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Navigating the Customer Experience

Join host Yanique Grant as she takes you on a journey with global entrepreneurs and subject matter experts that can help you to navigate your customer experience. Learn what customers really want and how businesses can understand the psychology of each customer or business that they engage with. We will be looking at technology, leadership, customer service charters and strategies, training and development, complaint management, service recovery and so much more!
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Now displaying: December, 2017
Dec 27, 2017

Catherine M. Mattice is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and she has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Chevron, the American Red Cross, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and non-profits. She has been published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared as an expert in major news outlets including NPR, FOX, NBC, ABC, USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, Washington Times, Psychology Today and Bloomberg. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter, and one of the founders (and current president of) the National Workplace Bullying Coalition. In his foreword to her book, Back Off! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying @ Work, Ken Blanchard said it was “The most comprehensive and valuable handbook” on workplace bullying. BACK OFF, and her second book, “Seeking Civility : How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying”, are both available on Amazon.

 

Questions

  • Tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey
  • Can you talk with us about some of the things that help to create that positive work environment and is it only up to the employees or does leadership play a big role as well?
  • How do you feel about customer experience on a global level?
  • What are some of the things you encourage organizations to do to create that kind of culture where people are feeling positive, where the energies are consistently up?
  • How do you stay motivated every day?
  • What is one online resource, website, tool or app that you absolutely cannot live without in your business?
  • What are some of the books that have had the biggest impact on you?
  • If you were sitting across the table from another business owner and they said to you that they feel they have great products and services but they lack the constantly motivated human capital, what’s the one piece of advice would you give them to have a successful business?
  • What is one thing in your life right now that you are really excited about – something that you are working on to develop yourself or people?
  • Where can our listeners find your information online?
  • What is one quote or saying that you live by or that inspires you in times of adversity?

 

Highlights

  • Catherine Mattice shared that she was the director of Human Resources for a non-profit organization and found herself working with a bully and this guy and herself were both directors. They both reported directly to the President of the organization, he was not her manager. He was her peer but he was definitely a bully. He was an uber excessive micromanager, he yelled, he made it very clear if he didn't like you, he was very difficult to work with. She personally felt bullied by this person and that was very exhausting, it was like every interaction with him was frustrating. It took a lot of courage to interact with them because you figured you're going to be yelled at, it was just a very emotional experience. And then also as the director of HR she dealt with all of the organizational problems that he created as well so his particular department had a crazy turnover. She spent a lot of time counseling his employees in her office and also spent a lot of time talking to the President about this person's behavior and sort of begging the president to solve it. And the president would always just say, “That's just how he is. I don't know why it bothers you. Be the bigger person.” Which was of course frustrating to hear her pleas for help to just sort of be ignored. And then during all that time she started getting her Master's Degree at San Diego State University and she decided to write a paper for one of her classes on this topic of sort of toxic work environments. And during that paper she came across that phrase, “Workplace Bullying” and she has been obsessed ever since and have continued to scramble to learn everything she possibly can about workplace bullying and she created a business around helping organizations solve that problem.

 

Yanique shared that the issue of bullying seems like something that's not affected by a lot of organizations but it really is a widespread issue.

Catherine agreed and stated that they call it the silent epidemic in the U.S.A lot of other countries actually have laws around workplace bullying but America does not. So, it's just as pervasive if not more so than harassment and discrimination because it's really equal opportunity harassment and so there is a lot of it. A lot of people feel bullied at work, in fact research puts that number at around 30 to 50 percent of people have been bullied at some point in their working life.

Yanique stated that it's interesting that Catherine mentioned that it's such a high percentage and asked if she believe that it filtrates out of the education system because a lot of kids are bullied in schools as well.

Catherine stated that she thinks that we are all mean, the society at large is mean, look at TV, it's all full of mean drama. Reality TV is mean, politics they’re mean, we're mean when we’re on the road, we can be uncivil if someone's going too slow or cut us off. We tend to have this propensity to sort of lash out and we live in a high stress environment because we're always on our phones, we always have someplace to be and so she thinks it's harder to be kind and to take a step back and be nice and take a breath and focus on civility. It's easier to let your frustrations get the best of you. And in school certainly bullying happens and there is some research that's found that if you bully as a child you probably bully as an adult. And also, if you're a target as a child you may be a target as an adult.

  • Catherine Mattice stated that leadership absolutely is the biggest player in the culture so leadership has to decide, “This is the kind of culture we want” and then putting things in motion to create that kind of a culture. Bullying is an organizational problem and culture is an organizational problem and it has to be solved by the leaders so leaders really have to say, “We want a positive work environment because we know it impacts internal and external customer service. We know it impacts innovation and decision making and people's ability to learn.” so when you have a savvy leader who knows that positive relationships and positive feelings about your organization impact the bottom line then you're lucky and you get a positive work environment. But bullying is absolutely an organizational problem not an employee problem.

Yanique asked what if the leader is a bully himself?

Catherine shared that she gets that question a lot. She stated that she honestly hates to give this advice but you have to leave. If the CEO or the leader is a bully, there probably isn't anyway that leaders going to hear anyone out if the leader is told people perceive you as too abrasive. Sometimes an HR professional or maybe someone close to the leader in the C-Suite depending on their relationship can have a conversation with the leader and maybe able to be heard. But in her experience, leaders believe that sort of abrasive aggressive leadership style has worked for them and so they're not going to be interested in changing unless you can really show them the damage they're causing. People can change, she coaches people who are bullies all the time but the CEO or the leader, unless somebody is close enough to that person to have that conversation she would say you may want to consider leaving because the culture is not going to get any better.

Yanique mentioned if the leader is a bully as Catherine said and she recommend that they leave. Do you feel that even though you said you believe people can change but a big part of change means that they have to become self-aware that something needs to change because many of them would be like, “Well the problem isn't me, it’s them.” She has heard that so many times in organizations when employees make complaints and a lot of times that the complaints are being made, they're not willing to accept that sometimes the issue is not necessarily with the other person but sometimes we need to look internally and look at how we could be doing things differently because maybe if we take a different approach you will get a different result.

