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About Scott McKain
Scott McKain is a globally recognized authority on how organizations and professionals create distinction to attract and retain customers — and stand out in a hyper-competitive marketplace.
Scott’s recent book, ICONIC: How Organizations and Leaders Attain, Sustain, and Regain the Ultimate Level of Distinction,” was recently named on Forbes.com as a TOP TEN BEST BUSINESS BOOK for 2018. The first edition of his book, “Create Distinction: What to Do When ‘Great’ Isn’t Good Enough to Grow Your Business” was named by thirty major newspapers(such as the Miami Herald) as one of the “ten best business books of the year.”
Scott’s expertise has been quoted multiple times in USA Today, the New York Times, Wall St. Journal, and International Herald-Tribune. His commentaries were syndicated on a weekly basis for over a decade to eighty television stations in the U.S., Canada, and Australia – and he’s appeared multiple times as a guest on FOX News Network. Arnold Schwarzenegger booked him for a presentation at the White House with the President in the audience, and Scott played the villain in a movie named by esteemed critic Roger Ebert as one of the “fifty greatest movies in the history of cinema,” directed by the legendary Werner Herzog.
With a client list that represents the world’s most distinctive companies – like Apple, SAP, Merrill Lynch, BMW, Cisco, CDW, Fidelity, John Deere and literally hundreds more – Scott McKain was honored with induction along with Zig Ziglar, Seth Godin, Dale Carnegie and just
twenty more in the “Sales and Marketing Hall of Fame.” After thousands of presentations in all 50 states and 23 countries, he was honored with membership in the “Professional Speakers Hall of Fame.”
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Join DISTINCTION NATION (https://distinctionnation.com) for free resources.
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The Voices of CX Podcast is a podcast that covers all things business strategies, customer decision insight, empathetic leadership practices, and tips for sustainable profitability. With a little bit of geeking out on behavioral science, A.I. and other innovation sprinkled in here and there. The guests span multiple industries, but all of them have years of experience to bring to the table.
Mary Drumond: This is season seven of voices of CX podcast, still bringing you the best thought leaders, practitioners, and academics of the industry. But this time with a renewed focus on the human touch. Empathy is our key word. And we’re going all out on discussing how conversations can reshape experiences and your business inside and out.
No matter how big your business is, what your challenges are or your industry, connecting with your customers and their decisions is essential to leading through empathy.
We’re on season seven, the voices of customer experience podcast. And today I am joined by hall of fame speaker, bestselling author, Scott McCain.
Scott McKain: Why did it take you so long to get to me?
Mary Drumond: I was building up some drama.
Scott McKain: Good, good answer. Good answer. It’s great to be with you. Thanks for having me.
Mary Drumond: Scott, how many books have you written in your life?
Scott McKain: Oh, gosh.
Mary Drumond: Published, published.
Scott McKain: Yeah. There’s some that’s been written that never saw the light of day, fortunately. There are eight that are out right now and the ninth one, by the way, it’s funny you ask, I just got the proof copy of it. The ultimate customer experience. So it’s going to be coming out in 2021.
Mary Drumond: Oh, so your new book is about customer experience. Wait, I’m just going to spoil my follow-up question. So wait, well, I’ll get to that. Um, I have this question. I was, I was studying your material before coming on the podcast. And this question kind of stuck with me and it was, do you write your books to reflect the reality of the market at that time?
Scott McKain: Wow. What a great question. Uh, I’ll give you a definite maybe. Here’s the reason I say that. My first book, you know, it’s 20, almost 25 years old. One of the things I said in that book 25 years ago was we’re going to stop talking about customer service and start talking about the customer experience.
Matter of fact, back then I trademarked the term ultimate customer experience. I own that, that federally registered trademark. So I would hope that, you know, I’m able to write some things that project where we’re going, but I think you also have to be grounded in the reality of what’s happening today. I mean, you know, if we’re not writing and talking about how you deal with a pandemic and post pandemic economy and customer demands, who would read that?
So I think, I think any good author and I hope to be at least good at it, is trying to project where we’re going while at the same time with your feet firmly planted in reality. If we get away from that, then I don’t know how much value it has to the reader.
Mary Drumond: Hmm. Well, good answer. Fine. It was a good answer, but my follow-up is, so which of your books do you feel has aged the best?
