Jon Ferrara is a successful serial entrepreneur, he's top 10 Social Service Salesperson according to Forbes and renown CRM pioneer with a knock for building authentic relationships with customers. Given his shared passion for creating genuine connections and making a positive impact on the lives of others, I believe he would be a very interesting guest for this podcast. And so, he's going to dive in and share with us some of the journeys that he's taken. He's going to share with us some of his core values building products that help others achieve their passion, plan, and purpose and we're going to identify what are those success indicators.
Jon shared that he thinks our purpose on this planet is to help others grow and we do that by giving a little of value to one another. And through this conversation he hopes that we're able to add value to your audience and the people who listen.
Yanique stated, so you're basically able to have everything all under one roof allowing people to pull information from different sites and being able to connect and also it helps with the sales process.
Jon agreed because he really believes that service is the new sales, that your job as a salesperson is to help other people grow and to do that you need to develop intimacy and trust with that person and so you need to build a connection, a relationship before you can ever get them to open up to you about their business issues which as a professional you can then solve. It's always easier to build a connection with somebody when you share some commonalities. So, you don't typically start a phone call with, “Did you sign the contract?”You start it by, “Good morning” “Good afternoon” “Good evening”how about, “How's the weather in Kingston today?”or some areas of commonality, if he was going to talk to you, he'd talk about some common experiences and he'd share that he saw Bob Marley play when he was 18 years old at UCLA Pauley Pavilion and it was the most wonderful experience he had ever had because he grew up listening to his music and he was inspired by his marching to a different drummer and teaching people to seek out truth in life and freedom and the struggles that people were going through around the world not just African-Americans and that it all unites us, this struggle and this desire for peace and freedom and we would connect on some area of commonality and then we'd dive into learning more about each other, finding ways to add value in business is secondary to all that. So business is just something that we do but friendships last a lifetime and they will get you through any business hiccup and in all businesses hiccups happen but if there's a relationship, there's a tendency for more empathy and more forgiveness and more gratitude in the connections and the interactions and that's really the philosophy behind Nimble, is that relationships are critical to your life’s success and that your network and your brand are so important to that success yet most of us don't really manage our golden Rolodex and Nimble is a tool not just for businesses but for every individual because every individual's life success will be through the connections and conversations, relationships that they develop too.
Yanique stated, I have so many experiences myself as you describe, it's such a painful part of the journey that when you're finished you don't even want to have to call the company back again because when you think about the headache that they put you through it just deters you completely. So, as a business as you mentioned in your experience that it's important to map and to empower the employees. Empowerment is a very, very, big word and it can be a simple act if people know exactly what being empowered means. So, as a leader let's say you went to this wonderful leadership workshop and they brought in Jon and Jon spoke about empowerment and so these leaders go back to their organizations now and they're like, “Okay, I'm going to empower my team members.” What are some of the steps that empowerment entails because it's not just about going back and saying you're empowered there's more to it.
Jon agreed and stated that some of it is empowering them to make decisions even when there's a policy in place that is set. So, he doesn’t think any process should be so rigid that the customer is left unhappy or unsatisfied in some way.Jon thinks that the customer may not always be right but they're always the customer, so, if you have to let a customer know that you can't do a particular thing, let them be wrong with dignity and respect. In other words, part of it is the way you communicate and the attitude that you have, and you felt it before, you could feel him on the phone right now and you feel that customer service person when they're communicating with you, that's why they put mirrors in front of customer service cubicles because people can feel your smile, people can feel your heart and soul. There's an energy that interacts between human beings and he thinks that you need to start by hiring people that have a positive energy, good human being, that are good cultural fit and you need to treat them good because if you don't treat the team members good, they're not going to be able to treat the customers constituency good. So, it starts with hiring great people and then building an amazing culture and then making sure that they're empowered to make decisions that leave the customer satisfied and that might even mean them recommending a competitor's product, it might mean making a slight change in a policy to facilitate a customer in that moment, it might mean taking the feedback from where customers are constantly cutting their fingers on their customer journey with you and making recommendations to change it. So, that connected to your customers journey that they're collecting feedback just like his journey with this liquor store that has a policy that says, “We don't sell the last bottle.”Why is that the policy, that doesn't need to be the policy, that policy could change, it changed by human being making the change and actually selling him the bottle but it could change further by changing the system itself. And so, he thinks it really starts with the people, but he also thinks that our world is getting so automated, it's getting so digitized and he thinks that the more digital we get, the more human we need to be, and it really takes a human touch to create that experienceand he’s going to share a human touch story. Jon asked Yanique if she has ever shopped at Nordstrom and if she likes shopping there?
