3 Customer Experience Stories (From Companies Not Named Starbucks) That Will Inspire Your Company to Deliver Better Customer Service

Disclaimer: I love Starbucks but I recognize that we share Starbucks stories, and companies like theirs, frequently. I wanted to start sharing stories from companies you might not be too familiar with to give evidence that regardless of your industry or size of company, you too can become a case study. If you know of a great customer experience story please share in the comments section of this post.

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I’m going to share something with you that has helped me be the best customer-centric leader that I can be for my company, team and customers.

My partners and I run a business that has 150 employees – people who rely on us to constantly be customer-focused. After all, it stems from the top! We welcome over 50,000 guests per month to our venues, so we have to build scalable systems that allows us to deliver great customer experiences each and every time.

What’s my secret?

I spend a few hours a week studying other companies and use their stories as motivation to constantly strive to be better than we are today (as of writing this blog post our Net Promoter Score is 79).


I wanted to share three stories from companies that inspire me. One of the companies I mention below I have a relationship with (I’ve hosted a full-day workshop for them), one we’re familiar with but, perhaps, doesn’t get the same press coverage as companies like Ritz Carlton or Zappos, and the last is one my business partners and I own and operate.

As you read this blog post, I suggest you think, “why not us?!”

Why can’t WE lead our industry like this?

Why can’t OUR team consistently deliver exceptional experiences like this?

Why can’t I lead MY team like this?

The answer is…YOU CAN!

If you like what you read, please consider sharing this on social media and with your team. Enjoy!

CBC Federal Credit Union


The story: One of their members (their terminology for customers) who had been a member of theirs since 2004, recently had something happen that impacted him and had nothing to do with banking or finance.

Mr. Arteaga (second from the left) came into one of their branches in California for an everyday banking need. While being helped at the branch, the CBC employee learned that the member recently had something stolen from him that was very precious to him, a scarf.

The scarf was a gift from his son who brought it back from a trip to Spain. The scarf was particularly special to him because it was one of his favourite sports team, FC Barcelona (you may have heard of they’re star player, Lionel Messi). Mr. Arteaga expressed how upsetting it was to him because it was a gift from his son.

Armed with this information, the CBC employee organized the company to purchase a FC Barcelona scarf understanding that it wouldn’t hold the same sentimental value, but a thoughtful act nevertheless.

When you hear this story you might think, “that’s nice!” But, listen to what Mr. Arteaga had to say about the customer experience:

“You guys have been more than just a financial institution all these years and I am just blown away by this. You say it is a small act, but you have no idea. Coming here is like going to my Abuelita’s (grandmother’s) house.”

Over the years, this member has been a true advocate for the business recruiting his wife and other family member to do business with CBC Federal Credit Union.

My Take and Question: when I hosted a full-day workshop for CBC Federal Credit Union in October 2018 I introduced them to my micro customer experience (MCE) strategy. This framework will grow a business and inspire an entire organization to exceed the expectations of customers or, as CBC calls them, members.

The MCE program works when you train your team to listen and take action on what you’ve heard, provide them with an operating budget and lead by example (CBC Federal Credit Unions CEO, Patrick Miller, is pictured on the far right).

Have you provided your team with the operating budget (something on your P&L) to deliver these exceptional customer experiences?

Hampton Inn


The story: A Hampton Inn employee in Pennsylvania named Kahlief did something that surely will resonate with this young guest named Colin for years to come.

Colin has autism and doing card tricks is not only a passion of his but also helps him focus. When Colin met Khalief he asked if he wanted to see some of his card tricks. Khalief marvelled at Colin’s experience and went ahead and showed Colin a few tricks of his own not once, but twice on consecutive days.

Something Khalief didn’t know is that Colin had recently lost his father, was living with his mother and sister and longing for more male interaction since the passing of his father.

The Hampton Inn team member could have easily excused himself from being able to entertain Colin because he was too busy. But, he took ownership over his role and was able to manage both serving guests and delivering an experience Colin has never seen before.

My Take and Question: You might think, “This is a nice story” but let’s not stop there. Your employees need, what I refer to as customer-centric DNA, to do this authentically. You and I can’t train our employees how to do this habitually. Khalief is a perfect example of a professional that willingly delivers memorable customer experiences to guests. As leaders of our companies, it’s our responsibility to find team members like Khalief and get out of their way to deliver these types of customer experiences.

Before I explain the ROI of doing this, isn’t it something we should be doing to build true businesses? Ones that our communities love!

The ROI of customer experiences like these are customer loyalty, engaged employees (team members with this type of DNA thrive off being able to do things like this in the workplace) and free media as many major local and national news (ABC News, Today and Good Morning America) outlets have shared this story.

During your interview process, do you ask probing questions (like this one) to identify if the person you’re interview has a customer-centric DNA?



Okay, okay, okay. This customer experience is from one of my businesses but I stand behind the story because it’s a great one!

One day a woman called into Baro to make a reservation. While our hostess was accommodating the guest on the phone, she mentioned that she would be heading to Punta Cana the following day for a vacation.

With this “customer intelligence” in hand, our hostess alerted our manager, Christina Parihar (someone I profile in my People-First Culture book) and our marketing department. They put together a customized brochure profiling information that the guest would find useful for her trip: places to eat, typical climate, local customs and more.

Prior to the guests arriving for their reservation, our hostess team had the brochures placed subtly inside their menu which were placed on their table before they arrived. Sure enough, we received the reaction we had hoped for which was the guest thinking, “How on earth did they pull this off?” You see, we had less than 24 hours to gather the information, design the brochures and have them professionally printed.


As you can imagine, this was another example of creating an experience your customers have never seen before that is worth sharing with family, friends and the internet.

My Take and Question: Examples like these aren’t just reserved for customer-facing team members. Notice how we included our marketing team, employees who typically aren’t customer-facing. Our finance team has been trained to do this for our investors and our vendors such as our payroll company, banking representatives and insurance providers. To truly build a people-first culture, you must include EVERYONE in your company to deliver experiences like these. It’s not just reserved for customer-facing roles.

During onboarding, regardless of the department, do you train your team and make them aware that everyone is responsible for creating experiences like these? Do you habitually mandate that these experiences be delivered regularly?

If you’ve been inspired by this post, please consider sharing it on social media and with your team!

For information, on how I can help your company create experiences like these for your customers, email me michel@michelfalcon.com or visit my website www.michelfalcon.com to learn about my private workshops and keynote presentations.


Why Customers Have A Responsibility To Help Companies Improve Their Customer Service

I believe you and I have a responsibility – that responsibility is to help companies we do business with improve their customer service.

How? When was the last time you received great customer service? Did you go out of your way to call or email the employee’s manager and tell them of the great experience?

Watch this video to learn why I believe we as consumers need to step up and help the employees of these companies!

Comment below: name a company that delivers great customer service to you and recognize their efforts.

I’ll go first – my favourite company is Starbucks! No matter where I go in the world they always deliver an amazing experience. If you enjoyed this video make sure to subscribe and connect with me on LinkedIn where I share videos just like this on a daily basis!


What Is A People-First Culture? (Fireside Chat With Jayson Gaignard)

Earlier this year, Jayson Gaignard, WeWork and I hosted a fireside chat where Jayson interviewed me about my People-First Culture book.

Watch (or read) the interview if you’re interested in:

? Understanding why I focused a lot of attention on purpose-driven companies within the pages of my book
? Learning about my Employee Advisory Board and how it’s helped us create a great workplace
? My approach to customer experience strategies to grow a business

Interview Transcript


Jason:                           I’ll throw you under the bus. Actually, why don’t we just toss it to you? What’s the most unpleasant job you’ve ever had Mr. Falcon?

