People-First Culture Keynote: Las Vegas 2019 (Employee Engagement & Company Culture Keynote)


I was recently invited to Las Vegas to give a keynote at the Airport Exchange News Conference at Caesars Palace. Above is a a video with the full presentation, or you can read the transcript below!

>> Transcript Begins <<

I want to do one thing real quick, take your hand like this, go like this. Every time I ask you a question that you say “Yes.” To, you put one finger up at a time; just don’t start with the middle finger.

My first question is, is 2019 going to be the year that you continue to reinforce efforts to improve your employee experience? Are you content with your customer experience? Do you feel like it’s good, but it really needs to get great year over year? And the last one, and you have to be truthful, don’t BS me, are you hung over right now?

My man right here’s got three, see. All right, now you can put your hands down, guys, thank you so much. I’m going to give you a lot of entertainment and engagement, but a lot of education as well too. I do not have enough confidence to stand on the stage and give you guys theory that I haven’t tried, I haven’t tested, and aren’t orange true, so I’m going to introduce you to something called the people first culture, the three piece strategy, some micro customer experiences. And then we’re going to evaluate customer wants and needs and why it’s so difficult to really understand what your customers need to build an experience that they’ve never seen before.

But before I do that, I need to borrow a few minutes of your time, because I need to let you know what I’ve been up to for the last decade; but I promise you, it’s not going to take more than 10 minutes to explain this to you. And the reason I do this is because regardless of our industries, if they’re similar, or if they’re maybe the same, or how big our companies are.

I recognize that there’s a couple big ballers in the audience that have billion dollar companies and, I’m not there yet, but if we strip everything away, the industry and the size of the company, what the commonality is, is we’re managing one thing: human behaviour. The expectations of our employees and our customers must be managed to build a people first culture.

In 2007, I was a young professional trying to really understand what I wanted to build my career off of; what was going to be my niche or my nitch? And I looked at PR and biz dev, and I was like “That sounds cool and all, but what could be my thing?”

And I had just left business school because I wasn’t an academic, I didn’t come from a wealthy family, so I paid for my own post secondary. But I lasted three semesters, it didn’t make sense to me to pay and then I wasn’t engaged, I wasn’t learning.

So at the time I live in Vancouver, Canada, and there was two real juggernaut companies, at the time, to work for. 1-800-GOT-JUNK, you’ve ever seen the garbage trucks driving around? If you’re not familiar with the company, a guy started in 1989 knocking on people’s doors, being like “Hey, do you have a couch, a fridge, an ex-husband or something you want to throw away and pay me for it?” That company now just $400 million a year in sales, system wide, across the globe.

And the great thing about that business is one owner, no outside [inaudible 00:05:17], one owner, no debt, like “Oh man, that’s an amazing business.” The other company was Lululemon, the athletic apparel company. I applied for both, and then I was hired by both companies, and I chose one 1-800-GOT-JUNK because they had just won the Best Workplace in Canada Award by Maclean’s Magazine as a medium sized company. That is a massive achievement, and it was it garbage company; nothing about that makes sense.

But I joined the company, and I started off in the call center answering 100 calls a day. I didn’t grow up wanting to be a call center agent; no disrespect to the industry, but it’s just nothing I aspired to do. But I knew that that was going to be my stepping stone to understand how companies are grown and take my career from there.

It was in year one that I read a Harvard Business Review article, and they were talking about a term that I’d never heard of before; I wasn’t even taught it in business school when I was there for three semesters. And it was ‘Customer experience management’. And it made sense to me. You build an organization that have systems and processes happening behind the scenes to enrich the lives of your customers, and you grow an organization, organically, through referrals, and repeat business, and being an admired brand, and all these great things.

So I said “That’s it, that’s my PR equivalent.” And it was super niche, 2007 nobody was really talking about it; shortly after, Zappos was the company that was really taking off, leveraging customer experience management. I soon realized that there is no customer experience if two things don’t happen first: build a people centric culture and focus on your employee engagement and their experiences as well too; it just can’t happen. And I’ve seen this, I’ve worked with many businesses, to this date, and it’s just impossible to do it, genuinely.

I was at 1-800-GOT-JUNK for five years, I was promoted five times in five years because I gave myself to my career. I knew where I wanted to be, in Las Vegas speaking at conferences like this, but I knew I needed to cut my teeth first and earn some credibility.

So I went ahead and Got Junk, we launched Net Promoter Score program complaint resolution systems, built customer centered training material for thousands of employees, and many other good things. In 2012, I woke up one morning and, literally, it was kind of one of those movie moments, I looked myself in the mirror after brushing my teeth and said “I’m done.”

Not because there was any resentment for the company; I loved 1-800-GOT-JUNK, but I wanted to scratch that entrepreneurial itch. So I started off and I built an advisory company, I called it Falcon Consulting Group, and I made sure that it was a group because I had the aspirations of growing this massive agency. Truth be told, I operated it from my parent’s kitchen table, and my only employee was my dog; so it never got bigger than a group or than one person, it never became the group that I aspired it to be.

But one day I got an email from an executive of Verizon Wireless, and just before that like, literally 24 hours before that, my biggest client was Ferguson Moving and Storage based in Vancouver; about a $2, $3 million company at the time. So I went from $3 million to $100 billion, and I was like, “I better figure out how to write a proposal, and I probably got to get a phone line that’s not my parent’s house line.”

So Alfa Romeo, Blue Cross Blue Shield, McDonald’s Canada, that companies started getting bigger and bigger, and I was advising them and working on some strategic initiatives, building content, hosting workshops, and giving keynote speeches for them.

But then in 2016, I realized “I’m bored.” I was lonely, actually. Traveling to conferences and everything is fantastic, traveling to go speak at or work with clients, eventually that drink by yourself in the lobby bar gets really lonely. So I said “I want something else.”

I moved to Toronto and my business partners and I now have grown a portfolio of restaurants and bars on King Street in Toronto. And we’ve gone from two years ago, just under that, we went from zero employees and zero dollars in revenue to just over $15 million a year in revenue, and 150 employees and we’ll add another 75 employees within the next three months, when we open our next venue.

The things that I talk to you about today are the tried, tested, and true initiatives that we’ve deployed. And, again, I’m not a theory guy. Yes I wrote a book, but the book talks about all of the strategies; ones that I’ve worked and ones that haven’t worked. And I’m very transparent about that and that’s something that I’m looking forward to sharing with you guys.

Every company wants to build an organization like this. They want to recruit and onboard a high performing team who have high engagement, and they take care of their customers. I don’t think anybody that would say “You know what? That’s not for us here at our business.” But why is it that some companies succeed and others fall short of actually achieving this within their business?

I sat on this for months before I developed and wrote the book, and I created something I call ‘The people first culture’. Now on the surface it’s very simple, you build a business that your employees and customers admire. But again, if we agree that that’s something we could subscribe to, why doesn’t everybody do this within their business? Not just quarter over quarter, but decade over decade?

So I sat on this some more, and I developed something I call ‘The three P strategy’. The three Ps is what hinges everything together: purpose, process, and profit; in that order. So let’s do this again by leveraging the three Ps strategy. We recruit and we onboard high performing professionals, we understand the purpose of three key entities.

What is the purpose of our company?

What is the purpose of our customers?

And what is the purpose of our team members as individuals, not as employees?

Once we’re able to create alignment behind that and have clarity within the organization, department to department, what we’re going to experience is genuine engagement. Then and only then can we start building processes that will enrich the lives of our customers and our employees.

If you have ever built a strategic initiative, and you’re like “I can’t wait to deploy, this is going to be so great.” On paper it was fantastic, your project management teams came together to develop this, and then it fell short, or it wasn’t adopted like you thought it was going to be adopted?

When I advise companies, I ask them to generally ask themselves “Are the team members that are living within these processes actually engaged?” Because we may have gone out and built the processes for them, but neglected that these are going to fall short unless our team members have high engagement to live within these processes; because they are the ones that push them forward.

As leaders, we are the ones that often build them, or have them built with our teams, but we have to make sure that our front lines and our junior and senior managers are able to live within them within high engagement, because that’s when adoption happens.

Once we’ve built these processes, we are able to take a step back as leaders and allow these engaged professionals to deliver an experience to our customers that they’ve never seen before. Then is our reward; profit is a reward, it’s not an outcome. And please know that I’m an extraordinarily profit driven entrepreneur; it’s just how I go about it might be a little different than others.

I’ve trained myself to think long term, because the initiative that we build today maybe it doesn’t pay us an ROI for 12 to 24 months, and I’m okay with that, I’m patient. Because I know that I’m managing something that’s very sensitive and it’s human behavior. Think about your personal life for a second, the person that’s your best friend, your aunt, the person you married; that took time to build that relationship, and now it’s fruitful.

So why is our relationship with our teams any different than that? Strip that all away, it’s just human behavior that we’re trying to manage; but yet we’ve trained ourselves to think short term. And I get it, many of you guys probably have to report the street, every quarter, I get that. But how we find a balance between having to do that, and building lasting relationships internally and externally with our customers and our employees?

I said that there’s three key entities with purpose: the company, the customers and our teams, as individuals. I want you to pretend that we’re at McCarran airport, a beautiful airport and I’m sitting at the gate, and we happen to start talking and I ask you a very loaded question. I say, and I want you to think to yourself, “How would I answer Michel’s question if he asked me this?” What is the purpose of your company, if I asked you that, how would you respond?

And this is the rule guys, if you do not want me to pick on you and call you out, divert your eyes because if you … Yeah, see, this always happens. But if you don’t want me to, but if you want to engage, Keep your eyes on me, and we’ll engage; I don’t bite, I’m good.

So, what is the purpose of your company? I told you I was going to pick on you guys first. So, I want the three of you, because all from the same company. How would you respond to me if I asked you what is the purpose?

It’s customer service.

Okay, so put that in a tight phrase, just button it up.

Delivering exceptional customer service.


Provide a great experience.



Same thing? Okay, that’s cool and that was super rehearsed, so, but let me ask you this. If you went around to each … How many stores? Seventeen?


Eighteen. If you went around to your [inaudible 00:15:54] employees and asked them the same question on the same day, let’s say, would you get the same answer in a buttoned up way?

Probably wouldn’t. And I’m not trying to undermine you guys, because have we included that in onboarding and our training? I was taught when I was a lot in my earlier years as a young professional, that building a culture is a little more than the sports team, a little less than a cult; it’s right in between.

And to be able … Look it sounds funny, but it’s kind of true; and for me alignment absolutely matters. And that’s something that is extraordinarily actionable for you guys to go back to your place of business and ask, just department to department, just randomly do it on a certain day ask, “What is the purpose of our company?”

You see, a company like Nike, their purpose isn’t to build great products. It’s to stand behind things that they believe in, even if it’s not popular, and even if some of their customers are going to burn their gear. Did anybody see the Serena Williams? That was powerful video that came out; if you haven’t, Google it immediately after this powerful. And notice that in the video they talk about nothing about their products, that is an outcome of having alignment behind a strong purpose, and they’re a pretty high performing company.

Here’s a company, you’ve probably never heard of Pela Case. What you see here is a bio degradable cell phone case. Now Matt Bertulli is the founder of the company and he’s in my entrepreneur group. And when you ask Matt “What is the purpose of your company?” He doesn’t say “It’s to build biodegradable cell phone cases, it’s to build a company that’s not going to harm this planet.” That’s just one of their products.

And when I asked him, I said “Really, is the market big enough?” He’s like “Yes, we’re serving a community of zero wasters.” And I said, “An emerging group of consumers called zero wasters, how many people are in this, like 76 people?” Oh, he’s like “No, there’s actually millions of people that will only buy products that decompose on their own or last at least 25 years.” And that’s the market that he’s going after. That is the purpose, the outcome are these products.

In my organization, our purpose is embedded within the mission of the company, what you’re looking at here is something that we borrowed from Starbucks. That’s an apron and we stitch the purpose and the mission inside the apron so our team members see it every single day. And it’s simple “To consistently deliver seamless experiences.”

It’s not to deliver seamless experiences to customers, it’s to everyone that interacts with our brand; the media, the people that sell us steak and vodka, those suppliers, even the government. We went through an audit, and I told my find finance team, I said “Guys, they are our best customers, we treat everyone the exact same way.” That is the purpose, the outcome of this is a great steak, a great bottle of wine, a great experience for our customers by having strict alignment.

I have a rule, five by three, and I highly recommend adopting this. Five times a week, three times a day I will walk around our venues … And we have them all congested in a one block radius in downtown Toronto. And five days a week, three times a day I will ask somebody, at random, “What are our five core values, and what is our mission?” And if they’re not able to recite that, I ask our managers to take them off the floor, get trade alignment behind that before they can go back and interact with our guests.

I know it’s a little cult like, but alignment matters; aligning a company behind the North Star of the organization really matters. If you’ve ever asked yourself or been frustrated by “Why aren’t they getting it?” It’s probably this, there’s probably no alignment but the purpose of the company, or the purpose might be viewed differently by them than by you.

One thing I know very well, because I worked in a call center where I was answering 100 calls a day for about a year, and that might sound exhausting, but picture this. I had the longest average handle time in our hundred person call center, and the reason why is because when you call the phone for someone in the US, and the first words that come out of their mouth are “Michel? You don’t know sound like a woman.”

And then you’re like, “Sorry Joanne from Florida, in Canada we do things a little bit differently.” Anyway, so the first three minutes of the call was burned because of that having to explain that. One thing that I know after taking all these calls, I didn’t just want to sit in my seat, remember I had goals for my career.

So I said “I’m going to start documenting these common traits and behaviors that these customers have, because I can’t speak to the same customer in Sydney, Australia that I can Calgary, Alberta or Fort Worth, Texas; so I started documenting all of these notes, pages and pages and pages of notes. And I developed something called the ‘Three common customer personality types’ which was adopted by the organization; I’ve implemented it in Alfa Romeo and many other companies like that.

Now I don’t know her personally, but if Ellen DeGeneres was a customer of ours, what happens? Long winded conversations, often off topic, a lot of energy, hard to keep them on track. I was just at the Orlando airport coming down here at Chipotle, and I’m like, “Oh, I’m so hungry.” I want to eat my food which I see right there, it’s already packaged up, and my flight’s starting to board, and this woman in front of me, God bless her, starts talking about this, that, and everything.

And I can see the employee’s eyes be like “SOS, help me, help I need to get out of this.” But for me, I was like, “Gosh, maybe there could have been more education around how to go from here to getting the customer where you need them to be to help that next customer.”

So with the socializer personality type, we need to train our team members for their out; how can you get them to go … The customer is a way over here on right field, and get them right where you need them to be without being rude? I understand the interactions that you have with your customers are, time is the game.

I have a business called Petty Cash, it’s a bar, it’s the most popular bar in Toronto right now; and it’s like a quick service restaurant, but flooded with people that are waiting two hours to come inside and people that want their vodka sodas; it’s hard to manage, it’s a different customer experience.

Whereas at our other locations, where you’re there for two hours, for me I tell my team “That’s easy, you have their attention for two hours.” Whereas you have their attention for 20 seconds, and that’s more your world; and I get that.

So when I have to go design our customer experience with our management team, we have to keep in mind this personality type who just wants to talk about their dog, and the Las Vegas Golden Knights, and how they just signed Mark Stone. Is anybody a Las Vegas Knight fan here? Yeah. Good on you guys for Mark Stone, that was a huge pick up for you guys.

Now I don’t know him personally, but if you’ve ever seen his movies, he does not want to talk about Las Vegas Golden Knights, he does not want to talk to you, he doesn’t care how your day is going, he doesn’t really care how his day is going; but often, they’re going to know more than you too.

Could you picture this person watching the barista being like, “You should be pouring it this way.” Because often they feel like they know more than you. Don’t talk to them about their day, they don’t care; I’m that person, okay. And I know it might be positioning myself to sound like a jerk, but this is the thing, my purpose is to save five to seven minutes with every interaction that I have with the supplier or a vendor.

Because throughout the day, that might save me 30 minutes each and every day, so that I can spend time with my dog Maggie, or go exercise, or do stuff I really want to do. It’s not that directors are rude, it’s just their definition of success is different, and we must teach our team members how to manage that versus managing the experience with the socializer customer personality type.

This is something that education around the common personality types, not just customer facing people in my organization go through this, my finance team does it as well too. Because they interact with our investors, with our payroll company, with the government; literally everyone in our payroll will go through onboarding with this in their curriculum as a module.

Now this is the personality type that is misunderstood. Have you ever asked somebody, “How’s your day going?” And they’re like “Good.” And then don’t respond with like, “And how’s your day going?” That’s the passive personality type. Often people will say “Oh, they’re boring or they’re not enthusiastic.” But really I think that they’re guarded. They’re guarded probably because your company or your industry has wronged them before, so they don’t trust you.”

But it’s not that they’re not willing to trust you again, they just have to be greeted by one of your frontline employees in a very hospitable manner so that they can lend that trust to your company again. And I find that the passive personality type could be some of your most loyal customers, if you’re able to rebuild that relationship with them.

The three common personality types, maybe you have something similar and fantastic, I’m not asking you to change your curriculum. But what I am asking you to do is be honest and say, “What is our knowledge retention like coming out of training if they’re onboarding, when it comes to managing different experiences for different customers?”

