This post is a transcript of S2 E14 of the Voices of Customer Experience Podcast with Mary Drumond and James Conrad, featuring Shep Hyken.
[00:06] Mary Drumond: You're listening to Voices of Customer Experience. I'm your host Mary Drumond, and on this podcast we shine the spotlight on individuals who are making a difference in customer experience. We also proudly bring you the very best of customer experience, behavior economics, data analytics, and design. Make sure to subscribe or follow us on social for updates. Voices of Customer Experience is brought to you by Worthix. Discover your worth at worthix.com.
[00:35] MD: I'm honored to bring an amazing guest to the show today -Shep Hyken. Shep is a customer service and experience expert and the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepherd Presentations. He is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author and has been inducted into the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame for lifetime achievement in the speaking profession. Shep works with companies and organizations who want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. His articles have been read in hundreds of publications, and he's the author of Moments of Magic, The Loyal Customer, The Cult of The Customer, The Amazement Revolution, Amaze Every Customer Every Time, and To Be Amazing or Go Home. He's also the creator of The Customer Focus, the customer service training program, which helps clients develop a customer service culture and loyalty mindset. He has now just released his seventh book, The Convenience Revolution, how to deliver a customer service experience that disrupts the competition and creates fierce loyalty. Shep, welcome to the show. I'm so glad to have you on.
[01:52] MD: Thank you so much for coming on today. We're really excited and we know that our listeners look up to you and have been following you and your thought leadership for awhile now. I wanted to ask you first and foremost, you call yourself a chief amazement officer. Tell me a bit about this title.
[02:10] SH: Well, you know, one of the words that I use throughout my brand is the word "amazing", and if you look at my books, Amaze Every Customer Every Time, The Amazement Revolution, Be Amazing or Go Home, somehow or another that word amazement has been in my life, and somebody said, you know, you're the chief amazement officer. Well that's great, so we try to be amazing here for our people. We try to be amazing for our clients. We teach our clients to be amazing by delivering great customer service and great customer experiences.
[02:43] MD: Great. Well that's wonderful. Well, tell us a little bit about your track record, working with customers and everything that has to do with customer service, customer experience and customer success. What is your main focus and what's your main passion when it comes to the customer?
[02:53] SH: Sure. Well, back in the day when I was just a child. No, I actually, I know I'm a bald guy. You think about bald guys, we all look pretty young and then like 25 years later, one day we look old. It's like what happened, so I've been bald for quite a while, but I've been in this business for 35 years now, started in 1983 with the idea that I wanted to do a speech on customer service based on all the things I believed in, what I'd grown up with, what I went to college and experience during my work career there, and I saw a couple of motivational speakers and said, I can do that. I'm just going to do a speech on service. And so back then that's what customer experience was, was customer service and when people started to use the term experience, 98 percent of it was customer service.
[03:40] SH: Today, it's still a big part of it, but customer experience is any interaction that that customer has with the company at any level. It can be, you know, the website interaction. It could be the box that they opened. You know, and Amazon does a great job. You get excited when you see the Amazon logo on the box. How about what Apple did with their packaging of all of their products. It's amazing and that's all part of experience, but really the end of the day, those experiences are great, but when you do the people to people, if that doesn't work, it doesn't matter how nice the packaging is and you have to get that down. And you asked about the track record, I think to be able to be in this business 35 years is sustainability is its own track record right there. That's a long time.
[04:27] SH: And I'm very honored and flattered to work with the most amazing clients in the world. I am so darn lucky. It's great. And so that's where I am. I'm here today and I keep writing books, writing articles, doing videos, that type of thing.
[04:41] MD: And got a new book coming out, right?
[04:42] SH: I am so excited about the new book. It's called The Convenience Revolution: How to Deliver a Customer Service Experience That Disrupts the Competition and Creates Fierce Loyalty. And my thinking behind it is, as I was doing my last customer service book, I started saying, you know, I keep coming up with new material, I don't know where it's coming from, coming up with new content. This is my seventh book coming out and I thought in the last book, what are these companies that I keep writing about doing that's different aside from great service because now that's becoming table stakes, and I realized these companies are just easier to do business with.
