Say What!

It’s shocking how often people use 38 words to describe something when 2 would do the trick – we’re looking at you lawyers and accountants! Words matter and there is no excuse for trying to hide what you mean. We explore words and messaging in this next iteration of SAY WHAT?!

Episode 94: The COVID-19 Experience

Thanks for joining us for a special episode of the Experience This! Show podcast.

Depending on when you first became aware of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 and its impact on individuals, businesses, and society at large, chances are better than not that you’re now 100% aware of this pandemic situation.

We felt like this new, unprecedented situation called for a special episode. COVID-19 is already having significant impacts on customer and employee experience around the world and we can’t begin to imagine the longterm effects of this pandemic on all aspects of business going forward.

This is a serious topic, with serious implications, that we don’t fully understand just yet given the speed in which this virus has spread around the globe and the fact that scientists worldwide are working around the clock to understand. Our comments and discussions are based on the best information we have at the time of this recording – March 21, 2020.

For the first time in human history, everyone – regardless of age, gender, race, nationality, culture, creed, or socio-economic standing – is dealing with the same issues at the same time. While the world is filled with uncertainty, one thing remains clear today – as it has always been: people who take care of their customers and employees during a crisis will have customers and employees when things get better (which in time, they certainly will).

[Say What?] Communication in Times of Crisis

Everyone is communicating with their customers about COVID-19 right now – but most of the communications feel the same as they outline extra precautions being taken, enhanced cleaning protocols, and the like. While these communications certainly have a place, they aren’t as effective as they could be.

Some organizations are communicating with their customers in unique ways:

What can you do to make your communications during the COVID-19 pandemic more actionable and meaningful to your customers?

  1. Don’t Just “Check the Box” in Communicating with Customers – It’s not enough to send an email that says “we’re thinking of you.” Do more than the minimum required.
  2. Project Calm and Confidence – Let your customers know what you’re doing for them and make suggestions as to how they can take action to help themselves as well.
  3. Identify Opportunities to Provide Real Value in Context with Your Brand Offerings – You have expertise to share to help your customers navigate this situation. Don’t sell, but make every attempt to provide value based on your skills, knowledge, or expertise.

[Required Remarkable] Relaxing Policies & Procedures

Every business needs policies and procedures to function. That being said, policies and procedures are not meant for times of pandemic. What we’re seeing now is that the most forward thinking, customer-centric businesses are already adjusting and revising their policies to show that they are conscious of the dramatic impact COVID-19 is having on all of their customers. Examples of great changes in policies and procedures include:

What can you do to make your policies and procedures more conscious of the COVID-19 pandemic?

  1. Review All of Your Policies and Procedures NOW to Come Up with COVID-19 Conscious Versions – Focus on doing the right thing for your customers and employees.
  2. Be Empathetic – Brands endear themselves to customers and employees based on how the behave in times of crisis. What you do now will be remembered later.
  3. Put People Over Profits – Make the hard decisions to consistently put people (customers, employees, vendors, etc.) over profits. They won’t forget it.
  4. Trust Your Gut – You actually know exactly what to do – even if it feels difficult or challenging. Remember that EVERY business on the planet is dealing with COVID-19 right now. You’re not alone.

[Dissecting the Experience] Helping Your Employees

In the best of times, happy customers equals happy employees. The inverse (happy customers equals happy employees) stands true as well. These maxims apply during times of crises too.

As more companies come to grip with the realities of COVID-19, many companies are stepping forward to help their employees. By being flexible and doing all they can to make sure employees feel safe and taken care of, organizations are making it easier for their employees to keep taking care of their customers. Some employee-centric activies include:

  • Do not require anyone to come into work who doesn’t absolutely need to be there physically.
  • Practice social distancing religiously and make sure employees are equipped with proper protection (e.g., sanitizer, gloves, masks, etc.)
  • Be flexible in allowing employees to take care of their families during this stressful time – especially those with children who are suddenly home from school due to school closures around the country.

What can you do to make sure your employees are taken care of during the COVID-19 pandemic?

  1. Happy Employees = Happy Customers – Don’t forget to take great care of the people that serve your customer.
  2. Front-Line Employees Represent Your Brand Now and Always – Make sure that the people who have the most contact with your customers have everything they need (professionally and personally) to deliver the customer experience you desire.
  3. You Will Need Your Employees in the Future – Just as you are going to need your customers after the COVID-19 crisis passes, you will also need your employees! This is the time to engender pride in and loyalty to the organization.

[This Just Happened] The Experience when You’re the Customer

The COVID-19 crisis is impacting everyone. While many businesses are thinking about their customers and their employees, one category of people your business interacts with that are being hit hard by this virus are your suppliers.

Every business has suppliers, vendors, and merchants that provide critical products and services in order to keep the business running. Every individual has providers and merchants that deliver personal services they want, need, and/or appreciate. During this trying time, what are you doing to take care of your suppliers/providers so that they are still in business after the crisis ends?

Lots of businesses will struggle and close – especially small and local businesses – you can do your part to help them survive by following a four step process:

  1. Make a List of Your Key Suppliers – Both in your personal and professional life.
  2. Reach Out and Discuss the Situation – Address the elephant in the room that is the COVID-19 crisis and talk openly and honestly about your desire to continue to do business with your suppliers/providers during and after the pandemic.
  3. Get Creative – Purchase gift cards, pre-book appointments, pay for services that can’t be rendered during this time but are important to you so that the people delivering these to you are still in business when things start to return to normal.
  4. Thank Them – Customer service workers and account mangers are doing all they can to help in these trying times. In difficult circumstances, a kind word to an overwhelmed customer service representative doesn’t just help advance your position, but it’s the right thing to do.

[CX Press] Using Company Resources to Help

Every business has unique skills that can help their customers during the COVID-19 crisis. The most creative companies have identified ways to provide valuable resources to their customers and prospects alike – without worrying about monetizing every interaction. Some of the more generous COVID-19 “offers” include:

  • Loom (video recording and sharing service) – made Loom Pro free for teachers and students at K-12 schools, universities, and educational institutions.
  • LinkedIn – made sixteen of its learning courses free – highlighting courses that provide tips on how to stay productive, how to build relationships when you’re not face-to-face, and how to use virtual meeting tools.
  • Comcast, Charter, Verizon, Google, T-Mobile and Sprint have signed a pledge to keep Americans internet-connected for the next 60 days – even if people cannot afford to pay.
  • Even more generous offers from businesses can be found in this “running tally” from the team at JUST Capital here.

Some additional resources that we found to be extremely useful in their “positive” tone include:

10 Positive Updates on the COVID-19 Outbreaks From Around the World – by McKinley Corbley on Good News Network

The FutureLoop Pandemic Special Edition – by Peter Diamandis

What can you do to make sure your products, services, and expertise more easily available to people that can benefit from it during the COVID-19 pandemic?

  1. Remember Your Unique Abilities – Companies have the unique ability to provide resources to dramatical help their communities of customers and prospects.
  2. Find a Way to Give Back, Even in a Small Way – Every little contribution helps when people are struggling at a global level.
  3. Make Time to Appreciate the Positives – Now more than ever it’s important to not get caught up in the negative news and instead look for positive stories of customer delight, employees going above and beyond, and organizations working together to help everyone navigate the COVID-19 crisis.

[Season 5 Sponsors] Thank You Avtex!

