MENTORSHIP WITH MICHEL: Disengagement, Purpose, and Self-Fulfillment

Okay, we’re good.

Cool. So, yeah, I think you know a little bit about me based on the email I sent you, but, yeah, for the past… Let’s say the past year I’ve just been kind of feeling… Feeling a little lost. I’ve had a lot of great opportunities in terms of my career so far and I’ve been able to run my own business. I’ve been able to know what it’s like to be able to travel, make some good, above par money and I’m just kind of feeling a little stuck, and now I’m just kind of to take a step back and I’m like, “Okay, do I want this for the rest of my life, you know?

Yeah.

The only thing I really know… And it was to work in this field…

It was construction, yeah?

[Massimo] Yeah, in construction, and so now taking a step back, I’m like, “What do I do? “Where do I start? “Where do I find this inspiration?” And I’m almost thinking that your purpose doesn’t come to you like this overnight. You don’t just have an idea and like, “Oh, this is what I’m gonna do.” I feel like it’s through trial and error of different things and I wanted to know what you think about that.

Where do you find your disengagement? What would you believe your disengagement is caused by? Is it the industry? Is it the role within the industry? Is it your environment?

That’s a really good question. I feel like part of it… Maybe it is the industry as a whole. I’ve never put a lot of thought into that before, but…

My next question, so that’s the first thing, is auditing what is causing this displeasure and this disengagement? It very well could be the industry. Maybe you don’t like the blue-collardness of it, maybe you don’t like the early mornings of it or the… Whatever the circumstances might be. So do a deep-dive in that and when I do an audit of my engagement, I don’t bring technology with me. It’s kind of like a Kumbaya time. It’s just a notebook and I just let these thoughts come out of me, and then I look at it and I’m like, “What did I just write down and what is the common theme?” And that will bring you closer toward your answer. When it comes to understanding what your purpose is, I’ll share what mine is and to your point didn’t happen overnight. My purpose is just like meeting people and helping them achieve their goals, and I know that that might sound like a platitude and something for the media, but it’s very, very genuine. For me, it doesn’t matter about the industry. My engagement in hospitality is the same when I am advising a dental practice which I do outside of Toronto. It’s the same when I speak on stage. So my purpose is leading people to deliver better experiences to other people being customers if we were to talk about the commerce side of things and my business aspect of it. So when you audit your engagement and your fulfillment and happiness, take time and think, “When am I at my most engaged?” For me it’s when I’m meeting people. For you it might be interacting with contractors, interacting with whomever or it might not be that at all. You said you spent some time traveling…

Yeah.

Within the last 12 to 18 months?

Yeah.

Okay, it was probably some fulfillment there. Now I’m not suggesting go just just keep traveling, but along your travels you probably thought of something. You’re like, “That would be super cool.” The thing that you don’t want to do is, you don’t want to restrict yourself and say, “Oh, well, I couldn’t possibly build a career out of that.” Even if it sounds obscure, I’ll give you an example of a guy named on Instagram and social media, he goes by Nomadic Matt, and he wrote a book, and I’m paraphrasing, but it’s how to travel the world on $50 a day. So if he… And he’s been doing this for 10 years, and if he had told somebody, “That’s what I’m gonna do.” It probably sounded nuts to him, but he made it happen, and also for me to have achieved a goal of speaking in front of thousands of people at a Subway Conference, that sounded crazy to people, and even to myself as well too, but–

That’s the stuff that kind of excites me. Those things that are so… It feels so out of reach, but you almost know that anything is possible ’cause those things are possible and… For me, public speaking, I’m really afraid of it, but that’s also one of the reasons why it kind of interest me a lot too.

The reason people go skydiving, right? Even though they’re–

Yeah.

I’m scared of it. There’s something that I want you to look into and research and it’s gonna help you create a framework of what you want the next four years of your life to look like. Google painted picture 1-800-got-junk and when… Spend a weekend researching everything you can that comes up on page one of Google about it, but, essentially, what it is is it’s a document that you write four years out. So, for example, I’m working on mine right now. I’m assuming it’s the year 2020. I’m writing it like it’s the year 2024 and I’ve accomplished all these things. So, for example, it could read like this, “I’m the CEO of a company that has 100 retail locations ‘and thousand of employees. “I was just voted entrepreneur of the year in Canada. “We were recognized as one “of the fastest growing companies in Canada. “My relationship with my parents ‘is the strongest it’s ever been. “My body fat percentage is x.” So it allows you to envision what the next four years looks like and then you just reverse-engineer it, which is…

I’ve head of this theory before of almost writing out what you want and kind of reviewing it every single day, becoming more familiar with it and more familiar with it… Until you–

Absolutely.

