Amazing! Maybe this is the word I should have used for 2019? You’ll understand why as you read this post. However ‘inspired’ is most definitely still a theme, which looks set to continue. In this NEW series I’m out and about having breakfast with some of the biggest players in the world of Customer Service today and this week I’m beyond excited to be chatting to the King of Customer Experience himself, the inspirational Shep Hyken.
So first things first, breakfast. In true American style, Shep loves breakfast; eggs, oatmeal, bacon and French toast! On a day to day basis I’m more Cornflakes and a couple of slices of toast but in Shep’s honour, it’s American pancakes all the way today, with lots and lots of coffee.
Over breakfast I asked Shep about what triggered his initial interest in delivering excellent Customer Experiences and he explained that when he was 12, he used to do magic shows and by doing so, he inadvertently learnt a lot of valuable customer service skills. For example sending thank you notes to people who hired him and always asking for, and appreciating feedback. Shep said he was lucky to be surrounded by people who acted as good mentors and ‘role models for the right thing to do.’ He added that he always knew the most important thing in Customer Service was ‘to get customers to want to come back.’ I couldn’t agree more. What a shame some companies still don’t seem to get this when it was blatantly obvious to a 12 year old.
Shep really enjoys his work as a motivational speaker and counts research done for every speech as ‘a real education’ and that creating content for his blog ‘forces him to grow.’ In 5 years time he hopes to see the training side of his business develop into something bigger than it is now. He currently does around 40- 50 speeches a year but expects to see this number reduce. This will free Shep up to do more of the everyday things he loves such as working out in the gym, playing ice hockey and golf, spending time with his family and playing the guitar. With a home county of Missouri, we chatted a bit about musical tastes and Shep revealed his favourite artists weren’t Country and Western as I thought but that he was a fan of the likes of Sting, Eric Clapton and The Allman Brothers. A bit different to my love of Kylie and Jason-but luckily there’s far more we have in common than music!
When I started writing about Customer Service, then Shep was my first big influence and has become a lasting inspiration when it comes to really understanding what makes an excellent Customer Experience. He never ceases to amaze me with his ideas, which he modestly says ‘just happen.’ He doesn’t just talk about Customer Experience, he is the experience and if you follow him on Twitter, you’ll know exactly what I mean.
When it comes to delivering good Customer Service, Shep is keen to emphasise that in an organisation, everyone is part of the experience not just those on the front line. ‘They need to be excited and know their role in that organisation.’ In an increasingly competitive market, ‘Companies have recognised that CX (Customer Experience) and Customer Service are real differentiators as the right level of service creates loyalty and can set you apart from your competition.’ Shep’s best advice for companies is to ‘Own the moment.’ This needs to be a fundamental part of a company’s culture. My favourite bit of advice he’s ever given is ‘Be Amazing or Go Home’ as if you’re going to do a job, do it well or just don’t bother.
As Shep quite rightly states, ‘Customers are smarter than ever before’ as they compare Customer Service across sectors rather than just in one particular field. He refers to this as the Amazon effect as despite its perception as an evil retailer, which destroys other businesses, it’s a company, which has opened people’s eyes to what good customer service looks like. Companies therefore need to up their game in order to deal with the challenges this presents. I asked whether he thought that levels of Customer Service or the expectations we have as customers were different in the UK as opposed to the States. Shep believes ‘it’s cultural’ and that the type of service they deliver in the US is now ‘Starting to be expected in other parts of the world.’ We agreed that the service in the UK is just ‘More formal here, more proper.’ In the States, things are less so.
In order to create a Customer Service culture, Shep developed a six-step process; defining the vision, communicating that vision, training to that vision, leading the vision as a role model, defending that vision and culture and finally- celebrating the success of that vision! That’s something, which nowadays is often sadly forgotten. We’re all so busy criticising that we forget to praise what has been done well.
Shep’s biggest Customer Service bugbear is people who don’t pay attention. He sees it as ‘Missed opportunities for companies to gleam important information’ and this can make or break the Customer Experience. So true! I certainly hope I paid enough attention during our interview and wasn’t too distracted by the life-size plate of pancakes!
Final question for Shep was to find out, apart from me obviously, who he would most like to have breakfast with and why. Johnny Carson was his first answer, someone to whom ‘show business’ was definitely two words. This is something Shep relates to on a daily basis in the work he does, as there’s the business side of things and then there’s the show! In the absence of Johnny then Paul McCartney would also be the ideal breakfast companion due to Shep’s love of music and just to get ‘That fascinating perspective on religion’, maybe even breakfast with Jesus. Hmm, wonder whether he’d go for eggs, oatmeal or pancakes?
A big thanks to Shep for taking the time to have breakfast with me today. It’s been just AMAZING and I certainly don’t want to go home. You can find out more about Shep on his website. He has also written 7 books, 7! And he’s on Twitter and Facebook so definitely worth a follow.
Hope you enjoyed reading all about Shep. I’ve got more fabulous breakfast dates lined up so make sure you watch this space to find out who they are!
Until next time everyone! Cin cin!
Lady Janey x