Scott McKain: Okay. Ooh. Um, you know, it’s funny you ask that because I have a mastermind group and one of the questions they said is, well, which of your books is the best selling? And frankly of it, it’s a book from, it was my second book with a big publisher called what customers really want. I think it’s aged well, because I said there were six major disconnections between organizations and the customers that they serve.
And while some of the examples are a little dated, you know, back then it was something new to talk about Apple, right? Because it was pre iPhone.
Mary Drumond: It was a revolutionary company.
Scott McKain: Exactly! Where now, good grief. I mean, that was the goal of this last book, Iconic, that I did is to eliminate almost every Apple, Amazon, Southwest, Nordstrom, you know, example.
And it focus on ones you hadn’t heard about like same old steak house, the craft house brewery and the Fairmont Scottsdale princess and those that exemplified customer experiences. Um, but the thing of it is the title of that book. You didn’t have to wonder what the book was about. It’s about what customers really want.
And so, uh, even though the examples seem dated, I think the philosophy that I talked about there has stood the test of time.
Mary Drumond: And it’s reflected in sales, I’m imagining. If it’s your best seller.
Scott McKain: It continues to sell, you know, and, thank God for slow learners.
I’m just, I’m grateful that anybody would want to spend time reading what I’ve written.
Mary Drumond: But it’s also a pretty universal message, I think. Because companies can’t survive without customers. So across the board, it’s a problem that companies in general share, which is how do we keep our customers, how do we get them to stay and not leave us?
Right. So it, it focuses on a problem that’s pretty universal, which is why I imagine it’s got some good traction over the years.
Scott McKain: May I give you a couple of examples? So you know, one of the disconnections is product focus versus person focus. You know, we focus on our product and our service and not how our customers are going to use the product or service.
I think that’s still true today. Another one of the disconnections is coordination versus confusion. The right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. You get one answer when you call the help line, you get another answer when you visit the location. There’s a lack of coordination, but we don’t realize that what confuses our customer is too many options.
We think if we have this buffet of things that customers can choose from, maybe they’ll run into something that they like. As opposed to giving them specific recommendations and really being engaged with them about how they can best use our product or service to their benefit. So, you know, in one way, it’s kind of maddening and sad that we still fight those same issues.
But what we’ve seen is regardless of size, the organization that’s able to execute and overcome those issues and bridge those gaps, really do create ultimate customer experiences and are rewarded with repeat referral business, which is the lifeblood of any organization.
Mary Drumond: It’s interesting that you say that because my mind goes to giant organizations like a Unilever or something like that, that they’re just like enormous.
And how do they manage to provide customers with an experience that feels somewhat unique and tailored to their needs? Because we’ve found that a lot of organizations have found a lot of success in, like you said, limiting their options and suggesting, or curating, products and services for them. Right. So how do like enormous mammoths, do this as well? And doing some research, I found that Unilever, what they’ve been doing is they’ve been creating like micro companies within their companies and almost like separate brands that are able to do this. And it has proven to be very successful over these past years where I’m not, you know, I’m not going to sit here and defend big corporations over local business owners, but those folks still have shareholders. Those folks still have investors. Those folks still have employees and they need to keep their business alive and they seem to be doing so limiting the options and making customers feel like this product was designed specifically for them?
Scott McKain: No, but many, many years ago, the speaker of the house of representatives was a Congressman from Massachusetts, Tip O’Neill and he was asked in an interview how he became so successful.
And he said, I had the realization, all politics is local. And I think the same is true for our respective businesses. Is that whether we’re a behemoth organization or whether we’re a mom and pop store. Like my parents had that I grew up in, it’s all local. It’s all individual. When we think of companies now, I mean, think of how many videos are out there now about how individual store employees are responding to people who aren’t wearing masks and a lot of the reputation or what we see as the values of any organization are not represented by a press conference the CEO is having. It’s how somebody on the floor of that local store deals with somebody who won’t follow the rules. And I think what leaders of these big organizations, Unilever’s a great example, have to understand is what we as customers are going to judge them on is how the values of that organization are executed with customers in our local level. So all business is local.
Mary Drumond: I love that. That hits home pretty hard with my whole concept of customer experience as a whole, and really connects with employee experience and a lot that you talk about, I believe Scott, which is that how in order to provide good customer experience, that is on the shoulders of employees.