We want to thank our wonderful sponsor for Season 5 of the Experience This! Show – our good friends at Avtex.

Avtex’s knowledge and experience in orchestration allows them to help you leverage the people, processes, and technology you need to implement your plan. You can learn more about the great team at Avtex by visiting their website at www.avtex.com

Thank you for joining us in this unprecedented podcast episode of Experience This! Our normal episodes (all recorded prior to the COVID-19 pandemic) will return next week.

Links We Referenced

Host Contact Information

Email Dan: Dan@dangingiss.com

Tweet Dan Gingiss: @DGingiss

Email Joey: JoeyC@JoeyColeman.com

DanGingiss.com

JoeyColeman.com

Subscribe to Experience This on Apple Podcasts

Episode Transcript

Download a transcript of the entire Episode 94 here or read it below:

Joey Coleman: Welcome to Experience This.

Dan Gingiss: Where you’ll find inspiring examples of customer experience, great stories of customer service, and tips on how to make your customers love you even more.

Joey Coleman: Always upbeat and definitely entertaining, customer retention expert Joey Coleman.

Dan Gingiss: And social media expert Dan Gingiss, serve as your host for a weekly dose of positive customer experience.

Joey Coleman: So hold on to your headphones it’s time to Experience This. Welcome to a special episode of Experience This. Depending on when you first became aware of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, and its impact on individuals, businesses, and society at large, chances are better than not that you’re now 100% aware of this pandemic situation.

Dan Gingiss: After fielding Dozens of emails, calls, and text messages from listeners of the Experience This show, our clients and past audience members, Joey and I thought it was important to deviate from our regularly scheduled programming, and do a special episode all about COVID-19 and its impact on customer experience.

Joey Coleman: Friends, this is a serious topic with serious implications that we don’t fully understand just yet given the speed at which this virus has spread around the globe, and the fact that scientists worldwide are working around the clock to understand what’s happening. Our comments and discussions are based on the best information we have at the time of this recording, on Saturday, March 21st 2020.

Dan Gingiss: Our goal in the episode, as in every episode of the Experience This show, is to discuss customer experience from a positive light. Telling the positive customer experience stories as a way of inspiring and encouraging our listeners to think deeper, wider, and more expansively about the role of customer experience in their organizations.

Joey Coleman: For the first time in human history, everyone, regardless of your age, your gender, your race, your nationality, your culture, your creed, your socio-economic standing, everyone on the planet is dealing with the exact same issue at the exact same time. Even if you’re in a place where the coronavirus COVID-19 hasn’t spread as much as some of the other places in the world, you’re still reading about it in the news, you’re seeing it on TV, you’re seeing posts about it on social media. The good news is, we’re all in this together. And as we’ve said many times on this show, the businesses that take care of their customers now will have customers when things get better, because the businesses that show empathy, that show care, that put customer experience as a primary focus will succeed.

Dan Gingiss: Now this episode is going to run longer than our usual episodes as we have a lot to cover. Instead of three segments, we’re actually going to bring you five different segments in this podcast. We want to thank our loyal sponsor Avtex for their continued support of season five, including this special episode. What does it take to shift the standard from meeting the bare minimum of customer needs to over-delivering at every touchpoint? It’s about being able to plan exceptional experiences and set those plans in motion. And that’s exactly what our friends at Avtex do? Visit them at www.avtex.com.

Dan Gingiss: It’s shocking how often people use 38 words to describe something, when two would do the trick. We are looking at you lawyers and accountants, words matter. And there is no excuse for trying to hide what you mean. We explore words And messaging in this next iteration of, say what!

Dan Gingiss: In 2018, when the European Union’s general data protection regulation, better known as GDPR went into effect, email inboxes were flooded with privacy policy updates. Now they’re inundated with urgent announcements about coronavirus measures from every company that has our email address on file. Most of these, including those from the major US airlines, say almost exactly the same thing. But some have taken the opportunity to stand out in a time of crisis. And these are the ones we can learn from and be inspired by.

Joey Coleman: In the first few weeks as the pandemic started to spread around the world, many airlines sent out email messages saying, guess what, we’re going to clean the planes even more than we’ve cleaned them in the past, and explained the materials they were using and how they were going to be making sure that it was safe to fly.

Joey Coleman: My favorite airline, Delta, which as loyal listeners of the show know, I fly all the time, sent an email that said, “Not only are we going to do additional cleaning on the plane, but here’s a video describing it.” And in the video, the head of customer experience at Delta described their usual cleaning process as well as their augmented cleaning process. And they actually showed people using a special, almost like fogging machine, that they had used that would disinfect the planes, and then wiping down the seats, and how they were doing this on every turn. And I got to be honest, as somebody who was already committed to delta and loyalty Delta, when I saw this video, I thought, wow, they really do care about me as a person and are going above and beyond the cleaning they normally do. And it left me feeling excited to fly again.

Dan Gingiss: And I want to share a contrasting story about this Joey is that after all the airlines had shared those emails about the cleaning process, I was waiting to take a flight that was late. And anybody who has been in business school and has done the Harvard business case on Southwest Airlines, knows that it takes an airline, at a minimum, 30 minutes to clean a plane under good circumstances. They can’t do it faster than that. And so this plane is late, it arrives late, the passengers exit the plane, and immediately they start the boarding process [crosstalk 00:06:23] environment. Yes, what happened to your enhanced cleaning process? Like, only if we’re not late, right. And so I did feel like, hey, if you’re going to tell people that you are spending the extra time, please take the extra time to do it.

Dan Gingiss: So another thing that I really liked, I saw two different emails from two different organizations having to do with food, one was Domino’s Pizza, and one was our friends at Imperfect Produce that we have talked about on a previous episode. Both of them sent emails talking about contact-less delivery, and that’s this idea that you don’t even have to interact with a delivery person, if you’re practicing social distancing, which we all should be doing.

Dan Gingiss: And so the way that works is the delivery people are gloved up, so they’re not actually touching your product. They don’t even touch your doorbell. They simply leave the item at your door and then you receive a text message that it’s there waiting for you. You don’t have to sign anything, you don’t have to exchange any pleasantries. And so this concept of contact-less delivery, I thought was really interesting just because it adheres to the situation at hand, which is, we got to stay away from each other even if we’re continuing to buy things and have things delivered.

Joey Coleman: I agree, Dan. And what impressed me, to be honest, is how quickly, at least with Domino’s, because I got that email, how quickly they built that opportunity or that option into the App. I mean, this was before cities we’re talking about stay in shelter orders, it’s before the lockdown had really started, it’s like they were anticipating the need for this. And I think wherever a brand can provide a little bit of insight into, hey, we imagine our customers are thinking about this, and so are we, that stands them in good standing in terms of their reputation.

Joey Coleman: I also got an interesting email from Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and now some other companies have done it as well, but I got it from Enterprise first, that said, they were lowering the age minimum for renting a car. It used to be that you had to be 25 to rent a car, Enterprise came along and said, “We’re going to lower the rent a car age to 18.” And they explained in the email that the reason they were doing this is because so many colleges and universities around the country were closing and kids needed to get home with their stuff, and flights were becoming harder to get. And I just thought this was a great example of a customer centric message in this time where a lot of the emails were more about, hey, here’s how you can use these tools that we’ve already had, whereas Enterprise was saying, hey, we’re making some changes to acknowledge the realities of this pandemic situation.

