09 May May 9, 2019 – Customer Experience David Avrin, Video Marketing Nafissa Shireen and Working Whole Kourtney Whitehead
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David Avrin – Keynote Speaker and Top-Selling Author of Why Customers Leave (and How to Win Them Back): (24 Reasons People are Leaving You for Competitors, and How to Win Them Back*) – Read interview highlights here
Wait staff, they’re in charge of their own raises every day,
by how they treat their customers.
David Avrin is a business branding keynote speaker and consultant working to clarify and promote a compelling, competitive advantage. He has spoken in Singapore, Bangkok, Melbourne, Brisbane, Antwerp, Buenos Aires, Bangalore, Monte Carlo, Glasgow, Rotterdam, Barcelona, Manila, Sri Lanka, Johannesburg, and Dubai. One of the most in-demand marketing and branding speakers in the word today, David is known as The Visibility Coach. A former CEO group leader and marketing firm owner, David’s business and marketing insights have been featured on hundreds of broadcast media outlets and thousands of online and print publications around the world. He is the author of three books including the acclaimed: It’s Not Who You Know, It’s Who Knows YOU! and Impossible to Ignore. Avrin’s new book, Why Customers Leave: (And How to Win Them Back) makes a compelling case for customer experience as a bankable differentiator in an era of vast marketplace choices. This terrific new book lays out twenty-three ways that companies’ policies, procedures and practices drive customers away to alternatives, and also offers a multitude of created strategies and tactics to attract and retain new prospects.
Nafissa Shireen – Success Coach & Host of Living Forward TV
Likes and views and subscribers are great managing metrics and they can mean something if you’re looking for sponsorship or monetization. But at the end of the day if you’re not making money, what does it matter?
Nafissa Shireen is a speaker, business coach and entrepreneur with a 20-year background in financial analytics and business development. When she started coaching, she focused on working with women entrepreneurs to help them overcome their mental blocks and limiting beliefs, so that they could achieve big leaps in their income. Nafissa has built her coaching business without any traditional online funnels or ads. Instead, she uses content marketing (primarily video) and speaking to share her message and get more clients. She has an online TV show called Living Forward and she’s grown her clientele through these videos. She has two horses and takes care of two more; she’s turned this hobby into a business. She gives her coaching clients access to scientifically-proven equine facilitated learning with these horses. She helps her clients get results faster through incorporating horse work and muscle testing with traditional consulting.
Kourtney Whitehead – Founder of Simply Service and Author of Working Whole: How to Unite Your Spiritual Beliefs and Your Work to Live Fulfilled
You do have to think about the flip side of it, which is, ‘What are your goals actually, and are you living in alignment with getting there?’
Kourtney Whitehead has focused her career on helping people reach their work goals, from executive searches to counseling to career transitions, through her positions at top executive recruiting firms and consulting companies. Her site, SimplyService.org, is an online community focused on supporting the creation of spiritually centered work lives. She is a sought-after speaker and podcast guest. Her new book, Working Whole, shares how to unite spiritual and work life. Prior to Boston Consulting Group, she held senior positions at Korn Ferry and Booz Allen Hamilton. She designed several of Booz Allen’s employee branding, social media and candidate intelligence methods, and successfully deployed a team of highly skilled and specialized recruiters. She is a regular volunteer with high school and graduate-level students, advising them on careers and college, and sits on the board of the Children’s Environmental Health Network.
Highlights from David’s Interview
I don’t think we are getting better about customer experience. Certain companies are beginning to get it. But for decades, we talked about customer service, service with a smile, treating everybody important. And I think we got to the point in business where we understood that, but then the pendulum started swinging back. And some people were really having a hard time understanding why. Did we unlearn the lessons? The reality is, I think because competition is so fierce. So many organizations, small businesses, medium, large, are working so hard to create some measure of predictability in terms of their process, and their behavior of their customers, and the outcome and the revenue, that they’ve standardized many things. And what it’s done is, the odd man out in that equation is flexibility, is accommodation, and an understanding that people are individuals, and not every question or problem or situation fits into their training. We’ve actually seen that customer experience getting worse, because we’re not cookie cutter, one size fits all isn’t for our benefit. It’s for their benefit, as business owners, and of course, we’re listening, and myself and yourself, we are business owners as well.
I think some smarter companies are starting to get the reality that customer experience is really a different discipline from customer service. It’s how customers experience doing business with you. At every point of contact, you can have a multi-billion dollar brand, you can have wonderful products and services, and if you put us on hold for 45 minutes, we get pissed off. You can tell us how important our call is to you. Well, clearly, it’s not important, or you would have properly staffed your line.
Grocery stores can tell us that self-checkout is because we want choices. But it’s not a choice. If you have one checkout lane staffed with nine carts deep, and 22 self checkout lanes, it’s not a choice. It’s social engineering. So it’s been getting worse, because businesses are trying to get us to do business the way they want, and not how we want.