Michel Falcon:              Bag boy at a grocery store in north Vancouver. Only because it’s such a thankless job. Because when you pay for your groceries, a customer says thank you to the person that takes payment, and is out of thank you’s by the time they pass you as the bag boy. It’s a thankless job. I would say that was probably the worst, most difficult job I’ve had.

Jason:                           So you went from grocery bagger …

Michel Falcon:              I was good. The best.

Jason:                           Right. So then you went from that and then eventually found yourself making 10 bucks an hour at a call center at a 1-800-GOT-JUNK. Which, if none of you are familiar with the brand 1-800-GOT-JUNK, I think they’re very successful. In a sense that our mutual friend, Cameron, joined and were at 2 million dollars. They went from 2 million to 126 million in 6 years, with no outside investments. Now they do …

Michel Falcon:              I believe?

Jason:                           Multiple brands, and Brian is just crushing it. When you started working for 1-800-GOT-JUNK, what was the goals that you held within the organization? Then what were some of your big takeaways?

Michel Falcon:              Working for such a great brand. Before then, first I was in business school, in Vancouver. I’m not academic. I struggled at that for about a year and a half, and recognized if I want to learn how to grow businesses, I should probably go work for one that grew from nothing to something admired. That was either going to be 1-800-GOT-JUNK or Lululemon pre-Ikea. I told my mom, and my parents, that I’m going to leave the university to work for a garbage company. I’m South American, so they’re very traditional. You go to school, you get married really young, and have kids really young, and whatnot. I took this other path.

Michel Falcon:              My first job was at Colson Industries, for a year. Much love to the Colson Industry. I speak at some of their events. It just wasn’t for me. It wasn’t what I was going to build my crew around, or on. From there, I got promoted a couple of times. I gave myself to my career and my career choice. I worked my butt off, got promoted five times in five years, and eventually ended up in the operations’ department of the company. So I’m head office of 1-800-GOT-JUNK in Vancouver. It was there that I found what I was going to leverage to build my career. That’s essentially three things. Company culture, customer experience, and employee engagement, and how all those three work together to build an admired, profitable company. Pretty much everything you’ll find in the book.

Jason:                           How long were you in this organization for?

Michel Falcon:              Just under 5 years.

Jason:                           After your time there, is that when you started leaning to advising?

Michel Falcon:              Yeah. I had the aspirations to grow this big experience, design advisory firm in my early 20s. I remember speaking to my manager. He was doing my performance review, and he asked me something along the lines of, “What do you want to do after this?” or in the future. I said, “I want to build this experience design company for employees and customers in culture.” And I want to advise for companies like Coca-Cola, and he … I remember his name, but I won’t say it. He was like something along the lines of, “keep your goals realistic.” I just looked at him sideways, like, “Mother,” right? Just because you didn’t do it, doesn’t mean that I can’t.

Michel Falcon:              I left. I called the name of my company Falcon Consulting Group, because preemptively, I thought there was going to be tons of employees and a dope office. Truth be told, it didn’t get bigger than me and my dog. The clients started off really small. $2,000 engagements, $1,500 engagements, small retainers. Eventually the first big boy/big girl client that I got was Verizon Wireless.

Michel Falcon:              I went from advising a million dollar company to 100 billion dollar company. I was like, “I hope I can figure out how to submit an invoice, and write a proposal. I might need a phone number that’s not my cell phone.” I spent two and a half, three years advising, speaking, hosting workshops, while I was still in Vancouver.

Jason:                           This may seem overly simplistic. How was the culture at 1-800-GOT-JUNK? I wouldn’t throw Brian under the bus, if it wasn’t great.

Michel Falcon:              I believe 1-800-GOT-JUNK was the godfather of company culture and [inaudible 00:05:05]. They were talking about company culture in ’05 when people weren’t even talking about it. Best place to work in Canada in 2006, second best place to work in all of Canada 2007. They were in there early. To answer your question, it was fantastic.

Michel Falcon:              Then the recession hit. They went from … this was great, real-world experience that I could not have paid for in a university. I saw the company go from 125 million dollars in one year, to 88 the next. Needless to say, there was rounds of layoffs, and I found myself not in the office when this happened, while the layoffs were happening. I avoided three rounds of layoffs. Then the culture was different. It was survival of the fittest. It still was a part of the DNA of the company. Imagine losing a great percentage of your company three times in a year and a half. Your friends that you’ve worked with, built these programs with, had wins with, had losses with. Now they’re gone.

Michel Falcon:              It was tough, but the culture was still within the DNA of the company. Once the market turned around, it was like pre-recession.

Jason:                           This may sound like an overly simplistic question, but why invest time and energy into culture? Actually this kind of plays into the question of how do you get leadership to see the value of investing in the culture.

Michel Falcon:              I’m on a crusade right now to help companies, just by way of conversation. The book, and any way I can share a message, that there should not be a divide between the relationships that you have in your personal life, as you do the ones in your professional life. The example that I give, is that when I go home back to Vancouver on December 20th this year for the holidays, and I spend time with my mom, going on a walk with her, or cooking her something to eat, am I asking myself, “What is the ROI of doing this for my beautiful mother?” Of course not. That would be psychotic. Yet, we still have that thought in our workplace.

Michel Falcon:              If you bet on humanity, where if I do something good for someone, like we were talking. We’re cynics. Then good things will come to me too? That is the bedrock of building a great company culture. Servant leadership is something that every single person, regardless of whether you are a leader by title or not, is something that we need to be studying and advocating. Servant leadership, and benevolent leadership. Those two things help build a foundation of any great company.

Jason:                           Let me play devil’s advocate here, real quick. I love my mother. I don’t look at her from an ROF perspective. That’s a long-term thing. When you have staff, you don’t own that staff. I know there’s this big fear of what if i invest x amount into my team, or what have you, and then some of them leave. How would you address that viewpoint?

Michel Falcon:              So be it. Right? It’s just if you’re fearful to invest in somebody because they might leave you, then you already are in a divot. I would question one’s leadership if that is the case. I actually want people in my company to leave. If they want to grow within the organization, if they want to be the director of x-y-z department, awesome. Let’s do that together. If they inspire to do something else, and I’ll go even as far as compete with us, by opening up a bar or a restaurant of their own, great. Let’s do that together, because that’s such a great representation of your brand.

Michel Falcon:              One thing that I am very strict on is language within our business. We don’t use the word staff. Staff is a German term to represent a group of assistants. I don’t see our team as assistants. They’re team members of our culture. I’m not paralyzed by what if’s. What if I do something go for somebody, and they leave me? Or what if I cross Duncan street and I get hit by a car, does that mean I’m not going to leave here tonight? Might some people say I’m naïve? Sure. If I’m wrong, by somebody I invested in? I could see why.

Jason:                           How would you articulate to, if you’re not in a leadership position, do you understand the importance of culture. Is there something that you would tell somebody to point to, or something to say specifically? Is there a way to show that culture actually does impact the bottom line?

Michel Falcon:              Yeah. Let’s just visualize you can measure how much you’re spending in training and development, and if we’re able to review some employee turnover, that is all cost savings that goes straight to your bottom line. There’s three things in the book that I outline. It’s one thing made up of three. It’s the three P strategy. It’s purpose. Understanding the purpose of your company. I hope it’s not just to make money. What is the purpose of our company? What is the purpose of our employees as individuals? Not as staff, or employees, as individual human beings. What is the purpose of our customers.

Michel Falcon:              Once we’re able to intuitively understand what those three things are, then you can start building processes to enrich the lives of our employees, our customers, and our community. The output is profit. I can’t tell you when you are going to ear that 10x on that strategy or whatever the case might be. I can’t tell you when you’re going to do that. If we look at companies that have come before all of ours, the ones that have withstood troubled markets, great competitors, they all have that people first culture built into the DNA of the company. When I’m asked what is the ROI of this, what is the ROI of that? The first thing that I’ll do is I’ll work backwards to what would happen if we didn’t do this? What would happen if we didn’t invest in our employees?