[05:21] SH: And if you look at the easiest company on the planet, I can ask 9 out of 10 people, if not 99 out of 100 are going to tell me what's the answer to that question? What's the most convenient company on the planet?
[05:32] MD: Amazon?
[05:33] SH: Exactly. So I identified six areas of convenience that any company can use at least one, if not multiples of not even all six, like Amazon is in all six and a number of the case studies throughout the book could be an all six. But I chose Amazon almost a cliche when it comes to amazing service, but I shared a few things about them that a lot of people don't realize. Aside from, hey, it's a website open 24/7. They deliver. They give you good prices. There's a lot more to it behind the scenes than that. But there's companies like uber that use convenience to disrupt the entire taxi cab industry.
[06:11] SH: There's a company like my auto dealership that I now do business with after doing business for more than 22 years with someone else. I switched because this company said, hey, we'll deliver a car to you and will drop off and pick up your car when it needs service. The next time you come into our dealership will be to buy a new car, not because you have to get an oil change. The other dealer that I work with for 20 some odd years didn't do that, wouldn't do that. And guess what... I moved on. So it doesn't matter whether you're a big company, small company, a solo entrepreneur or the largest companies in the world, they all have a level of convenience that they could factor in that will out convenience and service their competition.
[06:53] MD: Yeah. That reminds me a lot of what Joe Pine says about time well spent versus time well saved. If you're a time well saved company, then you have to offer that convenience. It has to be quick. It has to be effortless. It has to be easy, right?
[07:06] SH: Yep. And so that's what the book's about and as we're doing the show, it's almost out, so if you want to get it today, call today, don't delay. You can go to Amazon or you can go to beconvenient.com. And so I'm excited about it. I think because more than anything, it's just not another customer service book. It is a level beyond that. And really the closest thing that's been written about it is my friend Matt Dixon's book, The Effortless Experience. Matt is a rockstar. And so his book The Effortless Experience ties into convenience, and I actually could have put a chapter in there about that, but it's really not quite the same. It's, believe me, you have to create that effortless experience and make it easy for customers to get support and get help and you know, make everything smooth. This is about a customer service and a marketing strategy combined.
[08:07] MD: That's really interesting that you referenced Matt Dixon because I referenced him all the time and just recently we spoke about this, James and I, with some guests on the podcast about surprise and delight versus effortless and consistent, and we actually did want to ask you what was your point of view on that because a lot of people talk about surprise and delight, and it seems to be a main focus for a lot of consultants and practitioners and thought leaders out there. What are your points of view?
[08:35] SH: So I think you should delight. Don't worry about the surprise. Every once in a while you'll be able to surprise somebody, and if I can use the word amaze, delight, they're the same in my mind and here's how you create an amazing or delightful situation. And that is be better than average. If you're better than average all of the time, you're amazing. Now, how much better than average do you have to be? You have to be like, if the scale is one to five where poor is one and you have excellent at number five, average is number three, right in the middle, and here's my take on it. If you want to be a five, be a four all of the time because if people who get fours go from three to four and maybe a little less than three to four, maybe once in a while they spike to a five, but if you want to be a five, just be a little better than average, which throws you toward four all of the time. And that's the difference.
[09:30] SH: When a problem drops in your lap, you have the opportunity to go above and beyond to fix it - to not just resolve the situation, but hopefully restore customer confidence. And by the way, if you're a server in a restaurant, and you happen to hear, oh, they're on their anniversary, I'm going to surprise them with a piece of cake at the end. That surprise, which you can't wait for everybody to come in with an anniversary or you can't let everybody to complain about something so you can go above. You just if you're consistently and predictably above average. So I use this line all the time in my speeches, the word "always" followed by something positive. They're always knowledgeable. They're always helpful. They're always there when I need them, and even when there's a problem I know I can always count on them. The word always followed by something positive is what you're looking for, and that's just being a little better than average all of the time.
