In this #SmallBizCX19 session, Jill Raff discusses how to hire in a way that will reduce employee turnover, while improving your business's customer experience.
Start everybody, we're here with Jill Raff. She has over 30 years of customer experience and she grew up working with her parents who are owners and operators at McDonald's. And she now applies Ray Kroc's customer service philosophy to her own business and helping her clients. She originally started out as a fashion designer. She has a diverse background. She's fluent in five languages. She also trained as a chef in Paris, which is awesome and crazy. And she's worked for a lot of amazing brands like Harrods and Michelin starred restaurants, and Godiva, Oprah Magazine, to name a few. And in the last few years, she's really gotten into taking all her diverse skills and using them to help clients create a five-star customer experience or their brand. So, we're really excited to have you today. So, my first question is, as indicated in your bio, in my introduction, your background is very storied and diverse. How did you get into the customer experience business?
Oh, first of all, thank you, Jessica. It's great to be here with you. And I'm really excited to speak to everyone about what I'm passionate about what I'm obsessed with, which is customer experience.
That really comes from being lucky enough to grow up with two parents who, in the late '50s were the word and the concept of entrepreneur really wasn't known, wasn't used, and this was a spirit that my parents live by this entrepreneurial spirit. And as you said, my parents and grandparents opened McDonald's number 150, and that was long before they knew that it was the McDonald's of what it would become. And in fact, Ray Kroc mentioned when he would see my parents at conferences or conventions, he'd say to my dad, "You know, Marshall, your wife is really a great entrepreneur." So again, there was that word, and it just really showed the spirit of my parents.
So, I grew up working in McDonald's family when it was the gold standard of the restaurant industry, the customer first culture that they were known for. And again, as you alluded to, I went on to follow my dreams, and I've had careers across three continents, six countries, different industries. But it was always that the main principle was always putting people first in order to have a successful and sustainable business. And so it was taking all of this work and my experiences and education that helped me come up with and put together my customer experience transformation process, which is that roadmap to help companies ensure outstanding employee and outstanding customer experiences and to make sure when you do that, that ultimately the results gonna be viewer employee turnovers, and more five-star reviews and repeat customers.
Awesome. That's awesome. So, you've often said that hiring the right talent is essential to improving a small businesses customer experience. Why do you feel that hiring the right talent is so essential?
Well, the short answer, Jessica, is as to why hiring the right talent is so essential to making sure that your business is improving and focusing on your small business customer experience, it's because simply your customers represent you. They represent what you stand for and the whole purpose of why you're in business. They're your front line to your end customers. So, for you, the business owner, actually I believe your employees are your first line customers and consumers. So, if you don't hire not only good talent but the right talent align with your values and your goals, you never gonna create a happy cohesive and productive team. And if your staff isn't happy, they won't be effective, and believe me, your customers will feel it. So, you know, I understand heavy expenses to running a business and many owners are always focused on that bottom line about the financial goals, right, but they must start first inside the company and invest in their people. And it just got-- I just want to point out one more thing that the reason so many companies right now are having this conversation is because employee turnover is one of the most costly expenses facing all industries today, and employee retention starts with the invective hiring process.
Absolutely, 100% agree. It's definitely a major problem, you see a lot of it these days. It's definitely a common problem and definitely something that everyone needs to work on. So I'm really glad that you're here with us talking about that today. So, when choosing a candidate, which do you think is more important and why? The work history and the resume or the potential and the attitude? Or both?
Well, I know it's human nature to gravitate towards somebody that's like us that we connect with on a personal level. But honestly, this is a very dangerous formula to follow when it comes to work hires. I believe we have to follow our work ethic, decisions based on our work ethic, the attitude, and values, and if they have experience, that's a plus.
But don't be hypnotized by the applicant’s resume. I think it's really important that we need to look at one's attitude in their potential, which is really critical. Their potential over their work history and resume because you can always educate and train functional skills needed to the right person, the person with the right attitude, but one who has tons of experiences jaded or has a bad attitude, they're gonna bring the entire staff down. So yes, we need to bring in people into our business who are excited, and who are energetic to learn and to grow. Effective hiring it's not like a magnet, right? A magnet is where our [inaudible] seats attract. Instead here, people, positive people are going to attract positive people. Committed, loyal employees, they're gonna attract other committed and loyal employees. So absolutely without a doubt, definitely hire for attitude and potential and this is gonna be your recipe for a happy, effective and productive staff and employees that are gonna take that extra mile for you at work.
I 100% agree. I don't think that you can-- I think you can teach skills and teach someone, train someone how to do a job, but it's really hard to teach personality and a good attitude, and that's something that's harder to teach. I definitely think it's worth it if someone has good potential to train them and you'll end up with an amazing employee. So, I definitely agree with that.