Michel Falcon:              I can equate what that would be. Our employee retention goes up. Sorry, our employee retention goes down. Our customer turnover goes up. Then you try to equate those things. I guarantee those things will outweigh what’s on the other side of the equation.

Jason:                           For the entrepreneurs in the room, who here has an organization from 1 to 5 employees? 5 to 15? Let’s say 25 plus? Okay. When would you, before we get to the tactical stuff, because you touched on the three P’s, which I wanted to get to in a second. Before we get into tactical stuff, for those that have their own businesses, their own organizations, when should they start focusing on culture?

Michel Falcon:              Yesterday. I’m going to believe that all of your companies are going to have a huge 2019. That will bring you into 2020. As your company grows, and if you neglect to put some of the cultural things in place now, it’s going to be infinitely harder to implement and create culture within your companies. It is yesterday.

Michel Falcon:              There’s some light. I don’t like spending a lot of money to arrive at an outcome. I like to do things in a very cost effective manner. There’s a lot of cultural things that you can do within your organization that will help you gain momentum. Let’s stop obsessing over Air B&B. A company that I absolutely love, or organizations like that. There probably at 20 billion dollars. Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed by companies. You work as well, too. Right?

Michel Falcon:              They started somewhere years ago! Look at them now. Don’t be overwhelmed by these massive companies, and just start somewhere. Gain momentum and just start building. I have a rule of thumb in my business where it’s three strategic initiatives every quarter. Has to be deployed, whether it’s big or small initiative, to enrich lives of our customers, employees, and community.

Michel Falcon:              That’s where we’re at now. We started off with one initiative every three months. Where are we going to be two years from now? Maybe at five initiatives? Perhaps. Just start somewhere.

Jason:                           The one thing I, while we’re back on it, that I even have this notion that culture is expensive, right? We’ll keep on that, hopefully, a bit later. You did talk about the three P’s. The first one being purpose. I was actually surprised how much of the book you dedicated to purpose. That wasn’t even remotely on my radar, when I think of culture. Getting clear on your purpose, getting clear on your company’s purpose, getting clear on the employee’s purpose, and ultimately your customer’s purpose. If we move into the natural process side of things, where does one …

Jason:                           Let’s say somebody started from scratch. Where does one start to really employ this culture thing throughout the organization. Is it the hiring process? Is it prior to that? Is it creating core values?

Michel Falcon:              Yeah. It’s difficult to give you a one-size-fits-all answer, because each company’s different. You have to anticipate your growth. Let’s all be positive thinkers, and assume that our company’s going to grow year over year. Let’s prepare for that growth. You hit the nail on it’s head. As soon as you start getting ready to employ or hire one employee, 10, or scale to 100, or beyond that, that is where culture is going to start to deteriorate.

Michel Falcon:              You are the ambassador of your culture, and you must surround yourself with individuals that will contribute to your culture. Ensure that you do not hire people that are great skill fits. The skillset fits are poor culture fits. Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix says it best. He says, “We do not tolerate brilliant jerks because the cost of teamwork is too high.” The first time I read that, I was like, “Oh! That was brilliant!”

Michel Falcon:              The first thing, one of the things that you can do is prepare for that growth and scale up to welcome one person, two people, ten people. Ensure that you’re front-loading the culture assessment to identify if they’re going to be a culture fit before anything else. Look, I know it can be paralyzing, where you’re like “Oh, but this person has such a great resume, but I don’t like them, at all! No one’s going to like them, but, oh, they used to work at the Ritz Carlton, or they used to develop for Amazon, but, ugh, I don’t like them.” Say, “No!” Right? You wouldn’t do that in your personal life, right?

Michel Falcon:              Then there are other little smaller things that you can do to be a great, benevolent, and servant leader. There’s something I do called Breakfast and Jams. Once a week, I sit down with an employee and I have breakfast with them. We jam, and we talk. Often it’s not all work, unless they want to make it about work. This is something I learned from you, actually. Just take notes on people. Pull out your phone. The amount of times I’ll be in a Breakfast and Jam session for an hour and go to the bathroom, is to go write notes about the person, just so I don’t forget it.

Michel Falcon:              I’ll pull out my phone and write in the notes section Binley’s mom’s birthday is on March 3rd, and so forth. The hiring stuff is very structural, but the Breakfast and Jam stuff is very tactical. Please, please, please don’t tell me you don’t have an hour a week. Yeah, you do.

Michel Falcon:              When I was advising companies, I remember this one CEO of this probably 5-million dollar company. He was like, “Well, I don’t have time to do that.” I said, “Well, you’re not that important.” I got fired, but it’s okay. Nobody is. That’s 1/40th of your week, of the minimum workweek. There’s things that you got to do. Some of the things you have to do.

Jason:                           I remember one friend of mine, I may have mentioned that, she uses this gut test of whether or not she wants to hire somebody. What she does is she actually invites people to stay at her house for the weekend. I actually use that for a potential business partnership. We went away to the Bahamas. I was so in. We’re so going to do this business deal. A day and a half in, I’m like, “I’m going to kill this guy.” That’s a cool gut check, you know how you will see real core values on some of the clients.

Michel Falcon:              Yeah. That’s a great example. I can’t believe that you did that. You could also take people out to see how they treat the person at Impact Kitchen that brings them their food, Portland Variety. Naming every venue except my own.

Jason:                           So modest.

Michel Falcon:              No self promotion here.

Jason:                           A lot of the times, one of those things I remember hearing you say. I think it all the time. How you do anything is how you do everything. Again, going to a restaurant, see how they treat the servers, and that kind of stuff goes a really long way. Also, I’m very much in the hiring mindset right now, because I’m looking for director of operations. There’s a great book called “Who” by Geoff Smart and Randy Street when it comes to a process of hiring, and that kind of stuff.

Michel Falcon:              Actually, I want to interject right now. You’re about to make a massive hire.

Jason:                           Yes.

Michel Falcon:              What challenge did you have right now?

Jason:                           What challenge do I have?

Michel Falcon:              Yeah. Is there any anxiety that you have going into this big hire? I’m sure there are individuals in the audience here. I’m going to flip the script and interview you. Is there- because I’m sure there are many individuals in the audience right now that are about to make a big hire, or anticipate that end goal. What do you have any-

Jason:                           There’s a reason I’m interviewing you on the topic of culture. At my last business, we didn’t have great books and resources like this. Or, at least, I didn’t take time to read them. We had about 25 employees and I never focused on culture. We had B-level players, I had C-level under them. The culture was so bad that I would only show up to the office once a month. I moved to Grand Lake. Let this company crash and burn. It was a 7 million dollar a year company. I’m still licking my wounds when it comes to that. I’m trying to be very cautious with this. Master my talents in the new organization that we have.

Jason:                           Director of operations is a scary hire. It’s one of the key hires that you can make as a visionary if you follow Gino Wickman’s “Rocket Fuel” his philosophy around that and traction. It’s not a cheap hire either, right? It’s one of those things that you want to get it right the first time. Hire slow, fire fast is generally the rule of thumb when we were paying potentially 6 figures for Paul.

Jason:                           You don’t want to wait six months then be like, “Oh, darn, that was the wrong hire.” Not only because it cost you a lot of money, but that was a lot of waste of time.

Michel Falcon:              Absolutely.

Jason:                           Yeah. I’m pretty scared.

Michel Falcon:              Well, you got me there.

Jason:                           There you have it. Read the book! Not on purpose! That takes us through recruiting and hiring. Which is where we just kind of get it wrong, assuming for the most part. Then you have emotional onboarding.

Michel Falcon:              Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Jason:                           Can you explain what that is?

