Independent Customer Service Expert & Speaker
How did you get to become an expert in your key topics?
Ever since my first hospitality position as a charter member of Marriott’s Great America Theme Park, I have been committed to associate engagement and customer satisfaction. Back then, J.W. Marriott, the founder, was still visiting his hotel properties, always reminding his managers to “Take care of associates and they’ll take care of your customers.” I never forgot that mantra. You can’t satisfy customers with disengaged employees. Start there first.
What sub-topics are you most passionate about?
I am a firm believer of the CASE method of customer experience improvement. Copy and Steal Everything or for those less inclined, Copy and Save Everything. I am intent on looking outside of our industry for ideas that we can CASE. Then we tweak the idea to make it your own. Too often businesses and brands silo themselves looking to see what their direct competitors are offering. Our customers are experiencing brands in other industries and comparing what they do best with what we do best, asking us, “Why can’t you do it like they do it?” We need to be one step ahead. No customer cares how good we used to be. They only care how good we are now … to them. We need to always be improving.
Who influences you within these topics?
What challenges are brands facing in this space?
I call it the “New Coke” Syndrome. Brand marketers are always looking for a brand extension to capture more market share. But in that process they may change the brand so much that customers don’t get that same emotional connection to what made them loyal to the brand in the first place. That makes their hearts go wander. Do not lose sight of your core customer value of your own brand. Always deliver consistency. Consistency builds trust. Trust builds loyalty. Let your loyal customers find new ones for you. Proactively identify the emotional touch points that customers love about your product or service. Amplify them. If it is a service, then educate every person who interacts with your customers so they can replicate that experience for new customers.
What do you think the future holds in this space?
Customer service, as the foundation of a company’s customer experience, will move from a function within the business of reactive to proactive. Right now contact centre service teams are reacting to customer complaints or questions. They examine the negative feedback in CSI fashion, identifying the pain points and taking the steps to eliminate them. While this reactive analysis is critical, ultimately it is a hamster wheel, only churning out solutions to customer issues. In the near future, companies will challenge themselves to ask, “What if we focus on customer innovations and customer experience improvements so customers don’t need to contact us?” How can we be steps ahead of the customer? What would we be doing differently? Here is the leap into the very near future: While companies may think they are good at certain things, like customer journey mapping, they still cannot read their customers’ minds. They will stop creating maps, services and products based on what THEY think their customers wants. They will proactively reach out to customers and ask them.
What brands are leading the way in this space?
We should all be CASEing two brands. Amazon – “The most important single thing is to focus obsessively on the customer. Our goal is to be earth’s most customer-centric company.” Jeff Bezos. Shouldn’t the customer be every company’s priority. “You need to be constantly figuring out who are your new customers and what are you doing to stay forever young.” Jeff Bezos. Amazon is always innovating, looking to stay one step ahead of their customers’ ever changing expectations. We should do the same. Always be focused on the customer. Always be improving.
Zappos – “Our belief is that if you get the culture right, most of the other stuff, like great customer service or building a great long-term brand or empowering passionate employees and customers will happen on its own.” Tony Hsieh. It goes back to Mr. Marriott’s mantra. Start with the people. Satisfied customers are not necessarily loyal ones. Only happy customers are. And only happy employees create happy customers. Shouldn’t we all be Delivering Happiness?
If a brand wanted to work with you, which activities would you be most interested in collaborating on?
What are your passions outside of work?
What would be the best way for a brand to contact you?