  • Catherine stated that she recognizes that because of Social Media and the Internet that company is there maybe more focused on customers than they used to be but it's more about the branding than really caring about customers and you see that with all of the negative things that go on. United Airlines being an example, they had this big media problem when they had the police come and remove a customer but that was a culture problem, that's the reason that happened, that the people who worked for United actually thought to themselves, “We are going to call the police and have this customer forcibly removed.” That's a culture problem with United Airlines. She thinks that customer experience and customer service boils down to culture as well and having a positive work environment as they've talked about.

 

  • Catherine stated that she thinks a big thing that she sees with her clients is that when companies call her because their culture is negative, one of the things they're not doing is living their core values. So, she has really come to see the value in core values and she has seen it firsthand that if you can live your core values and make your core values part of everything you're doing day in and day out then that would really affect the culture because then everyone is very clear on how they're supposed to act. Going back to the United Airlines example, United versus Southwest Airlines which always wins customer service awards. Their three core values are servants heart, warrior spirit and something about having fun. If an employee is making decisions in the context of those three core values, they would never ask Police to forcibly remove a customer's not doing anything wrong. So, United Airlines wasn't living their core values and that's how things like that happen. A lot of companies don't see the value in core values until something awful happens and then they realize, “Oh, we've got to get back to our core values.” 

Yanique mentioned that some companies have core values that their employees don't even believe in.

Catherine agreed and stated that that goes back to it though, she sees this all the time, companies have core values and they're on their website and maybe they're on a sign somewhere in the lunchroom and that's the extent of it, so how can employees believe in those core values when they're not part of their day in and day out life. It's up to the organization to say, “Here are our core values. This is how we want everyone to behave.” And then the organization has to find ways to advertise those core values regularly and ensure that employees know them and live them regularly.

Yanique mentioned that it's like you're basically trying to find new and innovative ways to reinforce and basically have lots of repetition. So, now it becomes a part of their DNA. So, if courtesy is one of your core values, in everything you do you try to effect courtesy that way when you're dealing with external customer it's not something that you're trying to put on, it comes so naturally because it's something that you practice every day anyway.

  • Catherine shared that she thinks it's all of the negative stuff that she sees really fuels her fire and makes her work even harder to make a dent in all of the negativity. It really pains her to see employees unhappy and what you do for a living is such a big part of your self-esteem and your self-concept. It's a huge part of who we are as people, what we do for a living and to have that torn down and have somebody like a bully clawing at your identity and your self-esteem and yourself concept day in and day out. It pains me to know that there's people out there who experience that and that's what motivates her. She is driven to touch the lives of as many employees out there in the world as she possibly can. And also, she has been through some things that have made her angry at the right amount of angry where she has submitted proposals to work with a client and the stories they told her were absolutely awful and then she’ll submit a proposal, she work with a charter to try to solve it and then the leader comes back and says, “I don't think this is important enough to spend that money.” That makes her angry and that anger fuels her too. It makes her want to work harder.

Yanique stated that she knows exactly what she means in terms of them not seeing the value in it. And as Catherine said, it really boils down to the value system of the individuals that you're dealing with and what they deem of importance.

  • Catherine mentioned that one of the app is LinkedIn that she uses regularly to make connections. She uses HubSpot to manage her customers and interactions. MailChimp that she’s using for email management. She stated that there's definitely a lot of tools out there that she feels like she couldn't live without that help to keep her basically organized and having everything just flow.

 

  • Catherine mentioned some of the books that have had a big impact on her. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, that was her very first personal development book so that one has had a big impact on her. She has read a lot of books on workplace bullying, one book she mentioned a lot that had an impact on her is a book called Positive Leadership: Strategies for Extraordinary Performance by Kim Cameron. He is in the positive psychology space and he talks a lot about essentially how to create a positive work environment too and he has very specific action items in that book that she actually offers up as advice quite a lot and it's a short read, she highly recommend that book. That's probably one of my favorite sort of business books.

 

  • Catherine stated that one piece of advice that she would give business owners and managers is that they should help their employees find meaning in their work. Help them find a profound connection to everything that they’re doing and that the company is trying to accomplish and your company will flourish if you do that.

Yanique reiterate, help them find meaning in what they're doing. Therefore, there must be a direct link between what the company's goals are and what the personal goals of the employee is because if those two things actually have some congruence then both entities actually have a win-win situation. 

Catherine agreed and gave an example of that, she was doing some training for a company that kills mosquitoes, that's their business. She was doing some training and on a break, she just sort of asked the trainee sitting next to her, “Tell me more about your business, what you do?” and she said, “Well, we killed mosquitoes. That's about it.” That's all she got. And this other person sitting next to her says, “Is that all you think we're doing here? We are saving this community from West Nile Virus.” He was offended that she thought all they did was kill mosquitoes and so he believes he's saving the community from this horrible disease by killing mosquitoes and killing mosquitoes was a means to the end goal of saving that community. So that's what she’s talking about, help reminding your employees that there's a bigger picture beyond their tasks.

  • Catherine shared that they just finished up all the quality issues today. She just released an online course that is essentially her consulting methodology. It's a way to help organizations that can't afford expensive consultants but they need to change their culture. This online course takes them through that process and it has a whole bunch of videos and worksheets and checklists and job aides and literally somebody could take her course and change their organizations culture using the tools in the course, so that is the thing she is super-duper excited about right now. She mentioned that the course can be found at civilitypartners.com/makeover 
  • Catherine shared listeners can find her at –

LinkedIn - Catherine Mattice Zundel

    Twitter - @CatMattice

    Facebook – Catherine Mattice Zundel

    Facebook – Civility Partners

    Website – www.civilitypartners.com

  • Catherine shared that there is a quote that she always reverts to and it's by Viktor Frankl who was in the Holocaust and suffered some horrible things and one of his famous quotes is, “The last of any human freedom is the freedom of choice.” We get to choose our attitude in our circumstances and it's really important to keep that in mind. We can't be victims of circumstance, we have to take charge of how we react to the circumstances and only then can you overcome adversity.

Yanique reiterated, basically freedom of choice is something that we all have regardless of the situation that we're in. And that's a great privilege. So, we should definitely try to exercise it as much as possible. 

