This episode with Yanique Grant, she will be speaking a lot about Customer Experience and one of the brand that she absolutely love and adore. Today is going to be another solo episode; she will start it off a little differently by sharing a quote by one of her favorite people, Maya Angelo. Maya says, “I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did but people will never forget how you made them feel.” It so important in every interaction that we have whether it’s face to face, whether it’s over the telephone, whether it’s an internet base connection, that we really aim to ensure that when people finish interacting with us they feel good because sometimes they won’t remember exactly what you said verbatim, they probably will not remember all the specifics of what you did but they are going to remember how the experience or that interaction made them feel, so we should always aim to ensure that our customers feel good after interacting with us.
You are probably wondering, “What is this brand that Yanique is speaking about?” The brand is Apple, for those of you who knows her personally, who listens to her podcast, you will know that she is an avid Apple user, owner of a MacBook Pro, owner of an Ipad, owner of an Iphone, loves Apple absolutely and you’ll always hear her say, “Once you go Mac, you just don’t go back.” She is going to speak about some of the things that Apple has done to really create that magic formula, what are they doing in their stores and how can you take out some of the things that they are doing and inject into your own business. It is said that Apple makes US$5,000.00 per square foot on their customer experience and that is really amazing, when you compare that to other brands, Apple is performing like the brand Tiffany, the jewelry place, so there is no reason Apple should have all the fun or all the revenue because you can do exactly what they are doing, you just need ensure that you are doing the right things at the right time. Anyone can emulate Apple success in retailing by using the same principles of great customer service and customer experience. The first tip that we are going look at that Apple really emulate in their business is:
They focus on Getting the first moments right with every customer. The first moments a customer spends with a business can disproportionately affect how the customer remembers the entire encounter. Because of the way human memory works, if you get off to a bad start with a customer, it’s hard to recover, while if you do a spectacular job in those first few minutes, it’s a lot easier to coast to the finish line. Apple therefore strives to make sure your first few moments in the store go well. There are two discrete elements to Apple’s success here: Most visibly, they post friendly, enthusiastic, knowledgeable greeters near the front doors, whom she as experienced herself whether it’s in Florida or Minnesota or New York or Chicago, every time she goes to an Apple Store, regardless of the location, she is greeted by someone who is friendly, they are enthusiastic and they are knowledgeable and they are right there at the first point of contact. The only task for the shepherd is to tell you where you need to go and help you avoid the potential disorientation and stress that could otherwise be induced by the bustling store environment because their store is always packed. To take this a step further (or backward), they encourage you, well before you get to the store, to assist in creating a successful entrance experience by pre-scheduling your visit via the Apple Store App and that is just amazing. If Apple succeeds in getting you to do this, it means that when you get to the Apple Store the greeter can even more easier to interact with to get you to where you want to go. That’s step number one that they are definitely doing differently from their competitors.
Apple also Respects their customers’ time. The Apple Store app and Apple online scheduling options not only help reduce the initial stress of arriving at the Apple Store, they ensure that a customer’s visit makes efficient, productive use of the customer’s time. If a customer wants help with diagnosing a flicker in their MacBook Pro screen and only has 45 minutes to spend on the errand, there’s a good chance they can make it in and out of the store within that time frame. Does your business respect your customers’ time? Customers today are busy people, often working unusual schedules, and they appreciate those businesses that treat their time with consideration.
The next big thing that Apple is doing is they are Hiring employees who have the right personality traits for customer service. In almost any electronics retail store, the people selected for employment are enthusiastic about technology, and the fanboys and fangirls who work at the Apple Store are no different. But Apple doesn’t think this is enough. They strive to hire prospective employees who are also good, empathetic listeners. The reality is that in this age of consumer skepticism, a business is not going to succeed by giving a hard sell. Providing great customer service, in fact, is as close to selling as the Apple Stores get. We are not sure how many of you are listening to this episode are familiar with the book, How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, that book is a book that Yanique believes that every business owner, every sales person, every customer service person, every person in life should read that book at least once or twice per year because the book focuses on so much on developing your personality, understanding people, ensuring that you have the right personality traits, ensuring that are being quality human being by listening effectively when you’re conversations with people. When they’re thinking about hiring, you need to think to yourself, “Are you systematically hiring the employees who are most likely to succeed with your customers?” It’s very important for you to really focus on that thought, that’s a question you need to ask yourself each time you hire a new employee for your business.