It’s a balance between both cost cutting and this endeavor for predictable revenue generating on the cost cutting side. When they automate the voicemail system, when a live person could have answered our question and directed us to the right call in eight seconds. But instead, we’re on for two and a half minutes. And please listen carefully, because the options have changed. That’s fairly obvious. But from the revenue generating perspective, we’re losing there as well, because once again, they’re trying to create what we call the franchise model, which is if we can standardize processes and systems, we have the greater level of predictability in terms of behavior and outcome and revenue.
And here’s the interesting thing. Organizations, companies will hire people, and they’ll go through an exhaustive search and evaluation process. They want to look at their background, they want to look at their judgment. The workplaces will do interviews with prospective employees and ask them tough questions. Tell me about a difficult situation. How did you handle it? What was it? What was your thought process? But then, as soon as we hire them, we neuter them. Now just do it the way we tell you to do it. Now, here’s the process. We have this wonderful gift of employee experience and judgment, but all we do is allow them to quote policies. And instead of so much time quoting policies, how about we train them on really effective decision making? But we’re afraid they’re going to make the wrong decision, so we don’t let them make any decision at all.
It’s not just cost cutting. But it’s also, if we can predict if we do it just this way, here’s how much revenue we’re going to get. And what’s lost in that equation is all the people who they frustrated, or annoyed or felt dismissed, because of their simple request, even if it was a request at an airport restaurant for a table next to an electrical outlet, which is so easily rectified by companies. But they don’t want to be bothered with that kind of thing. It’s better to program for the masses than accommodate the few.
It really comes down to how we feel about how the transaction and the interaction went. And that really is the customer experience. It’s designed by them, but it’s evaluated by us. And even for those of us who are business owners, our primary role in our culture is actually as a consumer. Even those who are business owners, we’re all consumers as well. And we know those things that tend to make us feel less than valued.
There are companies that get it. Chick Fil-A just went from number seven to number three, in terms of the biggest and fastest growing fast food places, they just jumped over Burger King and Wendy’s and Taco Bell, due in large part to their customer experience. Politics aside, they do a great job of indoctrinating their people into really recognizing that. They have a great training video called Every Person Has a Story. And even if they don’t know the story, they know everybody has one. And maybe they can be that bright spot in their day.
As you talk about big organizations that tend to be very impersonal, there can be cultural shifts that occur within the organization, but it requires the right mindset and the right training, and fostering that culture that says, not everybody gets exactly what they want, when they want it, but everybody deserves to be treated with respect. Everybody needs to know that they’re at least being heard.
There are times when I’ve been very frustrated with companies, but I’ve been saved by just how well I was treated during that process. Or afterwards, I had a scenario that was so frustrating. My assistant had tried to login to my bank account at Wells Fargo, she had access to the campus, she was traveling. She put in her password wrong a couple of times, and locked me out.
As I’m trying to get into the app, I call him and he said, “Oh, there were a couple of attempts. We locked your account. You need to change your password.”
I said, “I don’t want to change my password.”
They said, “Well, you have to.”
I said, “I’ve got six accounts for my kids, for other businesses. I don’t want to change my password.”
And they said “No, you have to.”
I said, “I don’t have to. I don’t have to do banking with you.”
And I mean, I completely overreacted, but I was trying to make a point. And the other thing is I get a little fodder for my speeches, my presentations I do. We get great stories to tell.
But I kept pushing, “Why don’t you just turn it back on?”
At the end of the day, I end up getting call from a vice president who said, “You were absolutely right, we should be able to do that. I will be completely honest. Nobody envisioned turning it back on once it was frozen. The remedy was changing your password. And I know how tough that is. There is no mechanism built in to do it any other way. Nobody thought of that.”
And I said, “Do you think maybe you should have?”
She says, “Absolutely. And that’s an initiative. We’re going to talk about it; we can do it with text. Nobody ever thought about it.”
Well, you know what, in that instance, she was very candid, she was very accommodating, at least in terms of our conversation, and I accept I’m not completely unreasonable. And I changed my password. I hated having to do it. But how they handle it can go far.
There are business models that are frustrating. And smart companies are looking at how can we do every point of contact as we sort of go along the customer journey. We asked a question, can it be done faster or more engaging or more friendly or more memorable. And in most cases, it’s being done exactly the way it should. But I’m telling companies, I tell leaders all the time as I speak, across the country, and around the world. If we pay attention, ask some hard questions, go off site and do a half day retreat with our team and ask some questions. Can this be done differently or better? And you know, what comes out of that? What comes out of that is innovation, disruption, better ideas as we move companies forward. And the ones who don’t do this? They get left behind.
I don’t know if the cable company is the best example. I mean, that really is probably the most profound hatred that we might have. That’s true. That used to be public utilities. But for most of us in business. The way that we do it is by creating an army of ambassadors, by doing things that we do so well, so differently, so much faster or more facilitated, we become promotable. We build those ambassadors who sing our praises online. And otherwise, when you try changing somebody’s mind who already had a bad experience, that’s really difficult. You’ll see businesses, we’ll see businesses, like we’ll drive by a strip mall, and there’ll be a banner over the business that will say under new management. Yeah, I was thinking, right, it means we used to suck. Yeah, you likely had a bad experience. We’re different now. Try us now. That’s hard. The best thing to do is that there’s a whole new generation of consumers that are coming into the marketplace every year. It’s why Sesame Street can stay on the air year after year, because every year there’s a new crop of five year olds from last year’s four year olds.
