No matter what you do - sweep the floors, play football, or perform magic tricks for kids at birthday parties, you always have to strive to be amazing. One of the top customer service influencers Shep Hyken advises to do those things as if you were Beethoven writing a symphony. That is what will make us amazing. Otherwise, we should just go home. In this session, we discuss Shep’s lessons on amazingness that he outlines in his new book, "Be Amazing or Go Home: Seven Customer Service Habits That Create Confidence with Everyone."
Your motto is "Always be amazing."
Yes it is.
And your book "Be Amazing or Go Home" discusses how we can use this model to become exceptional in business and in life.
In your opinion, what does an amazing employee look like and what does an amazing leader look like?
Oh, wow, so that's that's a lot of questions and a lot of thoughts. One thing, actually rather than a motto I like to refer to this as a mantra and a mantra is our vision for what the company looks like and what we want our customers to experience. Which is how we came up with this idea, "always be amazing." I started looking at all the books that I'd written, articles where I'm always talking about, you know, be amazing deliver amazing service. But it's important to understand my definition of amazement. Then I'm going to get into your specific questions and that is amazement isn't over the top. Amazement is when people refer to a company as amazing, this is what they say. "You know what, they're always friendly. They're always so knowledgeable when I call them. They're always so helpful!" And that word is always followed by something positive; [that] means there is a consistent and predictable above average experience. It doesn't have to be a whole lot above average. It just has to be consistently above average because then they'll use that word "always". By the way, if you're just average, they'll say things like, you know, "They're fine. You know, they're okay. Yeah, they're always okay, big deal." No, but "They're always so helpful. They always return my calls quickly." So that's what amazement is. So we talked about being amazing. We don't have people come in here that we're hiring and say "I need your attitude to be over the top every day, let's go crazy." So, let's start with the first question. What does an amazing employee look like? I have a number of different concepts that I talk about in my books. And "Be Amazing or Go Home", which is the book that I wrote and I'll tell you the story in a few minutes based on an employee's recommendation. One of my team members recommended "write that down that would be a great book!" and there's a whole story that goes around it. And maybe this will help define what "be amazing" in an employee standpoint is. So this particular team member, she started showing up late to work every day and it became a habit. I noticed it was like four days in a row and I brought her into the office on the fifth day and I go "What's going on here? You're late every day!" And by the way, it's just a little late, but that's symptomatic of a lot of other potential problems if somebody can't get to work on time, what else can they not do on time or within the boundaries of what's normal and to me showing up to work on time is pretty normal. But the difference is with her she represents me as my personal assistant. So if she's shown up late and I'm okay with that that means everybody else gets to show up late, too. And I thought this is not a good example to be setting so we came in and I said, what is our mantra here at Sheppard Presentations and she said "To Always be Amazing." And I said "Great and I think you're a pretty amazing person, except I've got a couple of questions. There's the big one. You are, but you've been coming on late every day." Yeah, and she goes "yeah" I said "Do you think that's amazing behavior?" And she said "no" I said "It's not amazing. No, cuz amazing people show up on time ready to amaze. So I'm gonna give you a choice you need to start showing up on time and, that you know, basically, you need to be amazing or go home." and she goes "That's a great title for a book!" You should write that down!" But really, it's sometimes such a small thing. It's a maybe a nuance. It's like, so the doors at a store open at ten o'clock in the morning and right about you know nine fifty nine and 50 seconds there's an employee who's starting to open the doors and slide up, you know, they have the metal, I don't know whatever they curtain at some of these stores in the mall. And about that time the first customer walks in waiting for those doors to open. So many times I've heard an employee say "Thanks for coming in. I'm just getting the store open I'll be ready in just a couple of minutes." They should have been ready at ten o'clock. That's what time the store opens. So I'm just giving you an example of what amazing behavior is but there's lots of different ways that manifests itself amazing. People are proactive, they look at things and they're one step ahead of their job of the people they work with in support of their customers. They love getting feedback because amazing people want to get better at what they do and the only way to get it is to hear from a leader, a boss, a colleague or even a customer who says, "Hey, thank you so much" and gives them an accolade. They know what getting better looks like. Amazing people are consistent. They're predictable as I mentioned earlier, you know, they're always on time. They're always knowledgeable. They always return calls quickly. So those are some of the ways that team members or employees can be amazing. So what does