 

Links

Dec 19, 2017

Alexander Genov but will be affectionately refer to him as Alex for the purpose of this interview. Alex is an experienced Customer Research Professional who applies his Experimental Social Psychology background and his passion for research, design and innovation to solving important customer and business problems. His professional goal is to help teams create remarkable products and services which make people's lives easier and more enjoyable. Currently, Alex is Leading Customer Research for the Zappos Family of Companies. In previous positions, he was responsible for research and usability of the products and services for companies like Turbo Tax also known as Intuit, State Farm Insurance and the Active Network, he has over 15 years of relevant experience, 5 years of academic research and over 10 years of customer research in the software industry. Alex received his Ph.D. in Experimental Social Psychology from Clark University and his areas of research include defining and measuring emotions, individual differences, usability and consumer segmentation.

  

Questions

 

  • Tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey
  • What is does Social Psychology mean and how does that connect to customer experience?
  • Talk a little about your research that you have found, what works, what doesn’t as you pointed out individual differences and that customers are the same.
  • Why do you think it’s important to invest in research to help you grow your business and become more customer centric?
  • What is one online resource, website, tool or app that you absolutely cannot live without in your business?
  • What are some of the books that have had the biggest impact on you?
  • What is the one thing in your life right now that you are really excited about – something that you are working on to develop yourself or people?
  • Where can our listeners find you online?
  • What is one quote or saying that you live by or that inspires you in times of adversity?

 

Highlights

 

  • Alex Genov pointed as it says in his bio that his background is in psychology, that his passion is understanding people. And more specifically his specialization is understanding emotions and how we define emotions, how we measure emotions, how people experience emotions, the area of emotions is not as simple as it sounds. On the face of it we all experience emotions, we all talk about it but what I found through many years of deep research and study of emotions is that it differs not only how we talk about emotions but how we experience them and measuring them is a tricky thing. That's his specialty and also another area of expertise he brought from said psychology was individual differences and that's something he believe deeply in which is that not everybody not all people are different. And by the same token not all customers are different. In his career, he has been trying to help companies understand customers as people and understand the individual differences that are important for each specific industry and in each specific product. He was initially headed to be a Professor but soon gave up the idea because he didn't want to be poor for many many years. He kind of sold out to the software industry but he has no regrets. It's been an interesting challenge and a lot of fun experiences trying to bring rigor to research in the industry but also to make it practical. So, that's been the biggest challenge for him all along is to make it to kind of walk that fine line, keeping that balance and keeping the organization honest in terms of research but also being practical and not being too academic and kind of obstructionist in that way.

 

  • Alex Genov stated that there are many areas of psychology when you start specializing in it. So, one area for example is, Social Psychology and other area is Personality Psychology which is a bit more focused on the individual and other area is Clinical Psychology so these are people who help people with mental problems and so on. He picked Social Psychology because it was the most interesting to him and when he was studying it all the really fun experiments from the 50’s and 60’s that really kind of make jaws drop nowadays but they were all designed to understand people in the sense that how is our behavior determined and motivated by the real or imagined presence of others. That's the definition of social psychology. The methods that he brought with him to the industry or essentially the methods of scientific psychology which are based on the empirical method of research. And the most kind of defining feature of that is the question “How do you know?” When we talk about something and we say, “I believe this and that to be true” some people may be fine by saying, “I feel it in my gut and that's what I believe” or they say. “I know from experience and I know it to be true” but an empiricist will say, “Well how do you know?” “Do you have the data to look at and to measure?” An empiricism is basically this belief that we all have to have some kind of shared experience to be able to determine that something is the case. So, for example, if he asked you what the temperature is and you tell him 72 degrees then you can both look at the thermometer and agree that that's the case. When it comes to emotions you can see how becomes tricky to say ok how do you feel and then you feel happy but many times we don't have direct access to our emotions or we cannot articulate them or we don't want to share them. So that's where it gets tricky how do you measure, how you define emotions. For example, you can define them by the facial expressions which is a behavioral indicator, you can define it by overt behavior, are people jumping with joy literally right or are they running away? Also, you can always ask them how do you feel but again one of the principles of research that brought that led him to the industry was to measure the same thing using different methods and to triangulate the results so that we have a higher degree of confidence that what we're saying when measuring is exactly what we intended to measure. He doesn’t want to get too technical but that's basically the background.

 

Yanique mentioned that we talk about Zappos all the time in workshops and people think about Zappos as the Customer Experience guru in the Retail Market especially in the online space. They basically came in and they transformed how retail business is done online. The fact that they have a 365 day return policy, if you call them somebody is going to answer the phone even when you go on their website, unlike other websites, every single page on their website has their telephone number at the top. So, at the end of the day when somebody has an issue or when a customer has an issue whether it is to make a request or it is to query a product or service that they have already engaged you for a lot of times they want to speak with a live human being and sometimes it's so hard navigating on these organizations websites some of them don’t have a phone number, they have this contact us page where you have to type out your entire request or issue and then wait for somebody from their company to respond to you. So, the fact that Zappos actually makes themselves available by providing a telephone number on all their pages really sets them apart.

 

  • Alex Genov agreed and stated that he joined Zappos about 4 years ago and he can take absolutely no credit in it's incredible success over the years. He has contributed something in the past 4 years but indeed the company was formed early on based on the belief that it will be successful only if they make their customers happy, employees happy and the vendors happy. That was the focus. When Tony Tsheish started investing in the company, basically he was intensely focused on the customer experience and on making this very new behaviour which is buying shoes online as easy as possible. We're talking about 15 - 16 years ago. They realized that in that kind of business things usually will sometimes go wrong and you cannot prevent that but what you can do is to do everything to make it right by the customer. So, one of the initial defining moments was one day something went wrong with an order and a customer was not happy but then they went out of their way to make it right and then that person wrote an e-mail and in the subject matter, she started by using the word, “WOW.” Bear in mind, this is 15 - 16 years ago. Now everybody's talking about wowing customers. But that was so long ago and then at that point they realized this is going to be our defining characteristic, is going to be customer service and at a time when everybody is considering service a cost to be cut. Zappos said, “That's who we are and we're going to invest in that.” That's really counter-intuitive in a way thinking has let it success because the whole belief is that we're selling shoes that are also available in other stores or in other places. And if we do all the same things that other retailers do and if we compete on price and we can be done on cutting costs then we're just going to be another retailer. And you know what's happening with retail nowadays, this was decided so many years ago. Sometimes it's really because he’s a proponent of the online experience. Sometimes there's intense focus on customer service is going to be a point of frustration because he’s thinking can we focus a bit more on the website. But then you'll realize what the roots are and also, we have a saying at Zappos that “Zappos is a customer service company that just happens to sell shoes right now.”

