Customer Experience Strategies: 5 Tips for Profit and Growth (2018)

 

In this video, I’m going to share five customer experience strategies, that will grow your profit, and help you build a successful company.

I know that these strategies work, because I use them within my business on a daily basis. My company does over eight figures a year in revenue, and has over 100 employees. I’ve also used these strategies when consulting for companies like McDonald’s, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Lexus.

Regardless of your industry, these strategies will work for you as well too. No matter how many employees, or how many customers you actually have.

These strategies aren’t going to be for beginners, so get ready to use them in your business, and get super strategic on how you apply them to start growing your business.

My name is Michel Falcon, and for nearly 10 years, I’ve been using customer experience strategies to grow successful companies.

Before we start trying to improve our customer experience, we all have to be on the same page of what it actually is. Customer experience is not customer service.

Customer service are actions. When you go to the grocery store, and purchase milk, bread, and bananas, the employee helping you pay is delivering customer service to you.

Customer experience is the design of the interactions that your customer experiences with your company from beginning to end. Again, before you try to improve your customer experience, everyone on your team must understand what it actually is.

A quote on customer experience that I absolute love, comes from Jeff Bezos, the CEO and Founder of Amazon. “Focusing on the customer makes a company more resilient.”

If you’re a resilient company, then you have the opportunity to bounce back from some frustrations that you might be experiencing. Such as high customer turn over, and bad online or offline reviews.

These strategies are going to help you with all those things, so let’s get right into it.

The number one strategy that you have to have in your business, if you want to improve your customer experience, is that your leadership team must exemplify the type of customer experience that you want your employees to roll out to your customers.

In my business, we have a program called The Partner Shift, where every single business partner will work a full shift once per quarter, so that we can have a better understanding of the inner workings of our business, so that we can go back and build some systems and processes to improve the customer experience.

Steve Jobs has a perfect quote that aligns with this strategy. “Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.”

Leaders in companies, I challenge you, once a month or once a quarter, get into your business, and act like a front line employee. Work in your retail store. Take some calls in your call center. Respond to customers on social media, get in the trenches, learn what’s happening on a daily basis, and use that data to build better systems and processes, to build your customer experience.

The second strategy is developing premium customer experience training material. I told you earlier that I have advised and consulted for some of the biggest companies in the world. So, I’ve seen training programs, from small companies and multi-billion dollar organizations. And I can say, that I think every company has the opportunity to build better content.

Now, what does this content entail? You have to teach every single employee the difference between customer experience and customer service. You have to teach them about different customer personality types, and let them know what organic growth means.

These are just a few of many modules that should be included in your customer experience training program. Now everyone, regardless of their position, regardless of the tenure that they have with their company, should go through this training so that you have an aligned organization. For me, this is a non-negotiable. According to Gallup, “1 out of 3 employees say that uninspiring content is the barrier to their learning.”

My recommendation to all entrepreneurs and leader, is to audit your current training program. Do you feel that you’re providing premium content. If you do, how can you continuously refine it, to set your employees up for success. And don’t forget to make it inspiring, and entertaining.

For the third strategy, I want to introduce you to something that I call micro customer experiences, and are implemented with every single business that I own.

A Micro Customer Experience is a small, memorable and affordable gesture that you do for your customer, that resonates with them for years.

Let me give you a real world example of a micro customer experience. In one of my businesses, which is a restaurant, I had an employee named Yasmin have a conversation with one of the tables that she was serving. She learned that one of the guests was celebrating a pregnancy announcement.

Immediately after learning this, Yasmin went to her experienced coordinator who manages our micro customer experience program. She went across the street to a local pharmacy, and purchased a $25 gift certificate to Toys”R”Us. They put the Toys”R”Us gift certificate in the billfold when they presented the bill to the customer, to be able to create an experience that the customer’s never seen before.

To be able to have this happen within your business, you need a single point of accountability. You need a budget to be able to make this happen, but you have to give your employees the autonomy to actually bring it to surface, and deliver these experiences to your customers.

This is exactly what a micro customer experience is. It’s a small, memorable and affordable gesture that you do for your customers that they’re going to talk about with their friends, family members, and hopefully write a Facebook or Google review about.