That character, that's not something that can be bought or trained. Yeah.
Exactly. So, it's a common belief that businesses should strive to hire employees that fall in line with their core values. How do you feel hiring employees that will fit in with a company's culture is mutually beneficial for the employee and the busines
My favorite topic. [laughs] Aligned core values, that is the heart of everything. So, I stated earlier that employee retention starts with effective hiring practices. But before any effective hiring can happen, a business must start with your company's core values and mission statement clearly defined and documented. So, your core values and mission statement, and think about it this way, it's really your company's North Star. It must be at the center of it, every decision that happens in your business after that. And this is what you think of it as the spine of your company, and only when you have 100% clarity on who you are, only then you can figure out, "Okay, what's important to you? What's our brand promise? What distinguishes you, and why someone should do business with you over your competitor?" Only then should you begin to think of who you want to hire and begin those practices.
I think many businesses decide when they need to hire new employees, I think with the first step is going out placing an ad or speaking to recruiters. They forego that critical first step, Jessica, which is needed and creating the culture, the work ethic that we talked about, and the expectations of what it is to work for your company. So, on the other hand, I'm saying that this first step defines who you are, instead of your customer defining it for you. It states what your value is, the mindset and attitude of your people, and who're representing you and your business. So, it's crucial to then only hire those people who will embrace and live by those values. Because let's face it, it benefits both of the business and the employee when they're starting out like with the mutual mindset, and understanding and aligned values. The language that actually is needed for both of them to gel and to work harmoniously together towards that same goal and that will be clearly defined. So, if you have to think about, if you have one set of values and expectations and your employee has another, the results gonna be chaos, you know, dissatisfaction, disengagement and the result of that we all know is the problem with turnover, and that cost both the employee and the business, so it really does benefit both mutually.
Definitely, definitely. I think that's something that applies to life to like a side note. You could-- you can't really have a successful relationship until you know who you are first. You can't really have-- you can't really make successful choices in life until you know who you are first. It definitely applies across the board.
Absolutely. Yeah, I agree.
So, you said that you feel it can be more beneficial to find committed employees that exist within the company to promote from within? Why do you feel that this is a wise choice for a small business to make to promote from within instead of going up there?
You know. So, and think about it, the hiring process can be very expensive to a business, both large, medium or small. It really doesn't matter the size of the business, the time and the cost. So why make it harder and more costly for yourself?
If you follow your first steps and you layout, what it is that you're looking for, and you've established and you hire according to those core values, then if you've efficiently on-boarded and engage them, and you know what I call my customer experience transformation process, you take those steps, you've educated them along the way about what you are, what you expect? What is it that makes your company culture as well as, of course, the functional training, then you've already done the lion's share of the work of what it takes to reduce employee turnover and to improve your customer experience. So, why start looking cold from the outside in? Like, don't look outside for the next best employee in the market. Instead, I believe that business to look within their company to promote those committed employees who have great potential that's not yet been recognized or even challenged. I think good business leaders are gonna challenge their people to really make the most use of what they are to bring them and to create that family and give value to someone. So, think about it.
ou've already hired someone for a good reason. They're in your company already seeing their value, you see their potential. So now, let them step into it and fulfill that purpose and contribute to your success. I think they're gonna feel more invested in your success when you show them that you're invested in their growth and their success. And if employees aren't engaged, it's not likely-- yeah, it's likely, I should say, because they personally don't feel that they matter to the business. They don't feel like you're looking to them for their benefit. Like what are they getting out of it? How can we help you rise to what you need and to be the best you can be at our company? And everybody wants to feel like knowledge appreciated and part of something bigger, right, than just the GOP, and I heard the previous speaker talking a little bit about Millennials and wanting to contribute, wanting to be a part of something, and I think that is so true and really important here and it leads a lot to dissatisfaction and disengagement. And just that really crucial stat if I can offer based on this, according to the Gallup report, the cost of replacing an employee is 34% of their annual salary due to employee disengagement. So I also, because it's hard to put that concept around real numbers, I've created a calculator. And if anyone on this call wants to go in and see what their exact cost is specifically to their business based on actual number of employees, salaries, all of their numbers, then I invite you to plug your data into our employee churn calculator, and you can get that at jillraff.com/employeeinsurancecalculators, that's on my website. We can post that too, but it's jillraff.com/employeeinsurancecalculator, and I think you'll be shocked at what you discover.
Awesome. Definitely, we're gonna add that to the chat so people can get it and then also, we're gonna be doing a follow-up email post-event at some point in the next couple days, and we're gonna definitely include that as a resource for people to refer to. So, for the next question, many experts believe that employee turnover has a direct link to customer turnover. Why do you think this is the case, and have you seen any real-life examples of this type of effect happening?