 

Yanique mentioned that if businesses looked at their companies like that, “I'm just an airline” or “I'm a customer service company that just happens to be in the airline business transporting people from one location to the next for all different reasons, weddings, business, vacation.” And they realize that their focus is on service because without these customers we have no business. I think it would really change the mindset and propel, it would be like a paradigm shift in how we as customers experience business.

 

Alex agreed and stated that it will help to have some competition, some industries are more much more like monopolies right. And they have less choice than there is much less pressure to not be customer centric in general. One question in the outline about what business owners can think of and what's going to make them successful - it's very simple, it's just focus on the customer and of course you have to have your business plan and you have to have your operations to be excellent. You cannot be focusing on the customer and giving away free product and you know you're going to be in business for maybe 3 days, you will have very happy customers but very short-lived success. You need to have your financials work but beyond, he loves Zappos because it's a company that's focused on purpose before profit. And it’s a very subtle but very important difference, if you say that you’re in there for the profit then you’ll be making all those decisions that ultimately end up hurting customers. If you are saying that you’re here for that purpose then but also make sure that you are making profit. Ultimately, if you're making customers happy they will be loyal customers and they will be telling others about your business. Alex stated that another thing that sets them apart is that they don't do a traditional advertising. They don't pour billions into TV ads for example, but people know about Zappos from word of mouth, from things that they do that benefit the community. And they have a very strong Social Media Presence. So that's another lesson for entrepreneurs and for business folks. Focus on the customer, focus on the community, do good things for the community and for the customer and then you're going to have those customers that are not only customers but they're going to be your ambassadors they are going to spread the word about you. So, it's going to be saving a lot of money on advertising essentially and marketing.

 

  • Alex stated that if you're a small company you cannot really afford PHD’s and specialist to do this for you but you can do it yourself to a large degree and then why is it important? If you want to make some customers happy, now we talk a lot about personalization, a lot about meeting the customer needs or the jobs supposed to be done then you don't know your customers. You're probably going to be basing decisions on your own experience and if you are lucky to have a lot of customers just like yourself, so be it then you have to do any research. If you want to differentiate yourself you need to understand a little bit of the competition but mostly the customer. There are different types of businesses, for example, we are a corner coffee shop, then you're going to be providing the staples, you may walk around the neighborhood see what the other coffee shops charge and you're going to price your offering accordingly and then there's not much to research about, what people need is coffee, pastries. Alex stated that one of the books he read recently that influence him is one from Harvard professor called Clayton Christiansen and he's been talking about jobs to be done for a long time, customer jobs to be done and it's a variation of user needs or wants but it's much more specific in the sense that he's saying customers are hiring you and your product to do specific jobs and if you do the jobs, they'll continue hiring you, if not they are going to fire you and your product. So, the example he gives is a big breakfast chain here that they wanted to grow their milkshake business. They were getting a hard time selling more milkshakes so they hired this company to really observe people and how they buy milkshakes and then they talk to people and all they found was that the same person stopping by in the morning and stopping by in the afternoon had different needs when it comes to milkshakes. So, in the morning they were on their way to work, pretty long commute and they needed a little bit of nourishment like breakfast but also, they needed something to keep them occupied in the car sitting there bored. And so, they designed these milkshakes with something to do with nutritional value but also with some chunks of stuff in the milkshake so that you know people would just drink the milkshake and have something like some more sensation in their mouth. In the afternoon, when the people stopped by after picking up their kids from daycare and so we had kids in the backseat making noise and shouting, angry and so So, they are buying milkshakes for them and the job to be done was to give them some nutrition but also to keep them quiet back there. They were designed not only the milkshakes but also the straws so that they're thinner so the milkshake last longer. And you understand the whole point of this is that if you didn't observe people in action and didn't talk to them about why are you buying this and what are you trying to achieve with that milkshake, then you will be in the dark. Some things are pretty straightforward like opening a coffee shop with the staples but even then, if you're really customer focused then you'll know your customers and when they come in you know that this person, they have their usual and you offer them that. Or maybe they're upset, talk to them about what’s bothering them, bartenders are great at that. They solve these emotional jobs to be done like a friend for somebody who is a little bit down maybe or doesn't get anybody to talk to at the moment. The point is all of this is based on knowing people understanding people and if you're just focused on your business and your numbers and you don't see your customers as people but just as walking wallets then ultimately, they'll find another place that treats them better. So, you have those basic needs and wants. When he was talking about individual differences is when it gets to be bigger businesses that now start serving millions of people or different types of customers for example, if you are a B2B business and you're selling something to a company, you have different interactions, for example the CEO who is going to be signing the cheque ultimately. And interacting with some procurement person who is responsible for implementing the system. And then you may or may not interact with the end user but they're all different user groups and they all have different mindsets and they're going to have different interactions with the system. So that's a very simple form of segmentation based on role in a company. For Zappos for example, to some extent gender plays a role of course because all men's shoes are different from women's shoes, clothing. They dress somewhat differently. When he was working for Turbo Tax for example and it's a financial, Do-It-Yourself financial product. Gender made no difference in terms of how finances are kept, if anything women are much better at keeping finances than men but when it came to how we understand the product you think about finances there was no different so for each business it's going to be a bit different. Just to finish the coffee shop example and maybe some of the audience have some customers that are vegan now so you have the vegan customers and you have the ones that are not. So that will be kind of a surprise and delight for your customers to say, “Do you want regular milk? or you want soy milk?” But that's another example of maybe your segment based on taste and health preferences and so on.

