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.

Video: How Real Estate Brokerages Can Deliver a Premium Customer Experience

 

In December 2016, I went on a 3-city speaking tour with LJ Hooker (Australia’s largest real estate company). This video shares the strategies and tactics that I believe real estate brokerages and agents could use to improve their company’s customer experience.

If you require a keynote speaker for an event, conference or workshop, I would love to be considered. Please contact me directly by clicking here.

5 Customer Experience and Employee Engagement Tactics I Used to Open a Business with 100 Employees

 

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I’ve been advising companies on customer experience, employee engagement and company culture for six years helping entrepreneurs learn the systems I leverage to build stronger and profitable relationships with customers and employees.

It has been very rewarding for both my clients and I. However, I knew it was time to begin doing it for myself more frequently.

This blog post outlines the key steps my partners and I took (I can’t share everything as I wouldn’t want to share all our tactics with our competitors) to open a very complex business with nearly 100 employees, three kitchens, three bars sprawled over 16,000sqf and four floors. This venture was a Latin-themed restaurant called Baro.

Does this sound like your business? One with many team members and moving parts? If so, I will share some tips you can use in your business. Keep reading to learn how we:

  • Created our mission statement and core values
  • Recruited and built our interview process
  • Onboarded all employees
  • Trained and developed our team
  • Ensured that we continuously refine our systems and processes

Mission Statement & Core Values

Baro opened on December 7th, 2016. About six months before we opened our doors we knew it was imperative to create our mission statement and core values. Now, I understand that some readers may have just rolled their eyes as mission statements and core values can sound like a fluffy platitude, but they aren’t if you live and breath them each and every day. They were created to act as our “north star” (something I learned from Gary Vaynerchuk) and guide our decision making – from hiring and firing to delivering our service to our customers –  we used them to dictate how the business would operate from day one.

Ultimately, your mission statement and core values should shape the type of company culture you want to build for the legacy of your business.

After about 16 hours of discussion and a handful of revisions, the following mission statement and five core values were created by my four partners and I.

Our mission at Baro is simple: to consistently deliver seamless experiences. We do this by creating a series of inspired moments which turn into lasting memories for our guests. We celebrate each day and every guest with enthusiasm, energy, and fun in true Latin style. It’s white glove service, without the white gloves.

CELEBRATION

Whether it’s a birthday, an anniversary, or a Tuesday; our guests are here to celebrate, and we are here to celebrate them, with energy, fun and passion. We make each guest feel special through our words and actions and they love us for this.

OWNERSHIP

We are one team. Each of us individually is a part of the greater whole, and we come together enthusiastically each day for one reason: to create lasting memories for our guests, and for each other.

FORESIGHT

Our guests anticipate a fantastic experience with a positive vibe; we anticipate their needs, and the actions we must take to make it happen. We take pride in being aware of the needs of our guests, our team members, and ourselves at all times.

HUMILITY

We will make mistakes. When we do, everything will be done in our power to fix them with no ego; we will own them, we will share them, and we will learn from them.

INTEGRITY

We are honest communicators with an unwavering moral compass. Doing the right thing – particularly when no one’s looking – is our expectation of everyone.

After the mission statement and core values had been created we knew that our job wasn’t done; we needed to create a plan to continuously promote it within the business to create alignment with nearly 100 team members.

One thing we did to create unity and serve as a constant reminder of our “north star” was to have the first sentence of our mission statement stitched on the inside of our Face of House and Heart of House (notice how we don’t called it Front of House or Back of House?) uniforms.

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A Baro apron.

Now that we had created the mission statement and core values, we needed to build our team to deliver a memorable customer experience to our guests.

Recruiting Plan & Interview Guide

I’ve seen the recruiting plans and interview guides of dozens of companies across every industry imaginable… we all have the opportunity to revitalize our programs. When we opened Baro, we relied on several traditional and new age methods of recruiting such as posting on job boards and social media platforms which produced leads. However, it was our job fair that we hosted that began to promote our company culture to the city and painted a picture of the type of atmosphere we were setting out to build.

