.
Or, to put it another way — I don’t mind it when I have to call Constant Contact. I sort of mind it when I have to call the second compnay. I practically dread calling the third company.
Think about your customers, your clients. Do they walk away from every encounter with you having experienced a genuinely, hassle-free, fully liked, experience? Or — not?
By the way, there are no short cuts to providing such a true good experience culture. It takes constant attention, over the long haul. You can never let it slide!
Every customer encounter is taken personally by that customer. Every experience is judged. Every time. And each bad experience can lead to the loss of that customer (A full 68 percent will sever a customer relationship because they were treated poorly by a staff member). You don’t want that, do you?
I don’t think it’s personal, Dana.
Oh it is personal, Jeremy.
(A scene from Sports Night – How Are Things in Glocca Mora, when Pete Sampras allowed an unknown to take him to five sets – thus delaying the airing of Sports Night)
Here’s the lesson. There is no business encounter, no business transaction, that the customer does not take personally. Thus, a company must view each business encounter, each business transaction, as a personal encounter.
In other words, humanize each and every business encounter and transaction.
I’m reading Prescription for Excellence: Leadership Lessons for Creating a World Class Customer Experience from UCLA Health System by Joseph Michelli for next Friday’s First Friday Book Synopsis. It’s good. (Bob Morris says it is Michelli’s best book – read his review here).
In the book, Michelli states:
It can be argued that certain business transactions, such as fueling your car or buying a product online, are impersonal. By contrast, businesses like childcare and healthcare are high-touch industries.. In healthcare, personal connections obviously matter, and the ability of staff members to create authentic caring relationships leads to success. However, even in businesses where service seems secondary to product, strong customer connections drive brand differentiation and other positive business outcomes.
In other words, all business encounters are taken, and experienced, personally.
So — how are you doing?