Yanique replied, it's not something that stands out like when I shop with Apple for example. It just seems like another department store they haven't done anything that really wows me. But yes, I've shopped in there before.
Jon mentioned that one of the things that Nordstrom's does when you buy is, they wrap up your package in the bag and they walk around the counter and they hand you the package, what they're doing, and everybody's caught this. What they're doing is they're entering your space and creating a momentary connection and he thinks in this over connected, over communicated world a simple human connection can work magic and it's a simple gesture but it creates a more human experience as opposed to go to Macy's or someplace else May company but they basically literally fill the bag over the counter at you and that's a completely different experience than shopping at Nordstrom and it's the little things that add up to the ultimate experience. Jon thinks that companies that could instill more humanity in the interactions will stand out and he thinks that there's a lot of companies that do stand out in that experience, certainly Apple Store is one of them but even on a digital basis he thinks that there are companies that have created an experience that really wows him and he thinks Netflix is an example of that. They kind of revolutionized the way we get DVDs and it started with mailing them to you in the way that they did but he thinks their software creates an experience, it just makes it easy to find shows you like and to watch them easily and to catch up where you left off almost to the point where he thinks it's too easy to binge watch shows.
Yanique agreed, they do make it easy and I love the fact that you say we should keep the human side of things because we actually did an interview last week with another guest for the podcast and that's one of the questions I had actually asked her which you tapped into before I even got an opportunity to ask is, with things being so technologized do you still believe that the human experience is still necessary and I mean from my perspective for example, let's take for example the IVR system when you call a company, press one for this and two for that and three for this. And I think at the end of the day when somebody calls whether they're making a request or they're making a complaint they really want to speak to a live human being when the phone rings one time without pressing three, four, five, six, seven and then being disconnected and have to do it all over again.
Yanique stated, I mean it's just like music to my ears. I mean, it's so good to talk to someone who they're deeply connected with connecting with another human being because the reality is many of us go through our days in our businesses, in our personal lives and we are not present like fully present. I mean physically, our body is there but is our mind there, are we fully concentrating on the individual that is standing in front of us whether it's our child or significant other. And I'm guilty of it sometimes, I'm not going to lie, I'm going to stay here and tell you the truth. So, it's good to hear that you're really dedicated to being present, that's a reminder that you tell yourself every day because that's how you get up and push forward.
Jon agreed and told Yanique that it's not her fault, our minds are like little puppies and you know how if you try to teach a puppy to sit and what does a puppy do, you tell to sit on the paper, stay and it goes and runs away, it would skip away and you have to like your mind and your thoughts because you're always thinking about the past or worried about the future instead of being present and that's your little puppy, your mind and it throw these thoughts at you. And so, you can get angry with yourself and say, “Well gosh, why wasn't I present with Yanique, I could have had a better experience. I was thinking about my mortgage or my wife,”whatever it is, you just with kindness say okay, come on back, just come on back and eventually if you learn to put a seat in the room in your mind to observe the thoughts that you have, focus on your breathing and learn to enable those thoughts to go by without getting caught on them because typically thoughts come and you get caught and you get strung away on this thought about the past or the present, if you could just learn how to do that on a daily basis and there is process to do that to meditation, you can learn to be more present and he actually recommend an app called Headspace that does that so you can load that on your phone and it’s free for the first lessons, practice with that, it has this thing where you do 3 minutes a day and he recently got back from a retreat in a place called Big Sur.If you ever come to California, you have to check out Big Sur it’s the coast of northern California and there's a retreat there called Esalen and it's where the native Americans, the Indians used to gathered for this hot spring and it's been there for 10,000 years and you go and he went to this mindfulness meditation retreat for 3 days and it gave him enough tools to get started with this, it's always been something he has been interested in, but he hasn’t made it a daily practice of meditation and mindfulness. So, he’s starting the new year with this to try to make that a daily practice and so he wanted to share that with you and maybe you might find that interesting and practice it yourself.