And you have, as an organization, it’s your obligation to provide your people with the means to provide the customers with a positive experience, right?
Scott McKain: Well, it takes me back in time, but for a while I was living this double life. Uh, it’s not nearly as exciting as it sounds. But when I was building my business, I think I had the greatest side gig in the world.
I was a movie reviewer. I did movie reviews and we syndicated to a hundred television stations across the United States. And so every weekend, I got to fly to New York or Los Angeles and see a movie, then I’d interview the director and the stars of the movie, and that developed a concept called all business is show business because what I realized is that, what we are doing as we are dealing with customers, is we are performing on the stage. The company is the stage, and we are performing on that stage as we deal with our customers. Yet, as you and I both know as consumers of entertainment, there are some performers who are better than others at delivering their lines.
There are some directors that are better at creating the environment that is engaging to the audience. And when you said that, it kind of struck me that what we have to understand is there are very few performers that if they’re beaten prior to going on the stage, you’re going to deliver this incredible performance.
I wrote that back in the time that the airline industry was cutting salaries for flight attendants. And, you know, thinking that they were going to balance the books on the backs of their employees. And then wondering, why we didn’t consider it the friendly skies anymore. You know, it just makes sense that if we are providing the stage for the performance of our employees to engage our customers, that we have to take care of our performance, that we see it in show business and businesses need to understand that. The experience the employee has is directly correlated to the experience that your customers are going to have.
Mary Drumond: So, how do you think companies can turn that into a process? I mean, we’ve heard a lot of surprise and delight over the years. We’ve heard a lot of, you know, you talked about how in your new book, you took out all the Amazon examples, all of the, what was the other one – Apple
Scott McKain: Southwest airlines,
Mary Drumond: You know there are other ones that are the go-to, you know, Ritz Carlton is definitely a go-to. You know, so the story about Ritz-Carlton allowing their staff to have like a $2,000 budget that they can use to surprise and delight their guests. Right? It is, that’s not something that’s sustainable across-
Scott McKain: I can’t imagine at my family’s grocery store in Crothersville, Indiana, dad would have said to the cashier, you know, you got to two grand that you can use. It’s just not going to happen. You know, one of the interesting things though, Mary, as part of that, is that it also shows because so many authors and speakers and everybody in CX, we keep going back to those same old stories. And I don’t, in some cases it probably is, but I don’t think it’s because we’re lazy. I think it shows how breathtakingly difficult it is for companies to do this. And that’s why it hasn’t been done. But to your point, I think there’s something that we really haven’t looked at enough and that is culturally, we have trained a group of corporate leaders who are woefully undereducated and underprepared about customer and employee experiences. You can get an MBA without taking a single course on CX or employee experience. I don’t know if it’s happened since then, but at the time that I spoke, I was the only non doctored keynote, the American Academy of cosmetic surgeons.
And one of the things I discovered my research of speaking to cosmetic surgeons was that, you know, they’ve gone for their undergraduate degree and they had done everything from intern to residency to getting their doctor, to becoming a doctor or to getting their specialty in surgery, all of that, and never taken a course on bedside manner.
And I thought that was, how do you, I mean, that’s, particularly in cosmetic surgery and part of the, my research for the speech I covered that most medical malpractice cases are filed, not because of medical errors, but because of the treatment that they get from the doctor, following the error. They won’t apologize. They won’t- look, and the blinding flash of the obvious is, you can get the same with an MBA. You can get this degree that supposedly qualifies you for management, and you’ve never learned about the power of emotion in customer retention, the power of story and customer acquisition, the vital nature of referrals in any business.
So it seems to me that we have trained an entire generation of leadership who doesn’t get it. So customer experience is a nice thing to do. Uh, customer experience, yeah, we don’t, yeah I don’t want us to get blasted on social media, so let’s do- and I really challenged leadership to look at it from, you know, and then we get so busy cutting that that we don’t realize what the impact is going to be of those cuts.
Gee, this concludes my motivational message for the day, but I really think that we have to attack that, for those of us that are believers in this message that you and I are so passionate about, is how do we get leaders to understand that it’s not just a nice thing to do.
It’s not just- as we expand our definition of what stakeholders are for businesses, it’s a required thing to do. It’s profitable to do this. It is good for the long term of any organization to do this. And when we get leaders convinced of that, I think we’re going to see more breakthroughs.