an amazing leader look like? Oh boy. Sometimes I wonder whether.. I question often if I'm an amazing leader or not but hey, I'm very conscious of it and I'm aware. I think amazing leaders have a structure that they work within and they coach and mentor others too. They empower people to do a great job. And let them go out and try new things. They keep the doors of communication [open], there's no wall between them and employees. It's a two-way open door policy: "come in, talk to me." I'll go to them talk to them or a leader should go out and talk to them. So there's lots of qualities of leaders that make them amazing. I think first and foremost and there's a gentleman named Clark. I met him. He's 18 years old he worked at a pizza restaurant and somebody once asked him if he was the owner and it was a guest of the restaurant. And yes, why would you ask that and the guest said you're just trying so hard to make us happy and we just thought somebody that tries that hard has got to be the owner. He felt great but there's two reasons that was happening. Number one, he liked the owner and number two the owner gave him permission to do a great job. And of course whenever he did something different he would go back to the owner and say "hey, I tried this today. Did I do it right?" And the owner would say "yeah, you were great! Keep doing that or let me show you a different way to do it and maybe that's better for the next time, but the bottom line is when Clark heard that compliment - and he viewed that as a compliment even though it was questioned - he decided he wanted to be so good that every table would think that he was the owner of the restaurant. And that's what we're looking for a boss. That [he] will be somebody that we can admire and there's great qualities of that boss and then that would empower that team member employee to go out and do a great job. Long answer for a short question.
That makes sense though. That was a good answer. Thank you. So in terms of customer experience part of being amazing requires a brand to create trust between itself and its customers. How can a brand begin to create trust between itself and its customers and why is creating that trust so important?
Well, I think we kind of mentioned this as I talked about that word "always." Trust comes from the predictable experience that a customer has. They know they're going to happen. In another book that I wrote about 10 or 11 years ago called "Cult of the Customer," by the way, it's being re-released next year with all new stats, facts, and updated stories... [In that book] we look at the five phases that customers go through and the first phase is "uncertainty." It's a culture and when you come into a company the first time, maybe you've heard great things about them, but you're still not sure - you experienced it yourself. So I'm going to come in and I'm uncertain and then they're gonna get me into alignment. This is what we're going to promise you. Then I'm going to experience that if I'm a customer. I'm going to experience what they're promising so I'm going from uncertainty to alignment to experience and when I can predict that experience will be the same every time. And I like that experience and it's predictable and consistent that moves me into this cult of ownership. Okay, because I now own the experience. I know it's going to happen. And finally, the final phase is the cult of amazement, which is I know it's going to happen. I love it when it happens, and by the way, instantly a company can be put back into uncertainty when there's a problem. But the best companies have mastered the art of recovery and they move somebody from uncertainty right back into amazement. And that's when that customer says "boy, I know I can always count on them." Even when there's a problem. So you ask the question "what builds the trust" It's to predictability and the consistency of the experience. And I think you start there and from that trust it there in that confidence, that's created you actually have a shot at getting a customer come back and want to do business with you again and again and again, right?
That makes sense. So besides building trust what else can a business do to build a stronger relationship between itself and its customers.
There's so much, you know, you want to deliver a great customer service and a great customer experience. People think of services [as] what happens when something goes wrong? That's not it at all. That's part of it. There might be a department that handles problems, complaints, questions, but service runs throughout the entire organization. People taking care of people making sure they get taken care of and how nice they are about it and how much confidence and trust they create as a result of that experience is a little bit bigger and broader topic. And our goal is to create, you know an experience that really is, again, it's consistent and it makes people say yeah, I love doing business with them. So if you want to take the whole concept of experience to the next level... and by the way, I want to make sure I get this question correctly, what the last part of your question was? Why is creating that trust so important? Right. So though creating that trust builds that loyalty and the way to take that standard experience to the next level. Beyond just being predictable and consistent is to be convenient. It's to create an experience that has little or no hassle to it at all because you want people to feel like they're just easy to do business with. And by the way, you know, why is it important? Do you want your customer to come back? These are the drivers that will make that happen.