What is our team’s purpose? I said that we must understand this on the individual level. Each one of your team members that reports in to you has a defined purpose. I was recently in London, England speaking for CenturyLink, a telecom company there, and they actually didn’t allow me to present this. And my message here is that you should care about the purpose of each individual on your payroll, with or without the company.

The reason that I don’t track employee retention anymore, as a metric, is because I want people to leave. Food and Wine Magazine is the Bible of hospitality; they wrote about one of our venues our flagship location. And this venue, in particular, is four floors, 16,000 square feet, 30 to 40,000 guests will come every single month; it’s a really unique restaurant, it’s more of a venue, more of a mini hotel, if you will.

But at the time, she kept asking me about employee retention, employee retention, and I didn’t tell her any of the strategies, I talked to her about the philosophy. I said “The reason why people stay here is because we know that we are absolutely committed to enriching their lives as individuals, not as employees, or even team members, as individual human beings.”

I have somebody named Christina [inaudible 00:26:52] on my team, she started off as a server, she got promoted to a shift leader, now she’s an Assistant General Manager. Her purpose in her career is to be the Director of our Learning and Development Department for our entire hospitality company.

As her leader, as a benevolent and servant leader of my organization, it is my responsibility to get her there. It’s my responsibility to clear a path for her to allow her to do good work; but this is the rub, she has to meet me halfway. We have to tell our team members, as well too, look we’re not going to give you everything on a platter, you need to own your development as well too, you need to be reading blogs, listening to podcasts, meeting people on LinkedIn.

But I’m going to pave the path for you, and then you’re going to take the reins and go for it. But then I also have somebody named Riley, Riley’s one of our top three bartenders system wide, and he’s in school right now and he’s about to graduate in the next 45 days.

He has been studying because he wants to go into biotech, and he wants to be in business development. Guess what my job becomes at 45 days? To exit him from the company; it’s my responsibility to find him the next job. Because you want to develop people so that when they leave, they say “That’s a great place to work. I’m a better professional person because of my time at XYZ company.” And I’m not scared of my people leave, I want them to leave to pursue other things, and I’m very genuine about that. But if they’re willing to commit to the organization; follow me, let’s do this together.

And we’re able to achieve this free media; we’re written about in publications like this in Entrepreneur, in Inc. Magazine all of the time. We’re not, necessarily, doing anything revolutionary, we’re just building a people first culture, which allows us to create experiences both for our customers and employees that they’ve never seen before.

We’ve understood the purpose of our company, our customers, and our employees, now and only now can we start building processes; ones that are going to be highly adopted that really will impact the top and bottom line. I have 20 operational processes that happen behind the scenes in our organization; that’s actually grown now to about 28.

I’m going to talk to you about three of them, but if you want this slide deck, at the very end of the presentation I’ll throw my email address out, you can just pull out your phone and say, make sure … It’s not Michael Falcon, it’s Michel Falcon, and to say “Give me the slide deck.” You don’t have to be polite, just say “Give me the slide deck.” And I’ll send it to you, and you can review this later; but let’s talk about the first one.

Before going into this industry, remember I had zero hospitality experience two and a half years ago, zero, none. As a matter of fact, my father in the 10th grade, had a file for bankruptcy because this industry chewed him up and spat him out when it was done with him; there was a lot of hardship in my family when I was growing up.

So I’m not saying this so that you’re like “Oh he’s here to seek vengeance for his family.” Not at all, it was just like, “Hey, this industry’s really challenging, and I kind of want to roll up my sleeves and see if I can do some cool things, leveraging what I know about people.”

One thing I know is that employee retention is quite low in hospitality and in quick service. Raise your hand if retention is a problem for you and your company. Okay, only some people are being honest, but that’s all right.

So I knew that we can’t just hire people right off the bat, we need to make it hard to work for our company; that’s where retention will go up, we need to create a rigorous process for them. Because often sometimes you’re like “Hey do you like sports?” “Yeah.” “You’re hired.” That’s how some companies hire.

So this is the interview process, I’m not going to take you through every step, but I can send you that step by step guide if you email me at the end, I want to focus on two steps within our pyramid here; the culture interview is the second step.

I do not care if the individual before me came from the Four Seasons, is the best chef, or the best cocktail artist in the city of Toronto. If they do not pass our culture interview, they do not go to skill set; I don’t care, we exit them right away.

Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix says it best, “We will not tolerate brilliant jerks, because the cost of teamwork is too high.” So during the culture interview, we ask two questions per core value that we have. And I’ve built this pyramid to be scalable, because I need 75 percent of my team to be able to interview, because everyone must act like a recruiter for our company. So in theory, I can have a dishwasher host this interview process for any candidate, because we’re scaling quickly, we’re all hands on deck when it comes to recruiting.

So we’ll ask five interview questions, or two interview questions per core value; we have five core values. But there’s a couple other questions that I like to ask as well too. One question … I want you to think of the answer to this. Let’s say you are applying to be a hostess, I’m going to ask you a question, this question’s asked to hostesses, bartenders, dishwashers, everyone because everyone goes through this exact same process. The questions start changing when it comes to the skill set, but the culture interviews are the same for every position so here’s the question.

What is an indulgence that you cannot live without that costs less than $20? What is an indulgence you can’t live without that cost less than $20? Who’s going to answer for me? Keep it legal because a lot of your peers are here. Yes, sir, thank you, thank you. I really appreciate that.

red wine

What is the brand?

Oh, that’s really hard to pronounce

Okay, let’s just call it R. Keep it simple, what grape is it?

Oh, got it, cool, so I’m writing that down. What about here? $20 indulgence that you can’t live without?


What roast?

Oo, just a medium roast with coconuts.

Okay, great. Somebody over here?


Fantastic. Okay, you probably already have Netflix, right?


Okay, What accompanies your Netflix, is it a nice blanket, is it popcorn, is it like what do you got going on?

One bottle of wine.

Okay, what type of wine, because it usually is two, and you’re just kind of limiting yourself to one? What brand and what grape?

Cabernet and pinot.

Fantastic, congratulations guys you were all hired. What do you think is waiting at your workstation on day one of onboarding? It’s your $20 gift and a handwritten card from our ownership team saying … And the language matters in this message, “Thank you for choosing us. We understand that you could get hired by any company on the street.” King Street is where all the restaurants and bars are in Toronto. “Thank you for choosing us. We can’t wait to build this business with you.”

Okay, language matters in your business to build your culture. I don’t allow employees to call me ‘Boss’, it creeps me out. I don’t say “I work for him,” I’m like “We work together.” Period.

So why do I do that $20 gesture? Okay, they’re warm and fuzzies, I heard some people say “Aww.” So I get it, the warm and fuzzies, but I’m asking you guys now to deliver an experience to our customers that they’ve never seen before; shame on me, if I’m not willing to do that for.

I’m now asking you to care about a stranger. Listen, when you ask your team members to deliver a great experience, you are asking them to care about a stranger. I must do that for you too, because at the very beginning, we’re strangers and hopefully we build a relationship so that’s not the case in time, but on day one, we’re strangers.

And lastly, here’s the real benefit from an operations perspective, you guys are just about to go into training, I need to influence your engagement on day one, because once you go into training, I need your knowledge retention to be high. And the best way to do that is to create an experience that you’ve never seen before to increase that engagement because knowledge retention will get higher because of that. Not only that, if you haven’t bought into this yet, the last thing is own the dinner table.

That’s a chapter in my book, Own The Dinner Table. And what I mean by that is you’re going to go back to your homes, and perhaps your spouse, your children’s going to say “Where did you get that idea?” And you’re going to tell that story, and now I got your family squad on my side, they’re never going to let you quit; I’ve got advocates in the home, I’ve infiltrated your home.

I know that sounds a little much. Let’s move forward to the offer, guys, we have to stop hiring people and being like “You’re hired, here’s your apron on Monday, you need to speak to LuAnn.” Celebration, one of our core values is celebration, we make this a celebratory time for a team. Remember, starting day one at a new company’s awkward, like kindergarten, first day awkward; so we need to celebrate and embrace people into our culture.

One thing that we do is, if you’re hired as a dishwasher or bartender or whatever, our general manager’s is going to call you, put you on speaker phone, and we’re going to grab two people that happen to be in the building; maybe it’s Joey the dishwasher and Samantha the server. And Joey be like “Hey, Steve, I haven’t met you yet, but can’t wait to meet you, I’m the dishwasher here. What’s up man, I’m going to be your culture buddy, can’t wait to meet you.” And then Samantha flies in there with her message too, so that candidate’s like “This is a different place to work.”

And as leaders, now we get to take a step back and allow great people to do great work. Look, I barely work anymore, I’m literally in my venues one day a week now; the rest of time, I’m traveling, speaking, sharing this message, because I’ve built a people first culture within our company.

Have you ever had employees in your career say “I don’t feel like I have a voice?” Everyone. So knowing this, in this industry, I created something I call it ‘The employee advisory board’. Because I knew I needed to mitigate that as an issue within our business.

So what I do is, once a month, or pardon me for a six month term, we will democratically elect one team member from every department in the organization; so one bartender, one dishwasher, one hostess, and so forth, one cook, dat dat dat dat dat.

And they’ll sit down with me for two to four hours a month, and we’ll talk about two things; the current state of the company culture, and the current state of our customer experience; and all I do is listen. And they give us operational feedback, both on the constructive and on the positive; and some of the outcomes from this is alignment. Every time we meet, I’ll hear a hostess say, “I didn’t know that servers go through that. That’s why you guys do that.”

And I’m just sitting there taking notes, allowing them to have conversations amongst each other and do what I love, peer cross learning. As leaders in our organization, we don’t have to do on the education; allow your great team to educate each other. It’s much more enjoyable for them, and much more enjoyable for you too, I promise you that.

Voice of the employee is one element within our voice of the employee program, we survey our employees as well too. Servant leadership, servant leadership is something I outlined in the book as well too. And, I’m sure you can imagine what that means, but it allows our team … The employee advisory board allows our team to give us feedback.

Then I go to my management team and say, “Guys, is there any validity to this?” And sometimes you’re going to say “You know what, absolutely, we have to fix that, they’re right.” And then there will be other times where they’ll say, “You know what, the reason we do A, B, C is because of 1, 2, 3; they just don’t know that.” And I said, “Well then whose fault is that?”

When there’s an absence of communication, opinions are formed. So when you are like “Why do they think that?” It’s because you didn’t communicate that to them.” People don’t fail, processes do. So if you’re like, “Why isn’t the team getting it, it’s probably the process; whether it’s the way you communicate, the way you hire, the way you onboard, the way you train. That’s where kind of the rubber meets the road is when we’re able to understand that people don’t fair, processes do.

And become an admired brand. The employee advisory board’s probably the program that I’m asked about the most by organizations of all sizes around the world, because they’re like “You know what, that makes sense, we survey our customers intimately, why wouldn’t we do that for employees?”

Again, I’ll give you a step by step guide on how to deploy this in your organization, whether it’s on a local or national level. This is probably my favorite initiative, because I light up when I hear of great experiences. A micro customer experience is a subtle, memorable, and affordable gesture that you do for your customer that resonates with them for years.

Now I want you to keep an open mind here, because I recognize not many of you guys have the luxury of having your customer’s attention for two hours like I do; but again, I do have venues as well too where somebody’s like “Give me my vodka soda right now.” Just like you might be like, “Give me my coffee right now.”

I want to introduce you to somebody named Alyssa. Alyssa’s purpose is to sing, she’s a musician with her boyfriend and they travel Canada; they sing together. But she works for me, with me pardon me, to secure her livelihood. And the agreement is this, “We’re going to help you get more gigs, so that you can live your purpose, but during your time with our company, we’re going to ask you to give yourself to our purpose and that’s to create seamless experiences.”

One day, on the weekend, a group of ladies comes to one of our venues to have brunch, and it’s the last time that these four ladies are going to get together, because one of them is just about to have a baby. Alyssa takes the education that we give her during our learning and development onboarding modules, because we don’t tell our employees to listen to our customers. Listening is a cheap skill set; listen and take action on what you have heard.

Acknowledging what your customer has said isn’t enough anymore; that’s table stakes, listen and take action what you’ve heard. Gather the customer intelligence, because your customers are having intimate conversations, whether it’s over a five second conversation or a five minute conversation with your employees, and we need to train them to be able to take that and build an experience that our customers have never seen before.

So Alyssa took the information that one of the ladies here is just about to have a child, she put the micro customer experience program into action. She goes straight to our hostess, our hostess goes across the street to a Shoppers Drug Mart which is the Walgreens equivalent in Canada. The hostess buys a box of diapers, a rattle, wrapping paper, and scotch tape; comes back in time, wraps the gift, handwritten card gives it back to Alyssa; Alyssa goes hands it to the guest.

Now I recognize that you can’t have your customers sprinting out of your stores to go do this. But what about something as simple as this, which will drive sales; compliment my shirt, tell me I’m having a good hair day. And how is that going impact sales, because if you’re like, “Would you like an extra shot of espresso?” I’ll be like “Yeah, because I feel good.”

Or, “Do you want guac?” “Yeah, I do because you just made me feel good, I’m still in this trance of I do feel good, I do look fly.” So, guys, those are the little things that we have to train our team members on, the micro experiences. We got to play in the macro, the bigger interactions I get that, both online and offline; but it’s the micro, and we must deliver that experience to them.

And guess what? The customer loyalty, positive reviews, all that stuff’s going to happen when this happens and you deploy this in the business, but one thing that we can’t neglect, my team loves doing this; their engagement is high, they love doing this.

I’m pretty much telling them, “Go compliment people and do gifting.” And guess what our budget is on this? I’ll just tell you so you don’t have to guess. This venue, in particular, will do just over $10 million a year in sales; the budget’s only $500 a month. Why, could I afford it to be $5,000 or more? I could, it would be like a wrestling match with my director of finance, but I could.

Because I don’t want people handing out bottles of Dom Pérignon; I want the smaller the budget, the more creative they have to get. And again, this doesn’t have to be gifting, it can be something as compliments, something to help your customers release endorphins when they’re at the airport; a high stress environment sometimes, we have to make them feel good.

Now, once we’ve done all this, is our reward; profit is a reward. And these are some of the things that you can go to your CFO or your director of finance and say “Hey, this is going to produce a return.” Are you on the finance team? You’re looking … No, okay, you’re looking at me like you are.

So look, this is what I say to my director of finance and he knows I have this like ammunition; when I go to my meeting and we’re budgeting for the year, I’m walking with guns a-blazing, and this is what I’m talking about. “Look, if we build a people first culture, which is going to cost us some resources and some money.” Not a whole lot, well, depends on how much you want to scale of course.

Customer experience influences customer loyalty. If you have customer loyalty, you can so choose to market as much or as little as you want. Therefore, profit’s going more to the bottom line, or you can reinvest that to more training and development for your team.

Repeat customers, more sales, we don’t advertise a lot at our venues because we just deliver a great experience and trust that they’ll get they’ll come back and it happens.

Brand admiration, we get free PR by doing this stuff. Some companies would have to pay 10s of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of dollars to get free PR in Inc., or Entrepreneur, or Business Insider, or whatever. Food and Wine magazine, that didn’t cost us anything, we just did something genuine and we got massive PR from it.

Decrease in refunds and discounts, more profit; make price secondary. Our venues, we’re not cheap, but we’re not scared to say that it does cost money to come and dine with us, but we support that with a great customer experience, to have people make price secondary.

On the employee side, less turnover, which means manageable training costs, more profit, employee loyalty, team alignment, higher productivity, less mistakes, higher sales, more profit.

But the thing is, is we have to be patient. I hope we’re trying to build businesses for the next decade, rather than just for the next 10 weeks. And I know, sometimes, it’s a tough conversation to have within our businesses, because we have to produce our quarterly results.

I get my P&L every single week. One of our venues has four P&Ls, because its that complex. You don’t think the first thing I’m looking at is straight to the bottom, and then I worked my way up? Are you sure you’re not a finance guy?

All right, might be my disguise. So guys, this is it, this is it. When I host workshops for companies and speak at their events, I say “We need to operate like our grandparents did when PPC and SEO weren’t anything.” The way that my grandfather learned how to grow his business in Lima, Peru, and he sold fish … My family has actually a funny history about … Like I was a garbage guy and he was a fishmonger; it’s not very sexy businesses.

But the only way he knew how to grow a business was by building genuine relationships with his employees and his customers. And I think with the launch of the internet, PPC, SEOs and things like that it kind of made us disingenuous. Because we were like “Hey, we can acquire more customers by using this internet thing.” And our resources went to that, and they were taken from people initiatives.

But now I think it’s coming back, largely because of social media we gave everybody a voice and we’re like “Oh crap, we have to care again.” That’s hard for some companies; but I think we’re all getting better, but we can’t stop. That’s the thing, why this might be exhausting for some people is human behavior never changes, expectations are always changing; therefore, we must change before they do.

We have a service level agreement within our business, three people first initiatives must be launched within our business every single quarter. It could be something like our net promoter score’s down, or response rates to net promoter score are down. Let’s get some better copy for our email subject line so that we can increase that rate.