Dan Gingiss: And what I love about that is that those college students are going to be loyal to Enterprise for years to come just as I was in college.

Joey Coleman: 100%, yes.

Dan Gingiss: Yes. I mean, when I was in college, Enterprise was one of the only companies that would rent to college students, and that’s kept me loyal all these years because it was the first company that I ever rented a car from. So, these are-

Joey Coleman: So forgive me Dan. What I loved about it too is I don’t have college aged children and I’m well past college age myself. But when I got this email, I’m not kidding you, I shared it with a couple of my friends who I knew had kids that were in college and had started to lament, oh my gosh, if their school closes, how are we going to get them home? I was able to forward this on and share it with some people.

Dan Gingiss: Yes, it’s awesome. Which is exactly as marketers what we want to happen.

Joey Coleman: Right, exactly. Word of mouth actually happened because it was a remarkable change in policy that we wanted to spread the word on.

Dan Gingiss: Exactly. So another message that resonated with me was from Charles Schwab. Now I’ve been a Charles Schwab customer since I graduated from college many years ago. And-

Joey Coleman: [inaudible 00:10:17] Folks when he rented that car.

Dan Gingiss: Exactly. And what I loved about it was that they didn’t talk to me about cleaning their offices, they didn’t talk to me about visiting the CDC website like everybody else did. They talked to me about what Schwab could do to help me now. And I want to read the introductory paragraph because the other thing that they did so well, was they showed empathy to the situation that all investors are in with what’s going on in the stock market.

Dan Gingiss: It says, “To our valued clients. At Schwab, we have a deep and abiding belief in seeing the world through clients eyes. That simple, powerful idea helps us stay focused on what’s most important, living up to The trust you place in us every day. With so much uncertainty in the financial markets and concerns about COVID-19, investing for the future may seem more complicated than ever. Please know that every one of us at Schwab is committed to helping you meet your long term investing goals. I also want to remind you of the resources available to you.”

Dan Gingiss: And then they list expert perspectives, which is their analysis and commentary, service options, and one to one guidance, so they’re actually offering the ability to meet with somebody to review your portfolio and determine next steps in such a turbulent market. And this letter was signed by the President and CEO, Walt Bettinger. I thought this was really cool because it was actionable. It wasn’t the same old that everybody was telling us, it was something that I could actually do. And it made me feel much better than I already was, which I had been positive on Schwab obviously for a long time, but it made me more confident in my choice.

Dan Gingiss: The other letter that I received that really stuck out to me was from a recent conference that I spoke at Catersource. And Catersource is the largest catering industry association in the country. And they also sent out a letter that I thought was so empathetic and offered real help, that it really, to me, stood out as a great example that other brands could emulate. And here’s how their letter started. “Dear Colleague, this will not be the type of traditional letter that you have been seeing transmitted from businesses across the globe. This is a letter to, for, and about you. We see you. We share your pain for the losses and massive disruption you have incurred over the past week, and we’ll continue to incur as social distancing and closing mandates continue. We understand the despair and anger you must be feeling, the distressing business decisions you have to make that were not in your strategy for 2020. This is also a letter about how Catersource can help you.”

Dan Gingiss: Again, like the Schwab letter, it combined genuine empathy with real solutions and real help at a difficult time.

Joey Coleman: I love it. So we have three key takeaways from this conversation. Number one, don’t just check the box in communicating with your customers, okay. Don’t send the same email that everybody else is sending. Think about what you can do differently, how your tone can be different, how your focus can be different, how you can actually change the conversation.

Joey Coleman: Number two, project calm and confidence. Never in the history of corporate communications, has there been a greater need for letting your customers know that you are paying attention, that you are thinking strategically, and you are doing everything in your power to be there for them.

Joey Coleman: And number three, identify opportunities to provide real value in context with your brand. Sending someone to the CDC website, while a fantastic and useful resource, if that’s not associated with your brand activities, you don’t need to include that in your messages. Instead, give clear action steps, things that you are an expert in, things that you would recommend your customers be doing at this challenging time. By doing that, they will remember you when the pandemic subsides.

Joey Coleman: Just because you have required elements of your business, doesn’t mean they need to be boring. It’s time to get creative, have some fun, and make people sit up and take notice. Get your customers talking when you make the required remarkable.

Joey Coleman: Every business needs policies and procedures in order to function. That being said, policies and procedures are not meant for times of pandemic. What we’re seeing now is that the most forward thinking, customer-centric businesses are already adjusting and revising their existing policies and procedures to show that they’re conscious of the dramatic impact COVID-19 is having on all of their customers.

Joey Coleman: For example, we talked earlier in the last segment about Delta Airlines. Now, I fly Delta a lot. In fact, last year, I logged over 160,000 miles on that individual airline. What happened when the COVID-19 crisis started to hit is that Delta came out, and many airlines did, saying, “We will give you a one year credit for any flight that you need to cancel. If you need to change the flight, there will be no change fees. And we’re going to waive any of the type of associated fees we’ve previously had on changes in ticket price, change fees, cancellation fees, etc, and you’ll just have this running credit.”

Joey Coleman: Now, as somebody who flies Delta a lot, that was fantastic because, as you might imagine, at the time this all started to hit, I had many, many Delta flights booked in the future. Frankly, to the tune of 10s of thousands of dollars, which under a traditional policy, I would have lost. Thanks to Delta being more aware, I now have a credit that will allow me, when we all start flying again, to be able to buy those tickets with dollars I’ve already spent.

Joey Coleman: This made me love and appreciate Delta even more. It actually endeared me to the brand because of the way they had changed their policy to acknowledge the impact it was having on me personally as a flyer, even though we also know it was having an impact on them as people aren’t buying tickets and aren’t flying, that means that they’re actually struggling with money. But the good news is because they’re giving me the credit, they don’t have to refund the money, so they get to keep some of that cash and defer when they need to deliver on the service to me until later when it becomes easier to fly.

Dan Gingiss: Yes. And American did something very similar and I appreciated it as well because I had a bunch of flights booked too. And obviously the airline industry is in a lot of trouble right now and it’s likely going to be the beneficiary of a government bailout. But ultimately, we are going to all start flying again, it’s going to happen at some point. And this is the moment where airlines and other companies can either retain their customer loyalty or they can aggravate their customers and send them to the competition. And I think both Delta and American have done a really nice job of retaining that loyalty.

Dan Gingiss: One thing that stuck out to me, Joey, I’m just wondering if you had thought of this as well, is that a lot of these fees that are being reversed and canceled, they didn’t exist 10 years ago. Remember, it [crosstalk 00:17:52] took the airline industry almost collapsing to start creating all these ridiculous nuisance fees, and I wonder whether the long term aspect of this may be, hopefully fingers crossed, that they start rethinking these ridiculous fees. My favorite one is now the one where it costs you money to redeem your miles.

Dan Gingiss: So you’ve earned all these miles and now you want to use them to buy a ticket, and that’ll be $75 each way to use your miles. I mean, whatever accountant came up with that idea, I’m sure it made billions of dollars for the airlines, but it is so customer un-centric, it is so anti-loyalty literally, because the whole idea of earning miles is that you’ve been loyal, and now all of a sudden we’re going to basically punish you to use those miles. I’m hoping that it causes some of the airlines to rethink some of these and maybe never bring them back.