That you kind of reprogram your subconscious into thinking, “Hey, that’s actually gonna happen.”

So, for me, if you… I am… I swear by visualization and kind of the mental training that goes into achieving the goal. If you wanted to drive from Toronto to Miami, you could follow your GPS and have a plan, or you could just try to figure it out without the plan. I’m sure you’ll still get to Miami, but it’s gonna take you double the amount of time and it’s going to cost you double the amount of money in gas and all that. So that’s why I’m huge on creating concrete plans that you don’t deviate from. What I see a lot of people do, which I think is inaccurate is they’ll create a plan, they’ll see themselves struggling. They’ll change the plan to make it more manageable. I’m like, “No, that that doesn’t help you,” and your grip and your perseverance is like, you have to create the plan and be so content and it does have to be realistic but you have to be so content, that that is what I want my life to look like. Don’t allow yourself to to deviate from the plan, and make it easier for yourself, but I wanted to go back to the… Your fulfillment, your engagement, what can you do? It might sound like a rudimentary first step, but take some time to yourself, get out of the city, perhaps, get out of your… Put your phone away, put your laptop away, and just… When am I my most jacked up, my most engaged, my most fulfilled? And start documenting things, and it might not hit you in just a one hour session, sitting by yourself with a coffee. You might need to write some things down, put it away, come back a week later, write some more things down, put it away, and come back. This isn’t gonna happen overnight.

Right.

It took me awhile to figure out what… It took me year to really get super clear on what it was at engagement.

I know you worked at 1-800-got-junk and you built your MBA, so to say, in there and then… What happened in between there and then when you started your business, did you take some time off? Was there an awkward period where you didn’t know, but you knew what you wanted to do?

No, I was really clear. It took me about a year to figure out exactly what I wanted to do after I joined the company. I knew I wanted to build a business, but that’s so vague. I was like, “Well, what type of business?” And as I was like, “I don’t know yet, but something will come, and as I was working diligently with 1-800-got-junk, I recognized that building strong relationships with customers and employees, and the strategies that go into that is very advantageous for a company to grow. I recognized, “You know what? “I actually want to help companies build these strategies,” but I knew that I needed to cut my teeth and earn some credibility, so I stayed four more years with the company to earn that credibility and then in 2012… So after five years of being with the company I ventured off on my own and started this very small consulting agency. It was just me and it was who’s doing very tough, man, for six months was very tough. No paycheck every two weeks, move back in with your parents, I’m in my mid-20s borrowing money from anybody that would even give me the opportunity to borrow money from them. It was tough, man, but it’s not supposed to be easy. I don’t think… It’s supposed to be easy–

I think that’s the best part of it, that’s the beauty of it is now you’re in obviously a better position and you knew eventually you’d get there, you’d be here and you’re gonna be even… Hopefully even further, but I think just enjoying that process, that’s the feeling that I want, that kind of feeling where at least I know I’m working towards something. Honestly, I have lots of resources in my business. I’ve already thought of maybe one or two other businesses that could branch off from what I’m doing now, and they interest me, but… I figured if there’s a chance now to try something completely different, it would be now, now that I’m 25.

Oh, you’re 25, man?

[Massimo] Yeah.

I just met somebody, another young professional like yourself who’s 25, I’m like, “That’s the golden years, man, you’re youthful, you can still stumble and make mistakes. I was just worried that your… I’m assuming you don’t have kids.

No.

Right, so, okay, the liability is very low, man.

[Massimo] Right, so this is the whole point I’m trying to make. I’ve already built a very comfortable nest for myself. For me to go to work tomorrow or even today and start making money again, it has nothing to do with that, and for me to put everything I have on hold, that entire life on hold, means that I’m really curious about what else is there. If that makes any sense,

It does.

And I really thought about, “Okay, if I’m going to do something, make the decision now.” Make the conscious decision now before, let’s say you’re 30 and you’ve got a few mortgages, you’ve got a serious girl or whatever. I’m not tied down to anything. I think this is the good time to do it.