 

  • Alex shared that in his tools of the trade like analytics programme. He uses SPSS too because everybody at Zappos does hands on work. And there's no more managers there now and it's a different self-organization kind of environment. A lot of his work is hands on work. They have a really powerful survey tool, they do a lot of surveys with our customers and with prospects - general population, US shoppers. They collect information that way and then he uses an analytics tool called SPSS to do the analysis. They also collect a lot of text data and it's very challenging to analyze sentiment and he’s talking about large volume. Like 600,000 reviews on the website or even they do a survey when they get to 2,000/3,000 verbatim comments from customers in text form. It's very difficult to analyze, now they’re starting to explore a tool that is a very powerful text analytics tool developed on technology from the MIT media lab and so you have the best scientists there working to develop this kind of artificial intelligence to extract meaning for example from text. And it's not as simple as just counting the number of times a word appears. That’s extracting meaning what the word is connected to water. He mentioned that Google is amazing, Google is like this really powerful software company if you have to find anything you Google it and find it right away.

 

  • Alex shared that one of the key influences for me is this Italian designer called Roberto Verganti. He wrote several books but one of his key books is called Design Driven Innovation: Changing the Rules of Competition by Radically Innovating What Things Mean and his main idea is that you need to understand customers as people and that's been his kind of mission in the past couple of years as don’t really just study customers as shoppers in the process of shopping or in the process of calling but understand them holistically as people. He has been advocating for this sort of radical innovation which is that a dual meaning of what things mean for people and that's very hard to do but it's going to guarantee the biggest success. One of his examples is this company that was the leader in candles, a few centuries ago. A couple of centuries ago they were there for a hundred years, they were the best, made candles and then electricity came along. And instead of them changing the meaning of what they were doing they continued to focus on the light, how long does the candle was lasting, how safe it is. And then of course they disappeared, they went out of business. Alex asked – “Can you guess one Candle company that is thriving right now?” Yanique replied – “I cannot…” A candle company that is thriving now is called the Yankee Candle Company, it's very big in the United States but the reason why they're so successful is that because they change the meaning of what a candle means, it's not used for light but it's used for mood and they made it smell good but you see how they changed the meaning because the other company was focused on safety and they didn't want the candle to smell right and then it lost its purpose. That’s all he talks about, understanding what things mean for people. Another example is this kettle for boiling water and they made this kettle that looks pretty cool but also was emitting the sound when it was ready, it kind of whistle and the meaning there was not only was it a tool for boiling water but it’s a signal for the family to gather around the table. You would think it’s a simple object and then people pay US $500.00 for this. It’s the shape, the meaning. A good question for all the listeners is the business they’re in, are they innovating on that level versus just making things better the way they are, keeping the same meaning but making it better. “Are you innovating or are you making things better the way they are?” [Question to ask yourself as a business owner]

 

  • Alex stated that at work he is excited about a couple of big programs they are doing which is the Voice of the Customer, they are enabling their customers that go on their website and don’t call on the phones to give them feedback and for the organization to be able to consume that feedback, so they are working hard on that. Again, exploring text analytics, it’s going to open their eyes, it’s just a ton of data that has been left unexplored. In his personal life, he went back to a passion of his which is Martial Arts after many years of not doing much and in Las Vegas there are Shaolin Monks teaching and that’s super exciting for him. There is one authentic Shaolin Monk visiting to hold a seminar and he’ll be taking some time off work to do that.

 

  • Alex shared listeners can find him at –

LinkedIn - @alexgenov

 

  • Alex shared that what inspires him in times of adversity in his professional life is thinking about the customer and Zappos is a part of Amazon and Jeff Bezos is talking about customer obsession and then in his personal life, is this idea of no hacks, it’s just perseverance and hard work.

Links

Dec 5, 2017

Jeff Toister Show Notes

Jeff Toister helps customer service teams unlock their hidden potential. He is the best-selling author of The Service Culture Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide To Getting Your Employees Obsessed with Customer Service. More than 140,000 people on six (6) continents has taken his video base training courses on LinkedIn Learning aka Lynda.com. Jeff’s 15 training videos on LinkedIn Learning include Customer Service Foundations and Leading a Customer Centric Culture.

Jeff was named one of the top 30 customer service professionals in the world by Global Gurus. He was also named one of the top 50 Thought Leaders to Follow on Twitter by the International Customer Management Institute. Feedspot has named his Inside Customer Service Blog one of the Top 50 customer service blogs on the planet.

Jeff holds a Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) certification from The Association for Talent Development.

Questions

  • Tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey
  • Can you tell us about your journey in writing the book – The Service Culture Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Your Employees Obsessed with Customer Service?
  • What is culture? As entrepreneurs, what are some of the things they should be thinking about?
  • What are some advice you would give to an employee or a business owner who is trying to sustain a service culture and with growth they have not been able to manage the culture with the massive growth that they have experienced? How do they scale but at the same time maintain that same service culture and experience?
  • How do you stay motivated every day?
  • What is the one online resource, website, tool or app that you absolutely cannot live without in your business?
  • What are some of the books that have had the biggest impact on you?
  • What is one thing in your life right now that you are really excited about – something that you are working on to develop yourself or people?
  • Where can our listeners find your information online?
  • What is one quote or saying that you live by or that inspires you in times of adversity?

Highlights

 

  • Jeff Toister stated that what compelled him the spectrum of customer experience was the very first customer he served. He would love to say that it was a success story but it wasn’t, he didn’t do a good job and that changed things for him. He was 16 years old, he was working in a retail clothing store and he had gotten about 15 minutes of training and the person that was supposed to be training him said, “I’m going on break, good luck, here’s the key to the dressing room. Do the best you can, I’ll be back.” He was nervous as young kids often are and I didn’t know what he was supposed to do. A customer comes up to him and he’s just thinking, “Oh no, I don’t know anything” and that’s obviously the wrong mindset but that’s the mind set he had. The customer asked, “Do you carry Dockers?” it’s a brand of khakis and he knew what they were, he had no idea if they carried them or not and so he’s looking around the store and he’s hoping that there’s a big neon sign that says, “Dockers right here” but there was not. And being 16 years old and being inexperienced, the first words that came out of his mouth were, “I don’t know” and without getting a second chance to recover, he got angry and he said, “Wow, this is terrible service” and he stormed out of the store. He knows that that was the wrong answer, the challenge is when you’re employee in that situation how do you stop yourself from giving that wrong answer, that comes with experience, life experience and training knowledge and so in that moment he knew it wasn’t the right answer, he knew he didn’t do well and he never wanted to feel that way again, that was many years ago but throughout his entire career, he has always gravitated towards 2 things: customer service but in particular, What makes employees tick? How do we help our customer service employees perform their very best? And how do we remove these obstacles where we put them in a position where they are not as able to be successful? He has always been fascinated with customer service, he has always been fascinated with training and all of his jobs have focused on that and for the last 12 years he has been a consultant who helps organizations tackle these types of problems.