Take a peek at the shortened video of our highlight reel from our job fair.

Simultaneously, while we rolled out our recruiting strategy, we developed our interview process. While I’m not willing to share our “secret sauce” I can tell you that we follow a six-step process for every single position within the business. This process spans multiple days with numerous interviews.

Regardless, of whether you’re applying for a General Manager position, Hostess or Dishwasher, everyone goes through the exact same format. Yes, the questions may change depending on the position but the format stays consistent each and every time.

I can share that we meticulously developed our interview questions to ensure we stayed away from asking questions like:

“What are your strengths and weaknesses?”

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Our actual interview and recruitment playbook.

We developed the interview questions which reverted back to our core values and created questions around them to increase the likelihood that we would find individuals who would align with them. The most challenging thing you will face during an interview process that focuses on company culture is not losing the integrity of your values.

You will meet very talented individuals who are skilled but don’t fit into your culture. These people, according to Reed Hastings, the Founder and CEO of Netflix, are referred to as “brilliant jerks.” You must have the courage to say no to individuals who will pay a dividend in the short-term, but long-term will become cancerous to your company culture.

I can report that this process has worked better than I could have ever imagined. We are well on our way to building an organization recognized for their company culture and courageously defending it.

I wanted to share some words from Cristian, one of our bartenders and quite possibly the most genuine human-being I have ever met, describing what he experienced at our job fair and interview. If you’re ever in Toronto, be sure to visit Cristian at the bar and ask him to make a cocktail for you; he’s brilliant!

christian headshot

“My interview process at Baro was carefully tailored to stand in a category of it’s own. In my 10 years of seeing almost every angle and approach to recruitment in the hospitality industry, I was pleasantly surprised and impressed by the process. I was able to engage in conversation with operating partners, management and future co-workers during one of the most intriguing job fairs I’ve been a part of. The in-depth interviews that followed gave me a glimpse of Baro’s vision and goals. The importance of their pursuit to find the best of the best was very clear.”

Here’s a simple reminder that I share with my clients:

If a fisherman wants to catch a particular type of fish they must target the right body of water; recruiting and interviewing is no different.

Employee Onboarding

If your expectations are that your employees will give themselves to your customers then you must be willing to give yourself, as a leader, to them. This is why creating a memorable employee onboarding experience is crucial to setting the tone on the type of experience you want your customers to receive.

I define employee onboarding as:

What your employees see, hear and feel after they have been hired.

Related: Are We Doing Employee Onboarding All Wrong?

At Baro, we follow a 3-step model to welcome our team members to our business:

  • Mentor: each employee is partnered with a mentor for the first 30 days of employment. This mentor is not their manager or anyone in their department.
  • Memorability: we have several ways that are secret to the business that genuinely captures the hearts of our team members on day one of joining us.
  • Training & Development: More on this in a moment but we slaved over building our training and development program and spent a notable amount of time and money to facilitate it. Why wouldn’t we? The livelihood of our business depends on customer loyalty and, to achieve customer loyalty, our team members must be set up for success. For me and my partners, this is a non-negotiable.

Each of these steps are outlined in our Employee Onboarding Playbooks that were designed to document the process and create a straight forward guide for management. After all, your team is only as good as the tools you provide them with.

Training & Development

cx TRAINING

Your customer experience begins and ends with how you train your team and goes hand-in-hand with hiring great people. Exceptional team members, ones who will contribute to the success of your business, expect and deserve highly educational training programs.

At Baro, we separate our training in two parts: customer-centric (i.e. how to identify different personality types etc.) and skill-based (table maintenance etc.). Every employee, regardless of position, must go through customer-centric training to ensure we are creating a system-wide, customer-focused culture. For us, it doesn’t matter whether you’re customer-facing or not, everyone in the business must understand our culture-centric philosophies and beliefs.

