HOW TO SET GOALS WITH EMPLOYEES (AND ACHIEVE THEM) FT. SUNNY VERMA

BREAKING IT DOWN EPISODE 2 FT. Sunny Verma the CEO of TutorBright.

In Breaking It Down, I sit down with entrepreneurs and business executives to help them solve company culture, employee engagement and customer experience challenges in their organization.

I HAVE NOT BEEN PREPPED. What does this mean? My answers and solutions are honest, authentic and TRUE.

On this episode of Breaking it Down, Sunny and I tackle:

1️⃣How To Measure Your Company’s Culture

2️⃣How To Manage Turbulence In An Organization

3️⃣How To Set Annual Goals With Your Team

CLICK HERE FOR APPLE PODCAST VERSION.

Are you interested in improving your company culture, employee engagement, and customer experience? If so, my online course, Team Operating System, may be your solution.

Click this link to book a call with me directly to learn if the course is right for you and your company.

THE FOUR GENERATIONS OF CUSTOMER SERVICE: THE INTERNET ERA (2/4)

The internet era has HURT customer service. Find out WHY in my second installment of my four-part series that explores the best practices of “The 4 Generations of Customer Experience.”

Are you interested in improving your company culture, employee engagement, and customer experience?

Are you interested in improving your company culture, employee engagement, and customer experience? If so, my online course, Team Operating System, may be your solution.

Click this link to book a call with me directly to learn if the course is right for you and your company.

How To Build Your Customer Experience Strategy By Asking Yourself These Three Questions [2020 Edition]

I’ve leveraged customer experience strategies within my career for more than ten years now. 

I’ve seen companies thrive (some of which I’ve advised), some commit but not fully exhaust the benefits and others that say customer experience matters but do nothing at all. 

The latter is paying lip service to actually building a customer experience strategy that will grow your business, build an admired brand and have a competitive advantage against your competition.

Something my friend, Brian Mazza, says rings true in business (and other areas of your life). He says,

“Nothing changes if nothing changes.”

He’s right!

If you want your company to grow in 2020 you have a myriad of different options:

  • You can optimize your SEO to rank first for your respective search queries. 
  • You can hire a PR firm and increase brand awareness.
  • And/or you can host a sales contest within your sales team to increase top-line revenue.

All of these strategies have a time and a place in your company. 

But, there is only one strategy that will organically (which happens to be the most profitable to grow a business) help you achieve more profit and other great things…

… that’s having a customer experience strategy!

And, guess what?! It’s going to require an investment of time and money, just like the three bullet points above.

Let’s use an example we’re all familiar with as consumers. Have you ever called a company and have heard the voice recording say,

“Your call is important to us. We are experiencing higher than normal call volume…”

It’s not “higher than normal call volume” when you call repeatedly on different days and hear the same message. This company’s leadership team has made a conscious decision that is negatively impacting their customer experience.

What they should be doing is allocating a higher labour budget to afford more call center agents to ensure 80% of calls are answered within 20 seconds or less (this is a common call center service level agreement). 

However, the conscious decision they’ve made or what they say to themselves is,

“We can’t afford that!”

This simply isn’t true.

They can afford it, they’re choosing not to by spending that budget somewhere else.

If this is happening at your company, be honest with yourself, you don’t genuinely care about customer experience. You say you do but you don’t. That’s the honest truth!

Why Doesn’t Every Company Have a Customer Experience Strategy?

Just like any financial endeavor, when you invest in customer experience strategies to improve your customer service, user experience, call center and more, the results take time.

If you want to earn more customers quickly you could launch a Facebook ad campaign tomorrow, send people to a landing page and begin converting some of them into customers (not as easy as that but fairly close).

So, what’s the issue with this? You become too focused on customer acquisition and neglect customer retention which is the primary reason why we want new customers in the first place!

To create your customer experience strategy you could do a number of things (three of which are listed later in this post).

The thing with both of these options is that it will take some time to see the positive results of your efforts but, I promise, I’ve been doing this for over a decade, the results will come. And, they will be SUSTAINABLE, which will lead you to success for years and decades to come.

Still Need More Evidence?

You may have heard the name Danny Meyers before. If not, he’s one of the most recognizable hospitality entrepreneurs, owns Shake Shack, bestselling author and more!

Above: Danny Meyers, the Chief Executive Officer of the Union Square Hospitality Group.

He knows what he’s doing when it comes to building a business. Not only that, he’s doing so in hospitality (the same industry that I’m in) which is renowned for being one of the most competitive.

Listen to this Entrepreneur podcast where he says that customer experience has always been his secret sauce.

3 Customer Experience Strategy Questions

As the year gets rolling, I’d suggest asking yourself three questions to identify what customer experience strategies you have the opportunity to create for your business and serve your customers exceptionally.