Michel Falcon:              How many people have, show of hands, raise them high. How many people have worked at a company as a team member, and on day one, nobody knew who the [explicative] they were, and their computer wasn’t set up, and it was just a disaster? Raise your hand.

Jason:                           If you worked for me, that wouldn’t happen.

Michel Falcon:              Okay. There’s a lot wrong with that.

Jason:                           Sure.

Michel Falcon:              A lot of companies will focus on the technical. Like, “Jason needs to have his lanyard, and his login, and we have to invite him to Dropbox, and all that onboarding stuff.” This is a great conversation. My girlfriend’s here somewhere, and she was onboarding in her company. I was just kind of sharing, “this is what onboarding is like.” That’s the technical stuff.

Michel Falcon:              The emotional stuff is where I’m, pardon my English, but I’m a pig in [explicative]. I’m so happy on the emotional stuff, because I am about to ask a team member, regardless of position, to give themself to a stranger. A customer, a colleague. So I must give myself to them first, to show them that we’re not asking them to do something that we wouldn’t do ourselves, and to help them realize and feel what that looks like.

Michel Falcon:              Emotional onboarding is something that … and we can play a game right now if you’d like. What is an indulgence? Here’s an interview question that we ask in our culture interview. [crosstalk 00:23:32] that’s both of you. You both pointed at the other person. What is an indulgence that you can’t live without that costs less than $20.

Speaker 3:                    We put that in our interview because of you. It works great!

Michel Falcon:              It works great! Okay, thank you.

Speaker 3:                    Fantastic.

Michel Falcon:              That didn’t work as planned, but thank you. Let’s say that this gentleman is interviewing for a bartender position, and he said it’s a bottle of wine. I’m going to say, “What type of wine? Red or white?” He might say red. “Okay, what type of grape?” He might say a Syrah. “Okay great!” I’m going to write that down. “Any type of brand?” He might say something. “Cool.” On with the interview. A week later, we might hire him.

Michel Falcon:              On day one of his first day, before he does anything, after a “Hello, welcome,” we hand him a card saying, “Thank you for joining us. Thank YOU for joining US because you have tons of options, especially in hospitality, so, thank you for joining us.” Not like, “You’re lucky to be here.” It’s the other way around. Then there’s that bottle of red Syrah, Cayman’s red Syrah, or whatever the case might be. Then this individual might say, “Red skittles, or cool ranch Doritos.” We’ve heard a lot of stuff, right guys? It’s cool, because you have a group of four, five, six people, all starting on day one, and they’re all looking at each other’s gifts. Be like, “Hey!” It’s a great ice breaker. Not only that, there’s always a rhyme or reason for everything that I do.

Michel Falcon:              Not only that, you’re about to ask these team members to go into training. You want their engagement to be very high, because you want their knowledge retention to be even higher when they come out of training. They sell better. They market better. They’re more efficient. All this good stuff. It goes back to serving others before you ask them to serve someone else. That, at the core, is servant leadership. Again, if you’re going to takeaway one thing from this talk, aside from following me on social media, Google servant leadership and get lost in Google. Click links, go into Wikipedia, and you’ll get so lost. Have you ever been to Wikipedia and click one link? Then another link, then another one, and you have no idea where you are by then? That is emotional onboarding. Do stuff that is different.

Jason:                           I think it’s so important, because I’ve been an entrepreneur for 14 years. A lot of what you read out there is around customer experience design. Really focus on customer experiences. I have this question around how do you scale without losing touch. You care about your staff or your team members, and ultimately they will care about the client base.

Michel Falcon:              You have to balance macro and micro stuff. The macro are those big strategies that you’re going to deploy every quarter. The micro are those light memorable touches that you, or your employees, or your customers. Truth be told, I started my career as customer experience management being the thing. Then I soon realized there is no customer experience without employee engagement and company culture.

Michel Falcon:              I spend 80 percent of my time focused on what’s happening internally within the business, because I know if we can get that part right, then what happens external will be taken care of. You have this company that has it built into their DNA. I don’t believe the customer is always right. I spend more time serving our team than I do our customers.

Jason:                           The end result for you guys is what’s the industry standard retention rate for hospitality?

Michel Falcon:              It’s bad. I can’t really say a number off the top of my head, but think about it. I’m sure lots of people have worked in hospitality before. It’s kind of one of those careers that you have at one point in your life. Retention is god-awful. It’s so bad. Our retention rate, last time I checked, was 2.5 times higher than the industry average. Now I’m not so in love with employee retention as a metric anymore, because there’s voluntary and involuntary turnover.

Michel Falcon:              I want my team members to leave. I genuinely do. I have one team member that left last month, and I’m happy for him. He gets to start his own business. That is what he is destined to do, so I wanted him to leave. We supported him. I have another one leaving in five weeks, and that’s going to be a happy time for me, too. It’s going to suck [explicative] having to replace him, but I put him first.

Michel Falcon:              Retention is not a DPI that I like to track. I like surveying employees, and just asking them simple questions anonymously, and taking that data and creating operational improvement plans from that.

Jason:                           That’s one thing I will praise you for. I will honor you for in a sense that I did a behind the scenes tour of Baro, which they should offer as a public thing, similar to Zappos. I was blown away at the onboarding materials we had. It was all where I’ve dropped the ball as an entrepreneur is I hire somebody, they show up, I forgot I hired them, all the time. I have no onboarding whatsoever. It makes total sense. We all have a deep desire to feel seen, and heard, and appreciated, and valued. There’s an opportunity, when people are most vulnerable, to be their biggest fan. That’s the time you make an investment in that relationship, when they’re vulnerable. I can’t think of a more vulnerable time than when you walk into an organization. You’re scared about the job. You’re scared about you’re going to meet. You don’t know anybody. Those kinds of things.

Jason:                           You make those little micro investments. They pay off dividends in the future. That’s where I’ve screwed up as an entrepreneur myself, for years.

Michel Falcon:              A lot of people have, right? When I first suggested these strategies, I had one of my business partners look at me sideways and be like, “That’s fluffy, man.” I was like, “So be it.” Right? If you feel like, “I’m not that type of leader. I’m a bit extroverted, or introverted.” That’s fine, but that doesn’t excuse you from implementing things like that from within your business. Find somebody in your company that can be that ambassador, and that flamer for you. Because it has got to be a part of the DNA for your company. Look, don’t just take it from me. Go study the Air B&B’s and the WeWorks and so forth. The commonalities are they are doing these things. I can tell you, you cooperated, it works. The playbooks. I was told something earlier in my career that resonated with me forever, to this day, and it’s been about 9 years. People don’t fail, processes do. People don’t fail, processes do.

Michel Falcon:              Let’s say you have someone on your team who’s not getting it, okay? “Billy’s not selling well,” or whatever. That very well might be the case, but you hired them, or someone in your organization hired them, so it’s your responsibility to figure out why that is. Ask yourself first, “Is it our training process that failed that individual? Or is failing this individual? Did we set them up for success? Do we have module-based training?” If you can say, yes, our training is fantastic, then ask yourself another question. “How did this person get through our interview process?”

Michel Falcon:              We’re supposed to have safeguards. Especially if they’re not a culture fit. Your supposed to have safeguards in place to ensure that great culture fits and high performers join your organization. If both of those processes are very strong, then consider off boarding them. The question I’m asked most often is, “okay, I want to build my culture, should I fire 50% of my team that don’t fit the culture?” No. Obviously not. Again, you hired them. You’re wanting to build the culture, you have to give everybody the opportunity to live within that culture with your coaching. Then make the decision if they’re going to fit within the culture or not.

Jason:                           That was going to be one of my questions. Is if you had an existing business, and the culture isn’t great. Tony, from Roma, is a [inaudible 00:32:36].

Michel Falcon:              Really?

Jason:                           Yeah.