When I advise companies on building their employee training programs I often hear:

“Training is expensive.”

Training isn’t expensive. Bad training is expensive!

Our training program is designed to deliver an incomparable, industry-leading customer experience to our guests that will earn customer loyalty; that is how we earn our return on investment.

As entrepreneurs and leaders of our businesses, we need to stop cost cutting in the areas that matter the most. Let me ask you this, if you were an employee of your business would you expect exceptional training to do your job remarkably? Of course you would. Why do we approach this any different when we are put in positions of influence?

Spend more on training and development and I guarantee you will build a lasting business with exceptional financial benefits.

The “You’re Never Done” Mindset

At this point, when we opened the doors on December 7th, we had created our culture and many systems to support it.

Our reservation books have been filled for weeks; you literally couldn’t get a table (even me, an owner), without booking well in advance. Recognizing that we were generating hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue each week, we could have rested on our laurels because we were the hottest restaurant in Toronto. However, unless you believe that customer and employee expectations will never change than you don’t ever have to refine your systems; we knew better.

After we opened, we took a couple of days to celebrate with our family and friends – I was actually in Australia keynote speaking for a real estate company on their customer experience during our opening week – but, then we got back to work and started discussing strategies for Q1 of 2017.

You see, you’re never done developing your company culture, customer experience and employee engagement programs. You must always refine them to continuously improve your business. Is it challenging? Of course, but nothing worth having is easy. Some of the things we will do in the future are kept behind closed doors, for now. But, I can tell you firsthand that we, as partners, are 100% committed to our culture, customer and employees.

Conclusion

Whether you’re getting a business started this year or currently operating one that has 100 team members, I highly recommend the strategy I have outlined here. I’ve advised companies as big as Verizon Wireless and as small as a five-person start-up in Los Angeles; regardless of the industry or size of your company, these strategies are proven to work. They have never failed me and they too will work for you.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading. I hope you learned a thing or two. Be sure to leave a comment below if I can answer a questions for you.

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

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How Marketing Can Become Customer-Centric in the Auto (or Any) Industry

I believe marketing can improve your company’s customer experience. Keep reading this blog post to learn why I believe this and how to do it.

I’m writing this post while on a plane returning to Toronto from New Orleans (I’ve spent the last three weeks here working with a premium auto manufacturer).

While working with this company I had the pleasure to meet their Dealer Principals (their franchise owners) and General Managers who would be responsible for bringing the brand and beautiful product back to North America.

I was hired to share customer experience and company culture strategies (the title of my engagement was How to Deliver an Experience Your Customers Have Never Seen Before) and I spent a considerable amount of time learning from these professionals. I was just as eager to learn from them to help my businesses as much as, I hope, they were eager to learn from me.

One thing I began to think about was how the industry (or any industry) markets their products and services. These thoughts came to me after someone in the audience asked me about marketing while in the hotel lobby bar,

“Do you have any marketing tips?”

Not being short on thoughts I shared three tactics that I would use to sell more product, generate greater brand awareness and earn customer loyalty.

Educational Marketing

Too often consumers are inundated with marketing messages that are crafted in a way that shouts, “Look at us!” that doesn’t convert as well as it may have use it (not to mention it’s very difficult to track the ROI of traditional media). While traditional methods of advertising still builds brand or product awareness it doesn’t provide value to the audience.

What provides value is content that shares education to current or prospective customers. By simply doing some keyword searches using Google’s Keyword Planner, a tool that tells you how many people are searching specific keywords or phrases every month, I could create high value education.

For example, I would be more inclined to click on a Facebook ad (one that was sponsored by the auto manufacturer or local car dealership and targeted to the right audience) that promoted a blog post titled,

“How to Fix a Flat Tire.”

flat tire

You will notice in the search results that between 1k-10k people go to Google and search the phrase “how to fix a flat tire” with a low competition, meaning that not many other people have created ads or content around this phrase. By doing a small amount of research, you can target exactly what your current or prospective customers are researching and build content to serve them.