Yanique then stated, I have heard of the concept of mindfulness, there are people here in Jamaica that I communicate with who actually practice it, but I've never actually engaged in it myself but I'm definitely going to check out Big Sur. I've been to LA once, I used to be a Flight Attendant with Air Jamaica, which was our national airline before I started my company. And I spent a Christmas and New Years in LA and unfortunately because we were laying over for such a short period of time, I didn't really get to enjoy the city that much, but I would definitely return for sure.
Jon shared that if you are interested in exploring mindfulness, that app Headspace is a really easy way to try it out and he highly recommend that you load that on your phone in and give it a whirl.
Yanique stated, we just crossed over ourselves. We hosted with GoDaddy and they now sell their products with office 365 integration and it was actually a very easy migration and I actually prefer the interface, I was a bit hesitant when they said, office 365 because I'm a Mac user but it works brilliantly with my iPhone and it syncs across all devices. And if I send an email from my phone, I'll see the same sent message from my MacBook Pro or the same sent message from my iPad. So, I don't have any issues with it, I'm actually quite pleased, it's operating better than the platform that GoDaddy had before this integration with Office 365.
Jon stated that before GoDaddy sold IMAP email and before IMAP was pop, these are protocols and most of your listeners today have as their email server, pop or imap, or Gmail or Gsuite or iCloud and maybe a combination of all those things, but ultimately you need a cloud based solution that unifies emailed contacting calendar into a thing that can synchronize across phones, iPads and computers and desktops and both Gsuite and office do that. But he thinks Microsoft has the edge because we all grew up with MS Excel and MS Word and we used to that and so it's easy to sort of pick office because it comes with those things and works well with those things. But there's even better reasons for the office in the future, if we think about traditional businesses, they have servers in closets and those servers, have to be updated with the software and firewalls to protect them and he thinks that there isn't a business today that isn't, hasn't been hacked or won't be hacked if they continue to try to manage all their own IT and that most businesses are going to the cloud. It started with moving their exchange and outlook to the cloud with office, but soon all the other servers well in Azure is a great place for your business systems in the future and that's why they're just so excited to partner with them and in fact GoDaddy is a Nimble customer, they use it for their influencer, marketing, outreach and engagement and they're actually talking to them about bundling Nimble with their office solution sales, when they sell you a domain, they sell you office, the next thing they'll sell you on top of that will be Nimble.
Yanique shared, I love GoDaddy, their customer service is amazing, totally amazing and one of the things I love about them from day one, when I started this company was when you call them, you can actually get a live person. I remember a couple of years ago I had redone my website and the web developer, even though I recommended that he use GoDaddy, you chose to use a different company, I think it was Blue Host or something, but I had an issue with the website and when I tried to call Blue Host, apparently they don't have a telephone number, so you have to go into a live chat and one of the most frustrating things that you could ever do to me is send me to a chat room for me to explain to you in words what I could have done if I was talking to you in a voice call. I find it way more stressful to sit down and type out my issue than if I could just explain it to you verbally and I think I spoke with them maybe twice and I just closed the account and I moved everything over to GoDaddy. I don't know why he didn't take my recommendation in the first place, but it was extremely frustrating, that's another issue I have with Magic Jack to this day. I don't understand if they're a telecommunication company and they provide services for people to call people all over the world, why don't they have an actual phone number when you're having an issue with your Magic Jack?
Jon stated that that brings us full circle to customer journey and experience that we need the human touch because it's just so much more effective and personal.
Twitter – @Jon_Ferrara
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In this episode Yanique Grant would like to take a little bit of time and just share with you some key important nuggets that she has gained over the years in the category of commitments. So, we're at the beginning of a new year we're still in the first quarter and in customer experience and customer service when we make promises, or we make commitments to our internal customers or external customers, a lot of time it's because of broken promises, commitments that have not been fulfilled why people tend to have negative feelings towards each other and this may cause them anger, frustration, upset, it may cause a myriad of negative emotions.
