Creating a Customer Service Revolution
What does it take to create a world-class customer experience?
Whether you are a CEO, leader, mid-level manager, frontline employee, or just a person with a dream, hopefully, you have an understanding that success starts with having a vision of what could be and that the true purpose of a vision is how you intend to make the world a better place.
Now, in order to fulfill that vision, there needs to be a transformation of what customers and employees experience. There has to be a radical overthrow of conventional business mentality, even if that means you have to go against the grain of conventional wisdom or practice.
In fact, you need to.
That’s what makes things revolutionary – and that’s what makes YOU revolutionary!
As a revolutionary customer service leader, you stop competing on price. You’re obsessed with building a brand that people cannot live without.
Fueling Your Vision with Passion
A captivating vision inspires people to become evangelists around a movement. It’s not a great idea that works. It’s the great passion behind it.
Every original idea is met with eye-rolling and laughing. That is why most ideas are killed long before they can ever become great.
And so, if you have a great idea, put on a bulletproof vest and get after it.
Passion is the emotional fuel that drives your vision. It’s what you hold on to when your ideas are being challenged when people turn you down, and when you are rejected by the so-called experts and the people closest to you.
It’s the fuel that keeps you going when there’s no outside validation for your dream.
First, you need to believe in yourself.
Don’t waver. There will be people that don’t think as you do, that don’t have your vision, and who can’t comprehend what it’s like to be a visionary.
The Legacy of Howard Schultz
Starbucks doesn’t win a lot of taste tests. People don’t necessarily love their coffee more than anywhere else. But why are people willing to pay $5 for something you can get for $3.50 or less elsewhere that’s arguably just as good?
Today, Starbucks has become the gold standard of customer experience. Thanks to the brilliant leadership of Howard Schultz who has revolutionized not only the coffee industry but the entire retail industry by making price irrelevant.
Schultz isn’t the founder of Starbucks. He basically took a job with Starbucks, sent him over to Italy, and there – he saw the future of cafes. Unfortunately, the original Starbucks owners didn’t agree with his vision. Years later, he got a group of investors and purchased Starbucks. He had to convince investors that Americans would actually shell out high prices for a beverage they were used to getting for 50 cents almost anywhere.
He then started opening Starbucks – as we now know it – and transformed an entire industry that today, has become one of the most recognizable brands in the world. Other organizations across multiple industries now try to emulate what they’ve done with their team members and their customers.
The Third Place Between Home and Work
As social beings, it’s important to have that third place – other than your home and workplace – where you can just go and talk to someone, be part of a community, and feel a sense of belonging.
Howard Schultz emphasized they’re in the business of human connection, creating that third place where people can get away from those two things – even just for an hour or five minutes. In fact, the need to have that third place only became more relevant when COVID hit us in 2019 having been deprived of such luxury of space.
Going Against the Grain of Traditional Quick-Service Experience
Quick-service restaurants are generally so focused on returning customers that they don’t want you to hang out. Try to visualize a quick-service restaurant and you’d see some hard benches and tables – things uninviting for anyone to hang out with co-workers or friends.
Clearly, what you see at Starbucks is far different from this.
Schultz went against the grain of what was happening in the industry 30 years ago when the pendulum had swung so far over to transactions and people wanted that sense of belonging.
Creating an Emotional Connection
It’s all about creating an emotional connection – that’s how you establish a very powerful and unusual emotional relationship with the customer.
Create your customer journey mapping every touchpoint with them. With intention, be able to create the feeling that they’re a part of a community.
The 5 E’s of Genuine Hospitality
- Eye contact
- Enthusiastic greeting
- Ear-to-ear smile
Focus on the F.O.R.D.
When you interact with people, focus on their FORD – family, occupation, recreation, and dreams. Use these pieces of information to build rapport with your customers.
Focus on actively listening to what they’re saying. Using this methodology allows you to be in the moment with your customer, the vendor, your fellow team member, whoever it is. It’s not exclusively just for your customers, but it could be anybody you’re working with.
When you do that, you’re going to build this bond between you and the customer that will insulate you from things like pricing, where the price point is never going to be an issue anymore.