The next thing that Apple does is they Train and train again. It’s not enough to hire employees with potential. Success with customers requires top-notch customer service training. This should start at orientation and continue at intervals throughout the employee’s career with the company. To take just one Apple example, employees are trained, right at orientation, that a successful customer engagement depends on deploying Apple’s systematic process (APPLE stands for: Approach-Probe-Present-Listen-End), and they are trained in how to tailor this formula to the individual customer. An employee can’t be expected to wing it here; training and re-training are what’s called for. Does your business invest in customer service training annually, semi annually, quarterly, monthly? Are you looking for opportunities to constantly injecting these people with the DNA that they need to succeed in every customer service experience that they have over the phone, through your social media, face to face? Because if that’s not what you’re doing then you’re not going to succeed. It’s essential, from employee onboarding through periodic reinforcement to larger-scale training workshops. As a customer service speaker, trainer, and consultant herself, this is where she risk sounding self-serving, but she would stand behind the importance of methodical, repeated customer service training even if she had no dog in the fight here.
Another big thing that Apple does that sets them apart from their competition is they Streamline. One of the great innovations of the Apple Store is its innovative and unwavering devotion to streamlining: removing everything that could get in the way of a customer’s engagement with Apple’s products and its helpful employees. In an Apple store, there’s a notable absence of cash registers, paper receipts, or anything else to clutter up the experience. This isn’t just an aesthetic choice; it provides clarity of mind for customers and employees about the purpose of the Apple Store customer experience. So, once a purchase decision has been made, or a repair is determined to be required, there’s nothing in the way of making the purchase or repair happen: no forms in duplicate, no waiting in line for a single cash register. These people walk around with devices in their hand that kind of looks like an Ipad and they are able to cash you out exactly where you’re standing, exactly where you’re interacting with them. It is so hassle free, the question you need to ask yourself about your own business is are you streamlining your customer experience? Doing so is almost certain to pay off in improved customer satisfaction–and, if it makes purchases easier, in immediate financial results as well.
Even though the 5 concepts that we have given you here that Apple is using, let’s recap. One is Get the first moments right with every customer, second is to Respect your customers’ time, third is to Hire employees who have the right personality traits for customer service, forth is to Train and train again and fifth is to Streamline. If you follow these steps, even though they are very straightforward, implementing them in a way that works for your business is where your understanding of what makes your business unique must come into play. She is not trying to turn you into a cookie cutter replica of an Apple Store, or of any other successful business. The goal is to keep “you” you, but in a way that gets the non-you out of the way of delighting your customers. Apple actually invented almost none of these concepts; they borrowed them most visibly in fact from the hospitality methods of great 5 star hotels. But by putting them into play in a very Apple way, they now seem to be an organic part of the Apple brand. She encourages you to go forth in your businesses this week, this month, look at your team members, look at your recruitment processes, look at how you’re streamlining, are you training and training, are you being pound foolish and dollar wise? But you really need to ensure that you are making sure that your spend is quality because if you invest in the development of your organization through your people and through your processes and through how you streamline and how the experience goes for your customers, what does that journey look like for them, is it one that is seamless, is it one that is hassle free, is it one that delight them then guarantee that you’re going to see lots of dollar signs at the end of each experience that your customers have with you and the good thing is, they’ll go out and become evangelist of your business, so you can actually use some of that money that your using for marketing advertising and reinvest into making that delight a repeat experience for your customers.
Kenneth Bator is the founder of Bator Training and Consulting Inc; he has more than 15 years of experience in helping organizations create environments where employees actually want to come to work and customers want to keep coming back. As a facilitator for training and strategic planning sessions and an expert in brand concept, culture building and management, Kenneth has helped 100’s of organizations since 2001. In additional to his career working with managers and entrepreneurs, he has also served as an executive of 3 different institutions throughout the United States of America and has assisted many small to medium size businesses to reach new levels of effectiveness. Kenneth is the author of The Formula for Business Success = B+C+S, The Pocket Guide To Strategic Planning: The 90-Day Quick Fix For The Business Owner or Manager and The Strategic Planning Workbook and Guide For Financial Institutions, his articles has appeared in many trade publications including the Credit Union Journal, Lifestyle Entrepreneur, CU Business Magazine and ABA Bank Marketing. Born and raised in Chicago, he earned a Bachelor of Science in Finance and an MBA in Entrepreneurship from DePaul University as well as a Certificate in Integrated Marketing from The University of Chicago.
Yanique agreed that customer experience is different because the experience forms everything that they go through; every channel that they are engaging with your business and also, it is before they come in to work with you, so a lot of customers are very informed before they come to your business, with the onset of the internet, they can do their own research, they can look for information on their own, they are 60%-75% informed about what your business offers before they even have an interaction with you or your employees.
Kenneth stated that the example that he usually use, he uses one from his banking day is that customer service is we are going to handle the customer transaction properly and efficiently maybe even wish him/her a nice day and shuffle him/her out of our bank. A customer experience is when we have a line at the teller line, we are going to have somebody come by and offer them water and coffee, we’re going to ask them if there is something we might be able to do for them in an office, we might ask them,”What was your transaction today and what were you trying to accomplish? Maybe there’s another way that we can help you.” That’s an experience, that’s a how do we create a positive environment for our customer rather than just putting them in a line and giving them service and taking care of a transaction.