So firstly, a commitment or promise is not easy in Jamaican terms, when I do customer service training and people will say, “A promises is a comfort to a fool.”No, that's not any definition of what a promise according to any formalized dictionary globally. A promise or a commitment is your verbal word or written word where you say that you are going to actually do something or carry out a particular task. So, for example, you could tell a customer, “I'm going to call you back.”even though you didn't say, “I promise I'll call you back,” their expectation is you will call them back or you tell a co-worker, “Sure, no problem, I'll take care of it,”it could be to complete a bill for a customer, it could be to give a message regarding a customer's order or delivery, that message is going to impact the customer's delivery or order being on time and you didn't deliver that message. Again, it's your word that you've put into it and so people believe that you're going to complete it. Now, if you don't follow through on a promise there are a lot of negative things that come out of it, people don't trust you, you're deemed as unreliable, you're not dependable and because of that, then less of your co-workers will have faith in the fact that when you say something you're actually going to do it. Now some people in organizations tell you that they are going to do something just because they want to get rid of you or because they really didn't hear what you said, they were not paying attention to when you were asking the question or requesting a particular service or product and so they went ahead and made confirmation with you verbally or in writing that yes they will go ahead and have this done but they didn't really think about whether or not that commitment was realistic. So, one of the things I would like to encourage people in organizations who work as well as business owners, managers, supervisors, everyone from top to bottom, when you make a promise, or a commitment ensure that your promise or your commitment is realistic because if it's not realistic then you are setting yourself up for failure. Let us say with your current responsibilities and your current workload, the person has asked you to do something and it is just humanly impossible for you to complete it, if you have all those other competing activities to do. However, the person doesn't know you have those other competing activities so the responsibility would be on you to ensure that whatever information you are giving to them is realistic. Sometimes it's better we say no and sometimes it's hard to say no but at least when you say no, 1) you're being honest, 2) you’re giving the person that you are making a commitment to or you're telling that you're not able to commit to that you are not able to do it so it willgive them an opportunity to seek someone else who actually can do it because let's say you commit to them that you're going to have the report delivered to them by Monday for example, and they commit to someone else for a meeting they're having on Wednesday that, “Well, I'll have the report by Monday so I'd be able to dial down on those figures by Tuesday and by Wednesday in our meeting I'll have feedback for you.”However, you don't have the report ready for them on Monday, you got caught up over the weekend and you weren't able to complete it and you won't be able to complete it until Thursday but the person who you made a commitment to, their meeting is Wednesday and so your commitment that you made to that individual impacts other people and other decisions and other meetings and other things that have to be happening. So, we have to think carefully about the commitments that we're making, we have to be realistic in managing the expectations of those with whom we make these commitments.
I know a promise seems like a simple thing but when you look at organizations and hear about customer service challenges internally and externally and you do the investigations to find out why it is that this person feels this way or why it is that that person is so anger and is so frustrated, when you really get to the root of it many times it boils down to communication and many times it boils down to lack of communication because of a broken promise, a commitment that was not fulfilled, a promise that you made that you were not able to keep…..so it's not hard. Commitments are not hard to be fulfilled but when we're making them, we have to be realistic. In my customer service trainings, when I engage with participants from different industries - health, telecommunications, banking and finance, government, really doesn't matter what industry you’re in, one of the key things that I encourage participants to do is if they must break a promise because the reality is we're all human and we make mistakes and sometimes because we're so overwhelmed with personal obligations and we have professional responsibilities and lots of things that are going on in our life all at once, we may genuinely forget that we made a commitment or a promise to someone else. I know for sure that I fall short where that is concerned many times both in my personal life and my professional life. However, the key to ensuring that when we do break the promise, is to ensure that we communicate with the person that we've broken the promise with or we're going to break the promise with whether it's that we won't be able to do it at all or we're delaying the expectation of the delivery of that promise. And so, two rules that I always encourage participants to employ if we must break a promise include the first rule is an acronym and the acronym is K.I.S.Swhich basically stands for, Keep It Short and Simpleand all I mean by that is, if we must break a promise try not to get into too much detail as to why the promise was broken especially if the details that you are revealing to the customer and this is if it's an external customer, because if it's an internal customer then clearly the quality of theinformation that you release to them is confidential because they work within the organization and so you can share the mishaps with them. However, if it's an external customer you want to keep it short and simple, don't give the customer too much information because if the information that you are giving to them is not relevant to the solution, it can actually be detrimental to your organization. Simple thing, an example, let us say a delivery was to be made and the customer came to pick up their delivery, they were told that the item would be available for pickup on Friday, however, unfortunately the truck that was coming to make the delivery was stopped by the police on the road and the police seized the vehicle because the carrier license on the vehicle had expired and you go now to tell the customer that I'm so sorry but the item isn't here because of all of that, now that makes a company look very inefficient and it makes the team in the organization also look very incompetent. So, think carefully, if the reasons for the problem or the promise not being fulfilled is relevant and if it's not relevant, it doesn't need to be mentioned. A simple statement like, “Due to circumstances beyond our control, unfortunately I'm so sorry.” And of course you say it with a level of engagement that shows that you are apologetic for the fact that there is a delay and you're calling ahead to let them know so that they can probably put other things into play to prepare that they're not going to receive this item or if they were travelling from far they wouldn't need to come to pick up the item because that item would not be there for them to pick up. To take it a step further, if it is that clearly in the example the fault it would be on that of the organization not having their internal business in order, in a case like that probably some compensation could be, “Instead of you coming to pick it up from us, we are going to deliver it to you because we messed up, we made a mistake, the circumstances that are beyond our control are things that we could have prevented from occurring but because of the great inconvenience it's causing you and because we're breaking our promise to you, we're going have it delivered to you.” and you give them a new expectation with a new date and a new time for the time that they can expect the delivery. So, the first rule is K.I.S.S, Keep It Short and Simple if you must break a promise.