Or it might be we are revamping our learning and development program; that’s a much bigger initiative, of course. But nevertheless, create a service level agreement within your business to ensure that you were always people first. And it’s not a campaign; this isn’t a campaign or a platitude, it must be embedded into the DNA of the company if you’re truly going to be authentic and be a people first company.

When it comes to customer experience, I follow three rules: we design it, we discover it, and we deploy it. When we surveyed 1,000 customers in Toronto to understand their hospitality behaviors, what we learned is they want this: they wanted value, they wanted a seamless experience, they wanted solutions, they wanted confidence.

They wanted to consumer confidence, and in my world it’s me and my wife don’t get to go out a lot, let’s say, you have this couple that goes out because they have a newborn child, perhaps; they barely get to go out anymore, maybe once a month. They want the conference know that if they select my venues, that they’re going to have a fantastic night and a great experience. Because it would really suck if they had a bad experience, because they have to wait till next month, perhaps, when they can get a babysitter.

They want to consumer confidence in your brand. What do you want your customers to think and feel when they see your employees in their uniforms, or when they see your logo? It’s upsetting to me when a company spends more money redesigning their logo, but the pain is within the business, within the employee.

Look, I’m not admiring your logo and being like, “I wonder what hue of green they use?” I don’t care, it could be like an emoji of poop and I’d be okay with that, sort of I think unless you share food and that’d be weird, but anyways. You get it.

When you ask your customers “What do you need?” It’s extraordinarily difficult, because customers don’t know what they need until it’s been presented to them; customers don’t know what they need until it’s been presented to them.

I’m going to share the story in a way that you’ve probably never heard of before. Before the iPod, which resurrected Apple as an organization, which led to the iPhone, what did we listen to for our music listening pleasures? Mp3 players.

To get from song one to 50, what did we have to do? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or hold until your thumb turned a different color; that was literally a painful customer experience. So if Johnny Ive, Steve Jobs, and the Apple engineering and design team had come to us and said, “Ramon, what do you want from your music listening pleasures?” Maybe Ramon would have said, “Let the mp3 player hold 5,000 songs and have a bunch of different colors.”

That’s not invention, that’s an iteration of what was currently in the marketplace; that’s not innovation. That’s what Ramon wanted, what we needed was the iPod in one feature alone within the iPod to better the experience; the scroll wheel. That took us from song one to 50, literally like this, rather than like this; and I’m not going to do this until 50, but you get it. Nobody in this room would have said, “Steve Jobs, give me a scroll wheel.” Nobody would have, that’s what we needed. But remember, we didn’t know we needed it until it was presented to us, and that’s why customer experience invention is so difficult.

I’m going to share this story with you, but I’m going to share it in a way that you’ve never heard of perhaps. A lot of people say “Michel, Netflix put Blockbuster out of business because of their technology.” I would never argue that. But for me, Netflix understood the purpose of customers faster than Blockbuster did, and the purposes is, is time. That is where Netflix beat blockbuster was time.

This is what we once went through to go to Blockbuster:

“Hey, sweetheart, want to watch a movie?” “Sure, let’s jump in the minivan with our kids.” Dat dat dat dat dat.

15 minutes to the store.

Park our car which, we probably didn’t find a parking stall right away.

Go into the store, go “Oh, this movie, oh they’re out. Okay, this one.”

Okay, 15 minutes in the store, you’re dodging little snot eating kids, and I noticed because I was one of those kids; so I’m not undermining any kid because I was one of those kids.

Then you would go pay, and maybe you were talking to employee that didn’t really like their job.

And then you drive back home for 15 minutes, put the DVD in, you watch your movie.

Then you drive it back, in time, so you don’t get charged like your arm.

And then you drive back.

That’s like two hours to watch an hour and a half movie; that made no sense. What would you rather do? Do that or sit on your couch naked and just press one button? Netflix understood time was the definition of success for customers; the outcome was better technology.

Has anybody eaten at Sweet Green? Okay, so, for those not familiar, it started by a few Georgetown graduates; eight years ago they didn’t exist. Today they have 100 locations, highly funded and at Sweet Green, they sell a lot of warm bowls and salads. And if they had asked me, “Michel, what do you want?” I would have been like, “Don’t charge me extra for a guac.”

What they’re building, is what I need is a consumer. This year, when you use their app to purchase your pesto chicken salad that might have tomatoes in it, you’re going to be able to find out, in the app, because they’re leveraging blockchain technology, and be like those tomatoes were picked in Arkansas, the owner of that farm was X, Y, Z family, this was the temperature outside when the tomatoes were picked and harvested, this is how long they’ve been in the store for; that is what I need.

Because I know people are becoming more conscious of what they put in their body, but there is zero chance that I would have ever been able to tell them that. Imagine that like, “Yeah, why don’t you leverage blockchain technology to tell me where my tomatoes were harvested and at what temperature?” Nobody would have ever said that, at least not me.

You see the difficulty is customers are really good at … They tell you what they want. But then you’re going to go build it, and they’re gonna want something else. We need to focus on what they need, and that takes some critical thinking with our high performing team that live within the people first culture.

So let’s do this one more time. We recruit and onboard a high performing team, we understand the purpose of the company and create alignment behind that. We understand the purpose of customers, and we share that amongst the organization, everyone on our payroll must understand what our customer personality types are.

And then we understand the purpose of each individual within our business. I’m not asking you to remember the purpose of 10,000 employees, I’m asking you to remember the purpose of the people that report in to you, and those people must understand the purpose of the people report in to them, because we’ve done that, we experienced genuine engagement.

We go out with our project teams to build strategic initiatives and processes, the outcome of that is that we create experiences that our customers have never seen before. And as leaders, we get to take a step back and allow great people to do great work and build a great company.

The reward of all this is profit, not just dollars and cents, but profit by having an admired brand, profit by getting free media, and much, much more. I want you to go back to your place of business and remember this: every company on this planet is going to tell you that they deliver a great experience; after all, why would they say otherwise?

Some companies are going to be able to tell you that they devote as much resources into their employees as they do their customer experience. But the fact of the matter is, only a few companies actually do both, genuinely. If you are interested in an organization and being a servant and benevolent leader, I highly recommend implementing the people first culture within your organization.

Thank you very much.

5 Employee Management Tips to Boost Employee Morale

Managing employees isn’t hard!

I’m not saying this to shock and awe you.

I believe managing employees isn’t as hard as we make it out to be. We simply need to adhere to some sound employee management tips and strategies to become great companies.

As leaders, we generally make it hard on ourselves to manage our employees and the outcome is a poor experience for our team members which negatively impacts their perception of you as their leader and paralyzes their morale and performance.

I’ve come a long way in my leadership ability to manage a team. I’ve recognized that my management style is different than yours and different than those of my business partners and peers.

I don’t believe I’m any better or worse than the next person, I just know, full heartedly, that my management style is right for me.

Dating back to my time at 1-800-GOT-JUNK? I was groomed by people like Brian Scudamore and Patrick Louis. I took some of what Brian and Patrick taught me and found my own style.

More recently, I’ve taken advice from Danny Meyers, Howard Behar and Patty McCord. I now define my leadership style as being a benevolent and servant leader to the 150 employees we have today at my businesses in Toronto.

For the last decade, from afar, I’ve studied great leaders like Kat Cole, Jimmy Iovine and many others to share five employee management tips to boost employee morale.

I hope you enjoy this post, consider leaving a comment below and share it with your colleagues.

Understand Their Purpose (as an individual, not employee)

My book is titled, People-First Culture: Build a Lasting Business By Shifting Your Focus From Profits to People. I define People-First Culture by building a business that your employees and customers will admire.

Simple, right?

On the surface you may think, “Yes, it’s simple enough.” But, I beg to ask you, “If it’s so simple then why isn’t every company admired?”

To become “People-First” I’ve created something I call the 3P Strategy: Purpose, Process then Profit.

Within purpose, I advocate that a benevolent and servant leader must intimately understand the purpose of each team member who directly reports into them…with or without the company. Let me explain…

employee moral

Take Christina Parihar as an example. Christina is a star! She has risen the ranks of our company remarkably. She went from a server, to a shift leader and now she’s a Manager at one of our venues. But, management of our restaurant isn’t her true career purpose. It’s to become the Director, Learning & Development for our company.

This is her career purpose and as one of her leaders it’s my job to get her there. This is an example of helping someone achieve their purpose with the company.


Meet Riley. He’s one of the top bartenders at our venues. He’s going to leave my company very soon and I’m happy about this.

I’m happy because we, as a company, are going to facilitate his exit so he can pursue his career purpose.

You see, Riley has been studying hard for years to graduate from university. He will graduate and pursue a career in biotech on the business development side of the industry.

Once Riley graduates I will personally take ownership, exhaust energy and connect him with people in my network who will interview him and hopefully hire him. This is an example of understanding a team member’s purpose and helping them reach their goals.

I once read this quote and it really resonated with me:

“Be a great company to be from.”

When I work with my management teams I share that a great employee management tip is to understand their team’s purpose and share in their success.

Clear (I mean, VERY clear) Definition and Visibility of Goals

This is where we make it hard on ourselves when it comes to managing employees and developing them during our meetings and review.

How on earth are we suppose to manage our team if goals aren’t clear and visible?

My partners use a weekly dashboard meeting to review their goals with their direct reports.

I use something called weekly GS&R’s (Goal Setting & Review).

Maybe you use something else. But, whatever, you do…use something! If you’re hiring high performers and want to manage their performance and morale, goals need to be clearly defined and visible.

Great! We have the framework in place but how are we adhering to the framework? Are we cancelling these weekly meetings? Is it a time where we passively review recent performances or do we dig deep and put everything under a microscope.

Cameron Herold once said, “Meetings don’t suck…we just suck at running meetings.” Managing your team during their reviews (which should be done regularly, not yearly) must happen often and with a clear definition of success and visibility.

Gather Employee Intelligence (EI) to Create Never-Seen-Before Experiences

I refer to employee intelligence as things you learn about your team members throughout their tenure with your company (the same can be done for customers). The most admired companies use this intelligence to create experiences for their team (and customers) that they have never seen before. These experiences build admired, People-First Culture companies.

RELATED: 3 Employee Engagement Training Strategies (video)  

Our employees have intimate conversations with us, their leaders, on a daily basis. And at times, these conversations may be falling on deaf ears, or equally as bad, are being acknowledged with unenthusiastic responses.

Let’s put this into action by way of a real-world example.

An employee tells me they have a big exam coming up. I ask for the date of the exam and record it in my phone to remind me three days before. The same day that I get the notification reminding me of the exam, I think to myself, “What would one need to help them prepare for this exam?”

One of the first things that comes to mind was one of those Sage scented vaporizers to use the evening before the exam to relax my team member before the big day.

Not all employee intelligence gestures need to be delivered with a high monetary value. For example, if your team member tells you their mother’s name or their favourite sports team, you can simply…

  • Ask how Rosa’s doing
  • Text them when their team wins a big game

One trick here is to use your phone to capture the data. Don’t leave it up to memory to remember these moments of employee intelligence.

When I host my Breakfast N’ Jam sessions I often find myself excusing myself to the bathroom so I can write things in my phone so I don’t appear rude by doing so at the table.

Find Them Another Leader to Learn From

You can’t be the only person that your employee learns from. After all, you’re not an expert in everything and neither am I. I’m constantly trying to find other professionals that my team can learn from.

These teachings can come from a book, podcast or in-person and virtual coaching. Here are a few examples of when I’ve found members of my team other people to learn from.

  • Jordan Lopez: his marketing prowess exceeded my skill set so we purchased Brian Dean’s YouTube online course for him.
  • Melissa Smilie: someone who has a tremendous future ahead of her, I recommended she read Patty McCord’s ‘Powerful: Build a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility” book as she’s going to need to learn how to develop high performing teams.
  • Max Romer: a team member who will be leaving my company to pursue a career in finance, I connected him with someone I know working within the finance department at Microsoft Canada.

Did I  already possess some of these skill sets? Yes, but, like I mentioned, your team needs to learn from people other than you to help continuously manage their morale.

Take action: This week, ask each of your direct reports one thing they want to learn within the next 90 days then go out and find an external subject matter expert for them.

Tell Them to Invest in Themselves

In 2014, I wrote a Linkedin article that received some great traction. I titled it, “Employees Need to Be Responsible For Their Own Development.”

You, as a leader at your company, can only develop so many people. Your bandwidth eventually will reach its limit. There needs to be a mutual understanding between you and your direct reports and it goes like this…

“I will give myself to you BUT you must give yourself to your own development.”

As my Linkedin post above suggests, Michael Jordan didn’t become Michael Jordan by only shooting free throws during designated practice time. He became great by putting in work on his own time.

Beyonce became Beyonce by singing, singing and singing some more at home, not just in church.

Building a high performing team is a counter balance between the leader and the team member. The leader must provide stewardship but ultimately it’s up to the employee to grow themselves.

When I was growing my career in my early 20’s I invested time to reading, watching YouTube videos and reaching out to professionals on Linkedin to ask if I could ask them a few questions. Today, in a way, I’m still an employee. We have investors that count on us to pay them a return. To do so, I must continuously invest in my education. I invest in paying 5-figures to attend retreats and workshops. I read books and listen to podcasts to level-up my game.

Take these employee management tips and apply them within your business. I’m not suggesting doing all five tactics immediately. Start with one or two, build some momentum then add another.

Leave a comment below: which employee management tip resonates with you the most and why?

Social Media Customer Service Tips (with Rachel David)

In my interview with Rachel David, founder of Hashtag Communications, we discuss social media customer service, managing remote employees and how businesses can leverage influencers to build trust with potential customers.

If you enjoy this video, make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel to see upcoming videos when they get released.

If you prefer to read the transcript from the video, it can be found below.

Michel:            In this interview, I’m speaking to Rachel David to talk to her about social media, customer service, managing remote employees, and I’m going to ask her about the Jerk King fiasco.

Michel:            Guys, thank you so much for joining me. I’ve got the brilliant Rachel David with me to talk all things social media, customer service, influencer marketing, and managing a remote team, all things that you can speak to in a professional, expert manner, which is why I invited you.

Michel:            So, thank you so much for joining me. I’m going to jump right into it, because I saw something this weekend where you went off. You went off on Instagram story about a restaurant called Jerk King.

Rachel:             Don’t say it fast.

Michel:            And Uber Eats.

Rachel:             Yeah.

Michel:            Tell everyone the story.

Rachel:             Okay. So I am a huge Uber-, I feel like most people, most millennials love their Uber Eats.

Michel:            How many days a week though?

Rachel:             Well, probably on average four. Yeah, but in the snow especially, it’s maybe a little bit more, but you’d think working from home, you would use less Uber Eats, but no I’m just always home. It sounds a really nice to not leave my bed right now, and just have it delivered, so I use it a lot.

Rachel:             Anyways. This was a couple of days ago, I ended up, Oh God, it was so rattling. I ended up ordering my Jerk King, my favorite Jerk Chicken on Uber Eats, and I saw that I accidentally had my friend’s address in there. So, I quickly deleted it, and I’m like, ‘Okay, well, I’m not going to send it to my friend’s address. I don’t even know if they’re home. ‘Yes, I would if I knew they were home, but I don’t know, and do they even like jerk chicken? I don’t know.’

Rachel:             So, I just was like, ‘Let’s cancel it’, but then there was a notification that said, ‘You’re going to be charged 17.50 to cancel this’, but in my mind, I’m like, ‘That’s a spelling typo, it’s 1.50, it’s not 17.50. You’re not charging me 17.50 in one second. Nope.’ Nope, they are.

Rachel:             So I said, ‘Cancel,’ and then I get the thing that’s like on my history, and it was like ‘You just got charged 17.50 for nothing’, and so I was like, ‘Okay, that’s ridiculous’. So, I ended up sending a note to Uber Eats. You know, you can send them a message through through the In-app service, and I didn’t hear a response, and then I found a number, and I was like, ‘Okay, well I will reach out to that number, and talk to somebody.’

Rachel:             So, the man on the other line was really nice, and he’s like, ‘Yeah, I’m really sorry you’re going through this. Let me try to call the restaurant. We can’t do anything at Uber Eats. We actually can’t do anything’, which I find that hard to believe, but he was like, ‘But what I can do is call the restaurant’, because I guess it’s like they set their own rules, and parameters.

Rachel:             So, he tried calling the restaurant 13 times. He’s like, ‘I’m going to put you on hold for five minutes’, and then he’s like, ‘Sorry, I haven’t gotten a hold of them yet. I’m going to put you on hold for another five, 10 minutes’. At this point, I’m just like, ‘This is really bothering me’. I started getting pretty rattled, and then he picks up the phone, he goes, ‘I’m really sorry we can’t get ahold of them, and I’ve tried 13 times.’

Rachel:             I was like, okay, well first of all, how am I even going to order? How are they even preparing my order if nobody is there, and picking up the phone? Like, who is this ghost preparing my food? So, I was like, ‘Okay, cool. Can I call them?’ And he’s like, ‘Yeah, you can try, and see if they can do something’, and that’s when I just got angry.

Rachel:             So, I tried calling, nobody picked up. So, I was like, you know, I’m going to order again. Let’s see if they are there, are they going to send it to me, ’cause I would like to look this Uber Eats, even though I know it’s not his fault, I need to let this out. So I was like, ‘Come to my place, look me in the eye, and really tell me that nobody’s in the restaurant to pick up the phone, just pick up the phone’.