 

Yanique stated that she finds it interesting that it was a not so positive experience that propelled you into this because as a consultant that many times when a customer becomes loyal to business, if you track back the root cause, it’s usually a dissatisfied customer who dealt with an employee who was able to turn the situation around and just because of how it was handled, now every time they come back to that business they only want to deal with that particular employee, they’ll even wait sometimes if they’re on vacation to come back from vacation to transact business with that company and it all came out of a negative experience.

 

Jeff mentioned the “Peak-End Rule” (Psychology Term), he stated that it explains what Yanique said is true. It’s about customer perception or perception in general that we tend to not notice things that are normal. We tend to notice things that are different than normal and what really stands out is the thing that is most different and so the bad experience if you kind of think of that as the heartbeat of customer service, the bad experience is kind of like this really bad deviation from our normal experience and then a really good correction, really good fix is a huge difference. So, it stands out because it’s such a leap from a horrible experience to this great experience, it becomes imprinted in our memories and that’s the peak part, if it’s the last experience we had with that organization or that person, that really gets imprinted in our memories. So, the Peak End Rule kind of explains why that big gap, it’s so true when we recover from a bad experience, that’s what really sticks in our customers’ mind.

 

  • Jeff Toister shared that he’s glad that Yanique’s impression of his book was that it’s a practical guide and he really appreciate that because that was the goal in writing it. He found a couple things and one was that he consistently had this theme with his client which was culture, “How do we get our employees obsess with service?” and the other thing he found quite frankly was that companies tend to have money to invest in technology, they often don’t have the budget to invest in people and he thought, “If I could put this into a book and make it a practical step by step guide, maybe they can’t afford to hire me or you to come in, we wish they would. If they don’t have the budget for that, this book will give them everything I’m already sharing with my clients.” That was the starting point to say he’s going to make these ideas available. So where did they come from, they came from work he was doing but then he wanted to profile companies that were successful, and one of his biggest challenges in writing the book was, he didn’t want to include some of the usual suspects - the Zappos, the Southwest Airlines, the Nordstrom, the Disney, the Ritz Carlton, not to take anything away from those organizations, it’s just that we’ve heard their stories so many times, there are other companies out there that are delivering amazing service. So, you ask where did those stories come from? He started researching what other organizations have a strong service culture where they’re known, they have the reputation, maybe it’s service ratings, maybe it’s stories written about them, they’re known for having employees who are obsessed with service and then he started researching, what do they do and it was amazing to him that there was a consistency across all of these companies, in terms of how they approach it and so he was able to pull his own work and in the research he did into these companies and put them into the step by step guide and say, “Hey, there is something here. There’s a process that all of these organizations are following and we can give this recipe to anybody who cares to follow it.”

 

Yanique agreed that he tries to look at a very practical, operational way that any business, even if it’s a small business with just 5 employees would be able to extract that information and run with it in their own company.

 

Jeff stated that even a team because one of the biggest questions he gets is that people say, “I read the book but I’m not the CEO and I don’t even think my CEO cares too much about service, she says it important but I know she really cares about the budget.” And that’s fine, you can still use the book. He has examples in there with specific teams or departments, so whatever the size, whether you’re the CEO or you’re just leading the small team within a bigger company, the goals and the ideas that you can use these tools to create a service culture in whatever you control.

 

  • Jeff stated that he thinks sometimes culture is one of those words that we take for granted, we all say, “Culture is important” but maybe we mean different things. To him, culture when we’re talking about an organizational perspective, it’s a system of behaviors and beliefs, it’s how a group of people act or thinks and understand the world. Sometimes we think culture is a statement that says, “This is our motto or these are our values” and that’s not quite accurate. Culture is what people actually do, so if people are living those values each and every day then those values are accurate and they reflect your culture, if not, then they’re pretty empty. He gave an example, there was a bank in the United States about a year ago, there was this huge scandal because what they were doing was opening accounts for customers that didn’t request them. Millions of accounts were affected and the reason it was happening is because there were a lot of pressure for the individual employees to meet these very aggressive sales targets, so that’s what led to this huge scandal that the CEO resigned, there was a lot of fines, the Federal Government started to look into it. What was interesting though was that the CEO even in the moment when it was announce that the scandal broke and the CEO still had his job and he was announcing this scandal and this big settlement of a lawsuit, he still pointed to their culture as being customer focused and to him, that’s the perfect example of Your words doesn’t really matter if they’re not backed up by your deeds. How did people actually act? In that organization, the culture was about sales pressure and doing anything at all cost to sell a product. That was their actual culture. So, when you think about organizations and one of the organizations he wrote about in the book is a place call REI, if you love the outdoors, that’s the place to go for your camping equipment, your hiking equipment, bicycling, whatever. REI is an example of culture that really matches what they say. For example, if you go in and you’re looking for camping equipment, you’re not going to have somebody just kind of point you to the camping equipment aisle, the person who works there who’s going to help you is an avid camper, they love camping and they can’t wait to share with you what they know so that you can love camping too and that’s by design because they purposely stated that their goal as an organization is to help us all enjoy the outdoors. That to him is when culture matches what we’re saying, that’s pretty healthy but at the end of the day, culture is what we do, it’s how we perceive the world, it’s what we actually believe.