And, and it’s part of it’s only going to happen when those that don’t believe in it fail.
Mary Drumond: Right. I’ve got kind of a fear around this whole scenario that you just discussed, which is that customer experience is going to be sort of a temporary fad in business. And because I do see a lot of organizations, a lot of organizations, holding CX initiatives or projects, and very much ticking off a box to a certain degree where it’s very superficial, on the surface CX and it never really goes deep down into the roots of the organization.
So it almost becomes something that a lot of executives are just waiting for people to focus on something else, maybe. You know, and it’ll just pass by and then we can carry on with our lives. And what disturbs me about that is I can’t imagine that working out in today’s market, I think that it’s going to get more and more important to focus on customer experience now. The way customers perceive those experiences or what they expect from organizations now, that that’s going to change constantly and quite organically. So, you know, you’re going to have to keep up on a constant level, but the idea of putting the customer in the center of your organization, that should have been around since the beginning of time. And I don’t think that’s going anywhere.
Scott McKain: How did we ever think that it wasn’t is beyond me. You know, and I’m biased about it in my speeches, you know, when we were having meetings, uh, you know, I talk about my family grocery store, that the big supermarket moved into our small town. Now they were always going to sell milk cheaper than we could.
The price of a loaf of bread was always going to be cheaper at the big box than what we were going to do. So my dad, you know, without a business degree, you know, just a high school diploma, had the idea what if we out serve them. And so we started doing grocery delivery to your house. We started, you know, we knew every customer by name, we, you know, all of those kinds of things, that today we, in a way, we kind of take for granted. But after a few years, the big box closed and left town, right? Because at the end of the day, people in our small community sampled their prices and sampled their experience, but they were, they thought it was worth a little extra on a can of green beans to get that kind of experience.
We have so few businesses- and for, looking back, you know, for my dad, it was a choice of survival. It was the only option that he saw available for survival. The problem is with most businesses now, they’re able to survive, but that’s about it. Because they won’t jump in with both feet on the customer experience like my family did, right. And I think, you know, we have moderate commitment, so we get moderate results. And the companies that we see that are diving into this, you know, here in Las Vegas with the tragic passing of Tony Tsai, you know, with a lot of talk about Zappos, there was another one I promised I wasn’t going to mention in my book, but you know, we see these companies that go in, all the way in on the customer experience and they survive and thrive.
And the business world educated with the traditional MBA thinks, well, what a coincidence. No, we call it a clue. It’s not a, it’s not coincidence. It’s a clue. This is, this is sustainable and it is important and it drives long-term business success. When you, look at the end of the day, and that’s part of why I said all business is show business because the most profitable endeavors in show business are the sequels, right.
I interviewed James Cameron and I said, gosh, the same guy directed Titanic, which was the number one box office of all time. And his next movie is avatar, which becomes the number one box office of all time at that point. He was joking about, can you imagine my pitch for Titanic? Uh, I got a movie where everybody knows the story and how it ends and all the- there’s no possibility for a sequel.
And I said, okay, so why, how did that become the big? He said, because I’m wanting to make a movie that when you saw it, you wanted to go back to the theater and see it again. And when you came back, you would bring a friend. And I thought, that’s, what business wouldn’t want that? What business wouldn’t want to create an experience that was so compelling that, that not only did I want to go back, but I would say, Mary, you got to go with me.
This is so amazing. You’ve got to come with me and see this. Well, what business wouldn’t work that?
Mary Drumond: Yeah, it’s true.
Scott McKain: So how did he create that? Well, it was really clear what it was about, it was creative in how he delivered it, the story, the narrative, the communication was so compelling. It got us emotionally, and it delivered in an amazing way.
You know, we saw the screen, took us back to a time that none of us had experienced in our lives. There you go. To me, that’s the four cornerstones of distinction. It’s clarity, it’s creativity, it’s communication. It’s a customer experience focus. You execute on those four levels, you’re going to stand out from your competition.
You’re going to get repeat referral business. Now the execution is breathtakingly difficult, but the concept is very, very basic and it is available for every organization to deliver that ultimate customer experience.
Mary Drumond: Let me, let me touch on something that I read, I believe in your blog, where you talk about, okay let’s, you know, set the stage 20 years ago, people started talking about customer experience. For a lot of us, it was a dream come true when companies actually started adopting these methodologies and mapping their customer journeys or that kind of stuff that previously nobody was even interested in.
