Making Business Matter
E22 - Discussing Good Customer Service with Marc Gordon - Expert Interview
E22 - Good Customer Service: Interview With 'Canada’s Marketing Superstar', Marc GordonMarc Gordon is an internationally recognised thought leader in the field of customer experience. With over 25 years of marketing and sales experience in a number of diverse industries, he has built a reputation for providing insightful concepts that are both innovative and effective. As an award-winning keynote speaker, Marc has spoken for some of the world’s most respected companies, including Bausch & Lomb, Hilton Hotels, and Mondelez International. Marc is the only speaker in his field to have keynoted at the World Management Forum in Tehran, Iran. Regularly featured on television and radio for his opinions, Marc has shared his thoughts on topics that include the boycotting of brands, customer service in the airline industry, and companies such as Facebook and Starbucks. Marc has been referred to as 'Canada’s marketing superstar' by the Oprah Winfrey Network. Today, we discuss good customer service in more detail.
You Can Read the Transcript of Our Interview Below:Nathan Simmonds: Today I have the pleasure of introducing Marc Gordon. His bio here, again, I'm overwhelmed, I'm staggered at the wonderful people that I get to have a conversation with, their resumes, what they've achieved, what they've accomplished and the areas of expertise they have. Marc Gordon is no exception to this. He is an internationally recognized thought leader and the field of customer experience, with over 25 years of marketing and sales experience in a number of diverse industries. He also has a reputation for providing insight or concepts both innovative and effective. He's an award winning as a keynote speaker. He's spoken with some of the world's most respected companies including Hilton Hotels, Bausch + Lomb, Mondelez International. He's also the only person to have spoken in his area of expertise at the World Management Forum in Tehran in Iran, which itself is pretty staggering. His regularly featured on TV and radio for his opinions. He shares his thoughts on topics that include the boycotting of brands, customer service in the airline industry and companies such as Facebook and Starbucks. Marc has been referred to as Canada's marketing superstar by the Oprah Winfrey Network. Mic drop right there. Nathan Simmonds: Marc, thanks very much for being here, they really appreciate it. Marc Gordon: My pleasure. Thank you for having me. Nathan Simmonds: I got introduced to you a few months ago, it feels like forever ago, just to talk to you about the different ways that you look at customer service, what a good customer experience is, customer expectation and how you manage these as a provider of product or service and as that dialogue opened up there was just so much good stuff in here to share from your ways of thinking and your approaches to these things that can help so many people out, and so many businesses, small, medium enterprises and leaders in their space, it would have been remiss of me not to get you on here and have this conversation that's for certain. Marc Gordon: Well thank you. Nathan Simmonds: The first question from me is always why do you do what you do? Marc Gordon: Wow. Boy, you start off with the serious questions right away don't you? All right. Give me a sec. If I can just open up about this I guess a little bit. So why, that's a great question. Marc Gordon: I guess it starts with the fact that going back as a kid in elementary school I was one of these kids that didn't quite fit in. I wasn't one of the cool kids, I wasn't one of the smart kids, I wasn't one of the athletic kids. I didn't seem to fit into any group and back then when you didn't fit in you became a target for bullying, and through much of school I was bullied relentlessly. It was a time when, unlike today, where it's taken seriously, back then parents, teachers, everyone just shrugged and said, "Kids will be kids." When you are growing up in that kind of environment in school you don't really fit in, you find yourself a target for aggression a lot, you spend a fair amount of time on your own, and in doing so you tend to observe other people. You're kind of on the outside looking in and this was the case for me because I found myself just watching other people. I would spend my lunch hours or recess or whatever, free time, when the other kids were playing, I would just be walking around. Without even realizing it I was observing what relationships were and the dynamics between them and the impact of aggression and passiveness and just the different dynamics of relationships and how people became friends and enemies and everything else. I didn't realize it at the time, but it ingrained in me certain values and certain beliefs. Then as I grew up in my teens and 20s when I started to get involved in owning businesses and starting businesses I realized that this behaviour carries through into the outer world as well and even today, whether you're in your 20s, your 30s, your 40s or beyond, the fact is there is still bullying going on. It's still happening. So, it's happening by customers who are demanding or making unreasonable demands on businesses. It's happening with suppliers that are making unreasonable demands on their customers. It's happening with competitors who are trying to put you out of business. They may be using some form of bully tactic and it may not be open aggression towards you, but at its very core all of this is a form of aggression. I see it so often now and I'm sure you do as well in the marketplace, there doesn't seem to be that attitude of abundance. It seems to be a view of scarcity, that for every client you have or that you attain that means that's a client that I have to lose. So that means for me to succeed you have to fail. A lot of businesses seem to have that attitude. My belief has always been there's enough to go around. It might be a bit of a cliché, but the fact is my belief is if the customer isn't buying from me or doesn't want to buy from me they were never mine to begin with or if I have a customer and they choose to leave for whatever reason they were never mine. We can't control people, but a lot of businesses would like to do that. So over the last 10 years or so as I moved away from really being a service provider or a business owner in the way of products, I was in the auto industry for the better part of a decade, I started to get in the consulting, I really found myself focusing on the whole relationship aspect of business and how all the things that we see as human beings and the way we communicate with each other, how that translates into how we communicate with each other on a business level, on a professional level. It's all those things that I think I absorbed over the years of what I went through in school, but also dealing with people now much like you and I deal with, where we see the different dynamics and different personalities and different traits and how they impact each other and people's desire to want to connect with you or to step away and have nothing to do with you. Marc