100% your employee turnover will be the leading indicator of your customer turnover. Mark my words, I'm gonna say it again, is that important. Your employee turnover will be a leading indicator to your customer turnover. It's just natural when there's no stability in your staff, starting with your management, right, they're setting the sample, example for your employees. So it creates confusion and chaos day to day in the business. And as a business, then you're constantly in recruitment hiring training mode. So you're not functioning as a team, number one, and two, as a team, you're not focusing on only the interest of taking care of your customers, which is what should be, and instead, their attention is divided. There's always gonna be newbies, right, being trained shoveling. They don't-- aren't gonna fully know your culture yet, and most importantly, they're not gonna be empowered yet to actually act on it. And this is what the customer feels.
That's a really important point because ultimately, your end customer feels that your staff isn't empowered, or they don't have the knowledge to do what they want to do. I'm sorry, to do what they need to take care of the customer. And the customers are gonna feel that for sure and it's gonna mean they have a bad experience. And Accenture confirmed that it isn't fit that the customer-- poor quality customer experience is what's connected to the customer churn, right, to the customers not coming back. And Oracle stated that 89% of customers who had a bad experience left to go give business to another, to your competitor. Crazy, 89% of those customers who began business with a competitor followed a poor customer experience. So, I bet everyone on this call can relate. Alright? Like, think of an experience that you had in a restaurant, in a retail store, online shopping, dealing with team members, maybe in a coaching program you bought where they made a lot of promises, you know, on and on. And basically, it's bad enough to have a really bad experience where your employees are knowledgeable because they haven't been trained by your ownership or your leadership. They're just need to be paid, and what's worse is when they have to have a bad experience and pay for it to boot.
Right? Yeah, that's the worst.
Yeah, I mean, I really believe strongly that outstanding employee and customer experience will be the difference between your business being a success, and your business being a statistic. I mean, just as we need to create those relationships with our customers, we have to begin by developing those relationships with our staff. What I mean by this is that companies don't focus a lot of their internal investments on systems to create and connect that they're preparing their employees to make that relationship with their customers.
They don't have intention on programs that are created in order to ensure what I call a celebrity customer experience because we know how celebrities are treated, right? So, it's come and says that so good.
Yeah, that is hard, 100% awesome and you can use every time.
Exactly. And why shouldn't everybody, right? Last time I looked when they put $1 in the bank, it equals the same dollar that I put into the bank, right?
So, I think everybody deserves to have that. And at the end of the day, when you do that, it's going to reduce your churn rates, it's going to increase your repeat customers. And at the end of the day, it's gonna-- if you don't do that, you know, you're gonna lose customers, you're gonna have high employee turnover, which is gonna decrease your margins and your revenue, and your bottom line. So, it's a vicious cycle. But if you start right at the beginning with the core values, and you apply all that with your hiring and your training, it's all gonna flow naturally and you're gonna get the returns that you want even without spending a lot of money on the marketing.
Right. Exactly. I agree 100%.
It's in a lot of other area with the marketing, right? Like your customers should be your marketing salesforce. They should be the ones that are gonna be out there raving about you and writing about you online and telling friends about you. So, if you do it right, you're gonna save a lot of money that way too.
So, right now, we're gonna open it up. If anybody has questions, you can type it in the comment section, but if not, I also have some additional questions, but you won't make me entirely crazy. Is there anything that all you, we have anything yet? No? Okay. All right. So, here's a question, this is more about you. What's one of the best customer experiences you ever had personally? Can you think of a time where someone, where a business really blew you away with your own experience?
Yes, I actually keep a notebook of good experiences and bad experiences. [laughs]
Like that is good idea, it's really good idea.
And I use that within my work. Gosh, so I've had great experiences online and also, you know, face to face in a retail environment, even a coaching program. So, I had an experience started out with really bad experience with a coaching program that I bought. And there were all these promises made, and I fought, you know, they sent a welcome email and that was pretty much it. And I kept writing back to get the next steps and to ask questions, no response, no response, no response. And I thought, why am I chasing someone? I just paid for this service.
So finally, I reached out and I added the owner's name into the email and he said-- he reached out to me and actually really stepped up and delivered in a way that was above and beyond. And he said to his staff, "Guys, did you look at her signature in her email? She's a customer experience strategist. Like, don't you get, you have to write people back, you have to communicate. You have to, you know, follow-through and that is the biggest thing is, you know, that communication." You know, same way if I'm at a restaurant. And I've had situations where, you know, things go wrong, and that's fine, but it's the lack of communication that creates the problem and the anxiety. And then people start looking to who they can blame. But as soon as the servers or a manager or someone comes over, and they said to me, "You know, we're really sorry that, you know, it's taking so long, or I'm sorry that this came out wrong. We want to make you happy. We want to get it right for you. And this is what's going on and please excuse us. And this is what we want to do to, you know, make it right by you." All of a sudden, it's like all that, you know, everyone's all up in arms, and then all of a sudden, you just can feel the body release because they talk to you, human to human. And I believe so strongly that people are people first, and their customers second.