Michel:            This is pretty sinister.

Rachel:             Who was that, ‘Pick up the phone babe’? Who was that, Young Thug? No, I don’t know. I feel like you would know. Oh no, that’s a good one. No, I was thinking, ‘Pick up the phone baby’. You know it, what’s that song?

Speaker 3:        Young Thug.

Rachel:             Young Thug. See? I was right. There you go, culture, culture.

Michel:            So you’re documenting this whole experience.

Rachel:             On my Instagram.

Michel:            Instagram story.

Rachel:             Well, because at that point when they didn’t pick up the phone, I was like, ‘Well what can I do? I guess I have my social media, and I can tell people’, ’cause really at the end of the day, the thing I love is that you can advise people what to do, what not to do.

Rachel:             The thing is, if you wait to cancel it in like 10 minutes, that’s one thing, but within a second? Come on. So, I told people on my social media, this is what happened. So, just so you know, make sure you have the address right, because you could be charged a ridiculous fee in a matter of a quick little mistake, there’s no mercy.

Rachel:             So then, I put this on my Uber, or sorry, on my Instagram, and I tagged Uber, and Jerk King. Well, Jerk King didn’t have social media, obviously they don’t even have a phone. So, I hashtagged Jerk King, and I was just telling the whole story, and was like, ‘All right, maybe I should switch from Uber Eats, maybe like what’s up Foodora?’, and I like did the little wave, and then Foodora reached out within a second.

Michel:            I saw that.

Rachel:             That was pretty wild. It was literally in five minutes to be like, ‘Hey, here’s a promo code.’

Michel:            So does immediacy, obviously that positively impacts social media customer service, but what else has to be brought to the table for brand to be great at leveraging social media as a communication tool with their customers?

Rachel:             Well, I need to finish off with where the story ended, was that Uber Eats actually saw what Foodora, because I tagged them in the whole thing. So, in the end, right after I did that, they messaged and was like, ‘Sorry, we’ve refunded you’.

Rachel:             So, was the social media aspect of kind of putting them I think out there, and being like, ‘Hey, hold yourself accountable to that, you shouldn’t be doing this’, and so when they told me they couldn’t do anything, and then they could, to be honest, it did still bother me, cause I was like don’t do this to other people. Just because maybe like if you’re verified on Instagram, you have a lot of followers, you can make change. You should really be doing this, and treating people equally.

Michel:            What about the authenticity part of it? Cause it sounds like they weren’t gonna do anything about it until you pretty much had your foot on their throat being like, ‘Hey, your competitor’s talking to me right now’, and then they changed their behavior.

Rachel:             Yeah.

Michel:            So, would you suggest that authenticity, it has to be a pillar to being great at social media, customer service?

Rachel:             I think it comes down to what you preach, which is start from like what are the pillars of their culture, you know? And for me at my company, it’s just being kind to people, you know, and treating people with just don’t be a dick. Do you know what I mean? Don’t be a dick, and if you really follow that, like in my world, like in the way I lead my life, you know, I think every even person has their own sort of morals, and values obviously, and the way that they lead their life.

Rachel:             And especially as a CEO, you have to create that culture, so you have to lead by example. So, that’s like, you are nice to everybody. Like, for me it’s like you’re the Uber driver, you’re the surfer, whoever it is, you treat them all equally, and with the same level of respect, and kindness, right?

Rachel:             So, I think that goes hand, in hand with a company as large as Uber. It’s like, what are the pillars of customer service, what actually can, and can’t you do, and I think communication is one of the hardest things, especially as you scale.

Rachel:             Uber scaled so quickly. So, I kind of understand how maybe some departments know certain things, and maybe some others don’t, but I think all getting on the same page, and being united, you know, unity is really big.

Michel:            When a customer has been wronged, but had that wrongdoing resolved, do you think we as consumers have the ownership to go back online, and say company ABC did it well, or is that just expectation, and table stakes?

Rachel:             I think that it’s a nice thing to praise somebody for doing the right thing, because everybody loves acknowledgement, and I think that you’re able to motivate people through acknowledging them.

Michel:            For the record, I did not prompt her to say that, because I’m just about to go on a tangent very briefly. It’s our responsibility as consumers to help power great experiences.

Michel:            There’s somebody, a human being at the end of the interaction that just wants to be acknowledged, and if you give them that gratitude for a job well done, it’s going to empower them to want to do it again, and again.

Michel:            That is our responsibility as consumers to better the customer experience. What companies are doing social media customer service really well? Do you like watch from afar, and you’re like, ‘That company is doing it’.

Rachel:             Customer service really well. I mean, I think the first thing that comes to mind is like the amount of E-commerce brands that started E-commerce. They weren’t bricks, and mortar and then went E-commerce. So, you’re looking at companies like Fashion Nova that are like responding to every DM so quickly.

Rachel:             You know, cause social media is their thing, so they’ve kind of taken it to a different level. I think brands are getting a lot smarter when it comes to campaigns on social media, and how they are trying to get attention from people. There was something wild that happened about a week, or two ago. I don’t know if you saw it with Casey Neistat, and Burger King.

Michel:            I did, but share the story please.

Rachel:             Okay. So, long story short, basically Burger King went into really big social media influencers Twitter, and they scrolled farther, back, back, back like 10 years. Now, anybody who gets a liked tweet from 10 years ago, and I’m guessing Burger King is verified.

Rachel:             So, when you’re verified on Twitter, you immediately get a notification that somebody liked, or commented. So, that’s why getting verified on Twitter I think is one of the best verification social networks to be verified on, because you can get ahold of anybody, I’m telling you it’s a game changer.

Rachel:             So, Burger King went, and liked a bunch of influencers tweets from 10 years ago, and so obviously the reaction’s like, ‘Why are they liking our tweets from 10 years ago?’ So Casey tweeted at Burger King, ‘Why did you like my tweet from 10 years ago?’ And it was all kind of part of this big campaign to get influencers talking about Burger King without sponsoring, or paying them to do so, and then it kind of pissed off a lot of influencers. So, there’s a good, and bad way.

Michel:            You mentioned Fashion Nova, I was just thinking about them the other day being like at this company seemingly came out of nowhere, and dominated social media by leveraging influencers. What type of perception is given when a company leverages influencers? What customer perception?

Rachel:             Well, I mean this is the world I work in. I run an influencer marketing company, and so the reason why I even chose this field, is because I know it’s on an upward trajectory. It’s a four point $5 billion industry right now in North America. It’s going to be a $10 billion industry in 2020, that’s like what, next year? That’s pretty crazy.

Rachel:             So, we’re seeing it go upwards, and I think the reason is, is because of the loyalty that people have, especially millennials. Millennials, when they’re buying something, 60% of consumer products especially made online by a millennial are made by something they see on social media, and that is because they’re spending like on average nine hours a day on social media. That’s pretty crazy, but if you think about it like between Twitch, and Instagram, and Twitter, it’s like, I spend a lot of time on those social networks as well.

Rachel:             So, I think that it provides this sort of brand trust when they see an influencer, because some of them spend more time with their YouTube friends than they do with their real life friends. You know, I’ve seen E-commerce brands virtually transform, I don’t know if you know the company HiSmile, they’re a teeth whitening brand.

Rachel:             It’s it’s a photograph-able, it lends itself really well to Instagram, and there was this headline that I read, and it was a couple of 20-something year olds turn a few thousand bucks into a $40 million business, and within 18 months, their company was at $10 million, and they did a brand deal with Kylie Jenner when Kylie Jenner was on the rise, I think she was at 75 million followers at the time.

Rachel:             Now, she’s well over that, but their company is like, it’s working. It’s really working for brands. I think doing it effectively is a whole other thing.

Michel:            I think influencer marketing can actually better the customer experience if the person delivering the message can be trusted. Are celebrities trusted?

Rachel:             Well …

Michel:            Big time celebrities.

Rachel:             That’s an interesting question, because apparently if you look at the data, only three percent of consumer products are sold, because of a celebrity endorsement, and this makes sense. You know, I gave this example in this, actually I did a TED talk for the first time in September, which is a huge honor.

Rachel:             And one of the things that I pointed out was this makes sense that only three percent is of a conversion rate really, because if you look at somebody like, I take Jennifer Aniston as an example, and I know she is not using Aveeno everyday. I mean, she might, but I know that she’s got the money to have these like weird vampire facials, and you know, you might be doing that, and Aveeno, but it’s not just Aveeno .

Rachel:             So it’s like, and I know that, ’cause I see your lifestyle, and I see your friends, and I don’t relate to her. She is not me, we are in totally different places in our lives, and so it’s like, if it’s an influencer that maybe is in also like the same sort of tax bracket that I’m in, and we’re looking for a good product that’s going to help the wrinkles go away, but they’re like, ‘Yeah, it’s a little bit more money, but it really works’, I’m going to trust them.

Michel:            Last year, McDonald’s Canada reached out to me to help them with their national hiring day campaign, and when they first reached me, and we can link up the video for that, but when they first reached out to me, I was like, they probably have the wrong person.

Michel:            Why are they reaching out to me? But then when the PR agency that we’re working with, they chatted with me, they were like, ‘You know, you’re like a micro influencer’. I was like, ‘Is that insulting?’

Rachel:             What do you mean? They didn’t say nano influencer though? That’s the new word.

Michel:            A nano influencer. How many?

Rachel:             Yeah. It goes nano, micro, macro.

Michel:            Is there less than an nano?

Rachel:             No, I don’t think so.

Michel:            What’s nano?

Rachel:             I think a nano is basically considered a person who, I think it’s under a thousand followers. Probably in the 800 follower range. Like, they’re your everyday person who, because the engagement rates are high for smaller Instagrammers.

Michel:            And, is it more authentic, and believable?

Rachel:             Yes.

Michel:            It goes with your point. So, influencer marketing is growing, you said by 2020 it will double.

Rachel:             Yeah.

Michel:            So, it doesn’t seem like the topic is going away anytime soon, which is fantastic for your business. Do you think that some companies are still asking the ROI? What is the ROI of influencer marketing, or social media customer service?

Rachel:             Yeah.

Michel:            For me, it’s perplexing that we’re still, some companies might still be asking that, but what are you hearing?

Rachel:             I mean, I hear that question in every meeting I ever go to, and my response is, ‘Well A, who are you? Like, what brand are you? Are you Adidas, or are you Skinny Bunny Tea?’ Like, the price of what you are going to pay an influencer, also is determined of who your brand is. You know, what’s your culture, what do you stand for?

Rachel:             And so that also indicates the likelihood of how many sales are really made. You know, like it’s easier to sell a very unique product that’s maybe you’ve seen on Dragon’s Den that’s new to the market, and everybody wants it, and it’s going to really benefit their lives.

Rachel:             It’s really difficult, because I did a deal with an eyewear company, and this eyewear company, the promo that these influencers had to give wasn’t probably high enough. It’s really difficult for people to buy glasses, prescription glasses on the website, and the UX design of the website was not easy to navigate, so it all of a sudden makes an ROI very difficult to measure, because I can lead the horse to water, but I can’t make it drink, right?

Rachel:             So, it’s the company that all those things need to be thought through before doing anything. Like, as soon as you implement an influencer campaign, you’re going to get lots of eyeballs, so everything has to be in place.

Michel:            Got it. I want to transition to having a conversation about managing remote employees, your team primarily, if not everyone is remote. How do you build a company culture when your team don’t come to the same office as you every single day? As their leader, how do you do that?

Rachel:             Well, I’ve taken a lot of different approaches to how I want to build my team. I think it’s really important to think of what’s important to you. You know, for me, freedom is very important to me, and also I’m a people pleaser a little bit. So, if I have people around me all the time, I’m going to want to make sure they’re always good, you know?

Rachel:             Therefore, I’m not using my brain on things like actual strategy, which is what I’m getting hired to do. You know, so I really have to analyze, also offices are hella expensive, especially in Toronto. So, is that an overhead cost that I want to charge my client?

Rachel:             You know, there’s all these factors, and is it that necessary? So, what I have done in the past, I have had a place where everybody joins together like a workplace, and I wanted to see sort of what the energy was like, and if anything, they were more stiff.

Rachel:             I don’t need my staff to be stiff, I need them to come up with good ideas, and do the work. So then I transitioned to, well, how about everybody comes over on a Sunday, that was my thing that I did for about two years. Every Sunday, my door’s open to you, I’m going to cook for you, we’re going to have a nice time, I’m going to create a family environment, and essentially I want them to know that I care for them.

Rachel:             And so I’m opening my home to them, and I want to hear, I want to get to know them, right? I want to know their goals, I wanna know what they’re trying to achieve, right? And I think the biggest thing about when you’re working with the staff is just making it so they care, okay?

Rachel:             That’s at the crux. Like, a lot of times what we do now, especially in marketing, it’s not like a nine to five job, especially on social media, and working with influencers, ’cause they could be posting at all different times. We also work with companies in Asia.

Rachel:             That’s a 24 hour now working at midnight. So, I need a staff that’s pretty flexible, and also cares. So, I did that, and then just recently I’ve transitioned, because I will say this, and what I’m learning is understanding my boundaries as a boss, and as a friend. So, the personal, and business, which I never thought that, that was a thing, but it weighs a lot on me, because I care so much.

Rachel:             So, then I start thinking of these things, and then when you know too much, then you’re like, ‘Is this person stable to do this’ in whatever it is, and it almost takes away from the actual task. So, I’m learning that maybe what I want to do, and this is something I’m going to start trying to do, is every month doing a really awesome family style dinner with everybody in the company.

Rachel:             So, once a month, if they can make it, and everybody likes to eat, you know, and I’d rather have that good experience left in their mind, than anything. That’s all I want is them to be happy. So, when they think of Hashtag, and when they see an email from me, that it’s not a trigger of, ‘Stress, stress, oh my God, Rachel, she’s going to be angry’, it’s like, ‘No, that’s my friend’. You know, ‘No, that, that person cares. Oh, she’s somebody that I have a good feeling when I think of.’

Michel:            Speaking of food, let’s say you’re on death row. What would be your last meal?

Rachel:             I feel like I must have told you this one time.

Michel:            No, I swear you haven’t?

Rachel:             Really?

Michel:            I asked this question to nearly everyone I meet.

Rachel:             Well, I’m pretty simple woman. I like a good burger.

Michel:            Okay.

Rachel:             I love a good burger, oh my God!

Michel:            All right. You mentioned freedom. I recently was on a podcast with Patty McCord. She was the VP of HR for about 15 years I believe at Netflix, and Netflix, one of their core values is employee freedom. Along with that, what are some things that you are doing within the company, whether it’s strategies, or processes to make sure that your remote team is productive, because you have that separation?

Rachel:             So, one thing I do is I always put in deadlines.

Michel:            Okay.

Rachel:             So, I’ll never be like, ‘Hey, can you do this?’ I’ll always say, ‘Hey, can you do this?’, but within this time, can you get it to me by this time? And then I put it in my calendar. So, I go, ‘Okay, ask so, and so for this thing’, and so it’s just like an immediate one, two, one, two.

Rachel:             I also now have started, I mean it’s all pillars, right? So, I have like one account that is completely managed by that point person. She reports directly to me, and then she has people that she manages. So, I just have to give the sort of ass, and then they also manage that, or they take it from me. It’s almost like, I feel like I run five companies at once.

Rachel:             So, it’s about like you said, instilling that you have confidence in them, that you’re proud of them, that you appreciate them. In all my emails, I mean, because typically they’re doing really great, and they are going above, and beyond, and I am just like, like one girl, she’s on a staycation in Niagara Falls, and this client just came through, and I was like, ‘Do you want to help me with this deck? It’s a new account, it’s really big. You don’t have to, but I’d love to get you in on the ground floor’, and she was like, Yeah, let’s do it’.

Rachel:             And it’s like, she is doing this, her poor boyfriend, you know? Another thing was sort of knowing what I believe in as Rachel, and what I stand for. So, one of the things is female empowerment. For the first three years, I’ve only hired women actually, which is a little bit controversial, but you know, I come from a background where I worked in television for years, and a lot of my self worth was predicated on the way that I look, and it wasn’t for my brain.

Rachel:             It was for the way that I looked on camera, and I could say lines, and I was so devastated when I was let go from that job, and it’s all over YouTube, my story, and everything of how that happened.

Michel:            We’ll link it up below.

Rachel:             It’s quite emotional, and it’s just been such an empowering feeling to make things happen, or create things that have never been created, or will provide jobs to people, and just feel that empowerment from your brain, rather than just your body, you know? So, that’s been something really big for me, although I did just hire my first guy three weeks ago.

Michel:            So, let’s say I applied for whatever position.

Rachel:             Yeah.

Michel:            How would you describe your leadership style to me if I asked you in the interview process? How does Rachel David lead?

Rachel:             I lead by example, and that’s why you see on my Instagram, it’s like midnight, I’m like, I’m still working, you know? So, I need them to know, actually, Gary Vaynerchuk, love him, or hate him. He, I think has taught me that you need to lead by example.

Rachel:             So, even if I travel, you know, I am working when I travel. It’s listen, have fun, but get it done.