Gordon: I guess at the end of the day my why is really about wanting people to understand that in business, much like outside of business, in your personal life, it's really about relationships. That's it at the very, very core and whether you want to call it customer experience or customer service or anything else, it's about making people feel valued and appreciated and that's the core of it. Nathan Simmonds: Great. That's interesting. I experienced bullying as well when I was at school. Again, you and I are similar ages in that kind of development, it wasn't discussed, it wasn't talked about and as you were saying that reminded me how I spent time doing the people watching, learning how conflicts played out and watching how different conflicts played out and how certain behaviors took the lead on and controlled different elements of that. Nathan Simmonds: So it's interesting that you bring that to the forefront in this and looking at these things from a customer experience point of view. Again, how my thinking shifting is, is looking at those people in some sense, those people that are interacting with you on a daily basis, they are your customers in some way, shape or form and they're coming to you because they want something and whether it's schoolyard bullying, they're coming to you because they want something. Okay, well how do you deal with that? How do you manage that experience so that it's a win-win for everybody, not at the detriment because of that bullying that you end up in that feeling of lack where if you get one client that means I lose one, when actually how do you become worthy rivals? How do share the competitiveness to drive each other to be better than you were yesterday, rather than diminishing or depreciating yourself or somebody else through conflict and through that aggression. Nathan Simmonds: That stuff just expands and grows and evolves up into adult life, so you see these wounded leaders walking around hurting other people. Why? Because they were probably bullied or they were bullies at school and as a result of that they just carve it into their professional life, they then cascade that down to their staff, who then cascades that back out to your customers. So it's being conscious about the knock on effect of how we are managing our experience for everybody, internally and externally. Marc Gordan: Exactly, and it's interesting what you were saying that... I find when people grow up they obviously bring with them whatever they organically absorbed and experienced when they were kids and it's interesting, I find those who were bullied tend to take one of two routes. They either grow up to become more empathetic and understanding of other people or they tend to take all that anger and they get into positions of power or influence and they in themselves become the bully. It's a revenge tactic and I don't know if they even realize they're doing that. Marc Gordan: To be honest with you, there's a big space in the middle that is healthy. You want to be empathetic, but you still don't want to allow yourself to be walked all over, you want to start becoming assertive and assertive I think is a term that's not used enough. People use the term passive or aggressive, but there's a happy medium about being assertive and you say, "You know what? I'm going to listen to you. I'm going to appreciate you and value what you have to say, but I'm not going to let you intimate me. I'm not going to let you push me around, but I want to work with you and I'm going to listen." I think that's where the healthy part of all this is. Marc Gordan: So it's interesting, when you encounter people in business or even in a personal situation and you see these differences, whether they're acting out, whether they're aggressive, whether they have a huge ego, they're talking about all their great accomplishments or whether they're kind of quiet and passive, you got to ask yourself, "What did this person go through to get to this point?" Nathan Simmonds: There's a couple of dynamics to what you're saying, which is interesting kind of angle we're coming in on. What I didn't learn until a few years ago is hurt people hurt people. I can't remember if it was Dr. Sandra Wilson I think the quote comes from because the route that you talk about, that aggression, that is the route that I took. I was bullied severely and so approach that I took was, "Okay, well how do I make sure I don't get bullied by bullying other people." I'm six foot six, I had aggressive tendencies. I also had done a little bit of martial arts at this time. I funnelled that stuff to make sure I was at the top of the pecking order. I then carried that through into some of my work life, into my sales environments, so that we got great sales results, and we were pushing and driving in different kinds of way, but again, it was aggression and it was ego fuelled. It wasn't until later on when I realized that, that hurt people hurt people. Okay, all this stuff that I'm not dealing with, it was trauma that I haven't processed, all these things I haven't reconciled, all that hate that I had for the individual that was the instigator of this that I'd been holding on for 25 years plus, I was just playing it out time and time again just to prove a point, just to prove a point, just to prove a point and the damage that causes. But then as you come and you have that realization and as you’re saying that to me, is if you look at leadership and leaders and you also look at persecutors, so when you're looking at the drama triangle idea you have the persecutors always the bully, the aggressive, the abuser and you actually look at the skillset and the behaviours they display as a leader and as someone who's the persecutor, those behaviours are very similar, but it's done with a very kind of authentic conscious congruent kind of understanding. It's not about ego, it's about the eco, whereas the persecutor is the self-sustaining ego system, the leader is the self-sustaining ecosystem, so that when they leave it carries on without them. They're not the most important factor in it, so they just give, give, give and they create that experience. My brain just went there, I had to share. Marc Gordon: It's funny what you were saying. Really, it's very weird to hear this because unlike you I don't share your height advantage. I come in at a solid 5'9", but in my late teens I started working out a lot and then in my early 20s I got heavily involved in boxing. So for me it was almost very similar, you went into martial arts, I went into boxing. You had the height advantage, I chose to take the width advantage, but for me it wasn't about the aggression. For me it was in a sense building a wall of protection so that I knew that I had the physical skills to not be pushed. So, I didn't push others, I became very empathetic. I went to the other extreme, so I became very passive and empathetic to other people, but in doing so I became very protective of myself and I built these virtual walls around myself. So if somebody was going to push me, I knew that I could push harder back, but I would never be the first to push. So it's interesting, you and I, we