The Customer Service Vision
People want to be part of something larger than themselves. They want to be part of something they’re proud of, that they’ll fight for, and that they trust. And this is what Starbucks has built.
No wonder they have raving employees and raving customers that can’t go a day without them. So what makes Starbucks different from the competition?
The Customer Vision Statement
“We create inspired moments in each customer’s day. ANTICIPATE CONNECT PERSONALIZE OWN.”
This is the customer service vision statement of Starbucks. They make sure their employees are reminded of this every single day by placing it on the inside of their aprons.
Having that service vision is really important because it had to fit a lot of criteria. It wasn’t brand new. They were actually taken from parts of their mission statement, purpose statement, and core values, which they just pulled the important pieces together.
The customer service vision is totally different from your company’s mission, purpose, or core values. It’s created to inspire your employees and to remind them of what they need to do in every customer interaction. It outlines the level of service that every employee should provide every time they interact with a customer – whether for five seconds or 15 minutes.
It is such an important tool that organizations need to have so team members understand what their role is in the company and how important their role is. And if they’re not on their game, it’s a reminder of how they can ruin that very easily.
The 4 Pillars of Starbucks’ Service Vision
The four pillars of Starbucks ’ service vision consist of:
- Anticipate – For instance, anticipate the unintended request of your customer.
- Connect – Make a connection.
- Personalize – There are over 170,000 ways you can order your Starbucks drink that’s why people love Starbucks!
- Own – Make the customer feel that you are happy to make their order again if that’s what they want or you can make them something different. Whatever it is, OWN it. Or if the customer drops their drink, own the experience and give them a new one.
This is the starting point of what is referred to as the “burden” of the brand, where you’re living up to your customer experience. And this experience is what draws them in for the first time or that which brings them back to you over and over again.
What a strong service vision does is it rallies your people to have a reason to get out of bed and run to work because they know they can make a difference.
What Makes a Great Leader
Excellent customer experience must start at the very top of the hierarchy. And so, if you want to ignite a customer service revolution in your organization, it begins with you as a leader.
Leaders are artists.
If you’re a leader, you’re an artist. And art has nothing to do with painting or prettiness or design. Art is when a human does something original that might not work.
Leaders are impostors.
Leading means you don’t know how it’s going to work and how to get there but you’re willing to try new things and take risks. You describe the future based on who you are and what you know. What you see over there is a good place but you can’t guarantee it. If you knew it was going to work, then you’d just be a manager.
And so, feeling like an impostor is actually a good thing because it means you’re onto something. It means you’re creating value and doing something most people aren’t willing to do. In other words, the impostor syndrome is a way of keeping you in check.
Leading is voluntary.
Leading doesn’t always mean having people underneath you. Managers are essential and they’re all around. But managers are not leaders because leading is voluntary.
The Compound Effect of Executive Leadership
Customer service is not a get-rich-quick scheme. Leaders have to understand the compound effect that stems from executive leadership. Slashing your prices will get results today. But in six months, you’re probably in a worse position than you are.
Whether you train your employees on being better at soft skills, building relationships, building rapport, or whatever, your sales aren’t going to be any different this week. But in six months, it’s going to be a freight train going one way or the other.
It’s making those choices every day that will make a difference in the long-term.
Don’t Give Your Best, Just Make It Happen
The phrase, “I gave it my best” is similar to the phrase that we all can’t be perfect. It doesn’t mean that anyone should be. But it cops out the results of today.
Saying that you gave your best is an unacceptable crutch. When the goal is to accomplish greatness and go where no one team has ever gone before, your best won’t be good enough.
Whether you win a race, kick ass on stage, close the sale, or ace a test, any other endeavor has the least to do with the effort you put in today because your best is the result of what you were capable of doing last year.
Every extraordinary accomplishment, invention, or revolution was not a result of someone giving his or her best.
If you think about the greatest accomplishments, inventions, and revolutions, they tried it 999 times and a few more times before it finally worked. So instead of doing your best, just make it happen.
To find a way to do things no one else could do, you have to do the impossible.
Instill Loyalty in Your Team
Collect the right, unique people. It’s like putting yourself around a 30-foot high fence with barbed wire on it. Allow only a certain number of people to speak into your life. It means that if someone speaks into your life, they have permission and it’s a very trusted position where you solicit their input or feedback.