Michel:            Okay.

Rachel:             Have fun, but get it done, I like that. Is that a quote already?

Michel:            Well Jordan, you’re trademarking it.

Rachel:             No, no, I want it! That’s how I’m gonna end my Youtube videos.

Michel:            My last question is, if you were to hire any influencer, who would it be to join your team?

Rachel:             Oh, well that’s an interesting question, because I don’t hire influencers, so I should just preface.

Michel:            Let’s say, Hashtag Communication’s got to a point where …

Rachel:             Where I was signing influencers exclusively?

Michel:            Yes.

Rachel:             ‘Cause we basically work with everyone, all the management companies. A brand calls us, and we’ll be like, ‘We need to get this done’. So, my whole thing is that I don’t want to sign them, because then I’m pigeoned into, you know, say McDonald’s calls, and they’re like, ‘Oh, we have this great meat burger’, I don’t want to have a vegan on my roster that I’m taking a percentage of every month off their back end.

Rachel:             Business plans are interesting, but basically I’m more of a consultant for, we’re all consultants for brands.

Michel:            Okay.

Rachel:             So, we work with every influencer in the world.

Michel:            So, if you were to interact with any influencer, have you ever thought like they would be really cool to work with, because of their perception online, or how they carry themselves?

Rachel:             That is such a good question. I mean, obviously the Kardashians come to mind, because it’s just like …

Michel:            All right. Which one of them? There’s like a little country of them now it seems like.

Rachel:             Well, I’m thinking like, cause Kylie’s the most expensive, Kendall just got paid that 250 to promote Fyre Festival, 250,000, and then Kim, I mean, she’s like a legend in that world. She’s like the first selfie influencer.

Michel:            What about Rob?

Rachel:             Rob would be a nightmare. I’d be like, ‘Can you answer my phone call?’ I’d be so scared, I’d like, wire him the money, and be like, ‘I hope that he does it’. No way, although Kris would hopefully, hopefully.

Rachel:             God, who would be interesting? I mean, Tekashi 6ix9ine is in jail, but you know that if he promoted something, it would fly off the shelves. People would be like, ‘Oh, it’s so cool, and it’s in the culture.’

Michel:            The first thing that he promoted coming out of jail. That would be a big egg, some company would pay a quarter million bucks today? You could find a company to do that, right?

Rachel:             I think he could probably demand, yeah, yeah. Actually I would say that, a quarter million would be about right. I think they’re even higher now to be honest. I think Kim is going to be asking you for at least a million.

Michel:            Per post.

Rachel:             Yeah.

Michel:            That’s insane. We, or I am in the wrong business frankly. You are in the right business. Guys, thank you so much for joining us. Everything that we talked about, the statistics, the links, are going to be in the comments section. Thank you so much for your attention, Rachel, where do people find you?

Rachel:             Pretty simple. I have two first names, so Rachel, my last name’s David, and that’s on everything. Yeah.

Michel:            Rachel David.

Rachel:             Thank you.

Michel:            Hey guys, I hope you enjoyed the interview with Rachel David. I’m absolutely committed to giving you education on three very important topics: Customer experience, employee engagement, and company culture. If you want some more of that information, click the subscribe button right now, so you can be alerted when I release my next video. I’ll see you next time.

3 Employee Engagement Training Strategies


In this video I’m going to share three employee engagement training strategies that I use in my business. I know that they work so I’m confident that they’re going to work for you too.

If you prefer to read over watching my video, check out the transcript below!

The first is how your employee onboarding strategy has been built out.

A lot of companies don’t have an employee onboarding strategy and it is the best opportunity to be able to increase employee engagement on day one of the employee’s tenure with the company.

Use this opportunity not just to train your new team member but to engage them into your people first culture.

The second employee engagement strategy is something that I call breakfast and jam.

It’s when I will meet with a team member on a weekly basis where we have breakfast together and we talk about what ever they want to talk about.

One thing I ask them is, are you looking for advice or you’re looking for someone to listen because that is the role that I will play as the host of our breakfast and jam sessions.

Now you can call your sessions whatever you want, but my greatest recommendation is ensure that it happens on a weekly basis.

That way you always have your finger on the pulse and you’re always reinforcing how important employee engagement is to your company.

The third employee engagement strategy is employee intelligence and gifting.

When you meet with your team members and you learn something about them, document that intelligence. So let’s say you’re meeting with Samantha. You’re high performing salesperson.

If she happens to tell you that she grew up in Philadelphia and was a huge Allen Iverson Fan, make note of that and within your operating budget, I allow yourself to be able to purchase something like signed Allen Iverson shoes.

Imagine what that would do to her engagement and her performance, which would serve the company in a positive way.

Now, I’m not recommending that the budget has to be huge, but make it something. Maybe it’s a $20 gift or maybe you can afford something a bit more than that.

Whatever it is, take the employee intelligence and do some gifting and watch your employee engagement skyrocket.

There you have it! Those are my three employee engagement training strategies.

If you want to know where you can get even more strategies and processes that have worked, go pick up a copy of my book, head over to Amazon.

There’s a link below where you can buy some copies for your team.

Now, before you go subscribe to my youtube channel so that you’re alerted when I released my next video.

Go in the comments section and let me know which strategy you think you’re going to be able to implement in 2019 and visit my website, to learn about the employee engagement training workshops that I host for companies around the world.

Thank you so much, and I’m definitely gonna see you next time…right?!

Customer Experience Keynote Speaker: Customer Service vs Customer Experience

Hey Team,

I’m excited to share my Customer Experience Keynote presentation that I shot in St. Pete’s Beach, Florida. In addition to sharing company culture, employee engagement & customer experience strategies, I also explain the difference between customer service and customer experience.

Watch it above OR read the transcript below!

Good afternoon. I picked up on two things right away.

The first was, it’s with a lot of expectation and excitement, so thank you.

Um, second, I’m a profit driven entrepreneur.

I just go about it a different way and now you’ve recognized them Canadian by the way that I said about, I’m sure. Uh, I am based in Toronto. I spent most of my life, uh, in Vancouver, uh, and hospitality is the industry out of every industry that I could have dove into.

That was the one that I decided, which probably will end my life sooner than it should. Um, my expertise is threefold. Company culture, employee engagement and customer experience.

It’s my responsibility with my fork to my partners and to our business and our community to build strategies that will make those three things help grow our business. So why did, uh, Theresa, um, select me as your speaker when we first spoke?

I’m in hospitality and industry that could not be any more different than yours, but I, I believe in perhaps you could say a word or two after, during Q and. A, there’s two key reasons. The first is if we strip away what industry that we operate within, the common denominator that we have is that we’re trying to manage human behavior within the workplace and outside of the workplace being our vendors, our business partners, and of course our customers.

The second reason is I believe that if these strategies have proven to work in such a volatile industry that is hospitality, I believe that it’ll work for you as well too. I’ve leveraged the strategies that I’m going to share with you in industries such as telecom, automotive, biotech, uh, some, some different industries that aren’t extraordinarily people first perhaps. But again, if we strip that all away, we have some commonalities.

What I’m going to share with you today is I’m going to introduce you to the people first culture and three p strategy. I’m going to share what customer personality types are cause I do not believe you can deliver the same experience to every single customer the exact same way. That’s the furthest thing away from delivering a personalized experience, which gets away from earning true loyalty. I’m going to have a conversation with you and this is where I’m going to ask you to really think about the behaviors of your customers and anyone that interacts with your brand. Because we’re going to talk about wants versus needs. Now here’s a little tip. If you do not want me to pick on you by asking you to chat with me in front of your colleagues, don’t look me in the eye. Uh, cause if I see eyes on me, then it’s telling me that you want me to engage you.

Uh, so there’s a tip, but hopefully your eyes don’t divert when, uh, when we get to that part. I did not grow up in the hospitality industry. As a matter of fact, my father, when I was in highschool, operated a restaurant and a, and unfortunately it made them file for bankruptcy. Um, it’s a tough industry and I could never have imagined that I would have gotten an industry knowing what I know of the industry as a child of somebody that had to file for bankruptcy because of an industry that chewed them up and spat and, righto. So allow me the first couple of moments, um, to share my backstory with you and I do this so that I can build some rapport with you so that hopefully you think you know what? He gets it right. He understands behavior in the workplace and outside of the workplace.

My career started in 2007 as a call center agent in my early twenties. Working for an organization that you might be familiar with if you’ve ever seen blue trucks driving around, perhaps your city. And on the side of them in big letters, it says 1-800-GOT-JUNK. Pretty familiar. How many people are not familiar? Oh, great. Well, the company, uh, to give you some more information is one of the true great entrepreneurial success success stories in North America. One gentleman had a pickup truck in 1989 and would knock on your door and say, do you want me to get rid of any stuff that you no longer want in your home? Uh, an ex husband, uh, uh, Fredj a couch. But then it grew to what today? A quarter billion dollars a year in sales. So when I, and the great thing about this is no outside capitol, zero debt. One owner I true, true business.

I was in business school before I joined 100 got junk because I wanted to learn how to grow a company. So I went to business school and unfortunately I’m not an academic. I, I didn’t really make it a, and I didn’t come from a wealthy family, so I needed to pay for my own schooling. So a year went by a couple of semesters I was like, this is not working. What’s an alternative plan? So I uh, in Vancouver, the two great companies then, uh, we’re 1-800-GOT-JUNK and Lulu Lemon, the athletic a retail company. So I interviewed for both and I got offers for both and I decided that it was going to be 1-800-GOT-JUNK largely because they were doing this already culture engagement experience. It was a part of the DNA of the company back then. Even before anybody even said the words, customer experience management, they were leveraging that to grow their company.

Not only that, they had just won Canada’s best workplace, like for the entire country, a medium sized organization going up against multibillion dollar companies. So I said, I’m going to do this. I’m going to start off in the ground floor, worked my way up and hopefully one day start that business that I wanted. So the hardest part was telling my South American mother, I very traditional, you go to school, you finish it, that I was leaving university to go work for a garbage company. Um, that, that wasn’t a hard conversation. Uh, that was a hard conversation. Pardon me? But, um, if you asked her today, I think she would agree that it was the right thing for me to do. I joined, worked in the call center, answered a hundred calls a day for about a year, five days a week. Now that’s actually not the hardest part, the hardest part.

And the, uh, the majority of the calls came from the US because that was where the biggest footprint was for the company. The hardest part was answering the phone and convincing you great American people that a man can actually be named Michelle. It literally the first two or three minutes of the conversation was like, yes, Gladys in Florida. Um, so I recognize that you’re not my therapist, so I’ll, I’ll stop it right there. But, um, I, truth be told, I actually had one of the largest average handle times in the call center and I swear I, I pinpoint it to that I wasn’t going to be a call center guy forever. So I transitioned into the operations management side of the company at this point. I’m in about my mid twenties reporting to the VP of finance and I gave myself to my career. I knew what I wanted to, to do a one day and I knew that I couldn’t just sit on my hands and I was introduced to a topic called customer experience management.

And again, nobody was really talking about this back then, but there were emerging companies like and of course Starbucks, that we’re leveraging these strategies. And I said, you know what? This is going to be my niche. This is what I’m going to, I’m in America Niche, um, and this is what I’m going to leverage to build companies. I did not know what industry just yet, but I knew that was going to be the topic. I transitioned outside of the company and then I started, uh, an advisory firm. I thought, uh, I would go help companies on their people for strategies. I hadn’t coined the phrase just yet, but anything customer, employee related, uh, I would want to build strategies for them. So I started off working with companies that did less than a million dollars in sales, like micro micro companies, just anybody I would work with, anybody that had to check that wouldn’t bounce pretty much.

But then Verizon wireless called and said, will you help us build training materials for western western region for a retail, uh, stores? And I said, I didn’t even know how to write a proposal. I thought this to myself. I better figure it out. And then blue cross blue shield and Mcdonald’s and so forth. And that told me that companies of all industries of all sizes are now starting to figure this out. That culture matters, employee engagement matters. And of course the outcome from that is having a great customer experience, not just one that is great for your industry, but an experience that your customers have never seen before. I’m going to mention a phrase called R and D and I don’t mean research and development. I mean rip off and duplicate and I know it sounds shameless, but I spend a lot of time studying companies, not in my industry and I’m going to share some examples from companies that I think you can learn from as well too, but when you learn from a great company, ask yourself, could we be doing this as well too, and then put your own spin on it so it becomes a part of Deco.

Today I operate a hospitality organization. We went from zero employees, $0 million in revenue to just over 15 million and 150 employees in just under two years. The strategies that I share with you today is what has helped us keep the train on the track because that is tremendous growth and we expected it because we operate in Toronto, one of the largest cities in North America. We operate on a King Street, arguably one of the most competitive streets for hospitality. Have you been to King Street? Oh, no way. That’s awesome as well. We’ll have a beer after. Um, so these are the strategies we’re going to share. I’m not a theory guy, right? I didn’t want to write the book until I had case studies in my own right. I wanted to cut my teeth so that I could stand before you and say look these work whether it’s in my industry, perhaps yours or other ones cause I don’t have enough confidence to stand in front of an audience like this and talk about things that I had not leveraged in my own career.

One thing that I know very well is that we don’t know the difference between customer service and customer experience and I don’t mean to offend anybody when I say that. I just have been at this long enough that people don’t know that they key points where it differs within my organization. This is how we train our team members. Regardless of your position, whether you are customer facing or not. My finance team goes through this seam, customer centric training that my hostesses and bartenders do because if we want to create alignment behind building a people first culture, any, everyone must go through the same training to create that alignment. But also you never know where your next great strategy is going to come from. Dishwashers, I finance team, they are have a role in being able to help us build this organization. Customer service, our actions within the customer experience.

So if you go to the grocery store and pay for your banana is your milk and your loaf of bread, the person that’s helping you pay is delivering them customer service. That’s an action within the entire customer experience. Customer experience is the discovery, design and deployment of the interaction within a customer journey. So think about when you go to the movie theaters, every single one of those interactions that happen to go into the bathroom, the concession stand, parking your car, logging into the APP to purchase your tickets, getting your ticket scanned. Those are all interactions within the entire customer journey. The reason why customer experience is so difficult for some organizations is because those interactions can be managed by different departments. And if we are not aligned, if we do not view the customer experience from the same Lens, then how on earth are we able to discover, design and deploy strategy that’s going to impact our customers positively? Those are three things that we’re going to talk about today. I want to be able to leave you with some information to get you thinking about how can we discover our customers’ wants and needs? How can we design so that we remove pain points from our customer journey because these pain points are harming your customer loyalty. And then lastly, what do you, how do you deploy this?

Every organization would love to do this, have recruit, interview and onboard a high performing team that has high engagement to take care of their customers since the beginning of time. This is everything that we’ve wanted, but why isn’t it that all companies don’t have this? Why is it as consumers, we go to a restaurant or a hotel or a printing shop and we get a bad experience? I created something called the people first culture about a year and a half ago, and it’s defined by building a business your and employees will admire. But then I sat on this more. I said, why is it that we’re not all doing this now? There’s several reasons. One, leadership is the leadership. Truly people first, are they truly people centric? But then I, I, I put something together. I called the three p strategy and this is how we operate our hospitality company. This is how I’ve helped Alfa Romeo and companies like that operate as well too. The three p strategy, purpose, process and profit. It’s what hinges everything together so that an organization can become people first. So let’s do this now with the three p strategy. We recruit, we interview when we on board high performing individuals. We understand the purpose of three key entities that what is the purpose of our company? What is the purpose of our customers and what is the purpose of us not as employees, not as a team on the individual level. Because each and every one of you probably have a different purpose.


Once we were able to understand what the purpose of those three entities we are going to achieve engagement. It’s organically going to happen pieces we’ve created this alignment. Once we have that engagement, now we shouldn’t be building systems and processes to be able to serve each other and our customers because often, have you ever led a team before in your career and you built this strategy and you knew it was gonna work, but then it didn’t because people weren’t engaged before you created the strategy? We didn’t have that alignment first. Once we’re able to build these processes, now we’re going to be able to create an experience for our customers that they’ve never seen before. The outcome of that is loyalty. The reward is profit. Like I said, I am an absolutely profit driven entrepreneur and professional. What do you think I do when I get my weekly P and l? Go right to the bottom and see if it’s red or green. I’m fearful that some professionals and entrepreneurs are going about this. The venn diagram the wrong way. Yes, we are in this for a profit. Yes, we are in this for sales commissions and hitting our KPIs, but are we living quarter over quarter or rebuilding the business year over year, decade over a decade.

Nike’s purposes to stand for things that they believe in, whether it’s popular or not. We all may have seen earlier this year, late last year, people were burning their shoes because they didn’t believe what Nike believed in. But Nike’s, that is Nike’s purpose. The outcome is that they build great products and they are market leader. Here’s the company, I’m guarantee you’ve never heard of. It’s Pela case. They’re based in Saskatchewan. I would never heard of or neither and I would give somebody 10 bucks right now if they could spell it. It’s hard. Um, what are you looking at? There is a biodegradable cell phone case. Their purpose is to not harm the earth. Matt Petula, he is the founder of the company. Somebody I know very well. And when I asked him about this, he said, I just want to create products that consumers love, but I don’t want to harm the earth.