have some interesting parallels there, we just dealt with it differently. You chose to go the more aggressive route and I chose to go the more passive route, neither of which is good, right, and it sounds like at this point in our lives we really kind of met in the middle and understand where our strengths are. What's funny is you and I, I think, are around the same age and it's taken so long. I know probably for me just in the last maybe five or six years I finally figured out how to get everything to align so you don't wake up every morning ready to kill somebody. Nathan Simmonds: Yeah, great, and I completely get that. So the interesting thing is I now teach complaint management, so I teach how to deal with complaints from people and it's all about the customer experience and I joke with people that I used to work door security and lead security teams in some of grottiest nightclubs in the Southeast of England and also managing the customer experience of all places Night Time and Fortune magazine when I was living in Amsterdam, so I can deal with pretty much any situation you want to throw at me. I think partly because of that being bullied and being the bully I almost get to see this really extreme both sides, the real extremities of both sides of that equation, which gives me a unique perspective when dealing with complaints and conflict situations and because of that realization I can stand in a room and share that with really clear examples on the phone, on the dance floor, all these sorts of things that just help bring it to life for other people as well. Had I not gone through that bullying at school, no I wouldn't be the person I am today and I wouldn't have those experiences to share forward and there's huge value in those things. It's like reconciling that stuff so you don't feel like that in the morning, but then how do you share it with other people? Because sure the grass is greener, sky is blue there's a million people out there still going through that experience even as we speak. Anyway, we digress from the customer experience, customer service, didn't see that coming. Look, so back on track. It is about the experience. For what you do and the things that you've spoken about with me previously what's important about customer service and customer experience to you? Marc Gordon: First I think it's important to separate customer experience from customer service. A lot of people consider this to be two sides of the same coin or sometimes they'll use the phrases interchangeably. My belief is that they are two different things where one is part of another. I break it down into generally multiple parts when I talk to customers. There's customer care, customer support and customer service, and these are three separate things along the entire journey. Customer care is really how they treat you overall. So for example, when you walk in a restaurant and they say, "Good evening, Nathan. How was your day? Thank you for coming by. It's great to see you again. Let me find you your usual table," they make you feel special. To me that's customer care. Customer support is generally how they treat you or the kind of service you get when you need something from them. A great example of this is technical support. You buy a product, it doesn't work you or have some software, you don't know how to use it, you call the company or you call your phone company to make some changes. How do they treat you? Are they kind and courteous? Do they take the time to explain things clearly? This is customer support. Customer service, very similar to customer support, but it only happens when things go wrong, when there's a problem. So again, back to the restaurant idea, you've gone to the restaurant, you ordered a steak, you asked for it medium rare, they bring it to you extra well done, you send it back. How quickly do they take care of the problem? How do they compensate you? How do they get things back on track so you're back to having a good time? Or if you have a product and you go back to the store and say, "This product doesn't work." Do they make you feel like it's your fault, like there's something wrong with you as a customer or do they take it back no questions asked and say, "What can we do to make things right?" That's customer service. Marc Gordon: All of these things are under the umbrella of customer experience. So customer experience to me is the entire journey that you take from your first point of contact with a business to the last point when you've had the product, when the transaction is done and you're off and even to an extent, by the way, it can continue on after that. So things like post sale service support, things like that. That can all still be part of the customer experience. There really is no definitive end, as long as you're continuing to have any kind of transaction with the business the customer experience can continue on. So again, if you go to a store and you buy a product and you leave and you never returned in theory the customer experience ended as soon as you walked out of the store, but if you, let's say, use some kind of software and you have some kind of service agreement and every month you're needing upgrades and every month you're needing technical support and every month you're needing some kind of assistance or back and forth communication with the company, then in theory the customer experience never really ends or at least until you perhaps end this contract. The entire journey encompasses the experience that you're going to receive and each one of these things, customer care, customer support and customer service can impact the experience. Nathan Simmonds: As you were saying that though, it's not counter to, in it is that definition of the customer experience for me, I don't think the customer does end. Right now I'm looking at my laptop, I'm looking at my mic. My customer experience happened the moment I went onto a well-known brand on the internet to find my products and I happen to buy that one. When that arrived to me, is it still working? Is it still giving me what I asked for? How long does it last for? The customer kind of is, it's almost like minimizing the screen. You minimize the tap down on the experience on that product and it just sits there ticking away in the background, like on your laptop when you do the task manager and all of a sudden when there's a problem or you need to go back, all of the sudden that tab pops back up again and you pick up the customer experience where you left off with that product or with that individual. So yeah, it's just interesting that you said that. I was just thinking, "Hold on." You may not be thinking about it, but you're always in a customer experience with these people. Marc Gordon: In a manner of speaking, yeah. The thing is though where I come from and where I work with companies it's really about the interaction. So for example, like you said with a product. So let's say you buy a car and you have a wonderful experience at the dealership and you get the car and you're absolutely thrilled. Everything is fantastic, you take the car home and then in a span of a couple weeks all kinds of things