And that’s great. And companies started doing a lot of voice of customer surveys and listening and basing their strategic decisions on customer feedback. All of that is great, but you brought up something, which is that a lot of corporations, they fail to focus on the negative, with almost an obsession.
What they try to do is they try to fix the problem with without ever revisiting the process that caused it in the first place. Right. So let’s talk about this wrong focus really quick share here your point of view.
Scott McKain: Well, in my book, Iconic, that’s one of the factors, iconic performances. I found the iconic performers in customer experience when negative and, you know, we have so many books out there that are like, you know, be positive. And don’t get me wrong, I want to be a positive person, but if we don’t explore the negative, we never eliminate, we placate the customer, but we don’t solve the problem. We don’t fix the process, something’s wrong. Anytime there’s an unsatisfied customer, for any reason whatsoever, something had to break down in the process, but yet there’s a lot of studies, Texas A&M did the most interesting one, that says many managers believe that employees who bring a problem to their attention are negative employees. And we got to get past it. There’s one, the Texas A&M study, for example, looked at SWAT analysis and found out that in many companies that employees that point out the weaknesses or the threats are perceived to be negative employees.
One that brought up that we have a weak brand position in the marketplace and the leader said, no, that’s an opportunity. We can make that better. That’s an oppor- that’s not an opportunity. It’s a weakness. And you know, it’s the old- you can’t solve a problem that you failed to identify.
We’ve got to be willing to really get negative to figure out what we’re doing wrong, and to fix the process, not just placate the customer.
Mary Drumond: It’s interesting because one of the things that I tend to disagree on when speaking to customer experience leaders, and this is kind of controversial. So let me finish before you begin judging me.
Okay. I’m not a huge fan of investing a lot of time and effort and resources on closing the loop. Why? Because I feel like those resources could be better allocated in solving the problem that caused the complaint in the first place. And then you solve the problem, the complaints go away.
So what do you think?
Scott McKain: I think that’s another way of expressing. Yeah. It’s, we’re all, we’re on the same page, right? Because the other thing is behavior rewarded is behavior repeated. That was the theme of my great friend, Dr. Michael Aboff’s book of 30 years ago, greatest management principle. So the customer has a problem and well, here’s 20% off or, you know, here’s a free something go away.
We assume that’s closed the loop. Some folks think that’s closing the loop and it’s cost them 20% on the next sale or it’s that, whatever it might be, it’s done nothing. Other than I think here’s a piggyback on that problem. I’ll see that problem and I’ll throw it out. I’ve got a problem, right? I call the help line.
I can’t get any service from the help line. So I go on social media and blast you. Now, all of a sudden there’s an answer. Yeah, but I got 40,000 followers on Twitter and I don’t even try. So now here’s 40,000 potential customers that I’ve heard that you guys dropped the ball. Why are you rewarding me for going on social media to tell them the world about your problem?
Wouldn’t you have been better off to empower the people on a one to one basis to fix that problem? Before I, before I go global with it, I mean –
Mary Drumond: No, we did. We created a monster, we created Karen. That is what we did.
Scott McKain: We did. We created Karen.
Mary Drumond: We told people that if they made a scene and through fit and stomped their feet, we would comp their purchase.
We’d give them a discount. We’d be super-duper nice. And Oh, okay. And do whatever the hell they wanted. So people learned how to do that. People learned how to be spoiled brats and, and this empowered consumer got really, really out of hand. And, and now we’re dealing with the consequences of that.
Scott McKain: Behavior rewarded is behavior repeated. Right? And by the way, if what we’ve also said, Oh wait, you’re not giving it to me for free. I guess I need to stop my feet harder and yell louder until you do what I expect that you’re going to do.
Yes, you’re exactly right. We created Karen and then we want to complain about that. Look, it’s not acceptable behavior, but yet there’s a reason why it’s happening and there’s a reason why we’re seeing it. And, and so how do we avoid that? Well, we create these experiences. Cause here’s the other thing, if, and I don’t want to name an airline, but if a customer had a bad situation and it was on XYZ airline, we go, Oh yeah, boy, that airline, you know, they don’t –
But, somebody could voice that same complaint. And here I go again with it, but somebody could voice that same complaint on Southwest and we would go what’s wrong with that passenger, because we would assume that one airline did it right. And assume that another airline did it wrong.
