Interview with an Expert: Shep Hyken and the World of Improved CX

The world of customer experience (CX) and customer service are intertwined. It’s impossible to think of one without the other. At Pisano, we are dedicated to improving and enhancing CX. We have decided to share an expert’s thoughts on the topic. So, you get to read an amazing interview with Shep Hyken in this entry. Shep Hyken is the well-known, veteran influencer, speaker and customer service expert. His invaluable opinions are a must-read for anyone interested in success fueled by better customer experience. We also have a neat summary at the end about what we talked about.

Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE is the CAO (Chief Amazement Officer) of Shepard Presentations he founded in 1983. As a customer service expert and keynote speaker, Shep works with companies who want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. He is the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller of “The Amazement Revolution,” “The Cult of the Customer,” “The Loyal Customer,” “Moments of Magic and “Amaze Every Customer Every Time.”

In 2008, he was inducted into the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame speaker for lifetime achievement in the professional speaking industry. He has worked with hundreds of companies and associations on their customer service and loyalty initiatives. Some of his clients include American Airlines and AT&T.

Here is our interview with Shep Hyken, enjoy.

Elif S. Nurcan (E): Shep, customer service uses a lot of technology these days. It’s important for businesses to succeed using technology. What do you think about integrating online customer service channels with the offline ones? Are businesses succeeding or failing, generally?

Shep Hyken (S): Depending on the type of business, online presence is very important. And just as important as having this online presence is the experience. The experience has to be consistent with the in-store experience. One of the worst examples from the retail industry is when the pricing of an online store is different from in-store pricing. Or when you get to the online experience, there’s a website that’s hard to navigate, not very intuitive, and cumbersome. So, the goal here should be creating an experience that is similar both online and offline. When customers come to us in a multiple of ways, not just through a website and when they’re communicating with us via email, social media channel, or any other form that is out there, we need to make sure we respond properly and consistently in an image we want our customers to have regardless of where they do business with us.

E: Shep, you talk about the differences between satisfied customers and loyal customers. I believe consistency is a key feature to transform the satisfied customers into loyal ones. Do you agree? Do you think there are more factors in transforming these satisfied customers into loyal ones?

S: Sure. The whole concept of satisfactory is that satisfactory is a rating. It’s average. It’s in the middle. I think that the most important part of this is using the right words to describe what you want your customers to experience. If you look at a rating scale of 1 to 5, you’re not going to find 5 as satisfactory. You’re going to find 3 as satisfactory. From 1 to 4, it’s in the middle. So, I think it’s a matter of making sure people are — and I talked to many clients about this — using the right words to describe what they want to achieve. What interests and satisfies customers is doing better than satisfactory. And when you give them something that is better, consistently, they know this will be ongoing, it’ll be predictable. When your customers know every time they interact with you is consistent, you are moving towards potential loyalty. It’s because that consistency creates confidence. And when that confidence takes place customers are going to want to come back for consistency every time.

E: We can say this is because of a general shift from product-centric culture into a customer-centric one, right?

S: Right. A product-centric approach is important from the standpoint of overall customer experience, this is because you want to create a product that customer wants, however, once you get past that, in every decision you make, you need to keep the customer in mind. It may not be a decision that the customers are going to be happy with, but at least you are considering the decisions and how they’ll be affecting your customers. For example, if I decided to increase prices by 10%, I know my customers aren’t going to be happy. But I have to look at everything. So, if I don’t increase my prices, I can’t afford to give them the quality product they want to have, I can’t afford to keep people employed. It’s the kind of thing where I have to say “How’s the customer going to accept this?”

However, there are many decisions made every day where I think it’s a mistake that companies don’t consider the impact on the customer. For example, let’s cut our hours, let’s cut employees, let’s not put that many people in our customer support, let’s not spend the money to train people on how to use the social media etc. I mean there are lots of decisions made where it is going to save the company money, but they don’t realize it’s going to impact sales when customers won’t like the changes and move on.

E: Well, we’ve been reading some entries from your blog and I came across a really interesting piece of information. It’s from the Top 5 Customer Service Articles from week of October 31, 2016. According to 2016 Microsoft State of Global Customer Service Report, 48% of global consumers don’t believe that brands take action on customer feedback. Well, why do you think this is the case?

S: It’s because they don’t see any change. So, regarding customer feedback, here’s the problem, if I’m willing to take the time to leave feedback on a social channel, I’d expect as a customer that you’d at least acknowledge that you’ve received it. Customers aren’t even seeing that acknowledgement. You know, there are two sides to this. It’s one side where I want to be directly informed that you have received my comments. On the other hand, I make comments all of the time, but your company stays the same, it never changes, you never listen to anything I say. And that’s frustrating for customers. That erodes loyalty.

Let’s say I want to create a report, if I’m a company and I state “We’ve been listening to our customers, here is the information our customers shared with us: 48% of our customers feel this way and 82% of our customers feel that we need to respond quicker via email or any other social channel.” If I acknowledge that’s where the customers are asking for change, and we say this is what we plan to do about it, then the customers get to think like this: “Hey, OK, they’re listening to collectively what we are saying.”