  1. Do you have plans to host a customer journey mapping workshop this year?
  2. Is it taking your customers too long to get in touch with your company which negatively impacts sales?
  3. When was the last time you updated your company’s customer service training material?

Customer Journey Mapping

If you said no to this question then I would highly recommend exploring this option. If you’re not familiar with customer journey mapping then I’d suggest watching this short video.

The video highlights what customer journey mapping is, it’s value and shares highlights from a workshop I hosted for a dental practice outside of Toronto, Canada. 

Customer Service: Service Level Agreements

When I was building my career in my early 20’s one of my first roles was working within the call center of 1-800-GOT-JUNK? I learned that we had a couple of key organizational goals that positively impacted the company’s customer experience: 80% of calls (they received 1,000,000 calls per year) had to be answered within 20 seconds and ALL system-wide customer complaints needed to be resolved within one business day, MAXIMUM.

MY RECOMMENDATION: have a family member or friend contact your company, whether by phone, email, social media or whichever channel you want to improve this year, and see how long it takes for your team to respond to a sales inquiry. 

Customer Service Training

If professional athletes and artists must habitually learn new techniques to get better at their craft. So why are our customer-facing employee’s customer service training program static and rarely evolving?

MY RECOMMENDATION: My rule of thumb is to introduce AT LEAST one new module of customer service training and techniques to your employees every three months.

2020 and Beyond

2020 can, and hopefully will be, the year that your company will become more profitable, attain high sales and admiration by developing a comprehensive customer experience strategy.

I know you can do it! You just need to create the plan, after all, nothing changes, if nothing changes. 

At the beginning of 2019, nearly one year ago, I had a company called SentriLock reach out to me to host customer service training for their management team. Below is a screenshot of what an attendee had to say about the impact the training had on the company and results!

Are you interested in improving your company culture, employee engagement, and customer experience? If so, my online course, Team Operating System, may be your solution.

Click this link to book a call with me directly to learn if the course is right for you and your company.

THE FOUR GENERATIONS OF CUSTOMER SERVICE: THE PRE-INTERNET ERA (1/4)

Delivering an excellent product is only HALF of the customer experience.

Check out the first installment of my 4 part series that explores the best practices of “The 4 Generations of Customer Service.”

This is something I’m going to be sharing within my keynotes and workshops in 2020!

Are you interested in improving your company culture, employee engagement, and customer experience? If so, my online course, Team Operating System, may be your solution.

Click this link to book a call with me directly to learn if the course is right for you and your company.

Customer Service Skills, Strategies, and Mindset For 2020

Before the end of the year, we spend time building our marketing plans, setting our operating budgets and creating strategic plans to drive our business forward.

One thing that I believe our companies and the public are getting better at, is understanding the importance of customer experience. Just look at all the content that is being created for customer experience improvement after a simple Google search.

As leaders of our businesses we need to do the following habitually in order to improve our customer experiences:

  • Make improving customer experience a priority, instead of a thought or idea. This means that it needs to be a part of our quarterly strategic plans. EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR.
  • Invest in customer experience strategy just like we do in branding initiatives like marketing and PR.
  • Continuously provide superior customer service skills education/workshops to ALL employees.

In thinking about the year to come, I’ve identified three customer service skills that I believe your employees can learn from. These are the same three customer service skills that I will be sharing with my team in 2020.

Customer Service Skill #1

Adopt The “Everyone is a Customer” Mentality

Here’s something I like to do with my team. Walk around your place of business, visit different departments, speak to three different employees and ask them,

“Who is our customer?”

Make note of what responses you hear. I’m confident that you’re going to hear three different variations.

The answer I expect is, “Everyone who interacts with our brand is a customer.”

Being in hospitality, it’s easy for our team to consider the guest who orders the $300.00 bottle of wine to be our #1 priority. But, for me, that’s not an authentic People-First Culture business.

If we truly want to be People-First then everyone, literally everyone, who interacts with our business needs to be served like they just ordered a top-shelf bottle of wine.

Here are some individuals who interact with our brands, that sometimes are neglected:

  • Your future employees when you’re interviewing them.
  • Your business vendors like uniform and seafood suppliers and bank and insurance representatives.
  • Your investors
  • The media
  • The government

Now, consider who interacts with these individuals. Often, companies only provide customer service training for their frontline employees like customer care professionals and sales team members. 

However, doesn’t your Purchasing Manager manage the relationship with your suppliers? Doesn’t your Controller manage the relationship with your bank and investors?

They do!

With this in mind, every single person on your payroll must receive customer experience training to ensure that everyone that interacts with your brand is provided an exceptional experience.

Starting with the right mindset and mentality will propel the other two customer service skills forward.