I believe that if you educate your customers on your industry it will make them smarter and provide a better customer experience. Not to mention, they won’t forget it which creates a stronger relationship.

I may not remember your ad on page 57 of that magazine I quickly skimmed but I will absolutely remember that blog post that prevented me from looking like a jerk when I was roadside with my girlfriend and a flat tire.

Tutorial Videos

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Video. Video. Video.

Sometimes I like to read and other times I prefer to pull out my phone and watch videos. It really depends on my mood. If brands are able to recognize this it will put them in an advantageous position because we can’t market to a single denominator. Our marketing mix must scale a variety of different platforms to serve our audiences in the way they want to receive your message.

Let’s say I was a customer of a premium brand like Ferrari or Alfa Romeo or Maserati, would I click through to the ad that taught me how to fix a flat tire? Probably not. However, would I click through to an ad titled,

“The Best Shirt to Wear to Match Your Red Ferrari”?

Absolutely!

If I paid $250,000 for a car of course I would want to exhaust all opportunities to look my best in it. The brand or dealership could form a partnership with Hermes or Gucci and have one of their Product Specialists film a short video with the dealerships Product Advisor talking about the different colours that match the car.

Now this post wouldn’t be shared on a social network because, after all, how many people on Facebook (or other social platforms) would care about that topic? Probably not many. However, you could pull your customer list and segment them by the colour of the Ferrari they bought and send them a video tailored specifically to them i.e. The Best shirt to Wear to Match Your Black Ferrari etc.

Customer Testimonial Videos

Yes, video again. After all, YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world (this stuff matters…A LOT!).

When I buy something, especially something in the premium market, I need evidence that the product is what it is…but I don’t want to only hear it from you.

Customer testimonials (actual customers, not actors) can make a great short video that you can share on your website, social media and send by email to customers who are in your sales pipeline. This video can and will act as a sales tool.

Here are 11 examples of powerful customer testimonial videos from different industries that these companies used to increase sales and customer loyalty.

If you’ve delivered a story-worthy customer experience and your product is world-class then your customers will be willing to help your business.

The other day I bought a pair of Adidas Ultraboost. If Adidas asked me to be a part of their customer testimonial video I would emphatically say yes. Not only because I love the product and am a brand advocate but also because it’s flattering to be invited by a recognizable brand – I believe your customers will feel the same way too.

Marello-Webinar-Testimonial

Conclusion

Another reason why these three marketing tactics work is because, not only does it enrich in the lives of your customers and help you sell, it’s very cost-friendly.

Traditional advertising isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it still works on me (I noticed an Alfa Romeo sponsored ad while watching NCAA basketball). As Gary Vaynerchuk, someone I greatly admire, says,

“Market in the year that you live in.”

What he means is that if eye balls and attention are on social channels like Facebook and YouTube and reading a book isn’t as common (my opinion only) as reading blog posts then we must pay attention to the shift in attention

Why Your Employees Need to Be Responsible For Their Own Development

How did Michael Jordan become the best basketball player of all time? Sure, for the majority of his career, he had Phil Jackson, arguably the greatest coach of all time. Jackson refined Jordan’s skills, but it was the hours of jump shots, free throws and conditioning that Michael worked on when Phil wasn’t around that made him the greatest player of all time.

Employee development is no different.

You may have heard the old adage,

“You don’t grow businesses, you grow people.”

Which remains true. However, your employees can’t simply rely on their manager to develop them to their full potential.

I read this quote the other day that really resonated with me,

“Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.”

I still remember the day in 2007 when I committed to understanding customer experience management and how it grows businesses. While working at 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, a company that grew from a $1000 investment in 1989 to an organization that earns a quarter billion in sales per year, I was provided with all the support in the world that contributed to my development but I don’t believe I would have been able to become an entrepreneur, advisor or keynote speaker if I didn’t invest in my own education.