I’m often asked, “How much should I budget?” Well, to give you an example, and it’s completely up to you, the business that I just described does $10 million a year in revenue, and our monthly budget for this program is only $250.00. Every single company on this planet can afford to make this program work.

Don’t just take it from me the entrepreneur, I want you to listen to Yasmin herself describe exactly why she loves the micro customer experience program.

Yasmin: I enjoy the program because it gives me an opportunity to get to know my guests, step out of my comfort zone, and do something to surprise them and make them happy.

The fourth strategy is increasing your customer intelligence by surveying your customer. Regardless of your industry, or the size of your company, every organization must be surveying their customers to gather customer insights, so that you can celebrate great customer service, and build operational improvement plans if you get bad reviews, and bad feedback.

Now, some of the pitfalls in surveying your customers is that your survey is too long, and you’re sending the survey to the customer at the wrong time. You must overcome these barriers to gather this intelligence to continuously improve your customer experience, to grow your profit, and grow admired organizations.

To successfully survey your customers, you must have a single point of accountability. An individual within your business managing the voice of the customer program. Now, if you’re a large organization, maybe there’s a few people managing this program. But, this team must report on the data on a weekly basis, and share this intelligence with people within the company that are able to influence change.

It’s up to those individuals to commit to building operational improvement plans to ensure that strategies and processes are being built within the company to increase customer loyalty.

You may be familiar with this legendary quote from Bill Gates where he says, “Your must unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning,” and that remains true today.

Go out, survey your customers, take the feedback, and build operational improvement plans to secure customer loyalty.

The fifth strategy that I use within my business to build a legendary customer experience is have a complaint resolution system. What this entails, is having a single point of accountability, or multiple people if you’re a big company, to ensure that every single customer complaint, across email, social media, phone, and all channels, is resolved within one business day maximum. This is going to help you manage your customer retention rates, and secure that customer loyalty that you want to influence your profit.

To be able to do this, your single point of accountability is going to need to report on the data that they’ve received to the same group that receive the customer survey results, so that they can build operational strategies to build the business. This single point of accountability needs a budget for reimbursements and discounts just in case you delivered poor service.

There you have it, those are the five strategies that I use within my business to improve my company’s customer experience, to influence profit and growth. If you learned something by watching this video, stop what you’re doing and click the Like button on my Facebook page, so that you can be made aware when I release my next video.

Visit michelfalcon.com to learn other systems and processes to improve your customer experience, increase your employee engagement, and build your company culture. And leave a comment below, and let me know what strategy you are looking forward to implementing within your business, and let me know how I can help you.

Thank you for watching. Have a great day.

5 Ways to Increase Your Net Promoter Score Response Rate

I take it that you clicked on this video because your company is using Net Promoter Score.

I’m also going to assume that you spent a considerable amount of time and resources building the program, launching it and then heard crickets after you sent the survey to your customers because your response rate was low?

I’m Michel Falcon and in this video, I’m going to share 5 ways to increase your response rates to 60% or greater.

Welcome to my YouTube channel where I teach you how to use customer experience and

employee engagement strategies to build your business.

Today I’m going to share how to increase your Net Promoter Score response rate to get even more customer data to better your business.

For those note familiar, Net Promoter Score is a customer survey system that companies like Apple, American Express and Proctor and Gamble use that asks two simple questions:

“On a scale from 0 – 10, where 10 is absolutely and 0 is absolutely not, how likely are you to recommend company ABC to friend or colleague?”

The second question is based on the score your received in the first question.

If you received a 0-8, customers that are known as your Detractors and Passives, the second question you’d ask is,

“What is it that company ABC would need to do to earn a higher recommendation?”

If the customer rated you a 9 or 10, also known as your Promoter customers, you’d ask,

“What is it that company ABC does well to earn your recommendation?”

I was first introduced to Net Promoter Score in 2008 when I was working for 1-800-GOT-JUNK? – a company that had a NPS of 84.

After learning about the system, I immediately bought two books on Net Promoter Score and started reading. The two books were:

  • The Ultimate Question: Driving Good Profits and True Growth
  • And Answering the Ultimate Question: How Net Promoter Can Transform Your Business

After reading the books, speaking to other companies that use it and seeing first hand how it can operationally and profitably improve a business I was hooked.