[10:23] JC: Yeah, I love that. And, Shep, on your website, which has lots of great content for our listeners. One of the things you said in your video related to this idea of better than average was around, I think you said something like, "satisfied customers don't necessarily come back" and if you think about measurement, we have tools like NPS and CSAT in place. What are your views on how we measure this idea and the idea of measuring satisfaction, which is pretty ubiquitous in the industry. How do you view that? And what are your thoughts?
[10:54] SH: So it's a trick question. When I asked my audiences, hey, how many of you want to satisfy all your customers and everybody's hand goes up, and so here's the reality. And it all started with a study I read about close to 15, 20 years ago, and if you start looking at the current numbers, they haven't really changed much. If anything, they may have gotten a little bit scarier, but 40% of satisfied customers don't come back. And that's according to two professors that did a study out of Vanderbilt University. Bain and Company, the folks that created NPS, Fred Reicheld and his group. They said in certain industries, if you look at the loyalty effect, and that by the way is a great book, love all of those books, The Loyalty Effect, The NPS, The Ultimate Question, in some businesses satisfied customers don't come back up to 80% of the time because they're just satisfied and given the opportunity to spend more money at a place that's better than okay.
[11:52] SH: People do it. Now, you asked something about measurement, and NPS is one of my very favorites. On a scale of zero to 10, what's the likelihood you'd recommend. And nines or tens are promoters and six or less are detractors and seven eights are the average satisfactory ones, and you've got to get away from that because you don't know what direction they're headed. Are they headed to being more than satisfied or are they headed to being a detractor? And we've got to eliminate those. I'd rather know for sure that people didn't like me than wonder if they like me or not, so we've got to get them out of that central satisfied zone. The other thing is and I talk about this, all of the measurement that most companies look at, and I'm not taking away anything from NPS or CSAT scores or anything. They measure the likelihood to come back. The likelihood that you'll recommend, It's intent. I would rather measure buyer behavior and that is did they come back? Not if they will come back when they need us, but did they come back? That's the number I want to know - what is my percentage of repeat, repetitive loyal customers, you know, retention is the new acquisition. I don't know who said that, but whoever it is, I love the line.
[13:09] MD: Absolutely. I couldn't agree more. I actually got excited when you gave that answer because it shows, we've noticed a very strong trend where everyone who's working with the customer is starting to look at behavior and it's getting more and more intense, and it wasn't a couple of years ago. And not only explaining and tracking behavior, but learning how to predict the behavior that's going to come from certain actions. There are even people were going far enough to try to manipulate behavior. We had someone on here that works with an artificial intelligence module that helps change human behavior and his whole thing was we are now, as opposed to humans programming machines, the machines are programming humans and that's kind of a dystopian view of it.
[13:58] SH: Dystopian. That's a good word. I've got to look that up.
[14:04] MD: Well, you know, I always think of the Terminator. You get artificial intelligence, you start thinking of the terminator and it's a freaky thought, but there are a lot of ways that technology is helping these basic interactions and helping promote great behavior and customers.
[14:20] SH: well here's what's happening and the way I see it is basically you have to have a big enough company to have a large enough sample size to really capture that data. So if I've got 10,000 customers and 5,000 of them are behaving exactly the same way. If a customer that has the profile of those 5,000 calls me or interacts with me, I can predict what their next move is going to be based on the other 5,000. I'm going to probably be an uncanny, accurate, predictive because artificial intelligence is doing all the work at analyzing the data for me and given me the information. So when it comes to AI, a lot of companies are using the AI to do chat bots and listened to the customer and try to interpret what they're asking or what they're needing and give them an answer based on knowledge based.