Joey Coleman: I think you bring up a great point, Dan, and it’s really the case that this entire COVID-19 crisis, while incredibly stressful, while incredibly challenging and with huge costs both monetary, the cost of lives, I mean that the impacts of this are going to be felt for many, many years to come, right. Even once we’re on the other side of the pandemic, there will have been things that have happened that will be difficult for anybody to overcome.

Joey Coleman: What I do hope is that organizations, and hopefully the folks listening to our show, are looking and saying, in this downtime, in this period where business isn’t as usual, let’s actually look at everything. Let’s look at everything we’re doing and come at it from a lens of saying, I understand we were doing this in the past, but do we need to do it going forward? Is it the right choice? Is that the customer centric choice? Is it the way that we want to operate as a business? I think there’s a real opportunity here.

Dan Gingiss: I absolutely agree. And as we both have said recently, there is no more important time than right this second to be focusing on customer experience, because even if you don’t have customers right now because you’ve had to temporarily shut down your business, when things go back to normal, the question is going to be, are the customers going to come back or are they going to go somewhere else? And what you do right now is going to have such a big impact on that.

Dan Gingiss: Joey, we both have different utility companies, because we live in different states, and I believe we both have monopolies you Xcel Energy and me ComEd in terms of electricity, and I always love looking at utilities, especially monopolies, and how they act because customer experience, you could make an argument, they don’t need to focus on that, because we don’t have a choice in where we [crosstalk 00:20:39] get our electricity.

Joey Coleman: Yes. And we want electricity so therefore, you have who you have.

Dan Gingiss: Yes, but both of our utility companies, I think, did something very similar, while it didn’t necessarily benefit you or me specifically, I think we both felt really good about it. Which was, that they announced that they would not cancel anybody’s electricity for lack of payment. And that basically they guaranteed that all customers were going to have their electricity remain on during this crisis. And for people that were having trouble paying, they would work out a payment plan and basically allow you to punt it down the road and not worry about losing electricity on top of all the other worries that you have right now.

Joey Coleman: Hugely important and hugely valuable. And most utility companies have a rule that they can’t cut the power during the winter, especially in colder environments like you live in Chicago, and like I have here in Colorado. But the fact that the utility companies, at least it appears, I’m not sure about this, but it appears like they acted before there was legislation saying they couldn’t cut. To me, to your point, left me feeling better about my energy company. I was like, wow.

Joey Coleman: And God forbid I do end up in a situation where I couldn’t pay for my electric bill, I’m really excited to know that I’m taken care of. I thought that was a great example of when you’re messaging to your customers, even if the message doesn’t specifically affect them, like the Enterprise email about lowering the rental car age that we talked about in the last segment, it still has a lifting effect because it allows your customers to know that you’re thinking about them, even if the things you’re doing don’t actually impact them personally.

Joey Coleman: Speaking of things that I think are unexpected and delightful communications, I had a week long stay planned at the MGM Hotel in Las Vegas that was actually supposed to happen this past week, and the hotel had to close down because of COVID-19. What I thought was really interesting is I got an email from them at about 2:00 AM, the night before we were technically supposed to be checking in. Now we had already decided we weren’t going on our trip. But the email said, “Because we’re closing the hotel down for the next month, we are refunding everyone’s deposits who has a reservation at our hotel.”

Joey Coleman: Now the MGM has 6,000 rooms, right, this is an enormous hotel. But the email went on to say, you don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to call in and tell us you’re canceling, you don’t have to call in and tell us you’re affected, give us some time, and they kind of implied in the next 24 hours, and we will reverse back and refund to all of your cards the cancellation. I thought this was a great example of a company saying, hey, we’re going to do something, but good news is, we’re taking care of it, you don’t have to ask, you don’t have to worry about it, it’s coming back your way.

Dan Gingiss: Yes, I love that. And while not as proactive, I had a great experience. I had a hotel booked for three nights at the Mohegan Sun Pocono in Pennsylvania. And this was a three night prepaid non-refundable rate. And I called up and said, hey, I had to cancel my trip. I actually said, I’m going to move it because I will be back, is it okay if I move it? And they said, “We’re just going to give you a refund. It’s fine, no questions asked.”

Dan Gingiss: And I’ll admit, I was a little surprised because it would have been so easy for them to hide behind their policy and say, I’m sorry, but you bought a non-refundable rate too bad for you. But they were very, very amenable and they, I think, have ensured that the next time I go there, and I go there a lot because I have a consulting client there, that I’m going to stay there. And so again, short term loss, because they lost some money from me, long term gain because they gained my loyalty.

Joey Coleman: So, what do we need to do in these crazy times? Number one, look at your policies and procedures now. Don’t wait. Get into them right now and come up with COVID-19 conscious versions. Versions of your policies and procedures that acknowledge the realities of the world today, and put your customers first.

Joey Coleman: Number two, be empathetic. Brands can really endear themselves based on how they behave in times of crisis. This is definitely a time of crisis, and the more empathy you can show towards the position your customers are in, the more likely your customers will be to stick with you through this crisis, and be back as loyal customers once things start to return to normal.

Joey Coleman: Number three, put people over profits. I understand as a business owner, that is easier said than done. But it is more important now than in any other time in your business’s history. We need to focus on our customers and our employees and doing the right thing for them, even if it means our profit margins are going to go down.

Joey Coleman: Now, employees listening, there’s going to need to be some assistance from the employees as well. But the employers have the opportunity to lead the charge. And last but not least, trust your gut. Remember that every business on the planet is in this same situation right now. It’s not Just you, it’s not just your industry, it’s not just the businesses in your town, every business on the planet is dealing with these challenges. There’s more time for empathy and grace for all of us if we just recognize that we’re all in this together, trust our guts, and do the right thing.

Joey Coleman: Sometimes, a remarkable experience deserves deeper investigation. We dive into the nitty gritty of customer interactions, and dissect how and why they happen. Join us while we’re dissecting the experience.

Dan Gingiss: We’re now going to turn our attention to employees. Just as taking care of your customers in a time of stress and crisis is critical, it’s also important to focus on your employees, because similar to the best of times, happy employees equal happy customers. And unfortunately, the inverse is also true. So it’s very important to make sure that your employees remain healthy, safe, and confident.

Dan Gingiss: Now, there are a lot of places in the country, including my home state of Illinois, that already have shelters in place requirements, so people are working from home. There are other places in the country where people are still going into work, either because they are essential employees in essential businesses, or because their companies unfortunately have not yet made a decision to ask people to stay home.

Dan Gingiss: This is such a critical time to show employees that you care about them and that you understand that they are the engine behind your business. And oftentimes, they’re the front lines of your business that are talking to customers. Imagine asking an employee to talk to a customer and try to comfort them and make them feel safe when they don’t feel comforted or safe themselves. So the first thing is, please do not require anyone to come into work who doesn’t absolutely have to. The good news is, we live in an era where remote working has become popular anyway, Joey and I have worked from our homes for a while. Many people have worked from home for a long time and know how to do it. And we have the technological resources to do it.

Joey Coleman: Think about the definition of the word essential as well. I’ve been in some conversations in the last week where I heard employers talking about certain employees as being essential, and when I press them on it, they actually just decided that they wanted that employee to keep working, the functions that they needed that employee to do was not essential that they be performed at the office. They could have been performed by home. So I think there’s a real opportunity here because you’re employees are smart people too. If you’ve tagged them as essential, and they don’t feel that it’s essential, they may not feel comfortable speaking up because they want to keep their job. And I think there’s an opportunity for all managers and employers to really think about what is the true definition of essential in a pandemic crisis.

