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.

Customer Experience Keynote Speaker: Customer Service vs Customer Experience

Hey Team,

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

Watch it above OR read the transcript below!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Okay?

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

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

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

or alcohol are

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Okay.

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

Who’s got an answer for me? Okay.

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

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

Okay.

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

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

Okay.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Okay?

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

Yeah.

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

Okay.

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

Okay.

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

Hold on one,

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

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

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

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

Yeah,

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

Okay,

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

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

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

Okay.

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

yeah,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Okay.

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

Yeah.

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

Okay.

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

Yeah.

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

Okay.

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

Okay.

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related: What is Customer Experience

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

I’m an operator, just like you!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why?

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

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

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

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

Why did some customers want to talk about the weather?

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

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

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

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

The Director Style Personality Type

Customer Service Skills #1

Let’s pretend James Bond was your customer.

What attributes does he have?

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

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

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

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

The Socializer Style Personality Type

Customer Service Skills #2

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

Does this remind you of one of your customers?

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

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

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

What do you think it is?

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

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

The Passive Style Personality Type

Customer Service Skills #3

Have you enthusiastically ever asked a customer,

“How’s your day going!”

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

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

Their attributes are defined as guarded, timid with expression.

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

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

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

You may be thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Customer Service Skill #3: Capture ideas and share them

Customer Service Skills #5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Customer Service Skill #4: Collect Customer Intelligence

Customer Experience Skills #6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Customer Service Skill #5: Listen and Take Action!

Customer Service Skill #7

For decades we’ve been telling our employees:

“Listen to your customers…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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