 

Yanique agreed and stated that in her process of dealing with some businesses this week, she called a company that deals with cooking gas and their office is not located in the city, it’s located on the outskirts of the city so it’s a 20-minute drive and she asked them if didn’t have any other mode of payment because she told the sales representative before they came that she will be paying by card and she specifically requested that the gentleman coming brings the card machine. He comes and he didn’t bring the card machine and of course he now informs her that she needs to drive all the way to the location to make the payment. So, she called them and said, “Can the payment be taken over the phone?” “Oh no, we just changed out our card machines and that’s not possible anymore.” Yanique called and ask them, “Do you expect me to drive 20 minutes outside the city just to get to you to make a payment for a service that you provided, I think you really need to talk to your finance department and think about a more customer friendly way to accept payments from your customers.” And it’s interesting because they were voted one of the best customer service organization in their industry and that left a bad experience. Even when the guys came, the service was good but then the payment part is a part of the service as well.

 

Jeff agreed and stated that whenever that happens, he always wonder why does it happen and is it that the person doesn’t want to do their job, sometimes but often it’s that they are put in that position or no one shared with that driver that Yanique had had that communication or that driver was specifically told, “We’re not doing cards so this is what you have to tell people.” Those employees are often put in a bad position where they almost can’t win.

 

  • Jeff stated that maintaining the same service culture and experience is a big challenge for a couple of reasons. One is that keeping culture exactly the same is impossible because culture changes, every time you add a new person to the team, every time you add a new product or a new line of service or a new channel, it changes just a little bit. He doesn’t know if it’s possible to keep culture the same but maybe consistent and have it grow and evolve in the right way, that’s maybe the goal for those businesses. The other challenge is scale, as businesses grow it becomes necessary for the business owner or the business leader to trust more people to do the work and that business owner can’t be in all places at all times, they can’t talk to every single customer and so the process of building a service culture really is about that scale question, “How do I instill in my employees what I believe in my core?” and the way to do that is that you have to make it clear, you have to articulate it. Just like how he was asked, “Let’s define service culture.” In these organization you have to define, “What does our culture look like?” and the tool that he uses is something called The Customer Service Vision, it’s a very simple statement, it could be something that you already have like a Vission or vision statement for your company but it’s very simple statement that says, “This is what outstanding service looks like.” And every employee in the organization has to understand what that vision statement is, what does it mean and most importantly, how do they personally contribute in their role and once you achieve that, then you can scale using that vision as a guide and that’s the first step, you’ve got to have that vision. The second step is employees all have to understand it and the third step is that you have to use that as a way of doing business, one thing he sees that business owners/ business leaders do that really hurt that effort is that they treat culture as a separate project, so people will maybe take time out of their normal job to do some cultural things, maybe on a culture committee or we’re doing culture as the theme for this year strategic planning and then we go back to work and just do our jobs, that’s not how you evolve culture, culture is our behavior so we need to use culture as a guide for making all decisions, it’s how we create strategy, it how we invest in technology and processes, it’s how we hire, it’s how we train people, it’s how as a leader you’re deciding what to put in front of your employees and talk about every single day and if we are not talking about culture and how outstanding service should look like then your employees are not going to believe that it’s important, they’ll focus and what you talk about and that’s the biggest challenge for leaders. Jeff also hear a lot of companies say to him, “We’re just so busy, we’re too busy to deal with culture.” And he would say, “No, you’re not because what you’re really doing is you’re still creating a culture, it’s just not the culture you need.”

 

Yanique agreed that with the point that even though they’re not focusing on culture, every organization has a culture but is it the culture that they really want and so if you don’t have intentionally activities, whether it be meetings, conversations, group outings, strategies built around what you’re trying to achieve, then the culture will emerge on its own. And so, you’d have a culture you don’t want all because there was no intentional act but not because you didn’t put any attention there doesn’t mean it’s not formed.

 

Jeff mentioned that often when you don’t put the intention there, it goes in the direction you really don’t want it to go.

 

Yanique mention that the take away from this interview is culture is not something that just doesn’t happen, it happens even without your intentional behavior behind it, it’s going to manifest and this is why you really have to intentionally work towards the culture you want. It’s like eating because we have to eat every day but if we don’t intentionally make an effort to eat healthy then we’ll eat anything and of course the body will just consume whatever you put inside of it and if you’re consuming negative thing then it will lead to disease and chronic illnesses versus taking an intentional approach towards eating, ensuring you do your meal preps, you exercise 3 to 4 times a week, you’re getting 8 to 9 hours of sleep per night, those are things that are intentional activities you schedule into your life to ensure it’s done every single day.

 

  • Jeff stated that he really likes this question because motivation is a part of something he looks at all the time, not just his own motivation but employee motivation. He thinks we often look at it the wrong way, we look at how we get motivated versus how to not be demotivated and so for him, motivation is easy, he does what he loves. He finds the inner section of what he loves to do and what he can be successful doing and where he has a little bit of skill. Jim Collins’ Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Other’s Don’t’ Built to Last : Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, one of his landmark books. He talked about this head shock concept for companies, it’s an inner section of what you love, what can you do well, what can you get paid to do and he takes that personally. And so, he gets up every day excited because he loves this. The demotivation happens not just for him but for everybody where we perceive that there’s obstacles that stand in the way of doing what we love. In a service environment, referring to his story about his first service encounter, that happens to employees every single day where they want to provide great service, almost every employee wants to provide great service but there’s some obstacle that they perceive is standing in their way and that’s what’s demotivating them. Every day he works on himself but he helps organizations and employees work on finding what are those obstacles and they can remove those obstacles, motivation becomes really natural.

 

Yanique stated that it’s interesting because she does workshops for organizations and a lot of questions that she hears from employees is that sometimes you can’t do what you love because you have bills to pay but then, if you have that kind of mindset which goes back into your attitude. Is it your motivation that affects your attitude or your attitude that affects your motivation?

 

In reference to Yanique’s question if motivation affects attitude or attitude affects motivation. Jeff stated that he is a big sports fan, so the team that’s winning, are they because they are motivator or are they motivated because they are winning. He thinks success breathes that and those two go together. Doing well, we feel good, we’re motivated and if we’re not doing well we feel bad with a bad attitude, we feel demotivated. There’s a concept called, “Learned Helplessness” that a lot of employees’ experience. What it is that over time they feel like they failed trying so they just stop trying. It gets really bad is a lot of times they stay in the same job, not every job is right for every person and so they’ll stay in the job or maybe they have those bills to pay and they don’t feel like they have another good option and so they kind of give up but they keep coming to work everyday and that makes it so much worst because it’s defeating.