start to happen. All these problems occur with the car. Where I come from is that the customer experience is not impacted by the problems you're having with the car. How the customer experience is impacted is what happens when you go back to the dealership and you say, "These are the problems I'm having," and then the dealership, whatever action they take, at this point, by the way, it would be customer service because you're having a problem. So you go back to the dealership, the car won't start, it's making weird noises, things are rattling, I'm not thrilled with it, I've only had it a month. The response that they give, that is customer service and that contributes to the overall customer experience. In a manner of speaking you are correct, whether you enjoy your car, every time you sit in that car if you love it or hate it, it does contribute to the experience to the point that it either reinforces your love of the brand or there's a disconnect or you're starting to hate the brand, but in terms of actually experience, my stance would be it really is about the interaction you have with the company. So, for example, things could be great and for whatever reason you choose to disassociate from the brand. You could buy yourself a pair of Nike shoes and they last you a long time and you love them and everything is great and there's never a problem, but you know what? When they wear out and it's time to buy a new pair, for whatever reason you choose a different brand. Had nothing to do with the company, had nothing to do with whether the shoes performed well or not. Sometimes there's external influencers such as market or some story somebody told you that they said, "You know what? If you like Nike, wait until you try this other brand. I've been using them for years and they're absolutely amazing," and this person has a lot of influence on you per se and you're like, "You know what? I'll give it a try." Where I come from when I work with companies, my assumption is that they've already got a decent product or service. I tell everyone if you're producing garbage I can't help you with that, that's an internal issue. What I can do though is help you deal with customers in a way that keeps them coming back. By the way, it should be noted that there's nothing wrong with producing a subpar product and anyone who's ever bought something from a pound store or from a dollar store, you know what you're getting isn't going to be a very good quality, but you're okay with that because your expectations are in line with what they provide. So I tell clients all the time, no matter what industry you're in, if you want to compete on price and produce something really lousy, that's okay, but it's important that the customers understand what they're getting because a lot of that has to do with expectations and the expectations will be probably the biggest influencer on the experience that they get. Nathan Simmonds: Absolutely. Like you say, if you're going to a dollar store, you're going to the pound land, you know what you're going to be getting there. Potentially if that product breaks down in six months, 12 months on, you will not be going back there to get a refund on your one pound. You get what you pay for in some senses. Marc Gordon: And you'd have no problem going back and spending another pound to replace it. Nathan Simmonds: Yeah, absolutely. Marc Gordon: You're okay with that, yeah. Nathan Simmonds: I was going to say and that may be some of the problems with the world at large at the moment, but we'll come back to that another day. Nathan Simmonds: So look, thinking about a good customer experience then, what's a good example of good customer experience? Marc Gordon: A good customer experience, it means different things to different people. The problem is we live in a world right now where businesses are being told that they have to wow the customer, that they have to have the customer leaving the experience or leaving the purchase so ecstatic and overjoyed that they rush out and they tell other friends and they'll be loyal for life. This is what a lot of businesses are being told, and research has shown that that's not the case. That as a business you don't have to wow your customers, you don't have to exceed expectations, which is a term a lot of businesses are believing they have to do. The fact is we as human beings, the way our brains work, if we're told we're going to get something and we actually get it, all the buttons have been pressed, all the boxes have been checked, we're good. When things are given to us above that, things that we weren't expecting or didn't ask for, in may situations we don't place as much value on it. I compare it to someone finding money. You find a $20 or £20 bill... is there a £20? Okay, a £20 bill. So, you find a £20 bill, you're overjoyed, you put it in your pocket. Later in the day you lose the £20, you had it but now it's gone. Do you feel bad? Yes, but you know what? You're not really feeling that bad because you didn't work for it. You just found it, you had it and now you lost it like, "Ah, I can't believe I lost it." But if you had to work for that £20 and then you lost it, you'd feel really bad because you had something invested in it. When it comes to customer experience it's pretty much the exact same thing. When we're told what we're going to get or when experience tells us what we're going to get we put in that investment, that emotional and mental investment. But when we're given something that exceeds what we're expecting or something we didn't even ask for, it's the equivalent of finding that £20 note on the ground. It's really nice, but it doesn't really mean a lot to us. A great example is if you go to Starbucks and you go to Starbucks, you stand in line, you place your order, they give you what you asked for and you leave. You didn't get anything that you weren't expecting and you don't get anything beyond what you were expecting. In fact, for many of, going to Starbucks is so routine, we can't remember the name of the person who served us. We can't remember whether the place was busy or empty, we can't remember the song that was playing through the sound system. A lot of us, we spend our entire transaction in Starbucks, from the time we walk in to the time we leave looking at our phones. We only raise our head long enough to give them our order and to make payment and then we go back to looking at our phones, and we take it and we leave, and you know what? We're happy. We're thrilled and we go back to Starbucks the next day to do it all over again. Why? Because we got exactly what we expected. But here's an interesting spin on this. Let's say for example, you go into Starbucks and they say, "Nathan, it's so great to see you again. We appreciate your business and we just want you to know how much we appreciate it. Today we're giving you a free muffin, just to say thanks for being such an awesome customer." So you're like, "Oh wow, that's really nice." So you walk out with your coffee and your free muffin. Well the next day you go back there's no mention of a free muffin. Now you know consciously well why should you get a free muffin