I understand that there are many naysayers of Net Promoter Score and that’s fine. Like anything, the program is only as good as how well you understand and implement it within your business.

Throughout my career, I’ve helped dozens of companies, including my own, launch Net Promoter Score programs.

One of the main questions I receive when I speak at events on Net Promoter Score or customer experience is how to increase email survey response rates.

Most organizations receive a 5-20% response rate to their customer surveys. By using the five tactics that I share in this video, I have helped companies increase their response rates to over 60%.

The #1 recommendation to increase your email survey response rate is to evaluate your email subject line.

Let’s use Rogers Communications as an example. Rogers is Canada’s largest telecomm company and my service provider.

I like the company. But, I believe they could be doing a better job with their email subject line.

As of June 2017, their email subject line is “Your feedback is requested.”

These emails have swiftly made it to my trash folder because it doesn’t capture my attention. For me, the subject line doesn’t feel authentic or engage me to want to open the email and complete the survey.

A subject line that I prefer would read like this,

“How was your customer experience? Tell us in 2 minutes.”

The reason this email subject line works is because it asks an interesting question and it tells the customer how long it will take to complete the survey.

By asking this question you instill curiosity in the customer. The second part shows respect to their time rather than sending them down a rabbit hole.

I don’t recommend blindly changing your email subject lines. A/B test a few, evaluate the results for three months and then make an informed decision on which subject line will yield the greatest results.

The second tactic I use is similar to the first. However, with this approach, you want to evaluate the copy within the email.

Having your customer open the email is the first task. The next is equally as important to ensure they click through to the actual complete the survey.

Let’s use Airbnb as an example. Here’s a screenshot of an email they send to their customers.

It reads,

“Hi Customer,

Thank you for using Airbnb. We really appreciate you choosing Airbnb for your travel plans.

To help us improve, we’d like to ask you a few questions about your experience so far. It’ll only take 3 minutes, and your answers will help us make Airbnb even better for you and other guests.

Thanks. The Airbnb Team.

You’ll notice a few things:

  • There are only four sentences within the copy
  • Within the four sentences they:
  • Thank you for your patronage
  • Thank you for helping them improve
  • And outline how long the survey will take. In this case, only 3 minutes

This is masterful copying writing and I’m sure contributes to a high survey response rate.

Take a look at the body of your emails that you send to your customers requesting feedback. Is it short and to the point or long-winded and indirect? Also, does it read well or does it sound robotic?

The third tactic I use to increase email survey response rates is to genuinely ask yourself,

“Do I really need to be asking this many questions?”

The reason Net Promoter Score is so valuable is because it allows the customer to tell you directly what’s important to them rather than you force feeding them questions that might not be important to them.

My rule of thumb is to ask no more than five questions at a time. By doing so, you will stop customers from having survey fatigue.

Survey fatigue is when a customer accepts your proposal to complete a survey but doesn’t complete it because it’s too long.

Take a look at how many questions you’re asking your customers to complete and ask yourself if they are all necessary.

Step #4 is to provide your customers a visual tracker of where they are within the survey process.

Most software these days will provide a progress tracker like this one here. Notice how it clearly displays what step the customer is on within the survey. A tool as small as this will help increase your survey response rates because it helps guide the customer through the process.

Step #5 is to leverage your employees to plant a seed with your customers to expect to receive a survey in their inbox.

Whether you speak to your customers in-person, by phone, live chat, social media or another channel, leverage your team members to say something like this after they have served your customers,

“Mrs. Johnson, thank you for being a customer of company ABC. To continuously improve our customer experience we heavily rely on your feedback. Within 48 hours you’re going to receive an email survey. It will only take you two minutes to complete. Would you be able to allocate two minutes of your time to help us get better?”

The reason that this type of script works is because:

  • You’ve thanked the customer for their business
  • You’ve made it about them and their experience with your company
  • You’ve told them it will only take a short amount of their time
  • And you asked a question at the end to get their commitment

I’m not a huge fan of scripts. Instead, provide your team with a framework and key points to mention to the customer and let them develop their own communication.

It’s also important to remind the customer to check their spam folder.

Your employees are valuable assets when asking your customers to participate in your survey program. You’ll be surprised how much this can positively impact your response rate.

There you have it, my top 5 tactics to receive a 60% of greater customer survey response rate.