But I think we do it by first, taking a magnifying glass to our customer experience, the entire customer journey, fix anything and everything that isn’t great, because people will share everything.
We grew up in business with what we used to call guest relations philosophy, right? The average person with a positive experience will tell two or three people, but somebody with a negative experience will tell ten. None of that is true anymore. Now we tell thousands. Now we tell millions. Just drag a paying customer off your airplane. See how fast that spreads. The first thing we need to do as business owners, is we need to fix anything and everything. That’s not great. But once you do, you can really focus on creating some unique experiences and transactions and interactions. I’m not a big believer in wow moments. I think they’re fine if you make them happen. But I have a hard time as a consumer, celebrating that somebody else had a wow moment. I think we do this for everybody, every time. This is where we have a culture that says this is who we are. This is how we address our customers. This is how we help them. You call a Ritz Carlton, and you ask a question, the answer is always, “It would be my pleasure to connect you.” That’s the culture, no matter what it is, we accommodate. We do what it takes. We win them back by starting to build a culture, a reputation of brand, on being extraordinarily human, and extraordinarily accommodating. And then we create those stories that people share on Yelp, and TripAdvisor and Rotten Tomatoes and Glass Door. We know those who have negative experiences are going to share, those are always going to be skewed negative. But if we can do it so well, and so consistently, then we create the 2019 version of word of mouth.
For generations, word of mouth has been the most powerful marketing tool. But today, that word of mouth is online. That bulletin board that used to be at the pizza place, where everybody wanted to get their Polaroid of their team, where you conquered the challenge pizza, would end up on the bulletin board. That bulletin board is now Instagram. And instead of hundreds of people that are in a restaurant seeing it, now tens of thousands of people can see it online.
Because so many things are basic, things are not done anymore. That’s why people make a big deal out of getting a handwritten note, because nobody does it anymore. As you talk, are they more likely to post positive things or negative? What they’re most likely to post is mundane. What was most likely was people’s picture of their dinner. Stop doing that, by the way. We don’t care, right? We used to be very careful about the pictures that we took. Because we had to go to a photo mart, we had to pay 16 cents for every picture. So you took great care. Now, they take pictures of everything. For everybody who’s got teenagers, it is remarkable how random and pervasive everything that they they post is. And I tell them to be careful. I tell them, I tell their friends to be careful, because nothing goes away. In business today, we have to do business as if every one of our customers and prospects is armed with a video camera, because they are on their phones. And so if they’re going to post something, it’s most likely to be mundane. I see very smart restaurants with selfie sticks collapsed. And the center of every table is wow.
Isn’t it great? You’re having a great time. Let others live vicariously through your experience, we’re at whatever restaurant, we’re at Chili’s, having a great time with our friends, and then tag us. And then they’ll have the scientists say if you post a picture, tag us, you’ll get 50% off your meal.
I’ve seen car washes that say as you’re entering, take pictures or video of your kids, have a great time of the car wash, use this hashtag, and post it when you leave the car wash. If you show this to us that you posted, it will give you 50% off the next one. So we’re encouraging positive sharing of information, as they say the behavior that’s recognized and rewarded is the behavior that’s repeated. Incentivize, facilitate. Don’t ask somebody to post a positive review when they get home, have an iPad sitting on the counter of your business. Ask him to do it right there. Give them an incentive to do so. I mean, we don’t want to create a coupon culture within our company, I get that. But most people who are satisfied are satiated. They don’t do anything; they had their needs met; that’s not remarkable. So we have to really encourage and ask people to share positive experiences. You have a great time? Please share, it would mean a lot to us. Or we’ll give you a coupon or something like that.
Union Bistro is awesome. I only mentioned Chili’s because they’re nationwide and everybody knows them. I worked there, it was my first job when I was 15 years old. And then my daughter worked there. And now all businesses, local businesses, really live or die on those online reviews. And that’s why I don’t like the selfie stick idea.
Remember the old fashioned days, like a year ago? You used to say “Hey, waiter, will you take our picture please?” And now I interact with the waiter, and the waiter gets a bigger tip because they took my picture. Even from a customer experience perspective, we get those waiters or waitresses who will take our picture, and say no problem. The other ones look like we just asked them to sacrifice their firstborn. It’s like, “Ah, I have so much to do.” Waitstaff are in charge of their own raises every day by how they treat their customers. I love the big smile when they handle your check. “Thank you so much for coming in.” Really? I would have appreciated that smile during the entire meal.
DavidAvrin.com. Go to Amazon, all my books are on audiobook and Kindle. The brand new book is Why Customers Leave and How to Win Them Back. I answer my own emails, unless I’m on an airplane or on stage speaking. Happy to respond. It’s David@DavidAvrin.com. Fantastic.