Customer Service Skill #2

Defensive to Offensive Customer Service (Switching Gears According to Customer Personality Types)

In my 2019 customer service skills post, I outlined three customer personality types we need to train our teams on, in order to deliver personalized experiences based on their preferences.

When delivering experiences from customer to customer, you need to ensure you don’t deliver the same experience to everyone the exact same way. I call this “switching gears.”

We need to teach our team members how to switch gears and go from defensive to offensive customer service. Defensive customer service requires active listening to understand what the customer’s goals are. Once that’s understood, then we switch gears and move into offensive customer service and act on what it is our customer’s desires are.

Balancing the two can be challenging. I have found that when we are fatigued our defensive mindset can grow thin. We become too concentrated on offensive customer service and go through the motions of doing just the bare minimum. This paralyzes us from being able to deliver personalized experiences for each customer’s personality type.

Customer Service Skill #3

Role Reversal

“I really don’t have the time for that.”

This is what an entrepreneur said to me when I suggested that if he really wanted to build a People-First culture and get closer to his customers and employees, he needed to sit and listen to calls in his call center.

What I was recommending wasn’t an exorbitant amount of time. I said once every two weeks for an hour or two. 

I outlined that this was a small fraction of his time to which he continued to suggest he didn’t know how he’d “fit it in.”

You see, he did have the time, he was just choosing to spend it somewhere else. 

After all, entrepreneurs and leaders, I admire like Neil Blumenthal from Warby Parker make it a priority to do this. And, I’d suggest it’s working. Neil and his team are building a multi-billion-dollar brand in a very competitive market.

Co-Founder/Co-CEO, Neil Blumenthal from Warby Parker in one of his call centers taking the time to understand his employees and their roles in the organization.

There are only a few reasons why a leader wouldn’t do something like this to get closer to their customers and employees to better the experience for them:

  1. They’ve never spent the time to really get connected with their frontline employees. This might be a bit too much, too soon.
  2. They pay lip service to be a People-First Culture leader.
  3. They think they are above this (this is the worst category to fall into).

This isn’t just for senior leaders. I believe all leaders, across all departments, should spend time every month with their customer care and frontline employees. Not only will they gain valuable insights, you will notice a spike in morale and a deeper connection between “the higher-ups” (I despise this term but using it here because it’s what your frontlines may be calling you) and the frontlines.

Make 2020 a pivotal year for you and your company. Will it be the year that you invest more in customer experience to gain market share, increase sales and profit? Or, will it continue to get the smaller piece of your operating budget? Investing in your people is an investment in your business. Give them the tools, training and customer experience skills they need to thrive!

Are you interested in improving your company culture, employee engagement, and customer experience? If so, my online course, Team Operating System, may be your solution.

Click this link to book a call with me directly to learn if the course is right for you and your company.

You Can’t Forcefully Increase Employee Engagement (BONUS: 3 Interview Questions Included)

Employee engagement strategies are one way that I’ve built my business and career. It’s also one of the topics that I regularly keynote speak about.

My three core focuses are employee engagement, customer experience and company culture strategies to grow a business. Like, actually grow a business. None of this “nice to have” stuff.

But, guess what…

I’m going to suggest something that may contradict what you think my beliefs are in growing a successful business. Please know that our company has nearly 200 employees so I’ve seen this firsthand.

How to Identify and Hire Engaged Employees

Okay, here’s my suggestion…

If you want high employee engagement, you can’t hire employees and expect to launch initiatives or strategies to increase their engagement. 

Instead, you must hire engaged professionals and maintain their motivation throughout their tenure with your company.

In other words, you need to find people who are naturally engaged in nearly everything that they do in their professional and personal lives.

You see, some people are natural self-starters. It appears that they excel in everything that they commit to whether they are experienced in the topic or not. These same professionals apply and teach themselves to get better.

How To Maintain Employee Engagement

One of our core values as a company is “ownership.” We want all our team members to take ownership of the guest experience and their professional development. This helps us maintain high employee engagement.

Take Melissa Smilie as an example. 

people first culture employee, increase employee engagement, how to increase employee engagement, people first culture hiring strategy, people first culture strategy
Michel Falcon and Melissa Smilie, a People-First Culture hire.

Melissa joined our company as a server at one of our venues and today she is a key member of our marketing team. When I first met Melissa, when she was a part of our serving team, she said her goal was to pursue a career in marketing within our company. My business partner Brandon and I made a note of this and when an opportunity opened up, Melissa applied for the position and won us over.

But, Melissa didn’t simply get awarded the position because she showed interest and was already working for us. She earned it because I could see that while she was serving she was also investing time and energy into sharpening her marketing knowledge. Even today, after securing the position, she continues to invest in her education by reading marketing articles and listening to podcasts.