You can have a lot of acquaintances, but you only have to let a few people inside because whoever you let inside is going to affect you. They’re going to change the way you think. So get good at who you let in and be protective of yourself.
Teach Them “A Day in the Life” of Clients
Teach your team what a day in the life of a client looks like.
For example, if most of your customer-facing employees are 23 to 33 years old, and your clients are within the age range of 35 and 55 years old, most likely, your employees could hardly relate to what it’s like to be a CEO or a housewife with three kids.
It doesn’t mean you’re going to change who you hire. You just have to teach your employees how a day in the life of a client is like so they can be more present the next time they interact with the customers. This equips your team with a better sense of understanding and empathy that your clients will definitely appreciate.
Skill and Talent Are Not the Same
You were born with some gifts that come to you a lot easier. But skill is something you develop after 10,000 hours or whatever.
You’re probably never going to be in the NBA or become a microsurgeon because you need a little bit of talent to do those things. But for most of the work that most people do, there’s no talent involved at all. It’s just deciding to earn the skill.
Now, the dichotomy between learning and education is super important. Because you got done being educated 20 to 40 years ago, but you hope you’re not done learning. And so, the question is where are you going to learn your new skills?
If you look at people who are born and raised in China, they are way more likely to have perfect pitch than people whose parents were born in China but were born and raised in the United States. It’s not genetic. It turns out if you grew up speaking Chinese, you’re more likely to have perfect pitch because Chinese is a language that is sung as much as it is spoken.
So things we thought were talents aren’t talents at all. They’re just skills we learned at an early age. It doesn’t mean that Tiger Woods has more talent than any other golfer on the circuit. Maybe he just acquired the skill from an early age and it got hardwired.
Work Hard and Work with Passion
It’s not about how hard you work when you find your passion, it’s about how hard you work and how you act when you haven’t found it yet. That being said, passion isn’t something that’s done to us. It’s something that we choose.
Whether you’re in a transitional job or in a position you’re hoping to get promoted, it’s what you currently do that matters.
It may not be something you want to do for the next 30 years but what you do during that time says more about you than it does when you finally found your purpose in life.
Understand Your Reality Distortion Field
Each of us has the opportunity to create a reality distortion field. What we consider possible and impossible are merely the way we were pre-programmed and consensus-thinking about artificial boundaries.
Apple’s Steve Jobs has a reality distortion field of refusing to accept limitations that stood in the way of his ideas. He convinced himself and anyone on his team that anything was possible. Jobs combined his charismatic style, indomitable will, and his eagerness to bend any fact to fit the purpose at hand. Even though Apple employees were aware of what Jobs was doing, they would go along with it and ended up doing the impossible.
Because of his reality distortion field, he was able to inspire his team to change the course of computing history with just a fraction of the resources of Xerox and IBM. They did the impossible because they didn’t realize it was impossible.
It’s a matter of changing the belief system in your world.
What Belief System Needs to Be Changed in Your World?
For centuries, humans have tried to find a way to break the four-minute mile.
By the early 1950s, all the medical experts had determined that the human body was not capable of eclipsing a four-minute mile pace. They thought the human body had reached its limit.
Then on May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister made history and shocked the world when he broke the four-minute mile barrier.
The impossible was made possible.
Within the next 12 months, 24 more runners broke the four-minute mile mark.
You see, the human anatomy did not change – but the belief system of what people thought was possible had changed. And this applies to every aspect of our lives.
Understanding the Concept of Servant Leadership
Being a leader gives you the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives. Not only is their livelihood tied up there, but their own sense of self-worth and knowledge. So you want people to be fully engaged and excited about working for you.
As a leader, you’re there to serve – not to be served.
With over 40 years of leadership experience, author and leadership expert Ken Blanchard shares these insights into servant leadership:
Your #1 Customer – Your People!
Great leaders realize their number one customer is their people. If they take care of their people, train their people, love and honor their people, then their people are going to go out of their way to take care of them.
Your #2 Customer – Your Raving Customers
The number two customer would be the people who use your products and services. They’re going to become raving fans of your organization and be part of your sales force.