Michel Falcon:              Awesome. Can you give them a part of the show?

Jason:                           To Tony Gareri owns a company called Roma Moulding. He’s a friend of ours as a company in Vaughn. They have 150 employees. Typically, they make frames, like picture frames. They’re the second largest framing company in the world. Anybody here familiar with Peter Lik painting, photos, and that kind of stuff? They had a photo, for example, sell for 6 and a half million dollars, that this company framed. Anyways, all I have to say is he’s super passionate about culture. He came to talk with mine. One of the questions that I had, was if you have an interesting business, but terrible culture.

Jason:                           Tony, for example was a family business. His father was old school Italian, and didn’t care about culture. He was not sexy at all. To talk about culture. He was taking over the company, and he had to let go of a third of the people. I was curious to know that you have an existing company, you’re already 20, 30 employees deep, 50 employees deep. What are the first steps to turn that culture around?

Michel Falcon:              I would present what this culture’s going to look like. Whether you do something like a vivid vision, or develop a mission and values. Introduce them to each individual one on one. Or as a company, and then doing it one on one. Then you’re going to know. You’ll know. If you know your team well enough, that’ll help you too. Who’s going to fit within that culture or not. You’re going to have your ambassadors and your ‘A’ players. They’re going to support you and help you grow this culture. Then you’ll know. “I don’t know if these four people are going to make it.” It’s still your responsibility as a leader to allow them the opportunity to grow within this culture. They very well might have never worked for a company where culture mattered.

Michel Falcon:              It’s not fair to them for you to exit them right away. It is your responsibility to help them thrive within the culture. It’s a nice win, if you’re able to turn someone around, and get them to live within your culture. I can tell you, first hand, it’s a great win that you can have for yourself. It’s a feather in your hat.

Jason:                           Who here has clear core values for their organization? Alright. So this is a great place to step back to on some level. For my organization, I didn’t have core values for the longest time. Actually, it was with Tony. I did the tour with him. He has 150 people working for him. He’s the sweetest guy in the world. I’m like, “You’re so sweet, how do you fire people? I have such a hard time. You’re such a nice guy.” He’s like, “We have very clear core values, so if somebody is not in alignment with the core value, we can just point to the core value. By the time they meet with me, they already know what core value they’re not in alignment with.”

Jason:                           I don’t know if you have any structure you can share, as far as how you identify core values. Two years ago, I’m like, “I’m going to get serious about core values.” I Googled it, then I found this step-by-step. You need post-it notes, and sharpies, and a retreat. I took my team out, and we were like, “What are our core values?” We put them up on the wall, and we voted. After that, we had these core values. By choosing them, I forgot what they were.

Jason:                           How does one create those core values? How does one keep them on top of mind?

Michel Falcon:              The first part of that question. How do you create them? If you are the entrepreneur or the leader within your organization, or soon to be entrepreneur, ask yourself a simple, yet really difficult question. “What do I want this company to stand for? How do I want it to operate when I’m not even in the building?” You just start brainstorming sentences and phrases. You know you’re on the right track if you’re three pages deep of key words and phrases.

Michel Falcon:              Then take a step back. Leave it alone for a week, or two. Then revisit it again. Ask yourself, “Do these things still matter?” As soon as you set your values in place, that’s it. You shouldn’t be changing your values. It’s not like, “what matters to me this year?” Once you have all these phrases and key words, I recommend working with a copywriter. Somebody that can wordsmith everything for you. Whether it’s three, five, or ten values. Like, Zappos has ten values, we have five. It doesn’t really matter, because it’s your business, you can call the shots. Go back to them and say, “Is this exactly what I want my company to stand for?”

Michel Falcon:              From there, the hard work comes into play. That’s the easy stuff. The hard work comes into hiring people according to those values. Celebrating them when people win, and live within them. Coaching people when they’re not living within them.

Michel Falcon:              If you go, and I implore all of you guys to do this, go to Baro, go to pay cash, and ask anyone what our five values are. My expectation is that they will be able to recite them. Hey, Carl!

Speaker 4:                    Oh, boy.

Carl:                             Yeah?

Michel Falcon:              What are our five core values?

Carl:                             Ownership …

Carl:                             Foresight, celebration, ownership, humility, [inaudible 00:38:12] integrity.

Michel Falcon:              Thank you. What that both of them that said that? We have to know what they are, and how they were created, and why they were created, and how can I be successful in them. If you’re going to ask a full team of people, whether it’s one or 1,000 people to live within them, they have to intimately understand why they were created, how to live within them. You can’t just be like, “here are five things! Go!” Like, what the [explicative] are these things? Why were they created.

Jason:                           Two questions. Question number one, how do you keep core values top of mind with your team? What are some of the things that you do?

Michel Falcon:              One, make sure they know how to recite them, so that’s already been mentioned. Two, we do something at 4:55 before service. It’s kind of a huddle. It’s a pre-service meeting. We talk about one core value every single week that we’re going to drive. Maybe it’s ownership. Be like, “Guys, ownership is the core value this week. Who’s going to do what by when to live within that core value?” Right?

Michel Falcon:              Have dialogue around them. If you use Slack or post Facebook group for your company, make sure that you’re celebrating people when they’re living within the value. For example, we survey our customers using a promoter’s score. If we read a comment from a promoter customer, that says, “Zach was absolutely amazing! I never had to ask him once to refill my drink.” Well, he lived within the ownership core value, because he took ownership over the guest’s experience.

Michel Falcon:              We’re going to take that, and message everybody through Slack, and Facebook, company wide and say, “Kudos to Zach for living within these values.” Those are three things. Those three, easy simple things that you can do. To add one more. If you do have those one on one sessions, whether it’s a Breakfast and Jam, or something more formal, like a goal setting review session or something like that, ensure that you go through your values. Highlight the ones that they’re living within, but also target one that you feel like this individual needs to pull up their socks. Be like, “I think you can do better in this core value, and here’s some examples. What do you think?” Give them some opportunities to talk about it. Those are some ways to be able to live within the values.

Jason:                           Beautiful. Awesome. I think we’re at around 10 minutes, or so? Roughly? Do we have any questions for Michel?

Sonny:                          Jason!

Jason:                           Sonny, you beautiful maniac.

Sonny:                          Yo, Michel.

Michel Falcon:              Yo.

Sonny:                          Can you talk about the employer deboard. I think a lot of people are going to get a lot of input from that.

Michel Falcon:              Yeah. Thank you for being here, Sonny, I love you. He’s the nicest human in the world, and is the only person that has better hair than me in the city of Toronto.

Michel Falcon:              The employee advisory board. Yes. This might be my favorite strategy. We have many departments. Dishwashers, hostesses, and so forth. Going in to this industry knowing that employee retention was very, very low, because they don’t have a voice often in this industry. I created something called the employee advisory board, where there’s one representative from every department. Is elected by their peers, to join me once a month for an off the record conversation for a few hours. The only thing that is on the agenda is the current state of our company culture, and for them to describe the workplace of their dreams.

Michel Falcon:              My business partner and I, Brandon, take notes. What are we doing well, so we can double down on those efforts, and invest more resources into those efforts. Where do we need to get stronger. It’s off the record. Managers are not allowed in the meeting. The reason why managers aren’t allowed in the meeting is twofold. One, managers already have their own meetings. Two, I’m trying to grow that next level of leadership. If we scale as a company, we’re going to need more leaders.

Michel Falcon:              I’ve seen leaders develop within the employee advisory board. We take that feedback, and then I immediately call a meeting with our management team, and share this information with them, that is anonymous. It’s really interesting that the things that I find out. I have ears everywhere. It’s not to sabotage our management team. I’ll be like, “Hey, so what’s up with this?” They’ll be like, “Yeah, we’re going to fix that.” I’m like, “That’s awesome.” Here’s the good, too, guys. This isn’t a reprimanding session. This isn’t an opportunity for employees to just air their dirty laundry, that’s not the point of this.