I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below and tell why or why you don’t like the Net Promoter Score. I’ve heard many reasons and want to hear what you think.

If you learned something by watching this video:

  • Subscribe to my YouTube channel to be alerted when I release my next video
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Have a great day and I’ll see you next time!

How to Prevent an Employee From “Checking Out” After They’ve Resigned

One of the challenges of being an entrepreneur or leading a team is when you lose a key member of your team.

At first, you may feel a sense of anxiety or resentment. More over, you’re often faced with the employee “checking-out” and coasting after they have given their notice.

In this video, I share three ways to maintain employee engagement up until their last day with your company.

3 Ways to Collect Customer Data to Deliver a Better Customer Experience (Without Violating Privacy)

Companies of all sizes collect information on their customers. Whether it’s contact information or tracking buying behaviours, we are constantly collecting data purposely or indirectly.

Sometimes these intended motivations can be used harmfully to violate privacy. Take Uber’s “God View” as an example.

But, what about the companies who use their data collection to better their customer’s experience without harm?

Being an entrepreneur myself, I obsess over collecting what I call “customer intelligence” to use the information, when appropriate, to deliver an experience my customers have never seen before.

The three affordable ways I collect customer intelligence is for these three purposes:

  1. Continuously increase the value delivered to customers which increases loyalty.
  2. Empower my team members to have fun, overdeliver and challenge themselves.
  3. Build an admired brand.

Tactic #1: Create a Customer Advisory Board (CAB)

At Baro, my 16,000 sq.ft. restaurant and venue in Toronto, we have created a Customer Advisory Board; consider it a new-age focus group without executives peering behind a pane of glass.

A CAB is a mix of selected customers who volunteer their time to provide you feedback by way of having intimate conversations with them. These customers aren’t just your most loyal customers, I recommend inviting customers you have wronged in the pass to ensure you are given multiple perspectives.

The meetings take place monthly or quarterly and are round table conversations where your members share positive and negative feedback. I also recommend sharing new products or procedures to these guests. For example, if my restaurant has new food or bar menu items rolling out I would first share it with our CAB members to gather their feedback. If you’re a B2B company, you may want to share your new invoicing system and process with your customers. You should leave each meeting with more knowledge on the current state of your customer experience then before you started.

I don’t recommend monetarily compensating your CAB members with cash because you want to have your members genuinely want to be there to better your business. However, you can compensate them in other ways. What I do in my business is give our members exclusive access to events, allow them to try food and drinks before anyone else and, on occasion, give them gift cards. You’d be surprised how many of your guests would jump at the opportunity to work with you if you simply ask.

Outcome: CAB’s have provided me massive success in my career because it’s the intimate conversations we have during meetings that can’t be found in traditional customer surveys.

Tactic #2: Social Media Stalking (with Integrity)

Pardon the title of tactic number two but after all, isn’t following someone, whether it’s online or offline, a form of stalking?

Appoint someone in your business to search your customers online channels and funnel the information to the person responsible for managing the customer experience.

As an advisor to companies, I train their team to create a Single Point of Accountability (SPA) within the business (this person could do this full-time or part-time depending on the size of the business, affordability and bandwidth) to leverage information found online to create never-seen-before customer experiences.

If I managed a moving company and noticed that my customer, who I was helping move in a week (finding the information well in advance is imperative), constantly tweeted that he loved Canadian Ice Wine after a trip to the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, what do you think I would arrive with in hand?

Now, this is where most companies go wrong. You can’t approach your customers with:

“Mrs. Anderson, I saw that you on Tuesday you tweeted that you liked Canadian Ice Wine. I picked you up a bottle to show you my appreciation.”

The approach must be more subtle to influence the positive experience. This is how I train my team and clients:

“Mrs. Anderson, I appreciate you giving us the opportunity to help you move to your new home. My team and I can’t wait to make this a hassle-free experience. Please accept this bottle of Canadian Ice Wine as a token of my appreciation.”

You can expect the following things to occur for your business by leveraging this customer intelligence:

  • Your customers will become loyal because no service provider has ever done this before.
  • Your customers will refer more business to you because of the experience.
  • Your employee’s morale will increase because your customers will be a pleasure to work with.