The second rule is you want to ensure that when you are breaking the promise you are not pointing fingers and casting blame on other members of your team or other departments in your organization. We all work for the same company, if that's X company or Y company or Z company, whichever company you work for, casting blame or pointing fingers and saying, “That's how they are in the accounts department, they're always late, they have no urgency.”or “That's how they are in the sales department, they drag their feet, they take forever.”Whatever the reason is that you believe is the core of the reason, even if you know for sure that your team member messed up, it's not your responsibility to cast blame and it's not right and it doesn't help the solution because the customer when they’re arguing with the company and they're getting upset with the company, many times when they're doing that, they're not casting blame on that one individual or that one department, they're casting blame on the entire organization regardless if that department or that person was even a part of the issue or the problem.
So, a promise is a very important practice, it's a very important part of an organization, everybody has to make commitments and promises to each other in an organization and to your customers. So just remind yourself as you embark on 2019 as you are working to exceed your customer's expectations and you're working to map out your customer journey and you're working to satisfy and exceed the expectations and go above and beyond….that a lot of times the reasons why we're not able to achieve these high goals that we've set for ourselves is because of some of these simple little activities that happen day to day in the interactions between employees and customers is that there is dissatisfaction, why it is that there is discomfort, why it is that there is unrest, why it is that our customers and sometimes our employees do not feel completely at ease in an organization where the culture and everyone is pulling their weight in an organization where people are doing the best to ensure that the quality of the experience that they have with each other as well as with the customers are ones that are of quality, are ones that are of care, are ones that really go above and beyond to make sure that your client or your customer leaves feeling good. They feel like you're working with people who care about them, they feel that they're working with people who are ensuring that whatever they said they're going to do they actually do it and if they can't do it they have the courtesy and the decency to pick up the phone or grab their computer or their phone and communicate with them to let them know that unfortunately we're not able to deliver, we're not able to call, we're not able to do whatever it is that's going to be broken so that you can know how to put things in place on your end.
So, I encourage you as listeners of this podcast to really think about the promises and the commitments that you're making for 2019 and ensure that whatever you put out there that you verbally speak or that you write as said before, you don't have to say I promise for the person to view it as a promise and even if you say, “I'm going to try,” psychologically most people interpret that as it's going to be done. So, think realistically about the promises that you make:
Are they realistic?
Can they be done?
Ensure that you follow through and you communicate, communicate, communicate,because people are not mind readers, they don't know the challenges that you have on your end and if you don't tell them that something has changed in that process, they're not going to know. So really think about what I have shared with you and I hope that you will embrace this whole idea of making realistic promises and I hope that as you go through 2019 in your organization that the quality of your experience is improved because your promises are realistic, your promises have people who communicate, communicate, communicate and your promises are ones where you're not blaming your team members and if it's issues that show the organization up in a negative way, you're ensuring that you manage that information by keeping it short and simple and just releasing the information that is relevant to ensuring that you get to the solution which is to satisfy that customers need. So, I hope that this information will help you in 2019. Again, if you'd like to follow us on Twitter, feel free it's navigating CXand please feel free to join our Facebook group, Navigating the Customer Experience Podcast.