They will create other products. But they’ve turned this company into a multimillion dollar organization in a short period of time because they’re serving a growing community of consumers that label themselves zero wasters, this community of people. And at first I was like, what is there like eight people? But apparently that’s not true. Apparently there’s like hundreds of thousands of individuals that will only purchase products like this that won’t harm the earth. Their purpose is to not harm the earth has an organization. The outcome is great products. The purpose of my companies embedded within the mission, this is one of our flagship. This is our flagship location within our portfolio. Our mission at borrow is simple. Take, consistently deliver seamless experiences. It’s not to have the best food or the best cocktail is to consistently deliver seamless experiences. Now I noticed that I didn’t say seamless Kevin Spirit, uh, seamless experiences to our customers. I just put a period after. It’s too everyone customers that purchased the company that sells us our meat supplies

or alcohol are

investors, are bank representatives. Even if we pay them. I had this challenge early in my career be like, and I’m paraphrasing, but a gentleman said to me, why should I care? Why should I be the one delivering the experience to the company that I pay? And I’m like, Oh man, I got to rewire your whole DNA. Treat everyone like that. High paying customer. Treat everyone like that person that comes in and orders a thousand a thousand dollars bottle of wine. Because if we find ourselves only treating our best customers a certain way, then are we truly authentic as an organization?

What is the purpose of our customers? Each customer of yours has a different definition of success. When I was working within the call center of 1-800-GOT-JUNK, I recognize that I couldn’t speak to the customer in Florida the same way that I spoke to the customer in Sydney, Australia or the one in Victoria, British Columbia. So I started documenting all these notes sitting in my cubicle and just wrote on these behaviors and traits. Eventually I gathered pages and pages and pages of notes and I said, I’m going to codify this. I want to build a framework around this because I know that I can’t deliver the same experience to every single customer. So I created something that I call the three common customer types. Now the word customer can be interchangeable. It could be any, anyone that interacts with your brand. If you deal with a bank representative, tried to enter a understand their personality type.

I take my finance team through this as well too and I talk about the finance team specifically cause often when I work with companies they don’t include the finance team into this content. I was like, no, they interact with people that you were trying to build a relationship with. You must include them this information and give them this superior content. So the first, I do not know her personally, but if you’ve ever watched her show, she’s energetic, she’s upbeat, her conversations go on and on and on and on. Often they are off topic. So I’ve labeled this person to socialize your personality type. What do you think the biggest threat is in doing business with this personality type? He’s got an idea. He looked me dead in the eye. So

figuring it clearly enough, stay on task and you get off on different things. You may never,

exactly, they’re over here and you need them over here, but you can’t interject in a rude way or else they’re going to be. That’s going to be very off putting to them. You have to be able to find what I call your out. When I was coaching, um, Volkswagen salespeople on the customer personality types, they said, how do we get out of these conversations? Like I’m biting the side of my cheek. Me Like, Dear God, I don’t care about your dog. I just want to get to business. But of course you can’t say that. So I said, you got to find your out. So for the Volkswagen individual, I said, if that person is talking to you about how they love skiing and they can’t wait to go to whistler mountain in Canada, well maybe that’s your hope by saying if you love skiing and you go to the mountains often, maybe you need a Turig, right? You’ve got to find your way to organically get that customer where you need them to be. Who likes doing business with this customer? If they could do this business with this customer each and every day, uh, who would prefer to do so? Just anybody really enjoyed doing business with this person? Nobody. Yeah. Okay. Thank you. How come

have a relationship with it? Creating loyalty? Yeah. First of all, connect unites. Do

they give you so much what I call customer intelligence. They will tell you everything about their entire life and you can use that to build a rapport with them. More on that in a moment. But you are absolutely right. I don’t know Daniel Craig personally, but if he’s anything like James Bond, don’t talk to them about the local sports team and the, whether they’re just going to walk right all over you. They want to get to business. They’re very black and white. They want to lead the experience. You’re going to have to follow them as opposed to the socializer. The socializer will allow you to say, allow you to be like, come me. Let me, let me walk you through this experience or this individual wants to lead the experience. If you do not know your product knowledge with this personality type, they’re going to walk right over you and either go speak to your, asked to speak to somebody else or God forbid, they’re going to ask to speak to another company. I your competitor.


What do you think one of the advantageous things in doing business with this personality type would be?

Who’s got an answer for me? Okay.

Very easy to read this person. It’s almost like you just have to sit quietly and just let him or her give you the info and then you get straight into work mode. Okay? The last is the passive. Now, the best way for me to describe this personality type is if you’ve ever asked somebody, hey Theresa, how’s your day going? And truces like good, and just walks away. I’m like, what about my day? Right now? Some people might be like, oh, this person is low energy, boring, not a engaging. I caution you. They may actually have a front because maybe your company or industry has wrong than before so they don’t trust you. They have a guard up. However, what I have found is that if you are able to build rapport with this personality type and they bring their guard down, they can be some of your greatest advocates and some of your most loyal customers.

They’ve just been written off by so many companies that they don’t really trust many organizations. The three common personality types is something that you can even correlate to email. This isn’t just on the phone or offline or offline. If you get an email from somebody that’s two sentences a couple of times, so that same person, you probably have the director’s style personality type on your hand. You don’t want to give them a long paragraph like that. Whereas if you get one of these, you probably have a socializer. Try not to give them two sentences back cause they might find that route or off. Put it. Being able to understand different personality types and understanding what makes one customer tick and what ticks off another customer is absolutely imperative to be able to create a personalized experience not just for your customers but also for your colleagues, your vendors or business partners and anyone who interacts with the brand.


What does the team, what is your team’s purpose now I’m going to break that down to what is your purpose as an individual? Food and wine magazine is the Vogue magazine of hospitality and they wrote about one of our uh, locations in Toronto and the title speaks for itself on Toronto restaurant is revolutionizing employee retention.

Hospitality is known as a very transient industry, high turnover which eats that margins and profitability because you’re always having to recruit and interview and train and train and onboard. Going into this industry, I knew that this was going to be a challenge, so I asked myself what are some things that we can do to manage this pain point, but not just managing the pain point, but also creating an experience for our employees that they’ve never seen before. Because the outcome of that is high engagement, productivity, better sales, better marketing, all that good stuff. More profit.


One thing that I coached my management teams on is if you have a direct report, whether it’s one, three or five people, it is your responsibility as their leader to understand what their purposes. So if I have an individual on my team, her name is Christina [inaudible], she started off as a server, worked her way up and is now on a management management level. I, her purpose is to continue to grow within our company and be the director of learning and development. I’ve told her direct report, you better get her there. That is now your responsibility as a servant leader. Servant leadership is something that I’ve been studying for years. Servant leadership and benevolent leadership. Servant leadership. It’s in the title you serve your team. They don’t serve you. Benevolent leadership is the opposite of Gordon Ramsay’s management style. Okay. Um, and

my industry has been given me, has given me so many challenges, ones that I welcomed cause I like to solve big challenges. But picture having a team of 150 people where the far majority of them are used to being belittled and berated by poor leadership. We’re trying to do different things differently by being benevolent and by being servants with our leadership style. Christina Perry hard wants to be the director of learning development. We will get her there, but if another team member, Jordan Lopez, who was our marketing manager, came to me and said, one day, I want one company essentially telling me I’m going to leave you one day. I’m okay with that as well too, because if we’re able to pave a path for great professionals during their time with the organization, they’re going to give themselves to the company. They’re going to help you succeed as their leader and not only that, they’re going to recruit people to come join, join you with your company.

I have individuals within my company that are studying to be dentists and lawyers and and many other great professions, but for the individuals in the room that have team members that want to grow within the organization and I’m certain you do, it is your responsibility as their servant leader to get them there and give them the coaching, the guidance and the resources. Pave a path for them and allow yourself as the leader to take a step back and let them do. Let great people do great work. That is what a people first culture looks like.

So what have we done? We’ve recruited revinia reviewed revolve board at a high performing team. We’ve understood the purpose of the company, the customers and each other as individuals. Now we’re going to achieve that engagement. Productivity is high, absenteeism is low, sales are high and all great things that come with high employee engagement. Let’s build some systems and processes now so that these engaged professionals can live within the people first culture. We have 20 operational strategies that are operating behind the scenes. I’m not going to take you through all 20. I want to take you through two to one on the employee side and one on the customer side. I’ve a rule within our management team. It’s an 80, 20 rule. I want 80% of your time focused on building strategic initiatives to serve our employees and maintain their employee engagement. I don’t think you can recruit and onboard engaged people, people and engage them.

You have to recruit and onboard, engaged individuals and maintain their motivation. It’s hard to engage somebody that’s just kind of sits on their hands. So when you go through the recruiting process and when you’re interviewing individuals, you have to be able to pinpoint whether these people are extraordinarily engaged to be able to serve your customers and help you hit your KPIs and your sales goals. The employee advisory board is the program that I am asked about the most after somebody reads my book. I just, uh, uh, today is Monday. Uh, last week I was in London. Um, speaking for century link, that telecommunications company there, and this is the thing that they gravitated to a toward the most picture this every month for four hours, I will sit down with one member from every single department. There’s a team of people that are democratically elected by their peers, one dishwasher, one bartender, one server, one line cook and so forth.

And they meet with me for four hours and we talk about two key things. The first I ask them what is the current state of our company culture? And second, what is the current state of our customer experience? They are representatives of their departments, so crowdsource information from their peers and bring it to the table. These meetings are off the record so everyone can speak freely. That gives me the information that I need to continuously refine the experience that we deliver to our employees and our customers. Not only that, what are some other positive outcomes? We as a leader and as for the leaders in the room here, it can’t just be up to us to build all the strategies. We must be able to go a couple layers below and speak to the individuals that are working within the business just like us and help facilitate what I call cross learning.

So this, every time I leave this meeting, I feel reenergized I have new ideas. Not all ideas get executed on it cause I’m like, Joey, that’s going to cost us like 1.7, $6 million to do that. Let’s try to go back to the drawing board with like 2% of that budget. Um, after the meeting, I will go to my management team and say, Ladies and gentlemen, here’s the feedback that I’ve gotten. Is there any validity to this? And our management team, one of our core values as a company is ownership. We want to own our responsibilities. So far, our management team will say, you know what? The Eab there, right? We haven’t done this in a long time. We need to fix this. But there’ll be times where they’ll also say, well, they’ll say, yes, I understand why they’re saying this, but these are the reasons why.

Sometimes our frontline employees don’t really see the mechanics that happened behind the scenes, but then I have to bring that information back to them. So to build an employee advisory board, these are some of the steps that we follow. One member from each department meets with a senior leader, and that’s myself. We host monthly meetings between two and four hours. It always ends up being closer toward the four hour mark. We discuss customer experience, pain points, and customer centric culture with the goal of developing quarterly operational improvement plans. How would some companies deliver great experiences year over year? And these are the Starbucks like companies, the Zappos great hotels. One service level agreement that I have within my business to ensure that we’re always inventing experiences is we will create three operational improvement plans per quarter. So every three months now they don’t have to be grand or expensive improvement plans.

We May, uh, just last quarter, at the end of last year we said, you know what, our survey response rates for net promoter score is down. How many people are familiar with net promoter score? Yup. Great. So it’s a way that we survey our customers, the percentage had dip and we said, you know what, we need to do something to get that Kpi heading in the right direction, whether they’re big or smaller initiatives always be inventing because the moment that we start building processes for that engaged team to work within that is when behavior starts changing. Unless you believe that the behaviors and the expectations of your customers and employees will never stop evolving, then you don’t need to continue to build all these strategies. But the fact of the matter is, is customers and, and blow employee behaviors are always changing and evolving.

Has Anybody heard of the company called Warby Parker is so glasses. Okay. These glasses or Warby Parker, seven years ago, they didn’t exist. Uh, today they’re worth several billion dollars in valuation. I Luxotica is an into an Italian manufacturer of eyewear or there’s Luxotica nope. Um, and they are the company that produces that I wear for like Hugo boss, Chanel Oakley. Every single major brand goes to this company called Luxotica. There were $15 billion, even greater. They own lenscrafters. They own the entire market. Warby Parker eight years ago did not exist and now they are kind of nipping at the feet of this massive, massive Italian company by having great product. But by also being people first. Um, micro customer experience is something that I’m helping companies deploy within their organization. Now, a micro customer experience is defined by a subtle, memorable and affordable gesture that you do for someone that interacts with your brand, whether it’s a customer, a vendor, or a business partner.

In Atlanta, Georgia. A customer orders a pair of glasses for more be Parker online. She goes to the nearest retail location in the buck head. Region of Atlanta, walks in the door, is greeted by that friendly employee. The employees is, how’s your day going? The customer says, not so good. I got my car stolen last night. I could really use a beer. But I’m excited because I’m here to pick up my glasses. The employee does what we always tell employees to do. Show empathy. She does, helps the customer on with her glasses. Two days later, the customer receives this and a male. It’s a handwritten note from Warby Parker from that same employee, Hey, test, we are so sorry to hear about your car since you probably won’t be the designated driver anytime soon. Here’s around on us. Love your friends or Warby Parker. Ps, you’re Duran frames look amazing and inside that postcard, an envelope is a $25 gift certificate to a local microbrewery so that customer could get that beer that she said she wanted in passing in a microsecond.

She said, I could really use a beer. I’ve stopped telling my entire team of 150 individuals to stop listening to your customers. We’ve been telling her team to listen to customers for decades. The problem with that is listening is a very cheap skillset. Listen and take action on what you have heard. We talked about customer intelligence with the socializer personality type, right? They’re going to give you tons of information. Whether it’s a director or a passive or a socializer. They are sharing information with you on a daily basis and I’m afraid that at times it falls on deaf ears. We have to take these moments and be able to create an experience that these customers have never seen before. What is the return on investment here? What is the profit of doing things like this one? This customer is only is only going to buy frames from Warby Parker for the next few years, maybe even more. This customer is probably going to refer two or three friends to Warby Parker and probably tell 10 people that’s called organic growth. Organic growth is defined by the revenue that is earned through repeat customers or referral based marketing. It’s the best and profitable way to grow because it doesn’t cost a lot of money to be able to facilitate that purchase. You earned it by delivering a micro customer experience

business inside and the Huffington three websites that collectively received tens of millions of page views per month wrote about this story for a company to get their story written about. In those three websites, you would have to pay a PR company tens of thousands of dollars per month to be able to get your story told. If you want your customers to talk about your company, you have to be willing to do things worth talking about and these are the things that you must leverage to be able to create that experience your customers have never seen before and how was this all achieved? This was achieved by having a people first culture professional within your business, listening and taking action, and let’s call it $28 including postage.


I want to introduce you to somebody named Alyssa. Alyssa was working at one of our venues serving brunch one day and she put the micro customer experience program into action to earn us Google and Facebook reviews, customer loyalty and employee engagement. Alyssa serves a table of ladies and Alyssa learns that the reason that these ladies are here brunching is because one of them’s about to have a child and this is probably to be the last time that these three or four friends are going to be able to come together and be with each other. I listed takes that customer intelligence. There’s a woman here that is just about to have a child runs to the hostess stand. The host is runs across the street to shoppers drug mart, which is your Walgreens equivalent, comes back with a box of 50 diapers are rattle and and and the rattle will probably drive this mother nuts, but in theory the gift, giftings, good and wrapping paper, the customer or the hostess comes back, wraps the precedent time gives it to Alyssa. Alyssa hands it to the guest before time of billing and says, thank you for being a guest of ours. We can’t wait for you to celebrate your newborn child. That is an experience that that customer has never seen before in hospitality and that is how we are winning. We’re willing to do the things that our competitors wouldn’t even think of doing.


What is the Roi of this? That woman, we’ll, we’ll come back after she’s had her child and she wants a night out. She’ll come back. So there’s that organic growth repeat customers. The ladies at that table, they’ll come back as well to all of them will tell a few people. That’s just plain old good business.


The partner of that woman coming home with this big box, but mean like I thought you were going to brunch will say, where did you get that gift? And this goes to something I call owning the dinner table. It’s a chapter in my book and essentially it’s, I want to create experiences for customers and employees that are so strong and so memorable that when that individual goes back to their home and sits for dinner with their family, they’re talking about that experience owning the dinner table. And these are the things that we must do with our customers, our employees, our community, and our business.


The thing that often is misunderstood about it. Leasings is my team loves delivering these experiences. It increases their engagement, it allows them to release endorphins and that allows them to be productive and sell better and serve better collectively are um, hospitality group. We’ll do just over $15 million a year in sales. What do you think our monthly budget is for doing gestures like this? System wide every month on 15 million. Throw out some numbers. 200. Okay. 1,000. Okay. One more guess. Any? Anybody think it’s more than a thousand? Yes. How much do you think it might be?

Hold on one,

it’s actually only 500. Could I make it a lot more? Absolutely. The bigger the budget, the less creativity. We’re just going to be handing out balls and dom Perignon to every other guests. That’s not memorable. It’s not though, right? Like I like flowers I, those things are good and they still work and we still do them. But our competitors can replicate that. The smaller the budget, the better for the bottom line, but the more creative the team member has to get. So when you’re thinking about these gestures that you can do for your customers, you don’t have to be like, well where are we going to get the budget? There’s a lot of pride and joy that you can get as being a professional and finding a solution to something that doesn’t cost a lot of money.