A lot of people feel that the reason for being in business is to make a profit – but profit is the applause you get for creating a motivating environment for your people so they’ll take care of your customers.
Common Pitfalls When Promoting Leaders to Grow Their Teams
Sometimes, leaders think that when they take over, they need to look good right away. And one of the skills that people don’t learn in graduate school is that they need to listen more than they speak.
Before you try to do anything, find out what’s going on. Find out what people think could really improve and then how can you help facilitate and help them be what they want to be.
It’s ALL about THEM – it’s NOT about YOU.
This is a hard concept for leaders to grasp because they think they need to be successful. But if your people are successful, then you’re going to be successful. It’s a win-win!
Many companies think the best managers are going to be people who are the best at doing their job. But being a great doer doesn’t necessarily give you the skills to be a great manager of people. Very often, organizations find themselves promoting the person who does the job the best into that next role because that’s the criteria used.
But that’s not always the best criterion.
You want to look at who can bring out the best in other people, not someone who thinks they’re the best. Leaders have this
feeling that they need to be great at everything. But leaders should just focus on their strengths and play to their strengths. Then get a support team that can play to their weaknesses.
Leadership Values You Need in a Time of Crisis
Because so many organizations have been scrambling to make things work in this new environment, it’s important for you to be very open with your people.
Forthrightness is the quality of being straightforward and honest. Be honest not only about what you know, but also, what you don’t know because people will appreciate that.
Help each other to get the best they can possibly be in their particular jobs.
Even when you have to give people bad news, do it in a kind way.
Culture Reflects Leadership
Arnie Malham is an experienced entrepreneur with a culture-first mindset. In his stellar book, Worth Doing Wrong: The Quest to Build a Culture that Rocks, Arnie outlines the importance of creating world-class customer service cultures – which has to start from the top. In other words, culture reflects leadership.
You could be complaining about your people, the industry, or what the people did and didn’t do. But realize that what you actually didn’t like about your company is your fault.
It’s not your team’s fault or your client’s fault. It’s not the industry’s fault nor competition. It’s your fault because you got the culture you deserved – a culture by default, not by design
Therefore, as a leader, you have to realize that you need to change who you are to become the company you want.
Culture reflects leadership so be the leader that you need to be to have a culture that you can be proud of.
The Danger of Too Rapid Growth
One of the biggest mistakes business owners could make is when they compromise culture for short sales. There is nothing to ruin your company’s customer experience faster than rapid growth.
When you’re growing so fast that you start to compromise culture, you’re no longer able to replicate the same customer experience. And almost every company will struggle with this same issue.
One day, you’ll just wake up thinking that it’s not the same culture or the same core values that you’ve had in the company anymore.
A lot of companies blame it on the economy and they don’t realize that it’s the growth that’s actually hurting them because they’re watering down the experience that used to set them apart.
How to Create the Culture You Want
First, you need to have a complete mindset shift from trying to hire the right people to solve your problems, to creating a culture that attracts the right people to solve your problems.
If you’re going to build a world-class organization, whether that’s an advertising company, a salon, or a hotdog stand, the culture and the training you bring them are just as important as hiring the right people.
Disney didn’t find 50,000 cast members all born to serve. But they got them in their culture – they put Disney in their people instead of putting people in Disney.
Get things wrong to get them right.
As business leaders, sometimes we tend to put things off because we’re trying to get everything right the first time.
But if you truly want to be successful, you’ve got to make a lot of mistakes first. You’ve got to get it wrong so you’ll be on your way to getting it right.
It’s about creating a checklist for everything you do and improving that checklist every time you find a better way.
Give your people a voice.
Many times, we want to do all the talking and the preaching.
Now, if you give your people a voice and you’re willing to listen to them, not only will you learn a ton, but it also makes them feel heard.
Then when you listen, make sure they know you’re listening to them.
Cheer for your people’s success on the team (and off).
The number one thing you can do to create a great working environment for your team is to cheer for them – both in their workspace and their life – because your team doesn’t care about you until they know you care about them.
It’s crucial you’re able to create a work environment that people want to come to work in. Craft a space where work becomes a great place to be that it’s sometimes even better than home.