Dan Gingiss: Yes. Totally makes sense. I mean, unfortunately, not every employee is essential, even though they may think they are, or in the best of times, maybe they are. But right now essential employees is generally going to be a smaller list. Now, if employees must work in person in the office, it’s absolutely critical that you practice social distancing religiously. And that they have the proper protection, such as gloves, masks, sanitizer, etc, so that coming into work is literally not risking their lives, right.

Dan Gingiss: I mean, we all joke about how we spend more time at work than sometimes we spend at home or with our families, but work is important it is not worth risking our lives for. And so it is really important that if you are going to require people to come in, that they feel safe and that they feel protected.

Dan Gingiss: Another thing that I think is really important that sometimes we lose sight of even in the best of times, is that employees have families, and families are stressed during this time as well, especially those of us who have kids that are suddenly home from school, and bored, and we’re trying to keep them entertained while also keeping our jobs and working, and that causes even more stress. So just as we often talk about stepping into the shoes of your customer, it’s so important to step into the shoes of your employees and really understand what they’re going through right now.

Joey Coleman: Absolutely. And I think we need to be thinking as employers, how are we going to handle an employee becoming sick? What are you doing to think ahead now for the employees who actually are essential? Is there an opportunity to cross-train? Is there an opportunity to do some scenario modeling where if that person who’s the linchpin in your business, either is personally sick, or has a spouse, or a significant other, or a child, or a parent that is sick, what are you going to do to hopefully be able to continue keep functioning using other people on your team? Most experts will tell you that it is better to have these conversations and think through these things before you’re in the thick of it, instead of waiting to try to troubleshoot these type of problems once you’re waist deep in the issue.

Dan Gingiss: Exactly. So, let’s look at some examples of companies that we think are doing the right thing by their employees, and hopefully, you can be inspired in your business to consider similar measures. So the first that I wanted to bring up was Facebook, which immediately came out and announced that it was giving $1,000 to every employee in order to help them. And obviously they have a lot of employees. And if you think about it, $1,000 doesn’t sound like a ton of money, except this is also what the US government is considering sending to everybody, right? So, if the US government sending $1,000, and now my employer is matching it, again, it’s a gesture of goodwill that I think gains loyalty from employees over time.

Joey Coleman: Well, and I think $1,000 actually, for the majority of Americans is a huge amount of money because most research shows that the typical family, when faced with an unexpected $400 expense, would not be able to weather that challenge. And so most families are facing a lot more than a $400 change in expense right now, not only in terms of costs, but in terms of where their income lies.

Joey Coleman: It’s interesting, a lot of the sports teams that are not able to have their events anymore, given the crowd rules etcetera, have created some interesting solutions as well, both in Major League Baseball, the NBA, the NHL, a number of owners have stepped forward, notably Mark Cuban, to say, we’re going to pay the salaries of all of the people who normally work in our basketball arena. So there’s an opportunity here for businesses of all sizes to step forward.

Joey Coleman: I know a couple of CEOs who have decided that they’re not taking any pay for the next three months to be able to pay their employees for the next three months, so that they don’t have to lay people off or fire them. So there’s a lot of opportunities to get creative.

Dan Gingiss: And I love that example because so often, when bad things happen to good employees, the first thing that employees look to is the top executives, right. So when there’s layoffs, for example, and then you see that your top executive is making $50 million a year and gets another $100 million in stock options. And you’re like, well boy, if he had given up two or three of those millions of dollars, maybe we could have saved a lot of jobs. And so I think this is one of those things where if you’re able to do it, you really can gain so much loyalty from your employees versus the opposite, which again, can be anger and distrust of the company.

Dan Gingiss: I know Disney and universal have done similar things for their employees because as we all know, those parks are closed indefinitely and there’s a ton of people that work to keep those open, and whether they’re cast members, or people operating the food stations, or the ride stations, tons of employees and they’re really working hard to keep those people as well.

Dan Gingiss: Another example that I really liked was Starbucks, which decided to extend its mental health benefits for store employees. And I think why this is important is Starbucks is one of the places that is staying open and therefore is requiring baristas to come in and make coffees even though people can’t dine in and they can only take out, they’re still bringing in their employees. And obviously, this causes stress. And Starbucks acknowledged that and is now offering mental health benefits for free to their employees, which I think was an excellent move.

Joey Coleman: Folks, this is a huge one, I don’t care what business you’re in, if you are not taking time to consider the mental health of your employees right now, there is a big problem. So many people are uncertain. So many people are afraid. In fact, it’s rising to the level that there’s so much fear and uncertainty, I think it’s something that most people aren’t even talking about. I mean, to be completely blunt and transparent, before Dan and I started recording today, we just checked in on how each other are doing and what’s going on, because this is a stressful time for everyone.

Joey Coleman: This is an opportunity for you to look to your friends, look to your co-workers, look to your boss, as well as the people that report to you and check in on everybody’s mental and emotional state and how they’re doing. Business shouldn’t just be about, are we operating? And are we operating at efficiencies? And are people getting paid and are our employees getting paid, are our customers placing orders, etc? We should spend some time thinking about the mental and emotional health of the people we interact with too. And my hope is, while this is certainly a terribly challenging and difficult time, that more businesses will look to the opportunity in this time to say, how can we press reset, a reset that we’ve known that we’ve needed to do for a long time, and actually think a little bit more about what our employees are going through?

Dan Gingiss: So here are some takeaways from this segment. As always, happy employees equal happy customers. It is never more important than right now to focus on our employees and keeping them happy, healthy, and safe, so that they can focus on our customers and keeping them happy, healthy, and safe. Also, your frontline employees are representing your brand right now, as they always are. But in a time of crisis, if they’re stressed out, if they’re feeling beaten down, if they’re feeling under-appreciated or unappreciated, how is it that you think they’re going to project to your customers?

Dan Gingiss: So especially with frontline employees, right now, customer service agents, retail employees that need to continue working, people that are engaging with customers, these are the ones that we’ve got to focus on and keep in a good state and a positive state so that they then transmit that to customers. And finally, just as you’re going to need your customers after this crisis passes, you’re also going to need your employees. This is the time to engender pride in and loyalty to your organization.

Joey Coleman: We love telling stories and sharing key insights you can implement or avoid, based on our experiences. Can you believe that this just happened? The COVID-19 crisis is impacting everyone you interact with. And what we’ve already discussed how it’s impacting your customers and impacting your employees, we wanted to talk about a third category of people that your business interacts with that are being hit hard by this virus, your suppliers.

Joey Coleman: Everybody in their business life and in their personal life has folks that look out for you, people that you patronize. Whether that’s your chiropractor, the hairdresser you go to, or a business setting, the person who cleans your business office, who maybe helps support your IT infrastructure, whatever it may be, people that come to your office, or to your home, or you go to their office or to their home to take advantage of their services. And in this time where business is grinding to a halt, and more and more people are being encouraged to not only stay home and work, but to stay home and not travel outside of their homes, your suppliers are increasingly in jeopardy.