Yeah, it’s a great time, absolutely, for you to be doing your discovery and your audit because, let’s say in six months from now you figure out what that is and you venture off and go do that, and then you spend the next two or three years head down, working diligently, making a name for yourself before you’re 30, man, you’re sitting pretty. The number one piece of advice that I could give people in their 20s is that you have to be prepared to eat shit for a while.

Oh, yeah.

And with a smile on your face, and just know that this is a part of the process, that those scars that you have, you’re gonna look back and be like, “It was worth it.”

[Massimo] 100%.

And that is you have to go in there humbly and, like I said, cut your teeth, and it’s gonna be a rough go, right? Especially if you’re going down the entrepreneurship path where that guaranteed paycheck after every two weeks, it’s not gonna be there anymore, all right? So it’s really gonna test your grit, your perseverance, but for me I wouldn’t have my life any other way. So, yeah.

I 100% agree with you on that. I’ve always been the type of person that’s created my own jobs and I got a lot of fulfillment out of that, and… I know tomorrow with my qualifications I can get a nine to five job. I don’t put myself on a pedestal or think I am better than that, but at the same token… I’m not sure if that kind of lifestyle would be for me, but… There was an opportunity that I thought would teach me the necessary things like the necessary information, kind of like you. You worked at 1-800-got-junk, but that was your education so I don’t mind working somewhere, but as long as the experience is going to be worthwhile. It’s not going to be a dead end thing, and I’m sure a lot of jobs, you can take a lot of different things from there, if that makes sense.

One thing that I advocate to companies is that you need to have a balance between meaning and money, and what I mean by that is that organization just can’t give Massimo money and expect him to be engaged. They have to give him some sort of meaning that is more than money. So for example, at 1-800-got-junk, my meaning at that company was they were teaching me entrepreneurship and I was like, “I can’t believe this company “is paying me to learn.” Of course I contributed to their success in the ways that I could, so they got a fair shake as well, but I wouldn’t dismiss working for an organization that you feel like, “You know what, maybe this isn’t “The industry that I expected to be in,” but I’m learning so much, and I’m gonna take that education and use that as a springboard to the next thing. Do you think I grew up picturing myself working in a call center, answering 100 calls a day where some of my shifts started at 4:00 a.m. for a garbage company? Of course not. I never drew that up, but what I did consciously know is that I wanted to start a business one day and one of the things that you have to remember is that you have to learn before you earn. Very few people can just build an app and be like, “I’m a billionaire,” right? Instagram turned into a billion dollar company after a year and a half or so, so learn before you earn is one of the biggest takeaways that I can share with younger professionals as well too. There’s so much to learn. That’s the thing is that a lot of companies aren’t built this way, right? I want to build a company, and we’ve done this, where we teach our employees how to read a P&L statement, what’s a balance sheet? How do you create a marketing plan for a restaurant? How do you do all of this and expose them to that education, and I’m not worried about our team members leaving. If they leave smarter than when they joined us, that’s a huge win.

Yeah.

So that’s another thing that you, perhaps, could do. I know Shopify is massive, not just in size but big on education. While there might not be an abundance of them that truly care to educate team members on how to build a business, there are a few out there. So that very well could be an avenue that you explore and be like, “You know what, for a year I’m gonna join “this company, I’m gonna earn some bank, I’m going “to learn and then I’m gonna do that next thing. “I’m gonna open that pizzeria, I’m gonna open “that whatever, right?”

Yeah. I’m certain that whatever you choose to do, if you told five people today they’d be like, “What,” right? And that’s fine because at the end of the day it’s what you have to live with. It’s your life, it’s your purpose and nobody can dictate what this other than yourself.

Right.

[Mentor] Does that make sense?

That makes a lot of sense. That makes a lot of sense. It’s a matter of finding the right company and I guess having the same values.

Do you feel pressure to come to your conclusion, or your discovering what your purpose is, or do you know that this is just a part of the process?

I know it’s part of the process, but I have a lot of people that are like, “Dude, why did you just stop everything? “Why did you… “Is everything okay? Sure, why did you just stop your job? Why did you give up… Why did you give up what you gave up? And I’m just like, “Hey, man, that job’s gonna be there for me.” I’m not overly concerned about it and so I almost have a… I’m listening to other people, what they have to say, I’m hearing what they have to say, but I know I have to take it with a grain of salt because this is my journey and I’m the one that made this decision. I have to live with it. So, yeah, I do feel some external pressure. I do feel that, but at the end of the day, I know I have to tune out those voices, and I have to go with what feels right for me.

