Nick Abbott has over 20 years experience in customer service and sales operations, consultancy and training. He has been a logistics officer in the Royal Air Force and has vast experience working with large companies such as General Electric, Bank of New York and more. In 2012, he started the front line evolution, which provides consultancy services for customer service and sales. Nick is currently engaged full-time with Milvik AB, a Swiss microinsurance multinational organization.
When asked how the industry has changed, Nick says it has and hasn’t changed in the past 20 years. The core level is still the same but the things that changed are customers are more knowledgeable, technology has changed and people have become more demanding and less patient.
“The basics didn’t change, but it’s more challenging to deliver great service now and also I think markets are more competitive now and margins are tighter.”
Nick believes that it is more important, now than ever, for customers to get customer feedback.
“I think it is very important for companies to take the time to get customer feedback. I mean nobody likes bad feedback, but actually bad feedback is a gift.”
Nicks says if the customers are not happy it doesn’t matter what the companies metrics are, it doesn’t matter what happens in the board room. You have to get inside the customers’ heads and see what they want from you as a business.
Leadership in Nick’s opinion is the reason why customer service is poor and managers need to engage.
“For any manager, recruitment is a single most important thing that a manager does; getting the right people, taking the time to get the right people on board, understanding what you are looking for.”
Nicks talks about current employees and what they can tell you about how your business and how well it’s being managed. Sometimes, you need to look outside recruitment and look at management, as changes may be necessary.
“If you have a situation where you have staff and it’s not a case of one or two, but the vast majority are not motivated, I would guarantee you the problem is sitting across the desk from me.”
“I would have said I was engaged, I would have said I was an inspiring leader, and I was anything but.”
While reading the book “Straight From The Gut” by Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, Nick learned how the power of leadership can live on in the company long after that leader is gone.
LINKS AND RESOURCES:
Sardek Love is the CEO of Infinity Consulting and Training Solutions. He’s worked in 25 countries, inspiring, developing and educating managers and leaders in Fortune 100 companies, high-tech organizations, government agencies and global brands. His real world experiences serve as the foundation of his powerful and captivating stories from which he brings his sessions to life. Sardek is currently a certified coach, speaker and trainer with the prestigious John Maxwell team.
Years ago, Sardek discovered that he is here to help other people grow, which is what he says motivates him to do what he does.
“Every morning I wake up and think of whose life I can impact in a positive way”
He believes there is a correlation between leadership and customer service, and that the best leaders are those than can connect with others.
“Connecting is just one of those skills that is required for exceptional customer service”
Sardek also feels that having exceptional communication to determine the needs of others is another characteristic that leaders should have.
“It’s really about uncovering people’s problems, providing potential solutions and listening. I think listening is probably one of the most important skills for exceptional customer service.”
He shares that customer service is really a lost art, and that leaders should model the culture themselves to demonstrate to their teams.
Sardek notes that a leader is the person that “charts the course”, and the manager executes that plan.
To him, a leader needs to reward people for the right behaviours and hold them accountable to eliminate any negative ones.
“The brands that have great customer service, it is a tradition, an expectation. The culture reinforces that.”
Millennials are becoming a larger part of the global workforce, but aren’t getting the coaching that their predecessors did. Organizations that take the time to develop their people will accelerate their profitability.
Sardek says that coaching is not about telling people the answer; it’s about guiding them to self-discovery.
To stay motivated, he reads constantly to gain new knowledge.
“I love to learn. Every day is a new opportunity for me to learn and get better.”
When people ask him exactly what he does, he tells them “I make hard easy.”
He used to be afraid of failure, but now just moves ahead taking imperfect action.
The two online tools that Sardek couldn’t live without are Canva, which can be used to created beautiful designs and documents easily, and Kajabi, an all-in-one system to sell, market and deliver content online (see “INTERVIEW LINKS”).
For books, Sardek recommends “The 360 Degree Leader”, “Failing Forward” and “Everyone Communicates, Few Connect” by John Maxwell. He also says that “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie and “The Success Principles” by Jack Canfield have impacted him personally, as well as “The Speed of Trust” by Stephen M.R. Covey.
To motivate staff, Sardek recommends that a leader and company have a singular focus of looking at problems and transforming them into solutions.
“If I keep hearing the same complaints over and over and over, that tells me there is an unmet need. That’s what we should be focusing on.”
He feels that if you want to know what products to create, you need to ask the market what problems they have that are urgent, pervasive and expensive if left unresolved.
He is most excited about scaling his business and creating “The Profitable Training Business Academy”, as he says there is currently nothing on the market the provides this content to entrepreneurs, or people looking to start their own training business.
The quote Sardek lives by is “You are who you are and it’s never too late to become who you might have been” and he believes strongly in continuously stretching himself to grow and become better.
Zachary Harding is the President of The Phoenix Group and Chairman of Hyperion Equity, a private investment firm focused on raising capital, investing in and growing businesses through strategic partnerships, government linkages and marketing campaigns. Over the years, he’s developed a solid reputation in investing, senior management and strategic marketing. He’s has often been dubbed a “rainmaker” and marketing guru based on several ultra-successful brand campaigns in turnaround situations. He is a frequent public speaker who presents on many topics such as breakthrough thinking, emotional intelligence, customer service and marketing strategy.
Zachary says he approaches new things with the view of changing it and making it better.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to have experiences that were transformational”
He believes that there definitely is a correlation between marketing and customer service. Companies are trying to sell as many products to customers, as often as possible, for the highest price.