[15:10] SH: Some of them are really capable of almost thinking, which I think is really cool. We're getting better and better at it, but I think the best use of AI is not just support directly the customer, but to support the agent who knows exactly how to ask the question to get the right answer. So the customers calling, and the agent wants to get information, let the agent type in the question and let the computer respond. And some really advanced systems are actually letting the computer listen in on the call, and the computer is making suggestions to the agent on what to tell the customer. And it's based on not only what they're asking, but it's based on all their behavior, their buying patterns that the computer is able to track the entire customer. Where an agent can look from screen to screen to look at history. But it takes awhile where the computer is doing that so fast and then the computer could say, by the way, don't get off the phone right now because the customer and in three weeks is going to call back with another question when you answer it right now for them. Oh Wow. Or the customer doesn't realize they need this product, but they will. So why don't you try selling it to them today.
[16:18] MD: There's also a certain algorithms that measure the intensity of the emotion and what that's causing for the experience. Right? So like if the customer is really angry, if you don't answer their problem quick, the chance of them churning is higher in this situation. Right? So it provides that assistance as well.
[16:34] SH: Yep, so the sentiment of the call, very, very powerful to have that data and know what to do with it.
[16:43] MD: Voices of Customer Experience is brought to you by Worthix. If you're interested in customer experience, behavior economics or data science, follow Worthix on social media or subscribe to our blog for the best content on the web.
[17:01] MD: Shep, you work with a lot of companies. I mean anyone who goes on your website can see all those logos up there and it's really quite amazing, the amount of companies that you've worked with. What is, you talked about how in your book The Convenience Revolution, there's a certain pattern there are the companies that are getting it right and what they're doing, are they providing an effortless experience to their customers? Is that what it is? Or is there something else that they have in common that they're getting right and that consequentially translate into growth, into a profit, etc.?
[17:38] SH: Well, I don't want to use the term effortless experience because aside from it belonging to another author and the company the author worked for, I think it's a different concept. So one of the things we suggest to our clients is that they look at the journey map at the top line. By the way, the experience, the convenient experience can be done internally as well. We need to be convenient to our internal customers as well as the external. So a company that focuses on convenience throughout the entire organization is focusing on service and CX throughout the entire organization. But the way to start is, let's look at every touch point the customer has. Is there any friction at that point? Friction that can be eliminated. Is there a form that really we're asking one too many questions? Can we just get rid of one question or maybe we'd get rid of the entire form or maybe just make it easier.
[18:30] You know, somebody said, Shep, I ordered your book on your beconvenient.com website. And it sure wasn't very convenient. I have PayPal. And usually when I start to enter into Paypal it automatically populates. So I said, well, that is a great question. Thanks for bringing that up. And I then went to our provider and said, unfortunately, we don't have that built into our system. So gosh, what can I do? I apologized profusely and I said as a gift, I'm going to send you my firstborn child and, and the tuition that goes along with it. So I found a point of friction that I didn't even know about. So a lot of the friction you think, hey, we've created a really easy order form, but somebody came up with an idea that would make it even better. So we're not going to do the transition now, but we're actually based on that one suggestion, we realized that our program that we have, our shopping cart is not as state of the art as it needs to be. So I'm not going to do this in the middle of our campaign to sell books. But as soon as we're out of this, we're already researching a new vendor.
[19:35] MD: Well that's great. Applying what you preach to your internal processes.
[19:40] SH: Yeah, but let's think about it. I make it even simpler than this. If I have a meeting with you and you are here in St. Louis, if I want to really be convenient, I should come to you. I shouldn't make you come to me unless there's a specific reason. I've got a friend of mine that's a dentist and he says, you know, I have a lot of elderly patients. You know what I do? I have a car service that I use and I don't know why he's not using Uber at this point because it might be less expensive, but I think he likes to pick his patients up in the sedans and bring them in.
[20:09] SH: If you're going to come in to the dentist office during lunch, I'm going to make sure that you leave with a boxed lunch so that you don't need to worry about skipping lunch. I mean, that's the way convenient people in convenient companies think.