Yeah, essentially what you do is just recalibrating yourself. It would appear that you weren’t happy with where you were at and you’ve hit the pause button, and that’s fine. You have a lifetime ahead of you. I commend you for doing that because a lot of people are living within careers that they don’t like and I’m certain that if they had a do over, it’d be doing what you’re doing right now, and I met with another person just yesterday, very similar position that you’re in right now. She was gonna be taking this role and she had to tell the company if she was gonna take this role for October 1st, and she was on the fence, and when I met with her I was like, “You don’t seem like you’re jacked up about this role,” and she was like, “I’m not.” I was like, “Well, what industries would you want to be in? “What does that change look like? And she explained it and I was like, “Well, then turn down the role,” right? Even if you don’t have the next thing lined up, just sit and recalibrate yourself, and take meetings and have goals, and help use that time to find out what you really want to do. Now be grateful that you are in this position where you can get polished. There’s a lot of people that can’t because they have a mortgage, the have kids, they have rent, they have all of this stuff. So be grateful that you in this position where you can kind of reset yourself and you have time to meet with people like myself and others and ask for advice and some guidance, and then take everything that has been shared with you, and just make a decision, and the decision doesn’t have to come to you tomorrow, nor do you need to feel stressed out about it. It’s like the person that hasn’t gotten married yet, who’s like, “Oh, my God, I gotta get married soon.” Come on, who’s it for? That’s a recipe for disaster.

Cool, man.

[Mentor] Has this been helpful for you?

Absolutely, yeah, getting insight from people who have… Who have built businesses, and who have started at the bottom and figured their way out. It’s refreshing to hear ’cause I know it’s possible for me. It’s possible for you. It’s possible for me too.

I’ll share this with you, I genuinely don’t believe I had any extraordinary talents, but what I do know that I have in spades is that I don’t give up easily and I have a lot of grit and perseverance, and so that is why I think some people will reach out to me is because, “Hey, he’s just a normal dude, “nothing too extraordinary about me,” but I just know that I’m very clear on what my vision is and what I want my life to look like, and I’ll exhaust every opportunity. I’ll try to break down every single wall be able to accomplish those goals. Now at 1,000, I don’t hit every single goal…

But at least you know what it looks like, every single day you’re chipping away at it, you feel one step closer and you know you’re on your purpose right now. Knowing your purpose, it feels good. It feels good even to fail, you just know that I’m doing my thing.

One thing that gets me really excited is thinking about big goals where I’m like, “Wow, that is gonna be really hard to hit,” but I’d always come back to something as simple as telling myself “why not me?” If it has been done before in history…

Absolutely.

Where the next thing that I go and do, my next business in 2020 which I’m keeping my cards close for now, it’s been done before many times, but it’s still a very large goal, but I just keep telling myself, “Why not me? “Why not me?” And then I think everybody should have that mentality. I know Saperid and someone else, and if I was in the room with a billionaire or somebody who’s built a global brand that I admire, I’m like, “Why not me?” And it’s a great mentality to have. It’s refreshing and it keeps you level-headed, and it keeps you focused.

And it’s probably by people who are no smarter than you. Probably not, because some of the great business professionals of the world have ADD, are dyslexic, Richard Branson can barely read and he’s a multi-billionaire that people admire and respect, so to your point, I don’t think I’m smarter than the next person and I don’t think the next person is much smarter than me. Of course there’s your outliers where there’s absolute, bonafide geniuses that would IQ me off this planet, but what else do I have? I know that I am strong leader. I know that I can get people to follow me in the right respect and that’s my strength. So that’s what I’m gonna bring to the table with the mentality of why not me, and I think I can do it, and I pass along that same message to you, like, “Why not me? Why can’t I do this? Why I can’t I be, in five years, 30 years old, running a multimillion dollar business or whatever it is that you want to accomplish? I know somebody that is 21, has raised millions of dollars, and when I ask him, “What do you want to do after this business, what’s the deal?” He wants to get into Broadway theater, something completely opposite from what he is doing today and that just goes to show that you don’t have to go down a path that is common. You might want to do something for the next five years, but then after that you might want to do something else and then that’s fine. You don’t have to have a career that’s the same thing for 30 years, but for today do what I told you and just try to identify those moments where you’re your most happy, where you’re super engaged and even if you weren’t getting paid, you would still do it.