How did I invest in my own education?

I read books on customer experience, I set up a Feedly account and read dozens of articles every day on the subject. I reached out to customer experience professionals on Linkedin and asked many questions. To take it one step further, I selected five companies – Zappos, Southwest Airlines, Apple, Amazon and Westjet – and studied them intensely. I was flown out to visit Zappos before it was a cool thing to do and spoke to key people at each organization to ask even more questions.

This was all done on my own time, no pay cheque, no “employee of the month” award to recognize my efforts. I was in my mid-twenties when I was working throughout the night on Friday and Saturday nights because I knew it was contributing to my long-term success. It’s not enough to simply work and develop yourself Monday to Friday, 9-5. I don’t know if it’s my South American blood but I take pride in my work ethic.

I’m very thankful when anyone wants to work with me or hear me speak but I will never rest on my laurels. I still study every day (actually) so that I can share my education with my clients and audiences. When I first started out I was studying the aforementioned companies. A coupls years ago, I was studying Uber and Airbnb. Today, I’m researching companies like Warby Parker. To continue to advance my knowledge in customer experience and hospitality, I learn from people like Chip Conley and Danny Meyer.

“I will never stop learning because I’m scared I will become obsolete or irrelevant.”

I recently spoke with someone who I can only assume was in their 50’s or 60’s; “I’m too old to be studying” he proclaimed. This person is dying, maybe not physically, but professionally, they are dead. Educating yourself doesn’t end after university or when you’re in your early years of your career. Regardless of age, you must continue growing and developing yourself.

Individuals who spend time studying and expediting their development are the ones who get promoted. They are the ones who are sitting in on strategic planning meetings with forward thinking ideas. They are the ones who are heavily recruited.

If you genuinely want to be the best at what you do, regardless of what your expertise is, you need to work hard to develop yourself independently. The saying, “work smarter, not harder” has never resonated with me; you need to do both.

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Here’s what I’m doing to help my team members invest in their own education:

  • I connect them with my friends who have a skill set that they want to acquire. For example, Jordan, our Marketing Coordinator, wanted to learn how to manage his time better. While I could teach him how to do this myself I don’t want him only learning from me so I have my friend, Rhys Green, coaching him monthly on this topic. It’s a win, win. Rhys likes doing it and Jordan appreciates the education.
  • We host Goal Setting & Review (GS&R) weekly meetings where we evaluate both of our performances, mine as a leader and theirs as a team member. During this time we also review our company’s five core values to hold each other accountable to them.
  • Purchase affordable online courses
  • Buy relevant books

I use the term culture of learning a lot as it’s something I constantly as it’s something I believe a company needs to grow their team and become an admired employer. I recommend you bring this language into your business and watch how your team, if you’ve hired correctly, rallies behind the philosophy.

Leave a comment below. What is the ‘culture of learning’ like in your company? Do you facilitate learning outside of the office? What would it mean to your business if your team was the most educated in your industry?

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How Customer Experience Creates Customer Loyalty in Real Estate

 

In December 2016, I had a great opportunity to travel to Australia to go on a keynote speaking tour, visiting Sydney, Melbourne and Gold Coast, to work closely go with LJ Hooker (Australia’s largest real estate company). During our time together we worked  with their highest performing real estate agents and franchise partners to teach them how to create an experience their customers have never seen before.

While in Sydney, I caught up with Graeme Hyde, LJ Hooker’s COO, to discuss customer experience within the real estate industry. I asked him questions like:

  • How are real estate agents using customer experience to grow their business?
  • Are real estate agents properly using digital marketing to serve their customers?
  • How can real estate agents leverage tactics to increase customer loyalty?
  • What do real estate agents need to do to build a career of longevity?
  • Plus more

Be sure to share this video with any real estate professionals you believe would find value in the education.

If you’re looking for a keynote speaker for your next event, please contact me directly by clicking here.

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