again. You know it's not going to be a daily thing, but subconsciously, much like with Pavlov's Dog, it's called conditioning, right, it salivated every time it heard the bell because it knew food was coming. We as humans, we're not much smarter, but we are faster. So for conditioning is much more impactful. So you went there once, you got that free muffin because they appreciated and valued your business and you as a customer, but the next day they didn't mention it at all. You didn't get a muffin and they didn't say, "Thank you for being such a great customer," and I guarantee you, you will leave not feeling quite as fulfilled, not quite as happy as had they just never given you a muffin at all. On a very deep subconscious level you will feel a little bit let down because you're not as important to them as you were the day before. Nathan Simmonds: Okay, exactly that and the phrase that I've used a lot recently or with people is we don't rise to the expectation, we fall back to the level of training in crisis situations. When you flip this over though and actually people start to raise the expectation you're constantly left wanting or feeling left out and you're it's not meant for some reason and it has to be managed, but like you say, there's that void, "Oh no one said my name today. Oh, I don't feel as special as I did yesterday when so-and-so served me." Like you say, if you've gone out there and constantly trying to wow the customers they're always going to be expecting that for the same price and when you're not delivering that, you can be selling yourself short. Marc Gordon: Right, and this is part of the problem with marketing, is a lot of businesses feel that through their marketing they have to talk about how amazing they are, how unbelievable their service is, that they've got the best of this and the highest quality of that and the lowest prices of that and everything else. So what they're doing is they're raising the bar often to a point that they can't even meet it themselves. So, in many cases it's the business's fault that these customers are having unrealistic expectations. The auto industry has been doing this for decades, where they would talk about how well a car handle and how well it feels and how durable it is and everything else, and you get in and it's not really as great as they made it out to be. Why? Because... it's not your fault as a consumer, it's their fault because they told you that this was going to be an absolutely amazing vehicle. The hospitality industry is famous for this. Hotels or restaurants. How many restaurants have you seen where they say the city's best burger or the city's best steak and you go in and say, "You know, this isn't really what I would consider the city's best steak." Maybe it is, maybe it isn't, who knows, but that's a serious expectation, especially in a city like London. That's a big city to make those kinds of claims. It's serious stuff and it can cause people to have unrealistic expectations. Nathan Simmonds: And subjective, which is where it's getting a little foggy, it makes it more difficult. So leading on from that now and kind of setting the expectation, how do you create a good customer experience? Marc Gordon: I like to fall back on three words and this is what I use as a foundation for everything I do and that being easy, convenient and stress-free. If you can create an experience that does all of these things, so it's easy for the customer to do whatever it is they want to do. So, for example, your website. If they want to purchase something from your website how many screens did they have to go through, how many clicks, how many pieces of information did they have to share? Were they able to make it very easy? You look at Amazon, for example, incredibly easy to buy anything you want, just a couple of mouse clicks and it's going to be at your door in 24 hours. Easy. Convenient. Do you work on your terms as a business or do you work on their terms? So for example, how accessible are you? How quickly do you get back to the customer when they have a question? So many companies now are only accepting inquiries by emails, specifically like software companies, for example. So there's no phone number. So you email them. Do they get back to you in an hour, in a day? How convenient is it for the customer? Then of course, stress. The customer should never feel stress and stress is a killer. We as human beings, our brains are wired, we don't like stress and stress can be anything from receiving bad service to even having to make decisions that we don't want to have to make. This is one of the unique paradoxes of choice, for example, is businesses will tell you, "We have this many flavours of ice cream. We have 50 flavours of ice cream," and people are like, "That's amazing." So what happens? You go into the place and you can't figure out which flavour to have. There's so many you're overcome, you're overburdened with the decision making process to have to choose something as simple as the right flavour of ice cream. Then what happens is really interesting. When you finally make that choice and you walk out, studies have shown that you're not quite as happy as you would have been if there were few choices. Why? Because you're walking out and you're looking at this chocolate ice cream cone you just took or whatever and you're thinking to yourself, "You know there were 49 other choices. Did I make the right one?" Nathan Simmonds: I see this as kind of time with my wife when we go out for dinner and she orders something and there's always this, "Oh, now I've got food envy because someone else plate arrived and it looked more appetizing than mine," and, "I'm not sharing, so tough." In the nicest possible way. But like you said, and I don't think it's about reducing the choice down. I don't know, is it about helping making it easier for people to actually make the right choice for them when you create that experience. Rather than overwhelming them with choices, almost get them into the right buckets, break them down by client need and demographic and help that person feel more comfortable with the choice they're making, whether it's vanilla, raspberry ripple or mint choc chip and I know mint chocolate chip is a controversial one, but it actually help, so when they leave they don't feel like they've lost out. Marc Gordon: It's tough. That's a great point. In certain businesses and industries I think you have that luxury of being able to spend time with the customer, really figure out what it is they want and taking a lead and saying, "You know, based on what you've told me, based on your needs, based on your industry and how you're going to use the product, I believe that this is the right one for you. This is the one that will do everything you need," or you take that lead as an authority, as a knowledge based expert, but in many industries, like with the ice cream, I don't think it's functional or practical for a business to have an ice cream consultant walk you around and get a sense of what motivates you, whether it be strawberry ripple or mint chocolate chip. We live in a society, first world problems, where we like lots of