Even the little things, right?

Yeah, for example, I am my most engaged when I have calls like this. I am my most engaged when I’m hosting a workshop. I am my most engaged when I’m hosting a meeting with our team. I’m not engaged when I’m building PowerPoint presentations, so I punt that, I get somebody else to do it. So I’ve built my career around only doing things that I want to do. Now keep in mind that wasn’t always the case. I earned the ability to pick and choose what I want to do. I ate shit for years and years, and years, and years, so you have to be willing to do that with a smile on your face and just know that it’s a part of that process.

100%.

[Mentor] Right?

I don’t feel entitled to just jump steps.

That’s good, great mentality. Massimo, I gotta dip. I hope this was helpful for you.

Thank you very much, it was, man.

Keep me up to date with what’s going on with everything that you’re working on, okay?

Thank you very much.

[Massimo] Later brother, have a good rest of the week, okay?

You too, man, take care.

Customer Service, Company Culture and Authenticity With Bob Glazer

I had the pleasure of sitting down with best-selling author, and culture and marketing leader Bob Glazer. We dive into the importance of customer service for your employees, why companies struggle with authenticity and more.

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The Effects of Bad Customer Service and Why it’s Costing Your Company MILLIONS!

Sometime today or tomorrow you’re going to receive bad customer service from a company that you do business with. It could be a dry cleaner, auto mechanic, dentist, or any company. Immediately you will feel the effects of bad customer service.

I’m not being cynical, it’s just the fact of the matter.

After centuries of doing business, why is something as important as delivering great customer service to grow through referrals and repeat customers seem to get a short end of operating budgets?

Companies like Warby Parker and Starbucks are people-focused which allows them to deliver great experiences to customers, employees and their community.

The outcome is multi-billion dollar companies.

Most companies are either product, sales or marketing-centric. To put it another way, their engineering, business development, and brand teams are much larger than their customer service or HR teams and receive a larger piece of their operating budget.

These companies are focused on customer acquisition through PPC, Facebook ads, expensive sales seminars, influencer marketing and more. I’m not suggesting that any of this is wrong but I will advocate that keeping a customer is just as important, if not more important than inorganically acquiring them.

I don’t believe any company thinks, “I’m not interested in delivering great customer service.” I do believe that we lose focus on what’s most important. Publicly traded companies must grow each quarter at all costs and that could mean only investing in things that will help them grow in the short-term.

Companies like Warby Parker and Starbucks don’t do that. They invest in the long-term even if that means “willing to be misunderstood for long periods of time” as Jeff Bezos famously said many years ago.

Take Amazon, for example, I’d bet that you didn’t know that their tagline and slogan for the company is to be “earth’s most customer-centric company.” It’s not to be “earth’s biggest.” This is a testament to their seamless customer experience that has us buying more and more every year.

Amazon started off as a small, garage-operated website, they earned our trust by selling books. For years they created loyalty by selling one product and when the time was right, they started selling more products in different verticals. Today, they have Amazon Web Services (AWS), Amazon Basics and more.

I believe everything they did was calculated. They lost or broke even for years because they wanted to. They wanted to continuously reinvest in the business so they could create better experiences for us, the customers. When they knew they had our loyalty they created services – ones like AWS and Amazon Basics – that had much higher profits margins. Now, they are extremely profitable and one of the biggest companies on the planet.

How did they do this? Because of their investment in customer service and to be “earth’s most customer-centric.”

My question for all of us is – why aren’t we investing in the same philosophy?

I believe there are five things to consider to understand why your company is still delivering average or poor customer service which is impeding your growth.

1. You Aren’t Hiring Customer-Centric People

One of the things I’ve grown as a skill set to ensure my companies deliver a great customer experience is my ability to spot what I call “customer-centric pros.” These individuals know how to care about strangers.

After all, at the beginning of your relationship with new customers, they will be strangers. It takes a certain individual, or as I say, “one with customer-centric DNA” to deliver great customer service every single day.