In your book the "Be Amazing or Go Home" you highlight seven customer service habits that create confidence with everyone. Which of these habits do you feel are the most important for a customer service team?
Oh my gosh..you know I'm going to pull my book out... So, you know there mentioned showing up on time. You know, what we're trying to create is ttrust and confidence with the customer and these are the habits that do it. And while I say there's seven, it's really seven categories of habits and there, within those categories, there's more habits. We actually created five techniques or habits that you can drive each of these main categories. I think just showing up on time when I was a little kid, you know, and I already talked about a person that worked here. And by the way, she turned it around she figured it out. She started showing up on time. But let me give you a quick little example I go, "What are you doing to get here earlier?" So it turns out she moved from being like two miles away to 25 miles away. [She] was trying to figure out how to get to work on time and she kept leaving earlier and earlier every day...I said well that's a great strategy, but I got a better strategy. This is what amazing people do. They leave really really early and when they realize I got there too early. Then the next day they leave a little bit later until they finally find it. It's the opposite way of thinking in a sense, but it's so obvious when you think about it that way so I think you know amazing people showing up ready to amaze. That's a huge habit when I was a kid. I did magic shows for birthday parties. My parents would drop me off and at one point I got so busy. I'm doing three and four magic shows, we would hire a high school kid to drive me around and I had it set up so that I had my box of tricks. It opened up. When I opened up, I'm just it's ready to do the show. And as I finished each trick, I put it right back in its spot and it was instantly reset for the next birthday party. Follow me... So then what happens is I think well, I don't need to show up until like two minutes before it's time to start because as long as I'm there a couple minutes early, the parents can point me to an area and say "you're gonna perform right there in that corner." I go over I set my box bound I open it up and I'm ready to go. And my dad said "well, that's great strategy, I mean you're there on time, but are you really there on time?" I go, "what do you mean?" He says at what point do you think the parents are looking at their watch wondering, "huh? I wonder if Mr. Magician's gonna show up on time?"... but I don't know like maybe 15 minutes ahead of time? He goes "exactly, 15 minutes ahead of time is when they're going to start worrying that you're gonna be here on time, so, when do you think you should show up?" And I said, "like, maybe a few minutes before that?" "Exactly, like 20 minutes ahead of time, so you need to be there 20 minutes before the magic show starts or really in the parents’ mind you're late because they're gonna start worrying about it as soon as you start worrying about it, it's a whole nother experience." So my dad taught me it's not just about showing up on time. It's showing up on time and ready to go. One of the habits I talk about in the book is Vince Lombardi time or Lombardi time, as it's traditionally called. So Vince Lombardi was this great football coach in the NFL, Green Bay Packers, famous. And that's why the Lombardi Trophy is you know, the big huge Super Bowl trophy. Right and one of the things he did was he told all of his players, "tomorrow morning practice starts at 9:00 in the morning, I expect you to be here 15 minutes early, by the way if you show up on time, which is 9 o'clock in the morning, you're 15 minutes late." So he always wanted to put this up. It's a great habit to get into of having his players show up ready to play and by doing that they had to get there early. Ironically and how big and powerful was this concept that if you go to Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin, there's a huge huge clock on the outside of the stadium and that clock is 15 minutes early and when people go by who don't know they go, "that clocks wrong." No, it's not wrong! It's on a Lombardi time. Oh, that's cool. That's very cool. I'm a big football fan, so that that example speaks to me. There is one other habit toward the end of the book and it's just one of the sub habits and it's called, teh title of the chapter is "Sweep Like Beethoven Plays Piano." I love this one because it's about a habit of excellence and it really stems from a Martin Luther King’s quote, and I just think it's wonderful. Here, let's see if I can get to the quote... Well, doesn't matter, but the quote said that even if you are a street sweeper, okay? That doesn't seem like a very important job, but it is important and you should sweep the streets as if Beethoven was composing a symphony or Michelangelo is painting. No, that's how good you need to be and I think no matter what you do. It's powerful to be extraordinary I had a cab driver that picked me up in Dallas, Texas and a number of years ago - and I tell this story all of the time - and this is just this regular cab driver. He was taking me to the airport. And the cab was spotlessly clean and there was a little bucket in the middle that