Mary Drumond: Let me just write down really quick that you had one mention for Southwest airlines.
Scott McKain: I’ve broken the rule here, but you know, I want my business. I want to encourage my clients business to be so good that when Karen appears, that everybody would go well, what’s wrong with Karen? Not what’s wrong with that company because our reputation is so sterling, our commitment is so obvious to our customers, that the complainer becomes the outlier.
Mary Drumond: Right. It’s a good thing to aim for, I guess.
Scott McKain: It’s a high standard.
Mary Drumond: My biggest concern, and I discussed this with another guest, this season. Is that my biggest concern is that people, customers are going to stop complaining because they’re going to be afraid of being labeled a Karen, and then they’re gonna start tolerating and accepting bad behavior.
On behalf of companies. Companies on the other hand are going to start getting away with that behavior, and they’re going to start focusing less on actually delivering good experiences. I’m afraid of this becoming a cycle of horror, where we go back to a pre CX era where companies don’t care about customers.
Scott McKain: But what if we taught them how to complain?
What if we set up the structure that helped get feedback. By the way, which needs a lot of help because- you know, I bought a car recently and the worst part of the experience was the damn survey after it was over. Where they call me 15 times to figure out why, you know, I mean,, because did the survey people care about my experience? No, they only cared about getting their survey completed so they would be rewarded.
And so you know it’s just the thought off the top of my head, what if we were so good at teaching customers how to give us great feedback because of our sincere desire to deliver the experiences that they want, that we taught them how to complain in a way that added value for both the customer experience from the customer’s perspective and from lifetime value for customers from our perspective. But yet again, there we go. We’re not willing to go negative. We’re not willing to drill deeply enough into what it takes to get the kind of feedback that would improve it.
In other words, we want to get Karen out of the store rather than figure out what created that Karen in the first place.
Mary Drumond: Right. Absolutely. And I think that one of the things that companies are doing is, we’re also in a certain sense, blowing our best shot of getting customer feedback by making the feedback experience, absolutely atrocious and burning everybody out, and then complaining when we don’t get the right amount of survey samples that we need in order to conduct research. Because nobody wants to answer, because surveys are long and boring and they limit customer’s ability to give feedback.
That’s what Worthix is trying to change, but I’m not going to do such a plan shameless plug today.
Scott McKain: I have no idea what you’re talking about.
Mary Drumond: Now that does bring me to, I think, the last point that I want to address today, which is something else that I saw in your material. On all the amazing material that you have –
Scott McKain: You’re too well prepared, I want you to know that. I’m worried.
Mary Drumond: Well the idea is that, in order for companies to provide sustainable customer feedback there, they have to go back to, to their offering to begin with and ask themselves three crucial questions as to how to provide that experience. And what you put on that list was interesting to me because you put question number one, ask yourself, do customers want it?
And number two, can we provide it? And number three is, is it worth it? And you see the organization that I worked for Worthix it’s the Worth Index it’s actually establishing the worth of an offer from a customer’s perspective. So of course that resonated with me. And of course I totally attached myself to that blog post, but when we break it down, it truly is about whether what you’re offering is worth it at the end of the day, because you can design everything perfectly. You can have a wonderful experience for your customer from start to the moment of the decision when it comes to deciding if it’s not worth it, they’re not going to buy it.
Scott McKain: Right. I’m going to use an Apple example here, warning. Mark me down there.
But I’m fascinated right now, by what we’re seeing in the rumor mill about Apple’s. We know that they’re doing something with self-driving cars. Okay so customers want self-driving cars. I don’t cause I love driving, but there’s enough research out there and Tesla’s success. You know, we know that there’s a market for self-driving cars, so new customers want it. A significant portion of the marketplace would be interested in that.
Second, can we do it? Well, we’ve got some of the greatest scientists and engineers in the world, and also we have more money than we know what to do with sitting over here. So, yeah, but it fascinates me the question of, is it worth it? Would we be better off to develop better silicones so that Macs are off the charts or the iPhone or the watch, or is this where we should be spinning and it will be fascinating to see how that plays out because the first two questions are, yeah.
You know, the answer is, is it worth it? Is this one we should be doing? Just because we can doesn’t mean we should.