Review the way you interview for, not just customer-facing roles, but every role in your company. What type of questions do you ask in the interview to probe for this skill set? Do they have soft skills? Are they humble? Are they kind? Start saying no to brilliant jerks.

To truly be customer-focused, every single person in your company must be devoted to delivering an amazing experience.

2. You’ve Grown Too Fast

Controlled growth is the way I like to expand a company. If you’re growing too fast without a customer-centric strategy to support this growth, then the seams of your company will start to unravel.

When our company added another venue and 50+ new team members I knew we would need help so I created a Culture Committee team. I appointed individuals from different venues and departments to form a team that came together to talk about our customer experience every single month. It also gave me half a dozen sets of eyes and ears on the ground floor to advocate our customer experience efforts.

If you expect to grow in 2020 and beyond, please do your company and customers a grand service by creating a Culture Committee and Voice of the Customer (VoC) program. If you’re already doing this, great! Keep going and consider doubling down on your efforts. Your customers will never complain about having too much service and you will be rewarded with more profit because of repeat customers and word of mouth marketing.

3. Determine Your Customer’s Pain Points

Customer journey mapping is an extraordinary exercise that hasn’t gone mainstream yet. In short, it’s when your team comes together to identify each interaction your customer experiences when doing business with you from beginning to end.

Take my industry, hospitality, as an example. If we were to host a customer journey mapping exercise we would be identifying customer touchpoints like booking a reservation on our mobile or desktop website, where our guests park their cards, cleanliness of our bathrooms and elevators, how long it takes for drinks to arrive at the table after being ordered and more.

After we’ve outlined each interaction, we start to discuss which touchpoints we’re excelling in and which ones are frustrating our customers and causing pain points for them. These pain points are when you have customers saying,

“Screw this restaurant! I’m never coming back.”

Maybe the pain point is that it takes too long to respond to guest’s emails inquiring about a reservation or it takes too long to receive your bill after dining. Regardless of the pain point or moment that it happens within the journey, it’s frustrating your customers and causing a lot of friction in the experience.

The effects of bad customer service are that they never come back, spread negative word of mouth and write bad Google reviews.

Before you move to the next point within this post, think of which touchpoint within your customer journey map is causing your customers frustration.

4. Legacy is Crushing You

I see this a lot in family runs businesses and companies that have been around for decades.

The people who started the business and did an exceptional job at growing it haven’t sharpened their skill sets over the years and neglected that behaviours – ones of customers and employees – have changed.

If you find yourself thinking, “But, this has worked in the past” to justify doing something the same way as you did ten years ago then it’s likely you’re on the wrong side of the fence.

Sometimes there needs to be a changing of the guard. I’m not suggesting that the leadership from yesterday needs to retire or move into the shadows but I am strongly advocating that they allow the leaders of tomorrow to have a say in how they operate. A fresh perspective can be very valuable to create great customer service strategies.

At the time of writing this blog post, I’m 33 years old. I wouldn’t suggest that legacy is crushing me and I don’t plan on that happen. To prevent this, I regularly meet with more youthful professionals, like Swish Goswami and Kieran Matthew, to advance my knowledge.

5. You’re Not Investing In The Right Areas Of The Business

I mentioned this earlier in the blog post, you may not be investing enough resources into your customer service efforts.

I’m often greeted with, “But, Michel, we can’t afford it.”

My response is always, “Yes, you can afford is. You’re just choosing to spend it elsewhere.”

There may be an opportunity to invest more without actually spending more. Consider this…

What if, next year, you take 10% of what you spend on marketing the year before and invest it into improving your customer service?

Now, before you think, “But, what about our marketing efforts to get new customers?!”

Remember what I said earlier, retaining customers is more important than acquiring new ones that are only going to buy off you once and never again because your customer service is bad.

Do you recall the Starbucks Superbowl ad from Superbowl LIII? No, you don’t because Starbucks doesn’t advertise traditionally.

As former Starbucks CEO said, Starbucks is not an advertiser; people think we are a great marketing company, but in fact, we spend very little money on marketing and more money on training our people than advertising.

That training produces a greater customer experience that allows them to go from four stores to 20,000+ and become a globally recognizable brand and worth billions of dollars.

Customer service training can be your greatest source of advertising, you just need to invest to reap the benefits. Trust me, the effects of bad customer service are not worth it!

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).

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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

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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

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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?

Baro

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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.

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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.