We’ve done a lot, we’ve earned profit, not just profit quarter of recording, but if we’re doing these things, it’s profit year over year and if the company is profitable and growing and expanding, then there’s probably going to be room and opportunities for advancement within the company. Maybe you’re not all shareholders of your organization. My hundred 50 team members aren’t shareholders of my company. So how do I speak to them? How do I bring up the word profit to them? And that’s how I, that’s how I phrase it. As if we as a company are profitable and thriving, well then there’s going to be more opportunity for company events like this, more learning and development opportunities. Perhaps even more opportunity for advancements and promotions. Cause once we opened up the next venues, we’re going to need more managers. And I want to promote from within before I find somebody external, but for the cynics in the room, if there is any, this is how I talk about profit and the outcomes of having a people first culture.

Starting with an improved customer experience, there’s an increasing customer loyalty, which means that you have the opportunity to spend less money on marketing if you so choose. I’m not telling you to do so, but if you so choose. When’s the last time you saw a Starbucks TV commercial? Never. I’m paraphrasing, but Howard Schultz said something pretty profound and again I’m paraphrasing, but he said people think we are a great tradition, a great advertising company, but we actually don’t invest in traditional advertising at all. What we do is take that resource and within our training and development so that our team members can deliver a great experience. That is our marketing. That’s happens if you have less marketing expenses. If you so choose, then there’s more profit for the organization. If you have repeat customers, that’s more sales, but that’s more predictable sales. If you know that you have high customer loyalty and repeat customers, then you know customers are going to renew their contracts with you and make other purchases. Or in my uh, in my world perhaps you’ll come twice a week instead of once a week there’ll be a decrease in refunds and discounts, which means that there’s more profit, there’s brand admiration. So perhaps free PR and free marketing like Warby Parker achieved. And then something that I advocate the most within my organization and its make price secondary. We are in the premium space in Toronto. So you wouldn’t come to us for $12 steak. That’s not us. But how were we going to charge what we need to charge to hit our margins

and make sure that customers feel like they got a lot of value and not be like, oh I can’t believe I spent that much. It’s by leading with a great customer experience, one that our customers have never seen before. On the employee side, less employee turnover means manageable training costs, which means more profit for the organization, which will fuel the company to thrive and grow. Employee loyalty. If there’s loyalty within the organization, more often than not there’s alignment department to Department.


and then higher productivity, higher sales, less mistakes. Again, more profit. I told you at the beginning of the talk that I do believe in building a profitable company. It’s just my way of going about it is a little differently. It’s because I want to be in business for decades and I look at some of these organizations that are operating quarter of recorder. I just, I told you I just got back from London and the company that I spoke for, I spoke with one of their senior executives after and he opened up to me and said, we have a long way to go because we need to rewire the DNA of this company. We are living quarter of recorder.


how can we discover building a better customer experience? Two things that I focus on with my management team is what do customers want and what do they need? On the surface, it can seem like there are two, one in the same, but they’re actually different. I want you to think of what your customers for a moment and if I met you at an airport and you told me what you did and I asked you a very loaded question, I said, what do your customers want from you? How would you answer that question? Could I ask, you know, you don’t know what your customers want, what they want. So what did they say?

Great experience. Oh, sweet. Okay, cool. David, what are your customers want? They want low cost solution. Okay. Teresa are your customer innovation innovation

solutions. Okay. Okay. Customers are very good at telling you what they want.


We are not very good at consumer as consumers in telling our customers what they need, what we need because we do not know what we need until it’s been presented to us. First case in point, when I surveyed,


but a thousand, uh, consumers in the hospitality space, this is what they told me they were what they wanted. They wanted value, they wanted seamlessness, so they wanted to headache free experience. I want to book my reservation. I want to be seated at the right time and so forth. I want solutions to, I want solutions to what I want. I’m hungry, I’m parched, I want to drink, I want to be entertained, and then they won’t confidence, which I call consumer confidence. They won’t confidence in the company that they do business with that they’re going to have very little headaches. Then when I asked them what they need, this is what I got because customers aren’t very good at telling you what they need until it’s presented. Before the iPod was invented, who owned an MP? Three player to listen to their music. Okay. Do you remember going from song one to 50 you had to like hold your thumb down until it turned a different color.

That was literally a hurtful customer experience, so we wouldn’t have been a very good test market. If Steve Jobs had asked us, what do you need from your music listening pleasures, because we probably would have said something like, give me an MP, three player that holds 5,000 songs and give it to me in different colors. That’s not invention. That’s an iteration of what was currently on the marketplace. What we needed was the scroll wheel. It got us to song 50 but like that, not like this. That is a better user experience. Would you and I have, would we have been able to said, hey, yeah, just Steve jobs. Give me a scroll wheel. No, of course not. But that’s what we needed to enhance the experience for us and this was the product that brought apple back to the market.

I’m going to tell you this story in a different way. We’ve heard this story, so I’m not going to be cliche. I do not believe Netflix put blockbuster out of business because of the technology. The technology was an outcome of having a people first culture at Netflix because at Netflix they give their employees the freedom. One of their core values is employee freedom to be inventive and during that of invention and innovation, they determined that how we are going to beat blockbuster is by focusing on what customers need and what we need as consumers is our time back. Remember when we would go rent a video from blockbuster? That experience was like this. Hey Sweetheart, do you want to watch your movie? Sure. Let’s go and drive 15 minutes and there’s blockbuster park our car or walk into the store and have to dodge like little kids down the aisles.

I know this because I was one of those little kids and then we have to look at these DVDs, another 1520 minutes in the store. Then we go line up for another five or 10 minutes and then we drive back home for another 15 or 20 minutes. It’s been over an hour. We sit down, we watched a movie for an hour and a half. God forbid we don’t rewind the VHS tape or I’ll say they charge us an extra dollar. Then we have to drive back another 15 to 20 minutes to drop it off and they come back. That’s two or three hours to watch a movie. That’s an hour and a half. Netflix recognize that time was the game and going like this is better than going like this and that is why they won. Would we have been able to tell Netflix? Yeah, this is what I need a streaming service. Like No. Now we’re like, oh yeah, of course I needed that. Yeah, I could’ve told you that. Well then why didn’t we invent it?

Has anybody eaten at sweet green? Has anybody heard of sweet green? No. No, no, no. Perfect. Allow me to introduce you. Uh, 10 years ago they had zero locations. Today they’re worth hundreds of millions and have over a hundred locations throughout the u s in about a handful of states. If sweet green asked me, Michelle, what do you want? And they are in the healthy fast food space, bowls, warm bowls and salads. If they said, Michelle, what do you want? What do you need? I would have been like, don’t charge or don’t charge me extra for Guacamole. It’s not very inventive. Starting this year they have connected their APP and integrated blockchain technology to their supply chain. So if you go to sweet green and you order one of their bowls and you have tomatoes in your bowls or cucumbers, you can go into the app and read these tomatoes were picked on this date from this farm and this state.

This is the name of the family that owns the farm. These are the, all the, obviously all the nutritional stuff. The nutritional stuff is table stakes. What’s recruiting is doing now is giving us what we need and is being more conscious of the things that we put in our body that is innovation and nobody am sure there’s plenty of smart people in this room. There’s nobody in this room that would’ve told sweet green to do that. The problem with it, customer experience discovery is that we can go to our customers and ask them what they need, what they want, but it’s very difficult to understand what they need and that is why we have to be living two or three years out and thinking of concepts that today sound absurd, absolutely insane, are ludicrous. But if you know you’re having those internal dialogue where it’s like, there’s no way we can do that. You’re on the right track.

How do we design these strategies after we’ve discovered them? The movie theater, I’ll use this example. How many pain points are there in the movie theater experience? The bathrooms are dirty. There’s never mustered in the thing in that, uh, you know what I’m talking about and many other things. If you’re self says an organization want to be able to design a great customer experience that is different than the one that you may have today. And I’m not saying that it’s not great today, but what I’m asking and challenging to do is to level up create that next version of your customer experience. Start by understanding where the pain points for our customers that can be done by speaking to them, by serving them, by being inventive and having these conversations internally, going through your entire customer journey from beginning to end and do something that I call the traffic light model.

Every three months, my company, we’ll get together, our management team will get together and we’ll go through our customer journey. So our customer journey, we’ll go from customer books, a reservation on open table. Then the hostess will call them and confirmation call and talk to Dah, Dah, Dah, Dah, Dah. There’s a total of 37 interactions that you would have when coming to one of my venues that includes the bathroom and everything. 37. It’s not as simple as reservation. I show up, I’m seated, I get a drink. There’s a lot of intricate details that happen that sometimes customers don’t even realize are happening. So what we do is we’ll implement that, integrate the traffic light model. So we’ll go through our customer journey and identify each pay, uh, interaction and any pain points that we have. We’re going to make it, label it, read anything that’s mediocre is yellow.

Anything that’s green is where we excel will obviously, I’ll always start with the red because that’s the biggest threat within our customer experience. We’ll get to yellow, but this is where most companies go wrong and miss an opportunity. The interactions that you have labeled green should be given. That information should be given to your marketing team and to your sales professionals because those strengths within your customer journey should be implemented within your marketing collateral and in your sales presentations because if your customers have today love you for Xyz reason, well you think perspective customers will be attracted to your organization for those exact same reasons. I’m often asked Michelle, how do you come up with your ideas other than the research and development? We do cross functional peer to peer learning and that can come from our employee advisory board, but I’ve also created another layer within the organization which I’ve labeled our invention team and there’s a few individuals from different departments that will come and have meetings where they’re just talking about the customer experience, a challenge and a big threat to your customer experiences experience. If you guys are just having individual conversations within your own departments. We’re guilty of doing this as well to our kitchen team will go out and have their own meeting and implement a strategy within the kitchen and then our face of host team will be like, what the heck?

I’m seeing some people kind of nod their head and that happens at all companies, but we have to, it’s almost a form of self sabotage. We have to be able to have this cross functional peer to peer learning because often when you have these conversations, I guarantee you someone in the room will say, I had no idea that your department went through that. That makes sense. Now this is why our customers are behaving when they get to us.

The frappaccino was a Maltese. It has become a multibillion dollar product for Starbucks and the individuals that invented it was a manager and a frontline employee in California sent it to head office in Seattle, Washington and it got kicked around and it finally became a part of their experience and in part of their product line. I share this example with you because you never know where your great strategy or next product is going to come from, which is why you need cross functional and peer to peer learning. And not everything you discuss is going to get actioned, but that’s not the goal of having these conversations. The goal of these conversations is to be inventive, but at the very least have this open dialogue within the organization and I guarantee it’s just a matter of time until you had that Eureka moment and you’re like that and that becomes the tipping point for your company. That is when you create some sort of Netflix light product that really changes your marketplace.

How do we deploy this? I mentioned that there’s three operational improvement plans every single quarter, but I also have a single point of accountability. I’m within my organization. I’m kind of that individual, that flag bearer that’s always talking about the customer experience, kind of like a Richard Branson like character. I like to model myself after him cause I really admire his leadership. But there’s also another individual named Jefferson in my company that I have made the single point of accountability for customer experience. So he is also other individual that’s kind of pounding his chest, talking about it. We’ve created a customer advisory board and I have the single point of accountability lead that meeting. So we have a handful of customers that meet with us on a quarterly basis. We share what upcoming products we have coming out. We invite them to food tasting and liquor tastings or cocktail tastings. We give them, we don’t, we don’t compensate them either.


What we do instead is we give them early access to events that we’re hosting and they are absolutely over the moon. Happy to do so. We’ve created that service level agreement, but then we’ve also understood what is our measures of success. When you create experiences for people, whether it’s a customer or an employee, I can’t promise you when that return in investment is going to come.


You might create a system or process and you’re like, we might not see the return for 12 or 24 months and this is where the rubber meets the road.


The most people centric leaders, the Richard Bransons of the world are willing to invest and improving the livelihoods of the individuals that interact with the brand.


I’m advocating within my company that I do not want a separation between the business and in our personal lives and how we behave and what I mean by that is this.


If I go pick up my friend mark from the airport because he needs a ride when he lands in Toronto, do you think I’m driving thinking what is the Roi of picking Mark My friend up of 20 years? What is the Roi of doing this? No, that would be psychotic. It’s because I’m trying to build a relationship with him. Maybe he’ll pick me up from the airport one time. Maybe he’ll carry my casket when I die one day. Why can’t we take that same type of mentality of servant leadership into our workplace as well too? I always keep my finger on the pulse of our profit and loss statements, our sales targets and everything. But I also know that there’s some things that we’re going to do next month that might not pay a dividend for 12 months.


And I’m okay with that because I’m trying to build a business that is going to withstand the test of time and competition. And this is the best way that I know how to do. So.

I have wanted to share these with you. The first document is how I interview it is a culture focused interview strategy. It’s a six step process that has allowed us to secure employee retention that is 2.5 times higher than the industry average. This is something that’s quite popular with audiences that I speak from a in front of the second document is how to build an employee advisory board. And the third is the micro customer experience, step by step guide. So if you are ever so interested in implementing that within your departments, by all means just visit that URL. And then Theresa, can we email the slide deck to everybody? Okay, great. Um, so you pop in your email address and you’ll get all three documents. Just send over to you. Before I get into Q. And. A, there’s one thing that I know to be very true. Every company on this planet will tell you that they deliver on great experience to their customers. Some companies will tell you that they treat their employees like their best customer, but the fact of the matter is that only a few companies actually do both. And if you’re willing to do both, if you’re wanting to achieve both authentically, then I highly, highly recommend that you start building a people first culture within your organization. Thank you very much.



How To Transform Your Company Culture In 2019 (7 Guaranteed Examples)

Hey Everyone,

Above is my video on how to transform your company culture in 2019. These are all strategies I’ve used in my businesses so I know they’ll work for you as well!

If you prefer to read my company culture strategies, check out the transcript below.

Hey team. In this video I’m going to share seven company culture strategies that you may have never considered to transform your company culture. Stay true to the end because there’s a bonus company culture tip that you’re definitely gonna want to use.

I built an eight figure business. I have 150 employees and I’ve been hired by companies like Mcdonald’s, Canada, verizon wireless, an Alfa Romeo.

I know that these strategies are gonna work for you because they’ve worked for me as an entrepreneur, a keynote speaker, and for my clients as well, so I guarantee that they’ll work for you to, these new strategies are going to help you elevate your company culture such as why private podcast should be used for employee onboarding and how my employee advisory board is helping transform company cultures plus much more. Don’t forget about the bonus strategy that I’m going to share with you, but you’re going to have to wait to the end and I guarantee nobody’s using it.

All right, let’s get into it.

Company culture idea number one is to create an internal podcast to onboard new employees. Because you know, new to company culture, I’m going to assume that you’ve already built your employee onboarding strategy.
Some of the education that you might have within this process is when was the company founded? Who are some of the executives and what are some of your core values?

The question is how are you delivering this education to your new employees? Have you ever noticed that during training, managing employee engagement levels can be difficult? We’ve all tried tips and tricks to be able to increase this engagement because of the training becomes more successful.

The answer to being able to create higher engagement is private podcasts. Instead of having your trainee manager stand in front of the room and explain your company culture, how was built and things that are aligned with the culture.

Use an internal podcast that new employees can listen to before their first day with your company.

According to software companies, Silk Road,

53% of HR professionals say employee engagement rises when onboarding is improved.

The beauty of leveraging an internal podcast is that it’s affordable and it’s a different experience for the employee. All you really need is one or two of your current employees to share the story and record it. Not only is this a unique idea, but it sends a message to new employees that you’re willing to think and do things in an innovative manner.

If you want your employees to do the same, you must first lead by example company culture. Idea number two is to create an employee advisory board. The employee advisory board or EA B is the most popular strategy that I’m asked about when I speak at business conferences as an employee engagement and company culture.
The employee advisory board is a fairly straight for strategy, but it does include some intricate details that you must manage to ensure that the program is successful.

The EAB is a group of team members within the company that meet with the senior leader of the organization on a monthly basis for two to four hours to talk about the current state of the company culture.

During the meeting, you will always ask two core questions that will set the foundation for the conversation. The first question is what are the strengths and opportunities to improve the company culture? And the second is describe the workplace of your dreams.

A few key elements of the EAB are is follows. The meeting is confidential. Create an environment where team members feel comfortable speaking freely. The host of the meeting should be a senior leader like an owner or the CEO to ensure every department has a voice.

Elect one team member from each department across the entire company to be a part of the EAB. Flip the team every six months and ask ea be team members to elect the replacement or do so democratically by internal vote.

Now, this is the most important part of the EAB. After you’ve gathered the feedback as the leader of the organization, you must take that information and discuss it with your management team to start transforming your company culture.

That is where the value is.

The employee advisory board is definitely the most valuable company culture idea that I’ve implemented within my business for my clients and have spoken about during my keynotes and workshops. Don’t take my word for it. Listen to what one of my managers has to say about the employee advisory.
“I think the employee advisory board is a great opportunity for all staff to have their voices heard, voice their concerns, their ideas to the company and give that to management and ownership.”

Idea number three is to create a company culture book or video.