choice and I guarantee you the ice cream store that has 50 flavours will be more popular than the ice cream store that has 20 flavours. That's just how we are as a society, even though going to the 20 flavoured store and buying from there you may actually have had a more pleasant experience because you didn't have to go through the stress of looking at so many flavours, but that's now how we work. So for businesses there's that balance act between giving people what they believe they want but also directing them to what they really need and making them feel that the right decision was made. Nathan Simmonds: Absolutely, in their best interest and making sure that you're meeting the expectation and giving them what they actually want and need and a solution. Marc Gordon: Absolutely. Nathan Simmonds: So that way they're happy with the experience. Leading on from that then what are the three most important things in customer service? Marc Gordon: First thing I'd say is to understand that the customer is not always right. Now the customer can be king or queen, but the customer isn't always right. There's going to be situations where the customer is going to have a problem with a product that they didn't buy from you and you have to let them know. There's going to be situations where the customer bought the product on their own accord, they decided that this was the right product for them and it turned out not to be and they come back and try to put the onus on you. That's not to say you send them away, but to take responsibility for that, that's something that I don't think a business should have to do. A lot of times too I think it's important to understand that unhappy customers, in many cases they're unhappy simply because they don't feel valued or appreciated. Studies have shown that in many cases an unhappy customer that is made to feel valued, appreciated and wanted will often leave more loyal than a customer who never had a problem, even if they didn't get the outcome that they were hoping for. For example, if somebody returned a product to a store and said, "I don't like this product, I want my money back, but for whatever reason they couldn't get a refund and instead they got a store credit, but in that process were made to feel that their business was valued and appreciated, a lot of times they'll leave happier than when they came in, even though they actually didn't get what they wanted. Then the third thing I would say is... Oh, you know what? I covered the three, I said the customer is not always right and then in most customers they just want to be valued and appreciated and then knowing the customers who didn't get what they wanted would still end up being more loyal. So I guess I inadvertently still covered the three. Nathan Simmonds: Yeah, you absolutely did. An interesting thing is when I'm talking about internal and external customers, when you're looking at it from a leadership point of view is your team is your customer at the end of the day. When you are a leader of a group of people they do not work for you, you work for them, you're there to support them, and as I was thinking about that and you're saying there have been times that I've had to fire people and remove them from business because they weren't appropriate for the business, the skillset and the behaviours weren't appropriate to remain inside that place. Yet at the same time with the respect and integrity that I come to with that conversation people would still feel valued and I would still have people say, "Thank you," to me at the end of that conversation because I gave them that respect and that dignity, going through that process. So, like you say, with that customer experience making sure actually that person will still go away and say, "Do you know what? That job wasn't right for me, but the leadership team, hats off to them because this is how they treat their people." Marc Gordon: The fact is everybody is a customer. Nathan Simmonds: All the time. Marc Gordon: Everybody, everybody. It's amazing how many employees buy from their own employers. Maybe they do it because there's a discount, but I'm pretty sure in most cases they do it because they really believe in the product or service that's being provided. Nathan Simmonds: Absolutely, and you want them to be advocates for your business, so maybe their children come work for you or maybe they go and tell so-and-so to come and work for you and actually that ripple effect of how the experience you're creating for that individual so they can come and be part of that experience because it feels good and it feels right and really important. Marc Gordon: Absolutely. Nathan Simmonds: So to make that happen then what is a customer service, customer experience strategy? Marc Gordon: I think kind of on what you touched on, I think every employee needs to understand their role in the customer experience journey. They need to know that in many ways they can be the most powerful and influential salesperson you have in your organization, whether it be the receptionist who picks up the phone or the guy in the back of the warehouse who brings the product to your car. Everybody has the ability to influence that experience. I've seen this in so many cases where you get salespeople at the front who are absolutely wonderful and then you get people who are at the back in the warehouse or a manufacturing they don't think they have anything to do with customers and then they have that odd interaction and all of a sudden there's a conflict or an issue or some kind of miscommunication because they don't either have that skillset to communicate or customers or they don't have a desire to really try to carry on that experience or that philosophy. So that would be the first thing, is everyone needs to understand their role in the customer experience journey. Companies need to empower every employee to make decisions that are not only good for the company, but also good for the customer. Every employee needs to work within some framework to understand where they can move within the decision making process. So for example, a salesperson may have the authority to lower the price a certain amount or the manufacturing manager may have the authority to make slight modifications if need be or the receptionist may have the authority to move somebody into an open appointment to see certain staff where otherwise they wouldn't be able to, but she knows that they're a good customer, so she's not going to make them wait, she's going to put them through the front of the line, things like that. That's what important. You can't have everybody just following the book because the world doesn't work that way. Then the last thing being employees need to be rewarded. Staff need to be rewarded for helping contribute to a positive experience and that reward can take on many different forms, whether it be a financial incentive or just to be called out among their peers and being shown as an example of the right way to do something or turning a problem into an opportunity or contributing new ideas. They really need to be told and appreciated that they are contributing to not only what's good for