had ice and sodas. I didn't expect that and then there were two newspapers. He said I could take them, by the way, no extra charge for any of this, he told me, I could have candy at a dish of candy and I thought this was a great idea and he got a huge tip. [At the end of the ride] he asked me for my business card because he said he collects the cards of the people that he drives and I gave him my card, he gave me his. And I thought that was a great way of putting his card into my hands, so I would have it the next time I came back to Dallas. But there was the real reason he wanted my card. It wasn't just to have a card that he collects of people that he drives. Is it four days later? I got a thank-you note from my cab driver. How many people ever receive a thank-you note from a taxi cab or an uber or lyft driver? It doesn't happen and this handwritten thank-you note is in a frame just on the other side of that door out in the main office area where the rest of the team sits and it's just to remind us of how important it is to show appreciation, But I thought this driver wasn't ordinary, he was extraordinary and what did he do different? We've all been in an uber a taxi cab where there's a bottle of water or maybe a little dish of candy. That's just the that's something extra, it's an amenity if you will. But this guy was very conscious about making sure that I was comfortable or that I could take those amenities and not have to pay for them and It was over the top he went from ordinary to extraordinary with little things...pretty cool.
All right, that is cool. That's awesome. So one of the most intriguing customer service habits listed in your book is turning misery into magic. How can someone turn a miserable customer experience into a magical one?
Well part of it is it's the right attitude. Is that when bad things happen? You've got to say, okay, I can fix this and even the best companies you can go to the ritz-carlton or the Four Seasons Hotel, recognizable world-class brands. There's gonna be a problem. It's the way people fix these problems... So I have this five-step process that I take my clients through and and some of this is in the book, of course. But number one: if a customer, or even a fellow employee, a colleague, comes to you with a problem this is what fixes it. Number one you acknowledge that there is a problem and number two - and I'll go through them real quick and give you a more generic example - number two, you apologize for it. You can flip one and two it doesn't matter, those two things have to happen. Number three, you discuss what you're gonna do to fix it or fix it on the spot if you can. Number four you own the problem when it comes your way so the right attitude and that's an attitude of ownership. May not have been your fault, but it came your way you get to take care of it. Number five, you act with urgency and many times, it's that quick. You know, follow-up, making sure I take care of you right away, is what restores confidence often to a place that's even higher and then it’s like the problem had never happened before. So let me give you a great example. I'm at a restaurant with a group of friends. We ordered dinner and I will tell you I knew the server was not good. They just had a bad attitude, I could tell you know, but I'm dealing with it. But then the salads show up and everybody's salad looks beautiful except for the friend sitting next to me. He's got a like a tiny little portion of salad on a big plate; it must have fallen off or something. I don't know. So my friend says, "Excuse me, sir. But look at everybody's salad. It looks so good,what happened to my salad?" And this is what the server says. He says "I don't make them I just serve them." Whoa! That's the exact opposite! Now, he did in fact, acknowledge the problem. But he did not apologize, he did not own it, he didn't have a good attitude about it and didn't, as a matter of fact, he took so little responsibility he said "hey, I don't make them..." He's blaming people in the back for making them, you know, in the kitchen. "I just serve them" and as far as discussing the resolution there was no discussion of any resolution. It was just there he walked away and there was no sense of urgency; now somebody in a better position who knows what to do might have said something like this: "Oh my gosh, I can't believe I didn't notice that I am so sorry," - there. We've got acknowledgment and apology. "Tell you what I'm gonna do, I'm gonna run back. I'm gonna get you another salad right away." Okay, and that statement. There's the fix, there's the ownership of it. You know of the attitude and there's the urgency "I'm gonna do it right away." In one sentence this server nailed all three. That's what could have happened. All right, and so by the way, this five-step process not only works for little things like that. Really, will work for the largest problems that a company could have, a brand crisis and I've taken my clients who call me and say, "We have a big problem. Social media hit us. There's some really bad activity. What do you think? We should do number one?" You got to acknowledge it, you got to apologize for it. You got to discuss what you're gonna do about it. You got to take ownership and responsibility for it. And I suggest you don't wait another minute. Act now! So there you go the urgency.