E: This makes perfect sense. Building better relationships is the key to loyalty, key to success, and we all know about this. Do you think there are some feedback collection tools that are a little bit better than others at doing this?

S: There are really three ways to get information from a customer, especially for negative feedback. Number one, a customer calls us. Now, that’s not the most popular method. Direct calls are actually the least likely way you’re going to hear from a customer about their experience. As a matter of fact, the stats say that 96% of customers who have a complaint aren’t actually going to tell the company about it. Even though this may be the best feedback collection method since it’s direct from the customer, it’s the least likely way to get it. The second way to get feedback is through satisfaction surveys. And I’m not a big fan of just blasting out an email that asks for feedback. Even if you get a pretty good sample size, it’s really a small percentage of the customers who are giving you feedback. It’s not about the number of customers, but about the percentage. If you send out 100,000 emails, and you get 900 of them back, I don’t think that’s very representative of your customer base. If you sent out 100,000 out and got 30,000 back, I think that’s a bit better, but not the best. Because, first of all, your response rate may be potentially not that great and secondly, the people who like to fill mail surveys are ones that have really been unhappy or very, very happy. Then you miss all these people in the middle who just don’t care. And I think you miss a tremendous amount.

The third way to get feedback is to be very direct and ask customers directly. You want to do it in-store and get them thinking “I’d like to take a moment to do a really quick survey.” There’s a company here in the US that is really well-known for getting feedback from customers. All of their surveys take much less than a minute. It’s three simple questions and one of them is the Net Promoter’s Question (NPS), on a scale between 0 and 10, what’s the likelihood that you would recommend this. They move the questions around but it could be “How would you rate your waitress?” or “How would you rate the cleanliness?” They ask other questions. So, a quick 3 question survey, takes less than a minute, and they get a tremendous amount of responsiveness. As a result, they’ve been able to make improvements and know what their customers like or don’t like.

Ozkan Demir (O): Going back to consistency, what is the value that’s created for companies and customers with consistent service level in both online and offline channels simultaneously or in totally integrated channels?

S: Here’s what customers are typically looking for when they’re doing business with somebody. Unless they are totally focused on price, what they want is value. Value comes in the form of many things. But one of the most important value pieces we can offer to customers is a consistent experience. It doesn’t matter what store they are going into, it doesn’t matter if they call in or go online, or if they go on premise. The type of business doesn’t matter. Consistent experiences create confidence, just like I mentioned earlier. When you have confidence, you are more likely to trust and trust leads to loyalty.

What we’re trying to do is build an emotional connection where there is confidence and trust. You start to create a connection and build the loyalty which is the goal of this emotional connection. Your customers will start to say things like “They’re reliable” and “They’re knowledgeable.” Think about all of the nice adjectives that the customers use to describe a company. Many times they are using the words “always’” For example, they’re always friendly, they’re always nice, I can always count on them, etc. So, “always” is followed by positive things and this means a very good connection. It doesn’t matter what channel they are on, a great connection with customers requires consistency.

O: Businesses want to really know their customers these days. So, what do you think are the best points along the customer experience map to get customer feedback? When is the right moment/spot to capture customer feedback?

S: If the only time you talk to a customer is about the experience they just had, it should be about the experience they have just had. Not about what they did 2 weeks earlier, not even a week earlier. There needs to be a very close proximity from the time a customer has the interaction with the company and when the feedback is asked. Earlier in the conversation, we talked about getting feedback on the spot. Yes, it definitely can be done. Can it be done later in the day or the next day? Yes. Can it be done a week later? I think you’d lose a lot by waiting a week or two weeks, or longer. Some companies wait longer for sending out surveys.

E: So, to sum it up, we talked about how the customer experience has to be consistent, how the businesses need to act fast, they need to be in contact with their customers in order to know what they are doing, know what they are going to do next. I mean, all of these points determine the future of business and I believe we talked a great deal about it today. Thank you, Shep. It was a great interview, we learned a lot and we talked about a lot. So, we’re really thankful. Thank you.

The main themes if this interview were consistency and emotions. Successful integration of online and offline channels, maintaining emotional connections with your customers, building customer loyalty using the right feedback technology, and right timing for customer feedback were the key points that came up during the conversation. To sum it up, these are what Shep highlighted:

- Consistent online experience and integration with offline channels is a must for businesses today. (You can learn how to do it here.)

- Consistency creates confidence which in turn creates loyalty. Aim for a loyal customer base for sustained success. (Why do you need loyal customers? Here’s why.)

- There is a right method and right time to ask for customer feedback. Ask your customers sooner and faster. (Fast and furious, CX style.)

- People are searching for value. They’ll choose you over your competition if you can build a consistent emotional bond with them. (4 words: Dance with your clients.)

We’ll be sharing more expert opinions on our Pisano Happy Customers blog in the coming days. While waiting, don’t forget to check out Shep Hyken’s blog and website for the most recent developments in the CX and customer service world.

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