 

  • Jeff stated that the tool that he uses every single day is a website called Highrise, it’s a way of keeping track of clients and projects all in one place. One of his core value is accountability and he believes if you say you’re going to do something, you do it. As an entrepreneur, you have a million things going on and trying to meet deadlines and maintain commitments and do what you say you’re going to do is extremely difficult. So, he uses that through every single day to keep track projects, initiatives, people and making sure he maintains all of his commitments but he also uses it to not just look at an individual commitment but how does that connect to all the other commitments he has made so that he’s not overloading his plate. He uses LinkedIn and Twitter every day as well and primarily to connect with other people and learn from other people and see what other people are doing as he thinks we are definitely in a relationship business. As someone whose passionate about training and adult learning, he’s always learning as well and that’s often where he finds “What are people doing that’s interesting?” So those would he his second and third picks.

 

  • Jeff shared that he loves to read and is sometimes reading 2 to 3 books at a time. He thought about and said, “What are the books that stick with me?” and that’s the challenge with the book, that we read a book and say, “Oh it’s good” and then you ask, “What have you used from that book?” Jeff shared that these are some book that he uses a lot. One is called Street Smarts by Norm Brodsky and Bo Burlingham and what he loves about it is that it’s an entrepreneurial perspective on the business side of running a business and he thinks in the world of customer service and customer experience, too many of us are unfamiliar or tentative around the business side, the number side. He had a discussion online with someone the other day where they were upset that executives only care about the budget and the point he tried to make and comes from this book is, the way to get executives to care about customer service is you have to translate customer service into numbers because that’s their language and if we’re not doing that or if we don’t know how, we’re only hurting ourselves. The next one is a book called Getting Things Done by David Allen, it’s a system for managing your time and commitments and it’s a principle based system rather than go out and buy this portfolio and you have to use this specific software, it’s more about principles to use whatever you feel comfortable using. He uses those principles to do things that allow him to keep on top of things. For example, at the end of everyday he has zero messages in his email inbox and for most people that’s unbelievable but it’s because he has these set of principles that David Allen shared with him in his book that he uses every day. The third book is a book that really made an impact on him, it’s called Lincoln on Leadership by Donald T. Phillips and what he did was he studied the United States’ 16th president which some people would say would be one of their most amazing leaders in history and he looked at some of the things that Abraham Lincoln did as a leader that we can pull from today. One of his favorite examples that he uses as a consultant and trainer is Lincoln was really the first president to spend a lot of time going to people rather than expecting people to come to him for a meeting or a conversation and the reason he did that, it’s management by walking around which we know now but the idea was, if you approach people in an environment where they feel comfortable and make them feel like we’re on an even keel and you’re not trying to intimidate them then they’re much more likely to open up to you and have an honest and frank conversation and he learned when he’s working with a client and he meets with their front line staff and ask them about their job, they are always ready to tell him exactly what is working well and exactly what they think is going wrong and he thinks it’s because of that principle of coming to them and making them comfortable.

 

  • Jeff stated he has this thing where he realizes that his audience doesn’t have a lot of budget to spend on customer service maybe technology but not on people. So, one of the things he has been trying to do is transform his own business where he can make resources, tool, concepts available to people at little to no cost and somehow still get paid. A few examples are his book, the investment on the book is USD $14.95 for the paperback or USD $9.99 for the kindle, that’s a pretty low investment yet he puts all the tools he uses as a consultant in that book so you don’t have to hire him because you probably have USD $14.95, you may not have his consultant fee. He has training videos on LinkedIn Learning and Lynda.com and he has learned that a lot of his clients and companies that he works with already has a subscription to one of those platforms, so you can get his training without having to pay for him to come in, the video is right there, it’s available to you and if you don’t have a subscription, it’s fairly inexpensive and then things like this podcast, he loved this opportunity and really appreciate it because it’s a chance for them to have a dialogue about service but it doesn’t cost anything to subscribe to the podcast and learn from it and learn from not just himself but from some of the other amazing experts that Yanique interview. Those are free resources that anybody can take advantage of and he’s really excited about the opportunity to help people wherever they are in their journey.

                                                                                        

  • Jeff shared listeners can find him at –

Twitter - @toister (www.twitter.com/toister)

Customer Service Tip of the Week – www.toistersolutions.com/tips

Insider Customer Service Blog – www.toistersolutions.com/blog

 

  • Jeff shared that he’s not a big quote person, the reason he’s not a quote person, the first reason is because he sees quotes and they sound great but then what do we do with them. He’s more of an action person and the second reason is he has done research on some quotes and he has been disappointed to find that that person never said that or that’s not what they meant. He gave an example, the quote, “The customer is always right” no one said that and it bothers him that we have accepted this as some mantra in customer service and he did some research on where did this come from, why do we believe this and there is not really an agreement but it came from a few places. One possible source says Ritz Carlton and he said, “The customer is never wrong” and the context was that even if the customer is wrong, of course they are sometimes, you don’t argue with them, you just find a way for them to help them become right. Marshall Fields who is a famous retailer, he said, “Right or wrong, the customer is always right” and his point was the same thing that the customers will of course make mistakes but we don’t argue with them, our role here is to help them become right, to help them succeed. He wished he had a great quote to share but when he finds those quotes and he found out no one ever said that but the story behind the quote often is much more interesting.

 

Yanique mentioned that in most of her workshops towards the end of the session, she always explains to the participants that the customer is always right literally is not a true statement because there are times when the customer is wrong but what we should be guided by is the principle that as employees, we are not here to prove the customer wrong, we are here to help them, they are wrong but we are not here say, “Hey Mr. Customer, you’re wrong and we are going to punish you.” But more like, “It’s okay, let’s work back to how we can undo what’s happened and find a solution so that you can leave here feeling good, let’s make this right.”

 

Links

The Service Culture Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Your Employees Obsessed with Customer Service by Jeff Toister

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