Outcome: These are the affordable things companies of all sizes must be doing to leverage their customer intelligence and deliver storytelling experiences to customers and guests.

Tactic #3: Leverage Your Employees (They Harness More Data Than You May Expect)

As an entrepreneur or business leader, your frontline employees may speak to more customers in one day than you might in a month, quarter or even a year.

After this has been acknowledge, it may propel you to create an Employee Advisory Board (EAB). Like the aforementioned CAB, the EAB is also a form of listening by way of in-person conversation. During these monthly conversations, ask your team members to share ways that they believe you can improve the customer experience. After all, they are the trusted team members who live within the systems and processes you have built – I guarantee a great customer loyalty strategy will come from this meeting.

After each meeting, it’s vitally important that you close the loop with your team members to ensure that you have followed up with their suggestions. Some of their ideas will be deployed while others may be too costly or not the right time. Either way, to continuously motivate your team to bring forth new processes, you must make them feel that their voices are not only being heard, but acted upon.

Tip: I don’t recommend inviting managers to these meetings. Why? Because they have already been labelled as leadership. You want to dig one layer deeper and grow your next layer of leadership. One thing I know very well is that customer-focused companies build massive companies. Take Airbnb, Amazon and Warby Parker as case studies.

Outcome: If you devote your company to becoming customer-obsessed you will grow which means you will need more leaders; EAB’s are a surefire way to collect customer intelligence to grow your business and develop leaders for the future.

Conclusion

Your CRM software is full of data whether it’s email addresses or the last time your customer purchased, but what else can it be used for? I recommend that you devote a section within each customer file and label it “customer intelligence.” It’s the area where you train your team members to record appropriate information about your customers to deliver an experience your customers have never seen before.

Do this and expect your customers to become more loyal which will help you sell more products and services.

To follow my entrepreneurial journey and learn more strategies like these, follow me on social media.

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3 Things You Must Have to Become a Great Place to Work

In this video, I’m going to outline the three things your business must have to be considered a great place to work.

Welcome to my YouTube channel where I teach you how to use customer experience and employee engagement strategies to build your business.

Today I’m talking about building great workplaces.

The reason everything I do is focused on customers and employees is because all companies, regardless of size or industry, are in the people business. It’s your people that you must leverage to build purposeful companies.

I was extremely fortunate to have worked at 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, the world’s largest junk removal company, for nearly six years. When I joined the company they had been voted the best workplace in Canada two years in a row. Think about that for a moment. A medium sized business, in a non-traditional industry, voted the best workplace in the entire country of Canada!

What I learned at 1-800-GOT-JUNK? and what we’re building at Baro, the 16,000 sqf, 100+ employee restaurant and venue that I’m a partner in, is what I’m going to share with you today.

If you go out and design systems and processes to be considered a great workplace the return on investment is that you will strengthen your company culture, increase employee retention and improve employee morale.

Company culture is something you’ve heard of before but culture isn’t bean bag chairs, beers on Fridays or unlimited vacations. A best-in-class workplace is an organization comprised of individuals with shared values, respect for each other and common goals.

The #1 thing I look for in great workplaces is how they reward team members who embody their core values.

#1: Rewarding Core Values

At Baro, our core values are: celebration, ownership, foresight, humility and integrity.

At Zappos, three of their ten core values are: Deliver WOW Through Service, embrace and drive change and create fun and a little weirdness.

Now, this is where most companies stumble, They create their core values and do very little with them. Your organization’s responsibility is to reward your team members who live and breath them each and every day.

You can recognize your top performers when hosting 360 reviews, weekly coaching sessions or through daily conversations. The reward doesn’t have to be monetary or incentive-based. It can be as simple as your CEO going out of her way to personally thanking the team member for driving the business forward.

Here’s a tip for rewarding and recognizing team members. Not all team members want to be rewarded publicly as it may make them feel uncomfortable being recognized in front of their peers. Thinking that all employees should be praised publicly was a mistake I made earlier on in my career. When onboarding a team member ask them if the prefer to be praise publicly or privately.

Being a great workplace means that you must align your entire organization behind the DNA of the company and, often, the DNA is made up of your core values. When you have a team member who is living your core values reward and celebrate their efforts.

#2: Create a Sounding Board

The second things I look for in a great workplace is if they have a sounding board.