[20:23] MD: But this comes with a price tag, doesn't it?
[20:25] SH: Quality is remembered long after price is forgotten said the great Aldo Gucci. So if you are in your hotel and you open up your mini bar and there's a coca cola there that's $5 for that can of coke and you can walk 50 feet down the hall to the machine and get the same can of coke for a buck and a quarter, 25% of the price, a quarter of the price. Why is it that every morning you see the hotel employees restocking the minibar with coca cola?
[20:55] MD: But aren't you left with a bad taste in your mouth?Like you open the can and then when you have to sign out or you know, check out, you're like, dammit, why did I drink that coke, right?
[21:08] SH: Alright, well let's take one that's even easier. When's the last time you went to a 7-Eleven? You go to a 7-Eleven, why? It's called a convenience store for a reason. It's convenient. It's right on the way home. It's on the right side of the street. It's easier to get in and out of than a bigger grocery store or whatever. And guess what? Their prices, they aren't outrageously higher, but they're a little bit higher and you're willing to pay it because it's convenient and by the way, Amazon, they went the opposite direction. They said, hey, let's be convenient and open a bookstore 24/7 on the web and give discounted books and deliver them and then with the Prime membership. Great. And now today, if you go on the Amazon site, it'll say you can buy this item from us or there's three other vendors that sell it at a lesser price.
[21:58] MD: Absolutely. You won't get the guarantee of our quality and our experience, but you can pay less.
[22:04] SH: Exactly so people are willing to pay a little bit more because they know Amazon's going to back it up.
[22:10] JC: And, Shep, this is fascinating to talk about convenience. You've been doing this for 35 years, I think you said. Are you seeing that convenience is becoming a more important factor in decision over time?
[22:24] SH: I think convenience is the factor right now. I'll tell you why. If you have your product that does what it's supposed to do and you assume the quality of the product is there because if you don't have a quality product, it doesn't matter how good or convenient your service is. People aren't going to buy it because they buy things that work. Okay, so let's assume that's in line. Now we're going to give them the customer service they expect. Guess what? The competitors are trying to do the same thing. I call it the amenity war, but at a different level. And the amenity war happened in hotels. When some smart hotel guy said, you know, I'm going to put a mint on the pillow of every guest. That's our little special thing that we do, and other hotels found out about it and said, well, we'll put mints on our pillows too, and I'm going to put a newspaper at the door, and then they started doing it.
[23:12] SH: I'm going to get fluffier towels, and then they started doing and they're all trying to out amenity each other. Well, that's where customer service is going. If you don't deliver good service, it's table stakes, and the reason is, and this is a really, really important point. I usually talk about this earlier in the interview. Your customer is not comparing you to your competition. They're comparing you to the best service they've ever had from anywhere in anyone, and they expect you to be that good. They don't care if you're better than the other person in your same industry. They expect you to deliver a good service experience regardless. So now they know what good service is. The next level is to take it to a more convenient level of service. So give them the good service and make it easy.
[23:58] JC: And it makes a lot of sense. So you're saying that the expectations of customers are constantly evolving as better and better experiences and more and more convenient experiences they're being exposed to. So those expectations are rising and rising, not just within the industry that the company is playing.
[24:14] SH: Right. So here's an interesting statistic. Last year, New Voice Media came out with this stat that $75, billion dollars was lost to consumers who switched from one company to another because they were unhappy with service, and that's up from two years before, which I believe was $62 million and two years before that it was a 30 some odd billion. So it's going the wrong direction. Well, last year the stats didn't do what I hope that they would do, but the year before they did. So as you see this trend, where were they? And they're called serial switchers. Don't give me good service. I'm switching.