Constantly cheer for them even when they have already left your organization. Consider sending them a gift at their new workplace and tell them you wish them all the success in the world going forward.
First off, you’re doing this because you care for the person. Second, you want folks around them to see where they came from. You may always be looking for talent so just because someone leaves to go to a different place doesn’t mean there aren’t people there that may be able to help your organization.
So constantly cheer your people on your team – and off – and continue to help and support them.
Say YES a lot.
We all get stressed as entrepreneurs and leaders. It seems easier, faster, and sometimes, it even feels better just to say no so you don’t have to deal with a problem.
Instead, try to say yes and delegate that problem to someone else so they can figure out how to do it wrong until they can get it right.
Saying yes a lot reduces stress for you and your team. It makes them feel heard and it makes them feel valuable.
Create a culture of transparency and flexibility in your organization.
Every company fights for transparency, flexibility, and action. Teams want transparency so they know where they’re headed.
They want the flexibility to get their job done. And they want you to take action and not get back to them in six months like a government agency.
Place important symbols of culture in your workplace.
Recognize and reward your team, but also have important symbols of a culture that reflect your values. It could be a bookshelf, a foosball table, or a ping pong table, whatever.
These symbols could also reflect the kind of place you want to be such as having a clean kitchen, clean bathrooms, or even quality toilet paper. This shows that you care about them because you care about where they work. And that gives an opportunity for them to do their very best.
Create guidelines for success, not rules for failure.
It’s common among organizations that they get so worried about getting taken advantage of that’s why company policies exist. What happens many times is that when one person does something wrong, we naturally create a rule that no one even cares about.
Now, you try to punish 98% of your employees or customers to try to catch that 1%-2%. It doesn’t even make sense, does it?
Don’t make rules for the masses based on the sins of a few.
It’s about creating guidelines for success instead of rules for failure. Give people a railing as opposed to rules that trap people.
And so, if you have more pages in your policy manual than you have team members on your team, you might want to rethink that.
Instead of a policy manual, consider using guidelines. Come up with three or four pages that you can easily put on the office wall that everybody has access to any time, as opposed to creating a hundred-page manual that no one’s probably ever going to read.
Are You Ready to Scale?
When a solo-preneur starts to find success, they start to do something well and get revenue for it. Then they want to hire one person to do one thing. It’s all about handing off things that you are not great at while you’re keeping the stuff you’re great at.
That’s a small business.
But at some point, that entrepreneur has to give away the things they do best so that they can grow the company.
Once the original founder/entrepreneur is no longer doing the stuff they do best, that’s when a small business starts to have scalability and growth. They’re growing people to do those things best. This is the kind of transition entrepreneurs have to make from small business to big business.
The Mindset of a Revolutionary
Whether you’re a startup owner, a manager, an entry-level employee, or wherever you are at this point of your career, what defines you and differentiates you is having the mindset of a revolutionary – always willing to reimagine and revolutionize ideas, systems, and processes.
Particularly, in this world of what seems like recession, depression, and destruction all around us, if you truly look closely and dive deeper, we’re now in a time of greater possibilities. And it takes a revolutionary to see that.
You are a revolutionary if – and only if – you are fascinated by the future, restless for change, patient for progress, and deeply dissatisfied with the status quo.
As a revolutionary, you are never satisfied with the present, because in your head, you can see a better future. The friction between “what is” and “what could be” burns you, stirs you, and propels you forward.
Ultimately, if you truly want to propel your business and your entire organization forward, it’s time to create a customer service revolution. Again, make that emotional connection with your customers. Treat them as human beings, not as sales statistics. Think about the compound effects of executive leadership, not just momentary sales.
Don’t just give your best – make it happen. Get creative. Embrace being an “imposter.” Lead with a vision fueled by your passion and get your team to buy into that. Remember, passion is a choice. Create a customer service vision statement and craft the kind of culture you want for your business.
Grow your team to grow your business. The culture and the training you bring to your people are just as crucial as hiring the right people. And once you’re ready to scale, be willing to give away the things you do best so you can grow the people to do those things best.
Now, let’s go start a revolution!
Hear more about this on our podcast at https://thedijuliusgroup.com/the-customer-service-revolution-podcast/