Mary Drumond: Right.
Scott McKain: And that’s why I love what you guys do is that, when you talk about the customer experience, that’s where we’ve got to get these people that are trained simply on EBITDA balance sheets, to be thinking about the worth of the customer experience.
Because in so many cases, the answer I think is surprising. Yes, it is worth it. But just because we can doesn’t mean we should, maybe we ought to be putting, for example, maybe Apple should be putting those resources into, you know, put more people at the Apple store. So you’re gonna have to stand there forever to get somebody to come up and talk to you.
Mary Drumond: Better battery life for iPhones.
Scott McKain: Revolutionized batteries, which again were – I mean that’s way above my pay grade, but I mean, wha if you took bet, what if you made that effort to make batteries better and that’s how you change. Self-driving automobiles and phones and computers. And I think it’s fascinating, but I think that’s it.
Mary Drumond: So here’s the cool thing, Scott, what Worthix would be able to do for a company like Apple is tell them, Hey, your customers are going to stop buying your phones if you don’t improve battery. Or they’ll say, you know what, invest in the self-driving cars, because even though your battery life sucks, your customer is still going to buy from you again and again and again.
So, okay. Maybe eventually should come around to this, but you don’t need to do that now because you’re still worth it despite your crappy battery. And that I think is something that’s really important for companies to understand. Like I’ve been telling the story since the beginning of time and I’ll tell it again, cause I haven’t told it to you, which is Comcast, Comcast Xfinity.
The internet is not good. It sucks on a general basis. Okay. But I’ve been an Xfinity customer for the past five and a half years and I don’t change. Why? Because it’s still worth it to me. I don’t get the best service in the world, but I know that if I go to anyone else, I’m going to get that the same thing.
And there is a certain consistency to Xfinity. And at least, at least when I call them, they’ll come out and they’ll fix my problem. So I might not be entirely satisfied with Xfinity, but they’re still worth it. And that’s why I’m still their customer.
Scott McKain: Yeah. I mean, I think so much in business can, is what’s true in a personal life as well.
And there are billions of people that are in decent relationships. That won’t get out of the relationship to try for something great, because what I’ve got acceptable. And, that I don’t know that I want to take the risk. And that’s where we are in business. And it’s like, I’ve joked about we make as customers in the beginning.
We make our choices, not on similarities, but on differences, right? Because if I don’t see meaningful difference between you and the competition, now you’re a commodity and price becomes the determining factor, but the same is true in our personal relationships. You know, I mean, I don’t know how your husband proposed to you, but I’ll promise you, I did not get on bended knee, look up at the gal I wanted to marry and say, will you marry me? You’re exactly like every other woman I’ve ever dated.
What we talk about is what makes you special? What makes you different? What makes you unique? And that’s where the bond comes in. And I think that organizations have to understand that no one ever says, I love doing business with them. They’re exactly like everybody else.
Mary Drumond: I’ve never actually thought of that, but that’s pretty great.
Scott McKain: So, and that is where I think the customer experience is so worth it. Because it is a specific place. Everybody can and say, our product is as good as theirs. Everybody can say, you know, we’ll do this, we’ll do that. But when we have that experience, that is an incredible point of distinction. It’s an incredible point where people can say it is absolutely worth it for me to do business with them because you may be a great and loyal customer to infinity.
You are also not an advocate. And so I could reduce my marketing budget at my organization. If my customers are my marketing arm. I can ensure, repeat and referral business, if I invest in the customer experience to the point that it is, a point of distinction for what I do. And I think that’s what we have to examine as organizations, because to me that is the true worth of the customer experience is it is a differentiating factor that ensures higher lifetime values of customers and enhances the likelihood that they’re going to refer our business and help us with acquisition.
Mary Drumond: It seems so simple. Scott, if our listeners were to pick up one, just one of your books, which one would be the most worth it for somebody listening to a customer experience podcast.
Scott McKain: Which of your children do you like the best? You know, it’s funny, I’ve got so many pals in the music business in Nashville.
And when I first started making friends, you know, they had these incredible hit records, but they always wanted to talk about their latest work and now I kind of get it, you know, I was real fortunate.
Mary Drumond: It is a customer experience book so,
Scott McKain: Well, my latest, Iconic, I’m really proud of that one.