Michel Falcon:              A number of things come from this. One, those employees get to go home with a greater sense of purpose. “Wow, I got to share my opinion.” It’s worth noting, for me. Those ambassadors from each department are responsible for crowdsourcing feedback from their peers, too. Our next meetings are actually Monday and Tuesday. They have this entire week to go to their peers in their department and say, “Hey I’m on the employee advisory board meeting, give me some feedback, the good and the bad.” They come and share everybody’s opinions. Again, it’s anonymous.

Michel Falcon:              I’m going to assume we’re all really humble leaders. There’s a lot of value that is received from the team members when they go home and talk to their spouse, or their mum and dad, and they’re like, “I got to sit down with one of the leaders of the company.” I remember one year at 1-800-GOT-JUNK they did that to me. It wasn’t an employee advisory board, but they gave me a voice. Then, on the opposite side of things, you’re going to find so many strategies that you can use to create better strategic initiatives within your business to grow it. That is the employee advisory board. It’s highlighted in the book at length, if there’s more context that you need.

Jason:                           Thank you, Sonny. Two more questions? Here up front?

Speaker 4:                    Thank you for everything you said already. It’s amazing.

Michel Falcon:              Thank you.

Speaker 4:                    I have writing company at TML. My question is how do you champion company culture when your whole team is remote? I have like one person with me, but 20 of them all over.

Michel Falcon:              It’s a very, very common question. You have to be communicating on a daily basis, and leverage what tools you have. Are you leveraging Slack or something like that, to communicate with them?

Speaker 4:                    Yeah. Hangouts.

Michel Falcon:              Google hangouts, okay.

Speaker 4:                    I don’t communicate with them as much as the accounts team does.

Michel Falcon:              Okay. You’re the leader of the accounts team, right? You got to be communicating with them more. They look at you as the- you’ve got to be the flag bearer. Now if you have a layer below you that can help you be flag bearers, then that’s amazing, right? Not a lot of companies have that. Leverage the people within the company to be flag bearers. I have two people on each property that are flag bearers for me, because I can’t be there all the time. Ensure that you’re advocating your core values. If you don’t have them, create them, and then share everything that I shared before. Just, top of mind, again, I’m happy that you brought that up, Jason. Always be communicating, always describe what, and why the culture is built. You’ve almost got to sound like a broken record. You have to ingrain it into the DNA of your company.

Michel Falcon:              Doing it virtually is challenging. Right? I’m in an advantageous position, and I’m sure many people are, too. You get to see your team members all the time. It’s as simple as a fist bump, or something like that. It’s hard to do that virtually. There’s emojis that you can show for fist bumps and stuff. Yeah, just communicate often. Celebrate people. Remove people that aren’t within, even if they are virtual, living within the culture. You got to be that person. Nobody’s- they’re not going to care as much as you are going to, because it’s your business. If they see how much you care, then you’ll see an uptick in their engagement.

Jason:                           Virtual must be really hard hiring them, because you’re not sitting in front of them.

Speaker 4:                    It is. The writers are always going to be provoked, so.

Michel Falcon:              Hiring people virtually, yeah. You don’t get to have that one on one conversation, but there’s some pretty good software out there. Like video conference in BlueJeans and stuff like that. Believe it, or not, there’s a software called BlueJeans. It’s about asking the right questions. It’s not the medium or the channel, it’s asking the right questions. If you have, in our business, we have 5 core values. We ask two questions per core value during the culture interview. To understand if this individual is going to fit within the culture. Ownership is one of our core values. We’re going to ask them two questions to understand would this person take ownership over the guest experience?

Michel Falcon:              Foresight is another core value. I ask them two questions. It’s not so much the medium, or the channel, or the environment, as the type of questions you ask to see if this person is going to fit within your culture.

Jason:                           We’ll take one more. One thing I’ll throw out there, there’s a book called “Remote.” I don’t know if you’ve read it yet, by Jason Fried. CEO of 37 Signals, or Basecamp, they have like 45 employees? Highly profitable, and very driven. Full remote team, currently worldwide. I’d check him out. One more question.

Michel Falcon:              All the way at the back. He’s brown. Alright, perfect.

Speaker 7:                    I can yell. You receive lot of ownership. Do you give ownership to all your employees?

Michel Falcon:              The question was, we talked about ownership. Do we give ownership to our employees? As of today, we do not. Profit sharing programs are something that we’re going to be looking into. Do I believe in giving ownership to employees? If it makes sense, sure. I’m starting to see companies give away share packages to everyone. Look, like, just because millennials ask for something, doesn’t mean you have to give it to them. I am a millennial. I’m really like a lot of grassroots companies. Not to say that we’re greedy, but right now it doesn’t make sense for us to do that. If it makes sense for you, that’s your prerogative, right? By all means, go ahead and do it.

Jason:                           I think there’s, within the entrepreneurial circles I find myself in, there’s this great debate. There’s pros and con’s to either one. I definitely think it’s a lively debate that I think we can have. With that said, I stole the mic. I will take that one back. Do we have names for the winners? Hot [explicative]! We have-

Michel Falcon:              Boro would be the first one.

Jason:                           Which one sounds better?

Michel Falcon:              Good question.

Jason:                           For petty cash, we have Hailey Rudolph? Heyo! Alright. Pass this out. Can you pass this down? I trust you. Then I always get this messed up because of the French in me.

Michel Falcon:              Stefan Dyre.

Jason:                           Stefan Dyre!

Michel Falcon:              There you go.

Jason:                           There you go!

Michel Falcon:              Booze and food usually draws a crowd, so that was good. I could ask, or answer a billion questions on these topics. This doesn’t work for me, so that’s all my social stuff. That’s my email. That’s my website. Feel free to hamper me with questions after today. I’m good.

Jason:                           I’m going to ask from you guys. If you grabbed a copy of the book, or you purchased a copy of the book, I think Michel would greatly appreciate if you left a review on Amazon. Those reviews actually really do move the needle from a social group perspective. Please do that. How much do you normally charge for a speaking engagement? 15 to 20 thousand. So if you want advice, it’s free tonight. Feel free, ask him questions. He’s around most of the evening. Thank you all for being here.

Michel Falcon:              Thank you guys.

What Employees Want You To Tell Them When They Hit Their Goals

Hey everyone, another People First Monday video this week. I’m sharing some things that I believe you need to communicate with your employees after they’ve achieved their goals.

The first is helping them understand how they accomplished those goals without telling them. You need to help them come to those conclusions on their own so that they can have extreme clarity so that they can do it again and again and again.

Often we only coach our employees after they’ve performed poorly. We need to allocate time to ensure that they understand why they were able to achieve those goals.

The second thing is peer to peer learning. Set up an environment for them so that they can coach their peers and share best practices that they are using to accomplish those goals.

And the third is asking them, “Do you prefer public or private praise?” When I was starting my career as a manger, I was … I had an individual named Antonia reporting in to me. And she accomplished her goals and I stook up in front of the entire company and recognized her efforts. And she didn’t like that because she prefers private praise. So that was a hard lesson for me to understand that some people don’t want public praise, they would prefer the praise to be one on one.

Improve Your Customer Experience With Customer Journey Mapping (Case Study Included)

In all my years of focusing on customer experience management, there is one practice that stands out amongst them all…customer journey mapping!

Watch my detailed video above (16 minutes) to learn:

? How customer journey mapping will improve your operational strategy.

? My ‘traffic light model’ to clearly identify your strengths and opportunities to improve.

? How I helped a dental practice revitalize their patient experience.

If you prefer to read about customer journey mapping, I’ve attached the transcript of this video below!