Joey Coleman: And so one of the things we want to address is the fact that in many businesses, the suppliers you interact with are actually small businesses or freelancers. People who don’t necessarily have the cash reserves that some of the larger brands we referred to earlier in the show do. And so the question becomes, what are you doing and what can you do to look after the people of which you are a customer?

Joey Coleman: So, for example, in a business setting, if you have somebody that comes to clean your office but your office isn’t going to be operating anymore from your office, what can you do to support them during this time when their revenues are going to be down? I know a lot of entrepreneurs I know have agreed to prepay for some of the cleaning that’s going to have to happen in the future, even though it’s not happening right now.

Joey Coleman: What are you doing to look at creative ways to reallocate resources? For example, I have an assistant who helps me scheduling with flights, and coordinating hotels, and logistics for my travel. Needless to say, I don’t anticipate traveling for the next month at least and potentially two or three or more. I’ve decided to have her work on other things that are important to my business, that are not necessarily related to my travel, but yet allows me to keep her on the payroll.

Dan Gingiss: Yes, I’ve done something similar with my virtual assistant who was hired to really help me reach out to prospects and make them aware of my speaking capabilities, and the fact that I’m available for keynotes, and that sort of thing. And and right now, selling that is not a great idea because events are being canceled and people are not necessarily thinking in that direction. So I’ve been cross training him on some of the marketing that I’ve been doing for my business, my newsletter and some of the stuff that I do with taking audio and video and transcribing it into texts to make blog posts, and some of my social sharing and scheduled posts and all that sort of thing, and I’m really trying to cross train him so that he can continue to help, he can continue to be employed, and then I can continue moving my business along.

Dan Gingiss: And these are hard decisions to make, because let’s face it, Joey, just like so many others out there, you and I don’t know what’s going to happen to our business in the next few months or even years, or how long it is going to affect us. And so the initial instinct is to just hoard your money and don’t spend a dime. And I’m actually trying on a couple of different places to spend money right now, to invest in my business’s future, and to build some foundational stuff, because I do believe, as my grandmother always used to say, “This too shall pass.” And whenever it does pass, I want to be in a good position to pick up where I left off and maybe even be in a stronger spot than I was when this first started.

Joey Coleman: Absolutely, Dan. And I think your grandmother had wise advice and it’s something that pretty much everybody’s agreeing, that there will come a time that this is not as big of a pandemic situation as it is right now, right. We’ve got ways to go before we get there, but it will get better. What are we doing now to make sure that the businesses that serve us, and the suppliers, and the vendors that we have relationships with continue to be in business? And this doesn’t just hit the business side of it, it hits the personal side. So, for example, my wife and I, and my two boys, obviously we get haircuts, right. So one of the things we did is we went to-

Dan Gingiss: Hey, that’s not too obvious for some of us, Joey.

Joey Coleman: Fair enough. This is the difference between Dan and I folks. Dan takes care of all of his own hair trimming, I have a professional work on mine. Although some people who’ve seen me on stage or seen pictures of me might agree whether it’s that professional or not. But the moral of the story here is, hair salons are closed down. So we reached out to some of the folks that provide us with services, whether that’s massage, or chiropractic care, or hairdressers and offered to pre-buy haircuts in the future, pre-buy adjustments and massages in the future.

Joey Coleman: And the idea behind this was, yes, there’s a little bit of a hit from us from a point of view of expending money, but you can put that on a credit card and ride it for a month or two, and if that’s the thing that helps your favorite hairdresser, or your favorite massage therapist, or your favorite chiropractor, whatever Freelancer or small business you do business with, navigate through this crisis, not only have you ensured that you’ll be well taken afterwards, because they’ll still be there, but here’s what I can promise you, they’re not going to forget that you’ve stood by them during this time. They’re not going to forget the generosity that you extended to them. Now I’m not saying that’s why you should do it, but it certainly is a nice ancillary benefit if you’re in doubt about whether or not you should.

Dan Gingiss: For sure. And I think the smart companies, by the way, are showing that appreciation right now. So, there is a sushi restaurant in my hometown that obviously is suffering quite a bit. And a lot of residents have been recommending this sushi restaurant, obviously now just pickup and delivery. And what’s happening is when you order they are offering a discount for pickup, which is funny because that’s the only way you can order right now is pickup. And secondly, they are including a gift certificate with your order for a future order. So they’re basically already now saying … So as a customer, I feel good because I’m supporting a local restaurant that is clearly struggling. I can’t go sit in the restaurant, but I can still order out from it. And they’re showing that thankfulness back to me saying, hey, we really value you, thanks for supporting us during this difficult time. And that’s what the letter, there was a little handwritten note with the gift certificate, that’s what it said.

Dan Gingiss: And so, you feel good about that, right, because you feel good that you’re supporting a local business, and you feel good that they feel good, and that they’re willing to thank you for it.

Joey Coleman: Folks, during this pandemic, there are going to be a lot of businesses that will struggle and close, especially small and local businesses. You can do your part to help by following this four step process. Number one, determine who your key suppliers are, both personally and professionally.

Joey Coleman: Number two, reach out to them and discuss the status of the relationship. Any outstanding shipments, or supplies, or projects that maybe need to be put on pause, the payment terms. Have a conversation. Don’t wait for them to call you. This is not a conversation anybody is excited to have, but lean into it sooner rather than later.

Joey Coleman: Number three, get creative. Offer to pre-pay via gift cards, or pre-booked appointments, or pre-packaged, or even pay for services that aren’t rendered. If you’ve got somebody that’s been loyal to you for many, many years, and your business or your personal financial standing is in a place where you can afford to pay them for a month or two, even if they don’t deliver on the service, the investment you are making into that relationship long term, will far outweigh the dollar outlay today.

Joey Coleman: And last but not least, thank the workers that are doing their best in these new circumstances. For example, the person who carries out the groceries to the car when you’ve ordered online, the person who when you call to cancel a service or to get a refund is answering the phone and doing their best to process. A kind word right now not only helps everyone get through the day, but it’s an investment in those businesses being around tomorrow.

Joey Coleman: There are so many great customer experience articles to read, but who has the time? We summarize them and offer clear takeaways you can implement starting tomorrow. Enjoy this segment of CX press where we read the articles so you don’t need to.

Dan Gingiss: So we wanted to end this episode on a positive note. And rather than a traditional CX press segment where we just go through a single article, we wanted to share with you that we’ve seen lots of articles out there of positive things happening amidst this outbreak and pandemic.

Joey Coleman: Yes, folks, it’s not all doom gloom in the news. Don’t just get caught up in the stories that are about the terrible things that are happening. Look for the more positive stories too.

Dan Gingiss: And as it turns out, companies of all sizes often have resources that can help others in the community during a time of crisis. It might be money, or supplies, or facilities, or even just expertise. And we wanted to share some companies that we’ve seen that are doing just that. So Loom, a video recording and sharing service, has made their Loom Pro Edition free for teachers and students at K through 12 schools, universities, and educational institutions. As we all know, many students now are being forced to learn remotely. And loom is a service that can be used for that, and so they’re just putting their service out there for educational institutions.

Joey Coleman: Yes. And LinkedIn has decided to take 16 of its learning courses and make them free. Now these are courses that you used to have to pay for, but now they’re available to anyone and they provide tips on how to stay productive, how to build relationships when you’re not face to face, how to use virtual meeting tools, and how to balance family and work dynamics in a healthy way, which increasingly, as more people find themselves working from home with their children and their families, these are valuable tips and suggestions to help people navigate this new time.