That makes sense. So if there's one key takeaway that a reader has from reading your book, what would you want that key takeaway to be?
So again, I think that being amazing, it doesn't happen once in a while. It needs to happen all the time. It needs to be a habit which is why I call them habits. This is nothing more than relationship building and confidence creation and just steps to do it. So I would say just keep in mind as you read - if you get the book and I hope you do - when you read through the book, you'll find that, gosh, you don't need to do all 35 of the ideas and stratagem. Pick one or two and you're already making little bits of improvement along the way and so that's what I would say. It's a habit and habit needs to be practiced all the time. You need to be conscious of it you just need to do it. Just like the Nike commercials - say just do it.
Exactly! Make sense. So now we do have a little time. So if anyone out there listening wants to ask a question or two. You're welcome to. We have anything? No, but I have a couple more. This one is kind of easy, but did you ever see your cab driver again?
I always wondered.
Not only did I see the cab driver. I got to know this guy and he finally retired. And there's a whole story that goes with it. If you go to my youtube channel go to Shep.tv, okay. Straight to my youtube channel and on the top line that says "Shep's story about the cab driver" and you can hear this story. This guy was amazing. He didn't look the part, he looked like he was kind of, you know, it was kind of dressed, you know you know t-shirt and his hair was messed up, but man could he take care of people! So here's what's cool. You don't hear this in the story, but the average cab driver when Frank started driving a cab was making about twenty thousand dollars a year. That driver would, Frank would work six days a week and he'd work 12-hour shifts. You know, that's half day, twelve hours. But they would drive and they make about twenty thousand. They'd sit at the airport for two or three hours and hopefully get somebody that they would get the flat $22 rate that would go downtown. That was a decent fare back then. But Frank said, "if I'm really good and I give my card out and people start calling me because of my service, maybe I won't have to wait three hours at the airport. Maybe I just get to the airport ten or fifteen minutes early and wait for my customers and then I'll just drive a lot more." Well, he did, he went from making $20,000 to more than $100,000 a year. He recognized the difference between ordinary and maybe a little bit better than ordinary, hence extraordinary. He recognized the difference between a satisfied customer, which is one. That's, you know, [says] "here's a nice tip. See you later." That means they were happy with the ride. To a loyal customer, one that says, "here's a nice tip and I will see you later, I'll call you when I come back." And that's what he got with me and a number of other customers. He got so busy. He had to actually have other cab drivers help him out and fill in for him. So yeah, that's amazing.
Yeah, it's a great story. Well, it's just about time for us to get ready for the next session But I just wanted to thank you so much for taking the time out to come and sit and talk with us today and giving us some insights into your book and on all the amazing knowledge you have about customer experience. If anybody didn't get it, I suggest getting Shep's book. It's an awesome book and he also has a bunch of other amazing books, too.
This one is actually coming out in paperback October 1st. And you know what? It's an investment that I think will pay for itself. Many, many, many times over hundreds of thousands of times over, as you build confidence, which actually builds loyalty with your customers. It creates confidence with your colleagues, people you work with, it'll enhance your career.
Awesome! Well, thank you again so much. I really appreciate you taking the time. Alright. See you soon.
Shep Hyken is a customer service and experience expert, the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations, and a bestselling author. In this session, Shep will share customer service habits that will help you build stronger customer realtionships.
"I think that being amazing...it doesn't happen once in a while, it needs to happen all the time."