[24:49] SH: And they will switch until they find a place that gives them the service. What happened two years ago, not last year, is that virtually every sector within the US and this is measured by the American Customer Satisfaction Index out of the University of Michigan, virtually every sector increased their customer satisfaction scores even ever so slightly. Even the industries that are recognized for the worst service had an increase in customer satisfaction based on they did better than the year before. Even the government did better than the year before, but guess what? Because customers expectations are higher, customers weren't as happy as they were and continue to switch more and more. So even though these companies are getting better, they're not outpacing their customers or are not even keeping pace with their customers' expectations, which is kind of scary, which means that you've got to deliver, and you don't want to play catch up or I hate to say keep up, but if at worst case keep up, but ideally try to stay a step ahead.
[25:52] SH: And there's a restaurant here in St. Louis, I love this restaurant. It's called tony's, one of my favorite restaurants in the world, five star Italian restaurant here in St. Louis. And I always say that the expectation is so high that you don't need to ever exceed expectations, just meet them and people walk away and go, "that was amazing."
[26:12] MD: Absolutely. I agree with that entirely. Let me ask you something. I know that you've dedicated your career to to working with the customer, but not only that, in in helping and empowering CX practitioners that are on the frontline, working directly with customers, which a lot of times tend to be ignored by a lot of corporations. They're the person that represents the brand. They're the one that has that one on one face to face contact with the customer. Yet at times they're the least paid and the least regarded within organizations, so to wrap up, if you had a message that you could get out to all of those people that are dealing at the frontline of customers, what message would that be?
[26:52] SH: I want to first of all, say wouldn't it be cool if leadership, and by the way many companies do this, but all companies leadership would spend time on the front line, whether it be on the phones, whether it be with a salesperson out in the field, but actually spending time out there, and there's some great companies and great stories of companies that do that. But here's what I would tell anybody who is on the frontline is to manage the moment. Years ago, Jan Carlson, and this is one of the things that excited me about customer service. In 1983 or 84, I read an article by him, eventually turned it into a book. The book was called Moments of Truth.
[27:27] SH: Anytime the customer comes into contact with any aspect of a company, they form an impression. If you're on the frontline dealing with a customer and you're interacting with them, that is the moment of truth. You have the opportunity to make or break that situation. You can create a moment of misery. You can create a moment of mediocrity, which is average, or you can create that moment of magic, something that's a little bit better than average. And I'll throw in this. As you're managing the moment, I want you to think about this. You have an awesome responsibility to your company because you at that moment represent your entire brand and people will walk away from the individual that they're working with and say, I love doing business with that company. They are so friendly. They are so knowledgeable. It wasn't a they. It was a he or a she. So it's our responsibility on the frontline to accept that awesome responsibility and deliver customer amazement.
[28:21] JC: Great advice.
[28:22] MD: That is. Shep, thank you so much. I love hearing your passion, the passion that you use to talk about this. No, it's great because it really, it riles us up, I think, in the best way possible, which is to get excited about what we do and the service that we provide not only to our companies but to our customers. So thank you so much for being on today. Let me ask you to wrap up. For our listeners who want to follow you or want to hear more about what you have to say. How can they find you?
[28:49] SH: Just go to hyken.com. If you want to learn about the new book, you can learn about it there but also be convenient.com. Pretty easy, pretty convenient. And anybody that's listening to this before the book actually comes out. If you buy the book, presale, you will get the ebook immediately, which is available only to people who buy it in advance, so it's like almost like a buy one get one free. It's pretty good. Thanks for having me on your show. This has been awesome. You guys are amazing.
[29:20] MD: Oh, thank you. Really, really excited about having you on and having you speak to our listeners. Thank you so much.
[29:27] SH: My pleasure. Thank you.
[29:32] Thank you for listening to Voices of Customer Experience. If you'd like to hear more or get a full podcast summary, visit the episode details page or go to blog.worthix.com/podcasts. This episode of Voices of Customer Experience was hosted and produced by Mary Drumond, cohosted by James Conrad and edited by Nic Gomez. Blog copy and summary by Emma Waldron.