Dan Gingiss: We talked in the last segment about how local restaurants are really struggling. So Uber Eats and DoorDash have both waived commission fees for independent restaurant partners to promote people supporting their local restaurants.

Joey Coleman: A good buddy of mine, Philip McKernan, an amazing coach and inspiring individual decided to make his books available for free. He decided to make his online courses available for free. And he launched a new virtual training program where each week he’s doing motivational check-in sessions that help people explore how do they navigate this new COVID-19 world. I think what’s great about this is there’s literally no business on the planet that can’t get creative about how they’re providing value, not only to their customers, but just to the public in large and their general broader community.

Dan Gingiss: I definitely agree. And one way to look at it is to focus on keeping things as normal as possible during a time when it’s anything but. And we’ve seen a lot of public companies stopping their stock buybacks, for example, and the reason for that is to make sure that they remain solvent and able to help their customers during an outbreak. I think we’ve also seen lots of companies, we talked about utilities in the first segment, but we’ve also seen all the cable companies, and telecommunications companies, and Google have made pledges to keep the internet going and alive for all Americans, even if people can’t afford to pay.

Dan Gingiss: Again, on a local level, for a smaller company, which a lot of our listeners run, think about how you can help even just your local community, it might just be the little town or suburb that you live in. What can you do to give back to your community because people are going to remember that when this passes?

Joey Coleman: Or the person in your neighborhood. Folks, this literally is a time to think as, in some ways, as small as possible. Think about the people who live on your street who are maybe immunocompromised or elderly, that you could leave a little note with your cell phone number that says, if you need somebody to go to the grocery store for you or to the pharmacists to pick things up for you, call my number and I can go out and do that. Now, again, we still want to encourage people to practice social distancing, to only go out if you absolutely need to, to maintain a significant physical distance at least three feet, closer to six if you can, away from anybody that you interact with, but there’s an opportunity to provide value to people beyond the groups who normally provide value to.

Dan Gingiss: Joey, the suburb I live in, somebody set up a Facebook group that was specifically for doing just that, for helping others and I’ve been asked to join it now by about 18 of my friends. And it’s a great way [crosstalk 00:52:42] Social media guy, Dan, I mean, come on. Well, it’s a great way to spread the word about being able to help the elderly or people who are immunocompromised during this time. So I love that.

Joey Coleman: I was just talking to my little brother earlier today, he lives in Springfield, Illinois, and at the time we’re recording this it’s not long after St. Patrick’s Day and they had a message go out in their neighborhood that said, if you want to participate, put some shamrocks on the windows, that way, when families are out walking around, because we want to encourage people to continue to exercise and continue to get outside, just stay away from other people when you do it, right. But they said, “Set it up so that your kids on a walk through the neighborhood at night can count the number of shamrocks.” And I thought, what a creative way to allow neighbors to connect with each other in a way that keeps folks healthy and abides by the idea of physical distancing, but still allows people to have some type of interaction with their community.

Dan Gingiss: I love it. Now if you want more inspiration, we recommend an article by Just Capital that is entitled Capitalism Meets Coronavirus, How Companies are Responding. And of course we’ll include the link in our show notes at www.experiencethisshow.com. But we’ve also created a shortened Bit.ly link that you can use if that’s what you prefer. And it is Bit.ly, which is B-I-T-.-L-Y /ET for Experience This, responses. And the E, the T, and the R in responses are all capitalized. So it’s Bit.ly/ETResponses, and that’ll get you to that Just Capital article.

Dan Gingiss: Now, we wanted to provide you with a couple of bonus articles as well to spread the Good News [inaudible 00:54:28], because hey, we got nothing but time here. And hopefully, you’ve got some time to listen. So, an article that I happened upon that I really liked is from an organization that I had actually never heard of, which is called the Good News Network. And I can tell you, I’m going to be following their stuff for now because I’m really tired of all the bad news. But this is an article called 10 Positive Updates on the COVID-19 Outbreaks from Around The World. And it was written by McKinley Cobly of the Good News Network, and this will also be shared our show notes, and there is also a Bit.ly link which is, Bit.ly/ETGoodNews, and again, ET, the G in good, and the N in news are capitalized.

Dan Gingiss: And some of the examples that they shared in this article are that US researchers have delivered the first COVID-19 vaccine to volunteers, human volunteers in an experimental test program. Also amidst national shortages of hand sanitizers, there are several alcohol distilleries around the country that have begun using their facilities to make their own sanitation products and sell them. And some of them are selling a lot of them. And finally, air pollution plummets in cities with high rates of quarantine. So, we’re excited to present to you a little bit later this season, a special environmental episode of Experience This, but I thought this was some good news too, that we were seeing positive environmental effects by people staying home.

Joey Coleman: Absolutely. And to conclude out our CX press episode of Good News that you can subscribe to or find, I’ve been a big fan of Dr. Peter Diamandis and his work for many years now. Peter is the chairman and CEO of the X Prize Foundation, which leads the world in designing and launching these large incentive prizes to drive radical breakthroughs. So you might have heard of the X Prize. He also is an original founder of Singularity University, which is all about teaching people about exponential technologies.

Joey Coleman: And over the last two years, he’s built a machine learning algorithm that scrapes the world’s news and science journals and social feeds every day to understand how exponential technologies are impacting specific topics and industries. And he calls it, Future Loop. He sent out an email just two days ago about a new offering that they have. And I’m quoting from the email, “Future Loop Pandemic Special Edition, is a daily comprehensive update on the impact of exponential technologies like AI, robotics, drones, cellular medicine, CRISPR, networks and sensors, all about the COVID-19 pandemic. If you participate Future Loop will update you every day on the latest breakthroughs in detection, prevention, and cure of COVID-19. Now, this product is still in beta, but it’s powerful, high quality info and it’s free. Your mindset is your most important tool during the pandemic. Making sure you’re consuming the right information is critical to maintaining that mindset. Future loop offers data driven optimism.”

Joey Coleman: I just loved that. Data driven optimism. There’s a tool out there that you can subscribe to for free, that will deliver positive news that acknowledges the craziness that is the COVID-19 pandemic, but provides a glimmer of hope. So you can find this at our show notes at experiencethisshow.com, you can also, as Dan mentioned, if you want to check out the Bit.ly link, it’s Bit.ly/ETF, that’s Experience This and the F is the beginning of the word Future Loop, where future and loop are both capitalized. But again, if you didn’t have a chance to write that down or you don’t want to go, just go to experiencethisshow.com you’ll be able to find the show notes for this episode and you’ll be all set to get some data driven optimism in your inbox while you’re working from home in the coming days and weeks.

Dan Gingiss: So the takeaways of this multi-article CX press segment, number one, companies have the unique ability to provide resources to help the community. It may not be money, it could just be expertise. It doesn’t necessarily have to cost you anything, but you do have resources and think about how you can give back. Number two, find some way, even in a small way, to give back to your customers or to your community and show them how much you appreciate them in this difficult time and they will appreciate you back.

Dan Gingiss: And finally, number three, take some time to think about positive things and to read about positive things. It can be very easy in a time of crisis to get down, to get depressed, to get angry, and it’s nice to see that there are a lot of positive things happening in the world right now. Unfortunately, with the media situation that we find ourselves in, in the United States, it’s hard to find those things, and so we hope by giving you some of these resources, you can stay in tune with some of the positives going on in the world now.