The most underutilized tactic, the one that I use every time I build or advise a business is an Employee Advisory Board or an EAB.

An EAB is when one team member from every department is appointed to form a council that meets once per month. The only thing on the agenda is the current state of employee engagement and workplace morale.

The reasons I recommend EAB’s for all businesses is because:

  • Your frontlines team members are able to speak candidly with owners or senior management about the current state of the workplace.
  • It also allows different departments to come together to discuss employee engagement ideas that are generated from the ground floor.
  • And, most importantly, EAB’s hold the leadership team accountable to continuously refining and improving the workplace.

I don’t ever recommend inviting middle management to your EAB meetings for a few reasons.

  • #1 – Management already have their own regular meetings and
  • #2 – You always want to be growing your next layer of leadership

To become a great workplace, you must give your employees a voice and an opportunity to contribute to creating systems and processes to increase employee morale.

 #3: 1-on-1 Development Sessions

The third thing that will make you a great workplace are 1-on-1 development sessions.

Every manager within a business must sit down for a 1-on-1 weekly development session. The format I suggest is called Goal Setting & Review or GS&R’s.

A GS&R is a weekly, 60 minute meeting where a team member and manager meet to discuss the team members Top 3 quarterly or yearly goals. It’s imperative to discuss the tasks the team member is going to complete each week to achieve these goals.

Let me give you an example. Let’s say you operate businesses in the hospitality industry like me. One of your team members primary goals might be to manage labour percentage. Managing labour percent is the primary goal and the weekly task to manage labour would be to hire another line cook to avoid going into overtime hours.

GS&R’s should follow these rules:

  • It’s participant-led. This means that the employee runs the majority of the meeting and the manager provides feedback and ensures the meetings stays the course.
  • You never cancel the meeting. The GS&R should be a recurring meeting on both the employee’s and manager’s weekly calendar.
  • And you give each other at least 24 hours to prepare for the meeting so the conversation is focused on goals, desired outcomes and tasks.

To be a great place to work your leadership and management team must continuously promote both micro and macro development of your employees. GS&R’s are a great way to promote micro development to achieve quarterly or yearly goals.

CLOSING

These are three things that build great workplaces.

I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below and tell me what other things must be considered to become a great place to work.

If you learned something by watching this video:

  • Subscribe to my YouTube channel to be alerted when I release my next tutorial-style video
  • Like this video
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Have a great day and I’ll see you next time!

How to Ask the Right Customer Service Interview Questions

Hello everyone!

In last week’s video I shared the 3 customer service skills your employees must have to create customer loyalty.

In this video, I’m going to share my 5 go-to customer service interview questions to ensure you’re hiring the right people to represent your company. 

To create an exceptional customer experience we know that our employee engagement must be extraordinarily high. To do this successfully, your company must have a rigorous interview process and ask some forward thinking questions to immediately identify if the candidate is truly customer-focused. If they aren’t, don’t consider hiring this person, regardless of their past accomplishments or achievements.

At Baro, my restaurant that has over 100 team members, we take every candidate, regardless of their position or prior experience through a customer-centric interview.

Some people have questioned me on this. They have asked why I recommend that my management team take a dishwasher or a finance person, people who aren’t customer-facing, through a customer service interview? The answer is simple; because you must have an aligned team if you truly want to become a customer-obsessed organization.

I’ve also been told that our interview process, which is the same one that I recommend to the companies I advise, isn’t efficient. Well, I’m not trying to be efficient, I’m trying to be diligent, protect my company from hiring misfits and to ensure that anyone that has an interaction with my company, whether it’s a paying customer, a vendor or the media, has an exceptional customer experience.

To ensure you have an aligned customer-centric team I recommend asking these five questions when hosting customer service interviews. You can find a downloadable template that includes these questions and answers below in the comments section.

#1 – As a consumer, what companies do you admire because of their customer experience? 

The reason I like asking this question is because it gives the candidate an opportunity to demonstrate whether they know what a great end-to-end customer experience looks like. Pay particular attention to the level of detail the candidate goes into when describing their experience because ultimately this is the exact type of organization you’re going to be asking them to help build.

If the candidate replies with a vague answer, ask related follow up questions and probe to give them an opportunity to answer the question in detail.