Yanique agreed that they are good points that you definitely need buy in, it needs to have a level of inclusivity that people feel like they are apart of the process because then they are more willing to adhere and to actually own the issue, they don’t feel like it’s information being handed down to them that they have to comply with and it makes the environment that much easier for you to work with because the team members feel like it’s their business and it really is. You spend 90% of time at work.
Kenneth stated that he has seen in some circumstances where if you’ve done this properly in terms of creating the service standards, that there’s even a self-management among the team where one front line worker will tell the other front line worker, “Hey, that’s not how we do things here.” It actually begins to take some of the onus off the leader to continually be that person that cracks the whip, it actually makes things in the best of circumstances run smoother without your involvement as a leader. When you can leave for days and the place runs just as well or better than when you’re there, then you know you’ve done something right.
Angie Fisher founded and created Coaching Success Systems in 2011 as a way to provide busy business owners with the full range of resources they need to accomplish their goals. What began as a part-time position became a full-time thriving business by 2012 providing copywriting, graphic design, administrative and marketing assistance and more to several successful coaching entrepreneurs. Over the last 3 years, Angie has continued to grow a thriving business by creating a team of 15 talented support members. Coaching Success Systems provides valuable services to clients all over the world. As a mother of 3 children and an entrepreneur, Angie understands the importance of providing solutions that will help you reduce stress, grow your personal wealth, decrease overwhelm, stabilize your business during hectic times and find more free time to do what you enjoy. Angie’s passion for helping entrepreneurs succeed has led her to author several free reports you can find on her website at www.coachingsuccesssystems.com, each report can provide you with tips that you can implement today to save time, grow your business and spend more time with those that you care about and are close to.
Yanique shared that as a business owner herself who lives in Jamaica, she finds that customer experience is driven or inspired by the person that’s leading the company, so leadership is very important.
Angie stated that leadership creates the whole moral of the company and that moral trickles down to the customer experience and the results of the business, so leaders need to really follow the 3 C’s, have communication, be consistent and have compassion and they also need to teach their staff or their team the same morals. It’s really important to not forget what it’s like to be on the other side of the desk, or the computer or the monitor or the cash register, wherever your customer is sitting, to not forget what that experience is like, so leaders need to understand and help their staff to know and remember that and that can’t go away it doesn’t matter what size your business is, there has to be someone in charge of remembering what that’s like and ensuring that that’s still powerful. Angie stated that the employees could have those values themselves, they could be a great communicator, they could be a consistent person, they could have compassion but the real power comes from the leader teaching the staff on how to implement that in the business, how to reflect that in the business, the tone, the voice, the service, the product, all of that plays into it and the leader really needs to guide those employees to help them understand that and they will look up to that leader because of how they are acting, they are a role model.
Angie stated that she truly believes in consistency, if you aren’t consistent then there is lack of trust and lack of trust will get you no where. You will not have customers and you will have trouble growing your business when you don’t have the trust of your clients and so consistency goes a long way.
Yanique Grant shared that consistency is one of the founding characteristics of a business that offers quality customer experiences, if you look at the Zappos of the world and the Amazons of the world, they are consistent in their service delivery and if they are not consistent, their service recovery strategy is extremely successful in winning that customer back over at the first point of contact because they know how important it is to retain their existing customers.
Angie stated that a lot of entrepreneurs want to fish the sea, they want to get new leads and new clients but we always have to remember to take care of the clients we currently have and we already have them, they have already raised their hand and said, “I have bought from you or I want more from you” so we should pay attention them and it may be easier and cheaper to sell more to them than to go out and try to get a whole lot more leads of new clients. There is a balance there but be sure that you are paying attention to those that already love you.
Yanique stated that this is applicable even if it’s you alone in the business in the first 6 months; you can put that structure in place so that when the opportunity comes for expansion and scaling, delegation is a much smoother process.
Angie agreed and shared that delegating early is the key but she also understands that that’s not possible sometimes, so being ready because when you bring a team into chaos which is most of the time a business that has experienced growth, it is chaos behind the scene because you are working hard to keep everything floating and nothing dropping and so you bring in a team or a virtual assistant or a coach into it to help you, they are coming into a little chaos and it makes it stressful for the business owner, it can make it stressful for the team and it makes it more difficult to move forward, it takes more investment of time. Setting up those things early and especially when you’re growing, you have a little bit of extra time, even if you have a family at home, you still have the time and it’s worth it to take the extra 15-30 minutes while you’re doing the task to make the checklist along the way.
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