So when you relate to someone as a human being, they're gonna say, "Okay, I get it, people make mistakes." and they're gonna be much more forgiving. And they're gonna want to help you out even at the end if you ask them to give you a great review or, you know, or, "What can we do to make it right? And let us know how we can earn your trust that you can do that." People want to reciprocate. People want things to be right for you. So, communication is huge, and I think that helps.
That helps you great.
I get where you're coming from to when you bring up restaurant because I come from a restaurant background originally, so I definitely know I used to help open up new Cracker Barrels.
And go around and help them open the new locations and train the employees and stuff like that. So, speaking of that, how do you think being involved at such an early age in customer service, with your family helping to run the McDonald's franchises that you guys had, how do you think that that prepared you for where you are today and the customer experience? Like didn't it-- that probably had a huge impact on your life and where you are now?
Huge, absolutely. I really feel blessed because my first job, I was seven years old, and I have two older sisters. And of course, they were able to work in the front of the store, but only in kind of-- it was exactly the way it's laid out in the founder that the shake machines are there. And those were the days where you would, you know, spritz the syrup of whatever you were making, the flavor, and then you would way out the ice cream, and then you would put it on the spindles and those were the actually the spindles, the multi mixers were the ones that Ray Kroc sold to the McDonald's brothers. But I was too little like I couldn't work there yet, and so I would answer phones, you know, that was my first job. And, you know, the tagline at the time was, you know, "McDonald's is your kind of place, may I help you please?" So, I would answer, "Good morning, McDonald's is your kind of place, may I help you, please?" And my dad was like the first mystery shopper because he would always call a few times so I could answer the phone and do my job. But, I worked my way through every station, of course, and I was most excited to work upfront and face to face with the customers, and it was about learning how do we treat them? How do we support one another? If someone had a customer and I didn't, I was so excited. I couldn't wait to, you know, go back their food or fix their drinks or, you know, all the small details, even making change, a simple concept. We didn't have computers do the math for us, right? I actually learned to think and do simple math in my head. But I also worked in the office, for example, so that taught me a completely different set of skills, administration. I didn't like it so much, I was actually paid more, but I took a job salary cut, a pay cut, wasn't a salary, a pay cut in order to go back and work in the store to work at the register because I missed that engagement work at one on one.
Right, you repeat that?
I am. Yes, absolutely. Yes, exactly. So all those just so many skills and thinking about inventory, and what you're wasting and, oh gosh, just so many things I completely carried forward, whether it was in my fashion design or my food styling, or you know, as a realtor. These are all businesses that I had to create for myself as an independent contractor from the ground up. So all those skills of systems, and how to develop, and how to leverage and be accountable, those are all things that were just kind of implanted. It's kind of part of my DNA right now.
Right, which is awesome. It's awesome to grow up with that type of experience.
So, I was so lucky. Yeah, very blessed.
That's awesome. So we're getting close to time. So before we end, I just wanted to thank you so much for taking the time to be with us today. I know that you're really busy and you have a lot of things going on, so I just wanted to say thank you. And I also wanted to let everybody know that you also supplied us with a guide, it's called Hiring to Win, 5 Hiring Mistakes You Never Want to Make. And as I said before, we're gonna be sending follow up emails out to all the attendees that signed in today. So you'll get this guide and an email, and just thank you so much to Jill for providing us with that. It's gonna be a valuable resource, so you're definitely gonna want to check that out. And I just wanted to say thank you again, Jill. And up next we have Jeff Toister, who's an author, keynote speaker, and consultant and trainer.
Thank you, it was great talking to you. And I hope people will go in and check out that guy because honestly, there's a lot of good nuts and bolts. It's not just the total, you know, overview and paint, you know, 50,000 square foot level view, there's some real tactical things that you can implement and apply to your business right now and you're hiring to avoid turnovers and problems down the road. So, I hope that's helpful for everyone.
I'm looking for far more. Thank you so much for providing us with that. We're excited to share it with everyone.
My pleasure, thank you.
All right. I hope you have a great day, Jill.
Thanks, you too. Bye.
Jill Raff helps customer-obsessed restaurants, hotels and entrepreneurs develop a culture that delivers a Celebrity Customer Experience ™ consistently to reduce turnover & increase revenue, ratings, and repeat customers. In this session, Jill will discuss how to hire in a way that will reduce employee turnover, while improving your business's customer experience.
"Hire for attitude and potential and this is gonna be your recipe for a happy, effective and productive staff and employees that are gonna take that extra mile for you at work."