You see, I don’t need to increase her employee engagement. She is already engaged! My responsibility is to maintain it. I do this by frequently forwarding her interesting marketing knowledge that I read and touching base with her regularly to ensure that she has everything she needs to succeed.

Another one of our core values as a company is “foresight.” I need to have the foresight to continuously touch base with Melissa to measure her levels of engagement. I’m not going to suggest that Melissa will never become disengaged but I’m confident that I will know before it impacts her and our company.

Warning Signs of A Disengaged Employee

Some warning signs of employees who are beginning to become disengaged are:

  • Their participation in meetings
  • Their quality of work
  • Their response times to emails
  • Their temperament 
  • Their adherence to schedule and timelines

On the other hand, there are individuals who can have their employee engagement experience ebbs and flows. For example, if you manage a sales team, you can run sales contests and experience high levels of employee engagement because the team wants to win the prize.

But, what happens when the contest is over?

It’s likely that some individuals on your sales team will continue with high engagement (these are the Melissa’s of your organization) but it’s equally as likely that some, maybe most, of your team will experience a dip in their engagement.

Prizes, incentives, and contests can only increase employee engagement for short periods of time.

If you want to find professionals who naturally have high employee engagement, I would recommend evaluating your interview process. It’s likely that you’re not spending enough time probing for this habit.

The Interview Process

In our interview process, I like to probe for it during the phone interview (a time when we ask a handful of questions), culture and skillset interviews. 

These are three different interviews in our People-First Culture interview pyramid. Below is an image of our entire process that has helped us experience an employee retention rate 2.5x higher than the hospitality industry average.

increase employee engagement, increase employee retention, people first culture strategy, people first culture interview strategy, people first culture diagram
People First Culture Proven Hiring Strategy

By probing for it regularly, throughout the interview process, it’s very likely you’ll be able to understand if this individual will have high employee engagement because it’s hard to fake it over three consecutive interviews.

Ask interview questions not only related to their career but their personal lives too. Here are a few questions I like to ask to probe for potential high employee engagement:

  • In regards to the role you have applied for, what is going to motivate you to bring your whole self to work every day?
  • How did your last manager or coach motivate you best?
  • Can you tell me of a time in your personal life when you started something that was foreign to you which became a skill set you’re using today? 

These are a snapshot of questions I like to ask while probing for potential employee engagement with the candidate.

I’ve spoken to a countless amount of entrepreneurs and professionals, just like you. A common theme that I’m hearing is that they are trying to figure out their employee behaviours and motivations. 

As we bring 2019 to a close, now is a perfect time to reevaluate our approach to employee engagement.

Are you interested in improving your company culture, employee engagement, and customer experience? If so, my online course, Team Operating System, may be your solution.

Click this link to book a call with me directly to learn if the course is right for you and your company.

What is People-First Culture?

In this video, I describe my People-First Culture. I hope you enjoy and subscribe to my blog to stay up-to-date on company culture, employee engagement, and customer experience strategies!

Stay tuned for next week’s installment!

Eager to learn more? Follow me on LinkedIn and pick up a copy of my book!

BOOK — https://www.amazon.com/People-First-Culture-Lasting-Company-Shifting-ebook/dp/B07JBDBTZ8

LINKEDIN – www.linkedin.com/in/michelfalcon

Customer Service, Company Culture and Authenticity With Bob Glazer

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

FOLLOW ME ON SOCIAL:

Instagram — https://www.instagram.com/michelfalco…

Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/michel.falco…

LinkedIn — https://www.linkedin.com/in/michelfal…

CONNECT WITH BOB GLAZER

Instagram — https://www.instagram.com/robertglaze…

Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/RobertSGlazer/

LinkedIn — https://www.linkedin.com/in/glazer/

People-First Culture™: Why Some Teams Win Together and Others Don’t.

People-First Culture™: Build a business your employees and customers will admire.

Customer experience, employee engagement, company culture and leadership are all extremely important factors in building an admired company/brand. The People-First Culture™ is a combination of all of these factors to assist businesses on the going down the path of becoming that admired brand in the eyes of both their employees and their customers.

It is extremely important to make your employees just as happy as your customers. I’m in the business of making my employees cry…. good tears of course! You need to show them that you care, and once you show  your employees that you care, that you respect them and that you appreciate them, they will deliver an experience to your customers that they have never seen before!

This video was shot in one take without a script. It’s just a real talk. It’s everything I believe captured in a short(ish) message.
I highlight the following in the video:
  • My People-First Culture and 3P Strategy concept.
  • I share stories from companies and leaders you may not have heard of like The Beautiful People Company (nearly half their workforce is disabled), Howard Behar (a legendary leader) and Warby Parker (a million to a billion in a few short years).
  • A diagram to share with your company and team.
If you watch the video and like the message, please consider sharing it on social media and TAG someone you think needs to hear the message.