You may have heard of company culture books or videos before.

The time I was introduced to them was when I visited Zappos in 2008 while these ideas might not be revolutionary, there’s that element of it that I highly recommend doing to take it to the next level and that is to include a section that shares the success stories of current and past employees.

For example, you could share the success story of Sarah, the frontline employee who grew from our call center position to become the vice president of customer success or of Steve, the employee who contributed to the company culture for five years.

Then ventured off on his own to start his own successful business. Your company culture book or video should have anybody who reads or watches it, whether it’s a customer, an employee, the media, or even a prospective employee, invoke a certain type of emotion that gets them excited about your company profiling current and past employee success stories allows you the opportunity to share a great story rather than just listing off facts such as where is the company located and when was it founded?

Company culture idea number four is to invite current and past employees to interviews. Your All Star employees should be leveraged as ambassadors for the company so that they’re able to share their story. Working within your company culture.

After all, when your company is growing, everyone in the organization should act as a recruiter. Somebody has started doing in 2018 within my businesses, I would invite great employees who define our company culture and welcome them to our interview process.

Even if they did not have any interview experience before. Specifically, I would invite these ambassadors into the company culture part of the interview process. They can ask a couple questions and it doesn’t matter if they don’t have a lot of experience in asking you interview questions because you’re going to be the person there that will guide them through the process.

The biggest value is having them there. Describe the company culture from the perspective of the employee, not as the leader. There would even be times where I would excuse myself for the interview to allow the candidate and the current employee to be able to speak one on one without me in the room.

I’ve even gone as far as inviting past employees, individuals who were culture ambassadors when they were with the company to the interview process to speak to the prospective candidate. This works extremely well when you’re trying to recruit senior talent that is being approached by other companies as well too.

One forgotten piece of value in doing this is because if you do hire that prospective employee, not only do they know the or the person hosting the interview, but they will also have built a bond with that culture ambassador.

I would go ahead and make these culture ambassador culture buddies during the employee onboarding experience company culture. Idea number five is to conduct quarterly company culture audits.

In the first few pages of my people first culture book I quoted somebody named Dan Guerrero with the athletic director of Ucla and he says,

“Culture is like a baby. You have to watch it 24/7, it needs to be fed at least three times a day and when it makes a mess you have to clean it up and change it”

Company. Culture audits are something that I implemented with in my own businesses in 2018 and it’s something I’m recommending to my clients as well too.

Before doing company culture audits, I was reminded of a leader that I greatly admire.

The leader I admire is Daniel Schwartz. He’s the CEO of restaurant brands international. The organization is the parent company of Tim Horton’s Popeye’s and Burger King. This organization has a very high level of meritocracy.

Operating a company with high level of meritocracy means that high performers are rewarded and celebrated and low performers are giving coaching to be able to turn their game around. However, if they don’t take the coaching, then they are off boarded and replaced with other potential high performers. A colossal mistake companies make is not offboarding non culture fits fast enough.

If you do not do this, these individuals will erode your company culture from the inside and make your job infinitely more difficult to get the culture back on track. When deploying our company culture audit initiative, I work closely with our senior management team. they will print off an entire list of every single employee on our payroll and they will go ahead and rate these individuals from one to five stars, five being individuals that greatly contribute to the success of the culture.

Before our meeting. I will ask our managers to already come prepared with their list of their rankings and be ready to explain their valuation of each and every team member. This might sound labor intensive for your management team, but it shouldn’t be because they should already have an intimate understanding of each of their team members and how they’re contributing to the company culture, but even if it was labor intensive, what is more important than protecting the company culture you’ve built?

Here are a few reasons why company audits are important. You’re always refreshing your talent pool and protecting your company culture. You’re giving your managers the autonomy to pick their team and make it their own and you’re sending your company a very loud message that regardless of how talented you are, no one is excused from contributing to the success of the company culture and no one will harm it.

After being presented with the list, I asked three key questions.

The first is what are we going to do to celebrate fours and fives? The second is what are we going to do to support threes to turn them into fours or fives and third, what have we done to coach ones and twos? If I’m satisfied the way that my management team has coached ones and twos, then we will begin the offboarding process. Before doing this, I highly suggest consulting with a labor and employment professional to be able to give you guidance.

Reed Hastings, the cofounder and CEO of Netflix says it best:

“We don’t tolerate brilliant jerks because the cost of teamwork is too high.”

Company culture idea number six is to host company culture tours. Company culture tours is a fantastic way to showcase your culture, to perspective employees, the public, the media or anyone who is interested in learning about company culture.

1-800-GOT-JUNK. The company that I started my career at does company culture tours in a fantastic manner. When I first joined 100 got junk in 2007 as a call center employee, I was amazed that people from throughout North America would fly to Vancouver and take the tour.

This told me early on my career that company culture matters to the success of any business.

Don’t feel that it’s absolutely necessary to be able to host the company culture akin to 1-800-GOT-JUNK after all they’ve been doing it for years.

My recommendation is to start small, host a couple tours and start refining it along the way to host company culture towards you’re going to need a single point of accountability and give them a couple of resources. The first is give them guidance by sharing this video with them so that they can review the examples I’ve provided.

Next, allocate time for them to design what the tour would look like and consider other logistical things such as time of day and duration of the tour and third a budget that they can work within to make it a great experience for tour members.

I will never stop learning about company culture.

I will always be a student, which is why to this very day I will still go on company culture tours from other companies so that I can learn from my organization and share ideas with you as well.

Company culture idea number seven is the 3 x 5 strategy. It is by far the easiest. It costs you nothing but it’s often forgotten by most organizations.

Let me ask you a question. If you walked around your business and ask your employees to recite your core values or your mission statement, would they be able to recite it back to you?

Similar to how if you went to a Starbucks, they would most likely be able to recite the mission statement of their company, which is:

“to inspire and nurture the human spirit. One person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.” 

The three by five strategy will have you asking three employees at random across different departments in the organization five days a week to recite your core values or your mission statement.

After doing this for a long enough period of time, you’re going to create alignment which will help transform your company culture.

And now for the bonus company culture idea…

I present you the $20 interview question earlier in this video I told you that the EA b was the best strategy I’ve ever created, but I’m having second thoughts based on the feedback that I get from my keynotes, my workshops, and my book.

The $20 interview question is what’s resonating with companies around the globe.

All right, enough teasing here is the $20 question.

What is an indulgence that you can’t live without that costs less than $20?

At first, the candidate is going to be stumped and they may be thinking, why is this company asking me this question?

One thing’s for sure. They have never been asked this interview question in their career before, which makes it very unique. I’ve heard many different answers to this question. Dark chocolate, cool ranch, Doritos and red skittles.

After asking this question, what do you think is waiting on the desk or the workstation of the new employee on day one along with a hand written personalized card from the management team is the $20 gift that they had answered to the question in the interview.

Now there are a few key elements that you must follow to make this successful.

Number one, when asking the question probe further, if the candidate answers with dark chocolate, ask them what brand of chocolate from where this will help you further personalize the gift.

Number two, when presenting the gift to the candidate, ensure the person delivering the gesture reminds a new team member of the question.

For example, say, Hey Kelly, do you remember what you answered when we asked You what your $20 indulgence was? Have the gift out of sight, then hand it to them and number three, make sure it’s an indulgence, not a necessity because handing out a large package of toilet paper is just weird.

Not only will this transform your company culture, it is sending a very loud message to each and every new employee that this is how we treat people within our organization. We are thoughtful, we are genuine and we are caring not just to new employees but to everyone that interacts with the brand.

Start asking the $20 interview question today.

There you have it, the seven it company culture strategies to transform Your Business and that bonus interview question that I shared with you whenever you visit my youtube channel, my promise to you is that I’m going to share company culture, customer experience and employee engagement strategies. If you learn something by watching this video, it would mean the world to me.

If you subscribe to my youtube channel so that you can be alerted when I released my next educational video, visit my website, Michelle to learn about my keynote speeches and the private workshops that I host. But before you go, go into the comment section of this video and answer this one question so that I can help you implement some of these strategies. What strategy are you looking forward to implementing the most within your business?

Leave a comment below and let’s start the conversation.

Thank you so much for watching this video and I’ll see you next time. Right.

5 New Customer Service Skills Your Employees Need (and How to Train Them Properly in 2019)

There are many customer service skills that employees must possess to contribute to the success of a company.

Things such as friendly, proactive, going above-and-beyond all come to mind.

It’s likely that you clicked through to read this post because you want new customer service ideas, not the same old run of the mill concepts that have been suggested by everyone else online…am I right?

The five customer service training skills I’m going to share with you are ones that my management teams are currently training my employees with.

Across our venues, restaurants and bars, we have 150 team members operating within one of Canada’s most competitive hospitality districts (King West, Downtown Toronto); the far majority of these team members are customer-facing.

My business partners and I have built a reputation in the city and industry for having a next-level customer experience and it’s largely because of how we train our team on their customer service skills.

Related: What is Customer Experience

I share this information with you to give you some background information if you’re not familiar with me. However, the primary reasons is because I want you to know that this information is tried, tested and true.

I’m an operator, just like you!

I have a team I must support, just like you!

I’m looking for a competitive advantage with proven strategies, not advice from someone who just recites what they read online.

Before we get into the 5 Customer Service Skills, make sure to connect with me on LinkedIn and let me know which Customer Service Skill you like the most – I’d be happy to answer any further questions you may have after reading the article!

Without further adieu, I present you the five new customer service skills your employees need:

Customer Service Skill #1: Understand the 3 Customer Personality Types

You can’t deliver the same experience to every single customer and have great customer service skills.


Because some gestures – whether it’s your tone, the questions you ask the customer or your dialogue – will engage some customers and alienate others.

A decade ago, when I was working within a call centre as a customer service agent in Vancouver, I started to document different customer traits and behaviours.

Why was it that customers in different regions reacted differently to how I answered the phone?

Why did some customers not care to talk about the local sports team?

Why did some customers want to talk about the weather?

I was interested in the answers to these questions…so I investigated further.

After months of taking notes, I recognized that each customer has a different definition of success when doing business with a company.

Eventually, I created something I now refer to as The 3 Common Customer Personality Types.

I’ve trained hundreds of people on these customer personality types, such as customer service team members from Verizon Wireless and sales professionals from Lexus

The Director Style Personality Type

Customer Service Skills #1

Let’s pretend James Bond was your customer.

What attributes does he have?

He’s reserved, to the point in his conversation and conducts very little chit chat.

Now, think of this customer in your business. What do they value the most and how are they defining a great customer experience? I’d suggest:

  • Team members with high product knowledge
  • They want to lead the customer experience
  • Time efficiency matters to them
  • Their questions get answered quickly

The director style customer personality is a great customer to have because often their experience with your company is an efficient one. This is particularly great for retail and call centre experiences.

The Socializer Style Personality Type

Customer Service Skills #2

I don’t know Ellen Degeneres personally but based on her show I’m going to assume she’s kind, speaks at length and is a great listener.

Does this remind you of one of your customers?

I bet it does! Now, how does the socializer define a successfully customer experience?

  • Employees engaging in off-topic conversations
  • They find transactional customer experiences rude
  • A company that cares about their customers as a human being, not just a customer or a number

Here’s a tip! There is a big threat in doing business with the socializer personality type.

What do you think it is?

Time! They are the type of customer that will talk about this, that and everything while you have a line up of other customers in your queue. If your employees have the right customer service skills they will be able to effectively serve this personality type without cutting them off or be rude.

Continue reading below to see which skills your employees must have to provide a positive, efficient customer experience for Socializers.

The Passive Style Personality Type

Customer Service Skills #3

Have you enthusiastically ever asked a customer,

“How’s your day going!”

And they replied with, “Good” without asking in return how your day is going?

I introduce you to the passive personality type. Some employees may label these customers as “boring” “low energy” or “not engaging.” For me, I think they are misunderstood.

Their attributes are defined as guarded, timid with expression.

But, I believe that for the most part this behaviour is likely because your company or industry have failed them before which is causing this demeanour of uncertainty. I suggest that your employees don’t write these customers off because they can become some of your most loyal customers! They are simply looking for a company that they can trust.

Each customer personality type may exhibit great company customer loyalty for different reasons. It’s your responsibility as a leader to train your team members on their customer service skills to elevate the customer experience.

Customer Service Skill #2: Patience
 Customer Service Skills #4

You may be thinking:

“Michel, you promised NEW customer service skills! Patience isn’t new to me!”

I know, I know. But, what I’m going to share with you is how to identify if your prospective employees have this customer service skill BEFORE you hire them. I don’t believe you can train patience very well as it’s a human behaviour that takes years to accomplish.

I train companies how to build customer-centric teams and ask the right customer service interview questions. Here are a few you can use to identify if the person you’re interviewing is patient:

  • What are some nuisances that really bother you in your personal life?
  • How do you react to something frustrating you?
  • What’s the most irritating thing that has happened to you this week?

These questions are asked to identify how the candidate is in their everyday life. You can make some sound assumptions on how they will behave as a team member of yours based on their responses.

If they respond with great detail on how things easily bother them then I’d be on guard as they may exhibit very little patience with your customers.

However, if the candidate appears to genuinely struggle to think of answers then you may have an all-star on your hands.

You can’t predict customer behaviours within your business but you can help your company by hiring team members who exhibit patience with your customers.

Customer Service Skill #3: Capture ideas and share them

Customer Service Skills #5

Wouldn’t it be amazing if your employees regularly came to you with ideas on how to better the customer experience and help the company grow?

I’m so fortunate that this is what’s happening in my business. We constantly have team members, ones from different departments, sharing concepts with our management team.

The most valuable way that my company gathers ideas from our team is through our Employee Advisory Board (EAB). The EAB is a group of team members who represent each department across the company. They meet with me once per month for 2-4 hours to discuss the current state of the business. During my keynote speeches and workshops, I help companies understand the value of having an EAB and many companies have implemented one…I think you should too.

Do all of them get put into action? Not all, but many do! We are in this advantageous position as a company because we:

  • Hire individuals who are inventive
  • Have fostered a company culture where we promote new ideas
  • Are willing to think differently and try new things
  • Celebrate team member creativity
  • Have created a framework and meeting structure where employees can share their concepts

I’ve always said, “you never know where your next great idea is going to come from.” I find that the best ideas come from the individuals who are the most customer-facing.

Who do you think invented Starbucks’ multi-billion dollar Frappuccino? You guessed it…frontline employees.

Customer Service Skill #4: Collect Customer Intelligence

Customer Experience Skills #6

Within my business, customer intelligence is the subtle details that your customers share with you or that you’re able to learn when serving them.

These details can be leveraged to create a never-before-seen customer experience which will increase customer loyalty.

If I was your customer, at one point or another you would learn the following about me:

  • I have a dog named Maggy
  • I’m a Vancouver Canucks fan
  • I love tequila
  • I’m a boxer and play ice hockey
  • I own restaurants, bars and venues in Toronto
  • My favourite two foods are pizza and burgers
  • My mother is the sweetest angel in the world and her name is Rosa

All of this information needs to habitually be captured for every customer within your CRM to be used to create a personalized experience at any time during their lifecycle with your company. Before you can start training your employees on gathering this information you must first create the repository within your CRM.

In theory, this makes sense, right? However, most companies struggle in doing this well because they don’t reinforce it with their team members on a weekly basis.

How to train them to use this information is in customer service skill #5…

Customer Service Skill #5: Listen and Take Action!

Customer Service Skill #7

For decades we’ve been telling our employees:

“Listen to your customers…”

We don’t tell our employees to listen because listening is a cheap skill set. Instead, we tell them to:

“Listen and take action on what you’ve learned!”

In step 4, I mentioned many things that I’d likely share with your team members. How are you going to leverage this information? Will your employee simply say, ‘I’m a Vancouver Canucks fan too!” Or, will they record that information and share it with a manager to create what I call a micro customer experience.

A micro customer experience, or MCE, is a subtle, memorable and affordable gesture that you do for your customers that resonates with them for years.

I’d be blown away if I was your customer, purchased a service or product and received a Vancouver Canucks hockey puck with my purchase accompanied by a hand written card that said:

“Michel, thank you for trusting us to be your service provider. It means the world to us! We thought of you…Go, Canucks, Go!”

You would have created such a strong bond with me that would heavily influence my customer loyalty. Listening and taking action on what your employees have learned is a non-negotiable when creating a micro customer experience program for your company. It must happen!

Related: Customer Experience Strategies: 5 Tips for Profit and Growth

Within my company, each venue has a micro customer experience program that’s only $250/month. Everyone can afford to do this! However, it first starts with training your employees with the highest customer service skills possible.

Did you notice that many of the customer service skills I outlined were cost-friendly? I don’t like spending a lot of money to find solutions unless the value greatly exceeds the cost. I’d going to assume you’d like to achieve the same.

I do believe that technology will replace some human interaction but I don’t believe the human element of great customer service skills will be replaced.

Question: what customer service skill do you believe you can implement within the next 90 days? Connect with me on LinkedIn and let me know what your biggest take away from this article was by leaving a comment below!  I’ll respond with some commentary too.

If you’re interested in me helping your company with customer experience, employee engagement and/or company culture strategies, click this link and fill out the contact form so I can share some keynote presentation and private workshop information with you.