In this video, I’m going to share how any company in any industry, can improve their customer experience by leveraging customer journey mapping. I’m going to introduce you to my traffic light model toward the end of the video. It’s something that I use within my business, which sees tens of thousands of customers per month.

I’ve leveraged my customer experience strategies and shared them with companies like CenturyLink, Alfa Romeo, Verizon Wireless, and dozens of others. The reason I share that with you, is because my strategies are tried, tested, and true. They’re working for me and I guarantee they will work for you as well.

I’m going to teach you how to improve your customer experience by using customer journey mapping regardless of whether you are a million, or a billion dollar company. Not only that, I’m going to teach you how to host a customer journey mapping workshop for your company. I’ll share the value of it, and how to optimize the results. And you’re going to get an introduction to my traffic light model.

Customer journey mapping is a fantastic way to improve your customer experience.

But don’t take my word for it. Listen to what Steve Mascarin, a local dentist here in Toronto had to say after we hosted a customer journey mapping workshop for his company.

“So I’ve been working with Michel for two years now and I’ve seen him perform on stage in front of 2000 people, and in a small intimate group like we had today of 25 people. And he goes out with the same energy and passion, no matter how large the group is, or what type of industry he’s working with. And I cannot think of or know of anybody that’s got more experience, and is more on the cutting edge of the customer experience and customer touch points and improving them. And the results that I’ve had so far have been unbelievable. I’m so much further ahead of my competitors in my industry. And I don’t think there’s any way they’re going to catch me now because I’ve been working with Michel.”

For those not familiar, customer journey mapping is a workshop that you will host with your company that outlines the macro and the micro interactions that your customers experience when doing business with you from beginning to end. It gives you a holistic view to understand where your strengths and your opportunities are to improve from an operational perspective. It will allow you to build operational improvement plans to continuously refine the business.

I like to use going to the movie theatres as an example when I host private workshops because it’s easily relatable. What do you experience when going to the movie theatres? Well, there’s a lot. Some of the more common macro interactions would include awareness, such as seeing a Facebook ad or driving by the movie theatres. Next, you’re going to want to purchase your tickets. You might do that on a mobile website, or their desktop site. Or you might choose to go to the movie theatres and purchase them through an employee, or at a self serve kiosk. And of course one of the macro interactions within the movie theatre is purchasing popcorn at the concession stand.

But what about the micro experiences? The little interactions within the customer journey. This is where I like to live within, to be able to grow my businesses, because often this isn’t where your competition is focused on. Some of the micro interactions within the customer journey of a movie theatre could include the cleanliness of the bathroom, or does the ketchup pump actually have ketchup near the concession stand after you buy your hot dog? This is where we have to focus to be able to create an experience that our customers have never seen before and customer journey mapping allows you to do this.

I believe if you want to remain relevant within your industry, you must compete within the macro interactions.

But you must also excel within the micro interactions within your customer journey. Of course, these aren’t all of the touch points in a movie theatre, but you get the point. Hosting customer journey mapping workshops will improve your customer experience because it will bring your team together. My mandate is to have at least one person from every department present when hosting the workshop. This proves to be beneficial because you get a 360 view of the customer journey.

Identifies areas of strength and opportunities to improve your customer experience. It will influence positive debate within the company. You’ll create alignment. After all, how can you improve something together if you’re not aligned behind what you’re trying to improve. And it will have your team members literally saying, “I didn’t know your department experience that. That’s why you do it that way.”

Earlier in the video I introduced you to Steve Mascarin. He’s the owner of Taunton Village Dental. Rather than giving you anecdotes on how to host a customer journey mapping workshop for your company, why don’t I take you through the step by step process that we leverage to be able to create a customer journey mapping workshop for his dental practice. Prior to the workshop, this is how we prepared. We sent a company wide announcement, letting everyone know that they would be attending a full day workshop to improve the company’s patient experience.

The room was filled with people from all departments. We welcomed managers, dentists, hygienists, office team members, and many more. Within the communication, we outlined why we were doing this, and how we were going to measure success. We selected the perfect venue. I don’t recommend hosting the workshop at your place of business, because you don’t want the audience to be distracted with the day to day of the operation. We purchased things such as markers, sticky notes, and paper board.

We started the day by outlining a few things such as what is the difference between customer service and customer experience. I introduced them to my People First culture and 3P strategy, and explained how it would impact their dental practice. And we also role-played it through the movie theatre experience so that I could get them to start thinking about a customer journey of something that they’re familiar with.

I then broke the company into groups of five. Here’s some best practices in doing that. Ensure that departments separate themselves. For example, I didn’t allow dentists or hygienists to group themselves together. Perhaps you’re going to want to separate your sales, marketing team, or customer service team. Next, you’re going to want to appoint a note taker and a presenter within each individual group. We outlined five stages within the customer journey: awareness, booking, arrival, procedure, and post procedure.

Give them a real world example and have them define the customer persona. For Taunton Village Dental, I asked them to outline the customer journey for a new hygiene patient. Let’s evaluate the five different stages before we move forward. The awareness stage for a dental practice could be receiving a piece of direct mail, listening to a radio campaign, or seeing a Facebook ad. The booking touchpoint could include calling the practice to reserve an appointment, using some sort of booking software, or emailing them.

The arrival stage could include driving your car into their parking lot, opening the door of the practice, speaking to some of their friendly team members, plus much more. The procedure stage within the customer journey could include walking into the operatory, turning on Netflix, meeting the hygienists, plus much more. The post procedure stage could include billing, filing for insurance, leaving the practice, and receiving a follow up survey.

Let’s think about a different industry for a moment. My industry is hospitality, and when we hosted our customer journey mapping workshop, we outlined 37 different customer touch points within the entire customer journey just for one customer persona. Think about your industry for a moment. If you hosted a customer journey mapping workshop with your company, how many different interactions would your team members outline throughout the entire experience?

To improve your customer experience by hosting a customer journey mapping workshop, there are a few best practices to adhere to. Encourage your team to have an optimistic viewpoint when doing this. Having naysayers and negative people involved in this process will be demoralizing. As a matter of fact, get these people entirely out of your business. Ensure that you’ve selected a customer persona and outlined five to seven different stages within the customer journey.

Focus on the current state of the customer experience. Don’t outline what you want to create for your customers in the future. That will come later. Outline every touchpoint, macro and micro, and don’t just outline the touch points you excel in. And if there are multiple touch points that intersect each other. For example, if your customer can buy tickets to the movie theatre online and offline, then you can label those touch points as 3A and touch point 3B.

There is no one size fits all to host a customer journey mapping workshop for your company. After all, every industry is different. It took Taunton Village Dental four hours to outline the customer journey for just one customer persona. Once you’ve outlined at least one customer journey, you’re going to want to have each group present their findings. Now this is where it becomes interesting. You’re going to observe whether your team is aligned or not. In all my years of hosting customer journey mapping workshops for companies big and small, I have not experienced an organization present the exact same findings.

Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because it will create awareness that the organization needs to create greater alignment behind the customer experience. Before moving forward, I will have the entire organization sign off on what they believe that customer journey is. Now is the time that I will introduce you to my traffic light model. Now, this is how customer journey mapping is going to improve your customer experience. I want you to go through every single interaction and label it: red, yellow, or green. Red is where customer retention is being negatively impacted. Yellow is threatened to turn red unless you do something on an operational level. And green are the interactions that your customers absolutely love you for.

You don’t want to label things red, yellow, or green anecdotally. Leverage customer feedback such as Google reviews, customer surveys, and any type of feedback that you’re able to gather from a customer advisory board to ensure that you’re labeling each interaction correctly. Share the interactions that you’ve labeled green with your sales and marketing teams. I suggest this because if your customers of today love you for certain interactions within your customer journey, don’t you think perspective customers will also love you for those same interactions.