#2 – What would you do if you were given 5 customer-facing tasks but only had time to do 3 of them before the end of your shift?

I believe an exceptional candidate would say that they would continue with their tasks even if their shift was over. The reason I’m looking for this answer is because it shows that they would take ownership over the customer experience and that they are 100% committed to the brand.

There may be occasions when the team member can’t stay longer than their allotted time. If this was the case, another acceptable answer is that they would find another team member to help serve the customer but, not without providing context and passing along pertinent information to the new team member to ensure the transition for the customer is seamless and that they don’t have to repeat themselves.

#3 – Tell me of a time when you wanted to help a customer, who you believe had a reasonable request, but it went against company policy? What did you do to manage the situation?

While I don’t agree with outdated company policies interfering with justifiable customer requests you do want to hire team members that have the integrity to operate within the rules they are provided – even if they don’t align well with delivering an exceptional customer experience. For this question you want to hear the candidate mention three key things.

  • The first is that they will politely explain the current process to the customer so that they have an understanding of the company’s current process without demeaning the organization’s policy
  • Next, they should explain how they will be prepared to answer any follow up questions diligently if the customer pushes back on the policy.
  • If the candidate includes this last point then I believe you have a great candidate on your hands and that you should consider hiring them. If they mention that they will make note of how many occasions customers have become upset by this particular policy and that they would bring the information to their manager, II would consider hiring them as they are exemplifying managerial traits. Who knows, this might be a tipping point where this outdated policy is reviewed my management and a new operational strategy is created to better the experience for the customer.

#4 – What are some of the most important skills that a customer service employee needs to have to be successful at their job?

I recommend asking this question because you want to hear what resonates with the candidate the most. If the candidate says that speed is most important skill then you may want to ask some follow up questions because speed is only important if you’re trying to build a transactional relationship – which you shouldn’t be doing.

The type of things you want to hear the candidate say are most important are:

  • Empathy
  • Diligence
  • A team player
  • And someone who pays great attention to detail

#5 – This next question was introduced to me by my General Manager, Colin Denton: what celebrity do you believe would be great in a customer-facing role?

Now, this question may seem like a filler question but it’s actually not. The reason I recommend asking this question is to further identify if the candidate knows the type of attributes that makes a great customer service team member.

My General Managers answer to this question is Justin Timberlake. The reason he believes that Justin Timberlake would make a great customer-facing team member is because he’s charismatic, has an outgoing personality, is funny and engaging.

Ask this question during the interview process; I think your candidates will have fun with it.

There you have it, my five recommended customer service interview questions that I use within my businesses and recommend to the clients I advise.

I want to hear from you. What customer service interview questions do you find most effective? Leave a comment below to let me know which ones are working for you today.

Don’t forget to download the template below that outlines my five questions and their answers so you can start using them immediately.

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I’ll see you next week!

3 Customer Service Skills Your Employees Need to Create Customer Loyalty

Welcome to this week’s video where I teach you how to use customer experience and employee engagement strategies to grow your business and create customer loyalty.

Today’s video is solely focused on your customer service employees – whether you’re in hospitality, operating a call center, retail, real estate, trades or whatever – your customer service employees are the face of your company. We can all agree to that, right?

With this understanding, we must invest in their education to ensure they are equipped with the knowledge to deliver an experience our customers have never seen before. Let’s consider these statistics:

This gives us even more evidence that we must recruit and train our employees with premium education.

Okay. Let’s get into it…The first skill your customer service employees must have is what I call Service Endurance.

SERVICE ENDURANCE

Service endurance is a term I use that describes how employees can deliver amazing customer service to the 100th customer of the day as they did the first.

We should all have empathy for what our frontline team members go through. Speaking to customers all-day can be exhausting, regardless of how great your team member might be, we should find ways to help them break through even when it’s been a long day.

When I was a call center agent in my early 20’s I would take 100 calls a day and even though I was good, there were times when I didn’t want to take another call. Some ways I would combat exhaustion was by:

  • Having a stress ball at my desk that I would squeeze during tough times because it helps to release a bit of stress.
  • I would post a motivational quote to help me keep going even when I didn’t want to take another call, in fact, I still do this. Here’s a picture of a shelf in my office that has a quote of Kobe Bryan on it.
  • Before a stress ball or motivational quotes are posted near your work area, going for a brief walk outside is the best way to disconnect for a moment. Leaders of companies must acknowledge that the extra break won’t be a cost, it will be an investment because you will have peace of mind that your team members are physically and mentally prepared to deliver amazing service to every customer, every time.