I’m proud of all of it. And I’m one of these guys. I mean, I write every word of every book I’ve published. I’m big on that. And I was real fortunate because Forbes named one of the 10 best of the year that it came out. And it talks about the experience, but it also talks about the important things we talked about today, about going negative, kind of organizations go on the offensive.
In terms of their customer experience, sports fan, you know, I’m a huge sports fan. It was always defense wins championships. You know, if you look at the numbers, no, it really doesn’t. More Superbowls have been won by the higher ranked offensive teams. And so I think sometimes we take customer experience as a defensive strategy.
Oh, let’s not lose customers. Let’s not, and not look at it as an acquisition strategy is it is. So if you said, if you held a gun to my head and said one book –
Mary Drumond: So Iconic, okay. So here’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to buy Iconic and then I’m going to post a picture of it. And I’m going to tag you on social media as proof that I have acquired this book and I’m encouraging the listeners to do the exact same thing. Cool?
Scott McKain: I’ll send you the book.
Mary Drumond: I want to buy it. I want to give you money.
Scott McKain: And I’m not opposed to that. I’d like for you to know the world is changed.
Mary Drumond: You know, it’s interesting. That is one thing that I like doing. I do like supporting my friends’ initiatives. So as much as I love getting books and I get a lot of books, I really do.
I get random books in the mail that I’ve never even seen in my life. And people are like, Hey, what do you think of this book? But when I have a really good conversation with somebody and I feel like I really learned something, I go out and I buy that book as a way to, to show that you not only earned my respect and my appreciation, but my business as well.
Scott McKain: That is so kind of you. I appreciate that. Just a little aside. I’ve got some buddies that we get together on zoom every Friday and have a bourbon. And we have a rule if one of the, one of the folks on the call says, you got to get this book. Our rule is we don’t- oh, why what’s it about, tell me more, you just get the book and more often than not.
Well, I’m blown away by the, by what they recommend. And so I would encourage everybody to get some pals, get some people that you respect and have your little book club. And by the way, the, these books, aren’t only business. Many of them are business books or professional development books, but, you know, they’re also, you know, the strangest fiction you can imagine that’s so engaging, but you know, even that expands your viewpoint. I recommend it to the guys a book called Nothing to See Here. Kevin Wilson I think is the author. And it it’s a book about these twins that spontaneously burst into flames. There’s no reason this book should work and it’s phenomenal. It’s incredible. It’s brilliant writing.
I learned from that book that strange concepts incredibly well expressed can be amazingly engaging. I need to know that in business, what all businesses show business, right? I mean, but we can take these concepts of our business. And if we express them in compelling story and powerful ways, it doesn’t matter what we sell or what our product is or what our service might be.
We can engage people when we do it in an amazing and compelling manner. Just something we can all learn and remember.
Mary Drumond: Well, ladies and gentlemen, that was Scott McCain. Thanks so much for coming on. It was great having, you had a wonderful conversation. Our listeners are not going to hear the first of 45 minutes of this conversation.
Scott McKain: But we did solve all the world’s problems. At least we did that.
Mary Drumond: It’s true. Awesome. Okay. So Scott, any last words for our listeners? Where do you want to like lead everybody? Like, if they want to hear more from you, if they want to talk to you, if you want to contact you, should they go to your website?
Scott McKain: Yeah. You know, I’m on all the social media, you know, but scottmckain.com, it’s McKain, a little different spelling on it, but, that’s the basis of everything.
It links you to the blog and it links you to my podcast and links you to everything. It’s available there and it would be a privilege to have folks who like to connect.
Mary Drumond: Awesome. Well, thanks so much.
Scott McKain: Thank you.
Mary Drumond: That’s our show. Thanks for joining us. We hope we’ve brought you one step closer to leading through empathy.
It’s our way of making the world a better place. One business at a time. Don’t forget to subscribe and hit the bell. If you want to know as soon as we publish a new episode, Voices of CX is brought to you by Worthix. I’m Mary Drummond, this podcast is hosted and produced by me edited and co-produced by Steve Berry.
See you next week!.
Mary Drumond is Chief Marketing Officer at survey tech startup Worthix, and host of the Voices of Customer Experience Podcast. Originally a passion project, the podcast runs weekly and features some of the most influential CX thought-leaders, practitioners and academia on challenges, development and the evolution of CX.