the customer but what's good for the company and that the two are in fact in sync with each other. So everybody again, just like customers, they want to feel valued and appreciated. The same goes for employees. Nathan Simmonds: And it's more important because if they don't feel valued they're not going to make the customer feel valued. Marc Gordon: Absolutely. Nathan Simmonds: If they don't feel like that they're being included they won't want to include anyone else, that includes the customers, and that's absolutely vital to having this conversation, talking about psychological safety. Do people feel safe at work? Do they feel included and do they feel like they want contribute because these are going to come up with the best ideas, they're going to help you get to more customers because they can see what's going on, on a daily basis. They do that and they build the relationships, more customers stay, which is phenomenally powerful. The other side of what came up and I think you were just saying, it's super easy these days to publicize a negative experience, super easy and as you were saying the customer experience, two examples, one recent, one slightly older. I think it was Delta Airlines with the musician that he looked out his window and he could see the guys loading the baggage on, basically playing American football with his guitar as it was being... and he probably- Marc Gordan: It became a mime, United breaks guitars. United Airlines, yeah. Nathan Simmonds: Yeah, and it became a mime, it became a YouTube hit because it was song all about how these guys had mucked around with his guitar and they saw something just like not... this is where the customer experience isn't congruent all the way through every individual in that chain. The other side of it is empowering people, giving them the ability to make a decision that's right, myself in this situation with our credit card company, I simply wanted to move our promotional rate over by three months to help facilitate what's going on in the current circumstance. I waited 35 minutes to get through to the man in the contact centre. He couldn't make a decision, he had to make a contact with another department, which took 15 minutes, to come back to tell me, "No, we're not able to do that. You need to call back in three months’ time." When actually you know what the right thing is to do. Because of the current situation you reduce the barriers with the people inside your business, because it's good for the customers that are waiting on the phone to come through because they'll be thousands of them, that you give these guys a sense of autonomy, a sense of power and ability to do the right thing at the right time for the right person rather than put more barriers in because we're waiting for someone else to tell us what to do. Which all you're doing is just nullifying anyone's autonomy and fulfilment in their role. [crosstalk 00:45:52] Marc Gordon: That organization did not empower their staff and not only did they not empower them, but they really, I'm guessing at no point sat down and said, "Okay, here's the situation. We're going to create," back to that framework, "We're create this invisible square or circle and we're going to let you make decisions within that circle. So when it comes to people asking for these kinds of concessions or these kinds of promotions we're going to let you make the call. Look at their profile. Are they good customers? Have they been there a long time? Do they deserve it. If you feel they deserve it, let them have it." It sounds to me like they didn't do that with your credit card company. It's interesting we said about the United thing, to build on that, the whole situation with United breaks guitars becoming a mime and the YouTube video and everything else, that didn't happen because they broke his guitar. It happened because he went to them and said, "You guys broke my guitar," and they said, "Too bad." So it should be noted that had they said, "You know what? We're really sorry. We didn't mean to do it. Go out, get yourself a new guitar, send us the bill, we'll take care of it," we would not have known anything about it or if we did it would have shared a wonderful story. So it wasn't that they destroyed his guitar, it was the fact that they refused to take responsibility for it. That's what did them in. Nathan Simmonds: And that's what brought the advertising and I know people say, "No, there's no such thing as bad advertising." Yeah, I beg to differ. It's not working well in that sense. Crickey, the time has flown as always with these sorts of conversations, which is why I love doing them because we open up so many different cans of worms. The penultimate question as always, which is the same for me, how do you make behavioural change stick? Marc Gordon: With regards to my clients or... Nathan Simmonds: Clients, people you're speaking to, whoever it is, how do you make that stuff stick? Marc Gordon: The fact is they have to make it stick. I can't make it stick. I cannot motivate people to do anything they don't want to do. All I can do is inspire people. They have to understand the impact of their actions both positive and negative and this goes for any business person, whether you're a business owner, whether you're a salesperson or whatever it is, if you want to change your relationships with your customers, be it positive or negative, if you have an understanding of how your actions will do that then it's up to you to pick what route you want to go. So, what I do is I say, "This is what your customers want because they're people. This is what people want. They want that ease, convenience, stress free situations. This is what your customers want and here's what you can do to facilitate that, to make that a reality." Now if they want to do it, great, I will help them. If they say, "You know what? We're not going to do that." I've had many businesses that I've worked with over the years who've said, "You know what? You've given us a list of five things we need to do. We're going to one. One of those things we're comfortable with, everything else is just not going to work for us." I say, "Okay, do that one, focus on the one, see what happens. Maybe it'll make a difference, maybe it won't. It probably will make some difference." The fact is if they don't believe in what they're doing and are really focused on what they want that outcome to be, there's nothing I can do and you and I, I'm sure we both know of businesses right off the top of our head, I'm sure those watching and listening to this can think of businesses who just provide the worst experience ever and the worst service ever and you don't why they're still in business and you just want to call up the owner or the manager and say, "Why do you treat people so badly?" And the answer would be, number one, they likely don't think they're treating people badly, no one ever does, but two, they're probably still getting enough business because for whatever reason customers are still buying, there may not be an alternative. If you're, for example, the only Chinese food restaurant in town and people want Chinese food, they're going to come to