FORESIGHT

The second imperative skill your team members must have is foresight. The reason that this is a vital skill set is because you want to ensure that your employees have the foresight to anticipate customers needs and to assist their peers and colleagues who are inundated with too many tasks.

At Baro, one of my restaurants, one of our core values is foresight. We want our team members to have the awareness to act on customer needs by offering suggestions before they are asked – this helps create an experience customers have never seen before. In my business, an example of this could be a waitress recognizing that the family of four who has a toddler with them will need a high chair. Our guests shouldn’t have to ask for this, we should anticipate this to create an effortless experience for our guests.

When it comes to employees, do your team members have the foresight to recognize that Sally, your office manager, who just received three phone calls at once and has a FedEx employee waiting for a package to be signed needs help? Do your team members have the foresight to recognize that Sally is getting slammed and needs help without her having to ask?

Team members with the foresight skill set not only earn higher customer loyalty by delivering a better experience but they create comradery with their peers. If this comradery is created they are more likely to work together to deliver a seamless customer experience which also increases loyalty.

EMPATHY

The third customer service skill set was first introduced to me when I worked at 1-800-GOT-JUNK?’s corporate office. Their core values are Passion, Integrity, Professionalism and Empathy, or PIPE for short.

Do your current team members show genuine empathy for your customers? If your customer happens to mention that there was a death in their family or they have upcoming surgery, will they acknowledge what has been mentioned and show empathy for the situation?

HOW CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE EARNED WARBY PARKER FREE PR

Often, your customers, share information with you that require empathy that you can use to build a stronger relationship. Take this Warby Parker story as an example.

A customer of Warby Parker in Atlanta shows up to pick up her glasses and after the employee asked her how her day was going she responded with:

“Not well. I had my car stolen yesterday…I’m here to pick up the glasses that I ordered.”

Side note: these glasses I’m wearing are from Warby Parker – I love them and their company – they are actually the company I’m learning from the most from right now.

The Warby Parker employee could have simply said:

“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. Here are your glasses…”

but it’s what they did next that’s separates them from their competition and is something I’m preaching within my businesses and clients…they are creating micro customer experiences. A micro customer experience is a subtle, affordable and memorable gesture you do for your customers that resonates with them for years.

The Warby Parker team sent this hand-written card to the customer shortly after:

Hey Tess,

We were so sorry to hear about your car. Since you probably won’t be the designated driver anytime soon, here’s a round on us! Love your friends at Warby Parker. PS. Your Durand frames look amazing!”

Within the envelop was a gift certificate to a local micro brewery so the customer could get that beer she said she needed in passing.

This Warby Parker employee listened, showed empathy and took action on what she had heard to create a memorable experience.

Now, not any employee could do something like this. Only truly empathetic people could do this genuinely. I don’t know the Warby Parker customer personally but I’d bet that this customer is never buying prescription sun glasses from another company again in her life, which is true customer loyalty.

Oh, not to mention, this customer experience earned Warby Parker free PR in Forbes, Business Insider and Mashable. As the saying goes, Customer experience is marketing!

In my next video, I’m going to share what questions to ask during the interview process to identify if your candidates have these customer service skill sets. To be automatically alerted when I release this video, subscribe to my YouTube channel right now!

I want to hear from you. What other skill sets do you look for when hiring customer service employees? Leave a comment below to share what you think is most important customer service skill set.

I’ll see you next week.

A Day in the Life of a Keynote Speaker

I’ve been asked many times what it’s like to be a keynote speaker. After the 2034839th time, I decided that I would hire a film crew to follow me around a conference I spoke at in Washington, DC.

In this video, I share what it’s like to be a keynote speaker on the day of the event. From the moment I wake up to when I step off stage and everything in between this video captures the experience.

Please share this video with anyone you know who is or aspires to be a keynote speaker. If your company is planning on hosting a conference or event this year, I would love to be considered (please forward this email to your conference committee). For more information, please visit this link here.