Have your sales team include these interactions within their sales presentation and have your marketing include it within their marketing mix. I wouldn’t suggest starting with yellow interactions unless it’s an easy fix because you want to begin with the red interactions, because that is where the bleeding is happening. I’m sure you’re going to be eager and motivated and want to tackle every red interaction at once, but I actually recommend against doing that, largely because of bandwidth and being able to effectively improve the operation.

Start with the red interactions that are negatively impacting customer retention, sales, and profitability. Begin with one red touchpoint. Create an operational improvement plan. Then don’t move on to the second, until the first has started to trend downward. Once you’ve completed all the red, then move on to the yellow interactions. Here’s a great thing that I have within my business that I wanted to share with you that will help you improve your customer experience.

Create a service level agreement. Within my business, our service level agreement is that we will create three operational improvement plans every quarter. This ensures that your customer experience doesn’t remain stagnant. Hosting customer journey mapping to improve your customer experience isn’t for beginners, but when you are able to implement it within your organization, you will reap tremendous value and benefits to continuously serve your customers and build your business.

Here’s the testimonial of a client that I recently hosted a workshop for:

Thank you Michel for your inspirational presentation. After you left, we went through an exercise to identify short term, longterm, cross departmental, and crazy ass ideas to put into practice at Century Lock. I expected our team to come up with 20 to 30 solid ideas, and I was blown away as we came up with almost 100. Thanks again for your help inspiring our culture and customer experience leadership.

This company generated 100 new ideas to improve their customer experience. By no means is that common. However, if you host a customer journey mapping workshop for your company, whether it’s 10, 20, or 35 new ideas, customer journey mapping has proven to improve an organization’s customer experience and bring the organization together to think about that next great customer experience strategy.

There you have it. That is how customer journey mapping will improve your customer experience regardless of the size of your business or the industry.

Along the way, if you need help, feel free to contact me directly (michel@michelfalcon.com). We can jump on the phone, and I can answer any questions you might have.

How To Host A Customer Journey Mapping Workshop

Today, I’m in Oshawa, Ontario working with Taunton Village Dental to help them improve their customer experience by hosting a customer journey mapping workshop. I’m going to introduce them to my people first culture and three piece strategy. Introduce them to customer personality types and how to manage behaviors, plus much, much more.

Customer journey mapping will give you an advantage over your competitors…

because you’re going to be continuously refining the interactions that they experience when doing business with you from beginning to end. My recommendation is to improve the customer experience by deploying at least three customer-facing initiatives per quarter.

“And I cannot think of, or know of anybody that’s got more experience and is more on the cutting edge of the customer experience and the customer’s touchpoints and improving them, and the results that I’ve had so far have been unbelievable.” – Dr. Steve Mascarin, Founder of Taunton Village Dental 

Customer journey mapping workshops will improve your organization’s…

customer experience because your company will be continuously refining the interactions within the customer experience which will influence greater customer loyalty and grow your business.

“With asking for my staff’s input on what they think a customer experience would entail, I was able to get more of a response from my staff, therefore they went above and beyond for our patients, because they felt like they had involvement in the process. So, therefore the things we implemented were always followed, because they felt like they were part of something that was happening in the office, rather than just being directed to do it.” – Sherry Fitzpatrick, Director, Operations at Taunton Village Dental

The key outcomes of posting a customer journey mapping workshop are…

to bring together the entire organization where each and every department is represented. During the workshop, you’re responsible for identifying each customer interaction within the customer journey.

Posting a customer journey mapping workshop acts as an operational improvement strategy, because you will identify the strengths and the opportunities that your organization has to improve the customer experience and earn customer loyalty.

“I’m so much further ahead of my competitors in my industry, and I don’t think there’s any way they’re gonna catch me now because I’ve been working with Michel.” – Dr. Steve Mascarin, Founder of Taunton Village Dental 

To contact Michel about hosting a customer journey mapping workshop for your company, simply email michel@michelfalcon.com.

Why Improving Your Interview Process Will Ignite Your Customer Experience (3 Proven Tips)

Your company doesn’t have a customer experience problem…YOUR COMPANY HAS A HIRING PROBLEM!

This is the message that I hammer home in this video. If you’re having trouble providing a great customer experience, your organization may have members that aren’t a culture fit.

Watch the video above or read the transcript below

In this video, I’m going to share my ironclad interview process which has helped my company deliver a legendary customer experience. Stay tuned to the end because I’m going to take you through my six-step interview process to find customer-centric team members.

My industry is hospitality. Maybe yours is telecom, retail, or dentistry. Regardless of your industry, the thing that we share in common is that we must deliver an amazing customer experience to beat our competition. Another thing that we share in common is we must be two things. We must be product and people-centric. In order to be people-centric, we must properly recruit and onboard customer-centric employees.

What is hospitality known for? Well, it’s known for a couple of things, one of which delivering an amazing customer experience is a must have, not a nice to have. The other thing that it’s recognized for is high employee turnover. Knowing this, I knew I needed to create a solution and process to be able to overcome this challenge. So I created a six-step interview process. Now whether you’re in hospitality or not, this six-step interview process has been adopted by companies in many different industries around the world after I’ve presented it to them during my keynotes and my private workshops.

“You see, your company doesn’t have a customer experience problem. You have a hiring problem.”

Every company has some sort of hiring or interview process, but based on my 10 years of experience, what I’ve recognized is that too many organizations are putting too much emphasis on the skillset and identifying if the individual that they’re interviewing can do the task at hand.

Yes, hiring for skillset is absolutely important, but just as much as you evaluate skillset, you must understand if the candidate is customer-centric, because you want to know if that potential employee knows how to care about a stranger. Yes, I said do they know how to care about a stranger? When you hire new employees, you are asking them to deliver an experience to someone they do not know. Ultimately, that’s asking them to take care of a stranger. Of course, you hope that they build such great rapport that that strengthens the relationship, but for someone to do this each and every day authentically, it requires them to have something that I call people-first DNA.

How do you measure whether that candidate will be able to take care of a stranger? Well, there are a few things that I coach my management team on to be able to identify this. The first is when you call them for their phone interview, how do they answer their phone? Do they sound excited to hear from you? Do they have a lot of questions? Is their enthusiasm high? Next, I’ll ask a customer-centric related interview question, and it goes like this. I say, “Tell me of a time when an organization delivered an experience that you have never seen before,” and allow them to elaborate. Pay attention to how detailed they are. Were they able to name the employee who delivered that great experience? Ask them how that made them feel.

Now, here is a bonus interview question:

Ask,  “what is the temperature of the sun?”

Now, the answer’s irrelevant, but what you want to pay attention to is how does the candidate answer a question that they do not know the answer to? As consumers, how many times have you been in a department store or a grocery store and asked an employee a question that they didn’t know the answer to? Did they go out of their way to find that answer, or did they simply just look at you blankly and say, “I don’t know”?

If the candidate says, “I don’t know the answer to your question, but I’ll find out for you,” move on to the next question. If they send you an email later that day and say, “Thank you so much for the opportunity to interview with your company. By the way, the answer to your question is X. Thank you very much,” I would highly consider hiring that candidate because that’s exactly how they’re going to behave when your customers inevitably ask them a question that they do not know the answer to.

There you have it. That is how you can improve your company’s customer experience by refining your interview process. Your organization’s customer experience will begin to improve when you make the decision to only hire customer-centric individuals who have a people-first DNA.

I want to hear from you. Answer this question in the comment section. What is the most unique interview question you’ve ever been asked or have heard? Thank you so much for watching. If you’re interested in learning about my keynote speeches or my private workshops to improve your company culture, customer experience, and employee engagement, head over to MichelFalcon.com, and I will see you next time.


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.

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 zappos.com 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 your.com mashable.com and the Huffington post.com 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.



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.