you no matter how bad the service is, but all it takes is one other Chinese food place to open up down the street and you're out of business in no time. So at the end of the day it's really about knowing what it is you want as an outcome and having that desire to make that happen. That's the core of everything, whether they work with me or anybody else, they have to know what they want. Nathan Simmonds: It's that internal dialogue. For me, the difference between motivation and inspiration as I teach people and train them, motivation is external, inspiration is internal, and when you're inspired to do it, it's an internal dialogue. It's not the packet is sweet to the bottle of wine or whatever it is for whatever you did, know the ‘Carrot’. We like the recognition, we like those rewards occasionally. It makes the day even more interesting. It doesn't make you get what you really want to be, it doesn't necessarily make sure it's going to stick in there. Another analogy, another story popped up in my head. There used to be a Chinese restaurant near where I worked, some miles from here now. People went there because the people that worked there were so offensive to them it was funny. So these guys would be openly rude to you, they would swear at you and the food was good, it was okay, but people went there because it was such a comedy show that these guys would be so rude to you. Again, as you talked about, it's about the expectation, what do you expect to get? If you're going to Hilton Hotels and someone speaks to you like that there's a problem. You go to this Chinese restaurant, you get good Chinese food and you get abused and it's funny for 30 minutes, you go to the Chinese restaurant where you get abused every time. It's meeting that expectation that you're creating for your client, knowing your client in one sense, create the environment and then go in there and build that experience from your team, so that it's congruent with the people around you and meet that expectation every time rather than make a rod for your own bat by creating a bar that's too high that makes people feel undervalued when you don't meet it the next time. Phenomenally powerful. Marc Gordon: Very true. Nathan Simmonds: Phenomenally powerful, Marc. Thank you very much. Last question before we break this down, again maybe, is where can people find you? Marc Gordon: Well if anyone wants to learn more about me and what I can do, all they have to do is visit marcgordan.ca. That's Marc with a C, so marcgordon.ca and here's what I'd like to do because I know that your listeners and those watching us they might be wondering what can they do, what direction to move in because there's a lot that we've covered and it might be a little overwhelming. So, here's what I'd like to do. If they go to my website, there's going to be a banner, they'll see on the homepage, it says "20 minutes that can change your business." They click on that and I will give them 20 minutes, no sales pitch, no nothing. 20 minutes, one on one consulting by Zoom or Skype or phone or whatever works for them, any question they want to ask, anything that we've covered during our time together here or anything pertaining to their business. 20 minutes with me, straight up, no sales pitch, no nothing, absolutely free. Nathan Simmonds: Amazing. To do that to help any business whether it's small, medium, large, just to get 20 minutes of one question fire it in there, get some expertise, come back, help them take another step down that road to move towards creating that experience they want to create or getting their business where they want to get it, your... and we haven't even touched on your track record of business building and entrepreneurship inside this conversation, that 20 minutes will be invaluable, worth its weight, whatever, I can't give a more descriptive words than this is take the opportunity. Go and get 20 minutes with Marc and have the conversation, see where you're going to go to with this. It will be worth your investment in that time. Marc Gordon: We've had business people say it's literally changed their lives, no joke, absolutely Nathan Simmonds: You know what? I'm signing you for one. I'm going to make sure I'm going to the website and I'm signing up for one, so that's it, so that's good, we're square. Marc, thank you so very much for today. It's so very appreciated. Any final words that you would like to finish on before we close down this conversation? Marc Gordon: You know what? Number one, thank you for the opportunity. It's been great chatting with you as always and I know we've had many talks outside of this, so it's great that we've been able to share some of our ideas with your listeners and viewers. At the end of the day I think businesses really just need to understand that it's not about the customer-vendor relationship, it is really just people. People buy from people they like and trust and if you just treat people the way you would want to be treated. It sounds like such a cliché, but it's really true, at its very core, we just all want to be loved. We want to be valued, we want to be appreciated, we want to be welcomed. All you have to do is do that and that's like 99% of success right there. If that's the one thing they take out of all our time together, that's all they have to do is just treat people like you really want them to be there, like you appreciate the fact that they took time out of their day, out of all the options and choices out there, they picked you. They picked you and your products, your restaurant, your car dealership, your hairdressing salon, wherever it is, whatever you do, people picked you and you just have to let them know how much you appreciated that and if you do that everything else will fall into place. Nathan Simmonds: Amazing. Marc, thank you very much. Look, for those that have been listening to this in this Sticky interview dig in, go and have a conversation with Marc, share your concerns and your questions and your queries and help him develop your thinking. So you can create that experience more often than not, that people want to come to, where they feel appreciated and they feel like they want to be part of that and they will be your customer and continue to be your customer. Amazing. Thank you again. Look forward to sharing another interview with you in the very near future. Nathan Simmonds: Firstly, massive thank you from the MBM team for tuning into this Sticky interview, and if you haven't already done so, now is the time to click "subscribe" and stay up to date with our new training videos and great interviews. Secondly, if you want to learn more about the skills we've been talking about in this episode, click the link and take a look at the MBM virtual classrooms. They're there to help you be the best version of you in the work that you do. Until next time, see you soon.
For further leadership tips and information, you can take a look at our Ultimate Guide to Leadership Skills and our Leadership Skills YouTube Channel. Also, check out our award-winning blog to see more Leadership Skills Tips and articles.
Brought to you by Making Business Matter of Making Business Matter