“The only way you can really achieve (these things) is by delivering a good experience to the customer”
Zachary recommends CEOs and senior managers try “being the customer” by visiting their own retail locations.
“Emersion of the leaders in the actual experience will give them an opportunity to evaluate and to improve (the customer experience)”
Customer service isn’t static, and it’s always changing. He gives the example of live systems being used at banks where you don’t have to go through multiple menus, but instead speak your instructions.
“You have to also be adjusting for that awareness of the consumers’ time and what their experiences are”
He believes that businesses have to look at customer experience in the context of comparison in relation to other experiences. Companies shouldn’t just look at their direct competition when doing this.
Two ways that companies can collect information on their customers’ experiences is to do research on the Internet, and to collect their own data.
Zachary notes that with the emergence of social media, we have become what he calls a “Snapchat Generation.”
“Social media has caused us to be a very impatient society; it has given you the ability to fast-track through experiences.”
Corporations have to use social media differently than traditional media, and he recommends people read the book “The End of Marketing as We Know It” by Sergio Zyman.
“No one will know what the next thing will be. It’s changing all the time.”
To stay motivated, Zachary takes on exciting challenges.
“Every day, I just try to enjoy whatever it is that I’m doing”
The most useful resources that he uses daily are Google and YouTube.
His most impactful book is “Purple Cow” by Seth Godin.
“You always have to be doing something to grab people’s attention. As great as you were yesterday, today people will absolutely forget about you.”
To motivate employees, he recommends that you have to be motivated yourself. The easiest way to do this is to do something that you’re passionate about. If what you’re doing isn’t your passion, you can make it more enjoyable by giving yourself small challenges.
He’s been working on getting in the best shape of his life, by age 50 (Zachary is now 41 years old).
The quote, or mantra, that he lives by Maya Angelou:
“People forget the things that you say and the things that you do, but they’ll never forget the way that you made them feel”
(876) 827-2727 (cell)
Ellie Parvin is obsessed with the way people communicate and the various factors and environments that can alter the perception of information and meanings delivered and received between those communicating. Her passion for communication has lead her to launch EllieParvin.com, which helps small businesses, organizations, entrepreneurs and individuals learn how practicing and cultivating communication skills and techniques can improve their lives and bottom lines.
Ellie had her first experience with customer service when she worked in her mother’s psychology practice. She says that customer service became personal for her from that young age.
“Something that starts very early on, it kind of becomes your signature on how you are with every job, or everything you do after that”
She believes that customer service has changed globally over the past couple of decades, as companies are moving towards being more service-oriented.
“Customer service, at its core, is truly building and maintaining relationships through the way businesses and their staff communicate”
As much as customer service is about the customers, Ellie shares that it’s as much about the employees who work for a company. She says that employers need to look at the people they are hiring have heart, critical thinking abilities and want to implement the company mission.
It’s important that employees are nice to others, quick, thorough and they follow through on what they say they are going to do.
“They just need to care about people”
Ellie adds that it’s critical a company empowers their employees to make decisions and not have to go through multiple levels of management when dealing with a potential conflict.
In the case of an issue or conflict with a customer, employees should tell the person what they are going to do, research a solution and tell them that they’ll get back to them within 24 hours. At the very least, employees should contact the customer to provide a status update on the situation.
“Really it is about doing what you say you’re going to do”
She also believes companies should have a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page on their website, and visual resources such as YouTube videos can also be helpful in assisting customers.
Social media has significantly changed the face of customer service, as research shows that about 85% of customers have contacted a company via social media about their products or services.
“When customers actually feel (like) part of the business and connect with the people there, they feel like they’re invested”
While it’s important to have a social media presence, Ellie feels that companies should only focus on one to three platforms. For her, it’s Instagram and Facebook.
“As a small business owner, it’s vital for me to communicate with the people who are my customers”
The book that has had the most impact to Ellie is “Raving Fans” by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles.
She feels that the customer isn’t always right. Words are powerful, and she has chosen to create her own “platinum rule” that says, “The customer is the customer.”
“It has nothing to do with whether they’re right or wrong. They’re the customer and our job is to service the customer.”
To stay motivated, Ellie has created a morning ritual and set of habits that gets her day off on the right foot. This includes stretching, yoga and listening to podcasts.
She’s always been a proponent of learning by teaching.
“It’s always a wonderful feeling when you feel that connection with someone”
If a team isn’t motivated, she advises employers to be patient and focus on a small group of customers to service.
“You want to give your energy to your best customers, which will attract more of them”
The one thing she’s most excited about is continuing to do the work to grow and learn. To do so, she’s started Chalene Johnson’s “Marketing Impact Academy 2.0.” Ellie will be launching the book she wrote in the near future.
The one quote that Ellie lives by is “Customer service is building and maintaining relationships.”
Website (visit for a free PDF & list of Ellie’s Power Words!)
Thank you for listening to the Navigating the Customer Experience podcast! Yanique Grant will be joined each week by global entrepreneurs, taking listeners on a journey to discover what customers really want. In this introductory episode, you will hear:
…and so much more!
If you’ve enjoyed this episode, and the first group of amazing guests to appear on the show, we would be so happy if you would leave a review on iTunes. You can also visit us at www.NavigatingTheCustomerExperience.com or on Twitter!