Dan Gingiss: Thanks so much for listening to this special episode of the Experience This show. We will return to our regular schedule next Tuesday and have episodes ready for you through the first week of June. Please note that the rest of the episodes in season five have been pre-recorded before the COVID-19 pandemic. If you liked this episode, please do us a favor and tell your friends and colleagues. Our entire back catalog of more than 90 episodes is available on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, Google Play, Amazon Alexa, or your favorite podcast App.

Joey Coleman: And a special thanks to our wonderful friends Avtex. Avtex has been a fantastic sponsor of the show this season. We so appreciate their support and their continued involvement in helping bring Experience This to your ears every week. What we love about Avtex is that their approach brings together transformation and orchestration, which means they help you to define the areas of CX that need to be improved, and then create a roadmap for improving them. Avtex knowledge and experience in orchestration allows them to help you leverage the people, processes, and technology you need to implement your plan. You can learn more about the great folks at Avtex by visiting their website at www.avtex. That’s A-V-T-E-X.com.

Dan Gingiss: And finally, we are here for you our loyal listeners during this difficult time. If you have a question about how to respond to COVID-19 with a customer experience lens, don’t hesitate to reach out to us directly. Joey’s email is JoeyC@JoeyColeman.com. And my email is Dan@DanGingiss.com. Thanks again for listening and we’ll see you next week on The Experience This show. Wow, thanks for joining us for another episode of Experience This. We know there are tons of podcasts to listen to, magazines and books to read, reality TV to watch, we don’t take for granted that you’ve decided to spend some quality time listening to the two of us.

Joey Coleman: We hope you enjoyed our discussions and if you do, we’d love to hear about it. Come on over to ExperienceThisShow.com and let us know what segments you enjoyed, what new segments you’d like to hear. This show is all about experience, and we want you to be part of the Experience This Show.

Dan Gingiss: Thanks again for your time and we’ll see you next week for more, Experience …

Joey Coleman: … This.


Episode 85: Stop Settling for Less than a Remarkable Experience

Join us as we discuss how raising the bar can come back to hurt you later, why fixing what ain’t broke might be a good idea, and why pricing mistakes can make you look silly.

Driving, Enhancing, and Calculating – Oh My!

[This Just Happened] Set a Standard of Excellence that can be Maintained as Your Company Grows

When Uber and Lyft first began to gain traction, the service was far greater than a normal taxi service. Drivers had bottles of water, they got out to help you with your bags, and they would engage in interesting conversation. The service customers received was closer to the experience of a private car or limousine service.

As Uber and Lyft have grown to available almost everywhere, the service experience isn’t as remarkable or consistent as in the beginning. You may be pampered by a great driver, or you be subjected to a driver playing offensive music. The ability for riders to rate the drivers, and drivers to rate the riders has added a new dimension to both delivering and receiving customer service.

What can every business learn from the ridesharing industry? Several things:

  1. If you build your brand on a foundation of high customer experience, you must maintain it if you want to maintain your reputation.
  2. If your employees regularly interact with your customers, you should set a standard of excellence so they understand what is expected.

[CX Press] Why You May Need to Fix What Isn’t Broken

Everyone has heard the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” While the intention behind this statement may be well-meant, there are multiple problems with the maxim – from settling for a sub-standard status quo to neglecting the future potential of your business. In Becky Roemen‘s article, “Don’t Fix it if it isn’t Broke: 10 Reasons this Phrase is Holding Your CX Back,” Becky explains why it’s sometime best to fix things even before they are broken.

Technologies, processes, and workflows are the enablers of great customer experiences. Just as easily, neglected technologies, processes, and workflows are the preventers of great customer experiences. Waiting for one of these to break in order to give it attention is a declaration that your business is reactive rather than proactive.

Becky Roemen, Blogger at Tin Cans and String

Her article explores ten reasons, a few of which we highlight in the segment including:

  1. You’re Defining Broke Wrong – just because something is working, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the most effective way to do a job.
  2. You’re Comfortable with “That’ll Have to Do” – this attitude insinuates that just being good enough is okay. In a competitive market, you need to rise to the challenge and provide an excellent customer experience, not just a normal one.
  3. Your Voice of the Customer Program is Weak – invest in a good Voice of the Customer program that gives you the data you need to implement a memorable customer experience.
  4. You are Too Focused on the Present Day – you must always be planning for the future state of your customer.

[Start the Conversation] Avtex: Balancing Security and Customer Experience

How many times do you get to a site, and it prompts you to enter a password? The balance of protecting your information, but also not hindering the customer experience is an interesting subject to explore.

Here are three things to consider when working on creating the right balance for security and CX:

  1. Remember the customers expect high security standards. That is a key part of their experience with your brand.
  2. You can still be creative in how you communicate security issues like password rules. While complex passwords may be valuable, complex instructions are not.
  3. Security, like customer experience, is really everyone’s job. Limit access to customer data to only those that need it to perform their jobs and ensure that physical security measures are in place to prevent internal or external data theft.

Start the conversation with this question: Are our security policies or processes negatively impacting our customers?

To continue the conversation, go to: experienceconversations.com.

[Say What?!] Watch the Numbers to Keep the Trust of Your Customers

Visitors to a county fair often see a sign detailing the price for one ride, a better deal for a few rides, and an even better offer (the “value” deal) for several rides. While many customers are exposed to these types of offers, how many actually do the math to figure out the best deal? Dan recently attended an event (and wrote about it in his Forbes article, “3 Examples of Savvy Customers Winning By Simply Doing The Math“) where the cost of one ride was $2, three rides was $5, and the five ride “value deal” was $10. The only problem with this offer? The value deal wasn’t the best deal. In fact, for paying for two $5 offers, a customer would get six rides instead of the five rides offered in the value deal for the same price. In this situation it’s difficult to know whether the company was just plain lazy, or whether they were trying to trick the customer.

Every single interaction with a brand contributes to the overall perception of the customer experience. And these errors make the companies look silly and reduce my opinion of them. In fact, they make me not trust them as much because you do question whether it’s nefarious.

Dan Gingiss, co-host of Experience This! Show podcast

More often than not, these types of pricing “offers” result in careless pricing mistakes. But don’t let pricing mistakes impact your customer experience. Keep an eye on what you are selling to your customers and don’t make them do the math on the best way to do business with you!

Links We Referenced

Host Contact Information

Email Dan: Dan@dangingiss.com

Tweet Dan Gingiss: @DGingiss

Email Joey: JoeyC@JoeyColeman.com

DanGingiss.com

JoeyColeman.com

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Episode Transcript

Download a transcript of the entire Episode 85 here or read it below:

Dan Gingiss: Welcome to Experience This.

Joey Coleman: Where you’ll find inspiring examples of customer experience, great stories of customer service and tips on how to make your customers love you even more.

Dan Gingiss: Always upbeat and definitely entertaining customer retention expert, Joey Coleman…

Joey Coleman: And social media expert, Dan Gingiss, serve as your hosts for a weekly dose of positive customer experience.

Dan Gingiss: So hold onto your headphones. It’s time to experience this.

Get ready for another episode of the Experience This show.

Joey Coleman: Join us as we discuss how raising the bar can come back to hurt you later, why fixing what ain’t broke might be a good idea, and why pricing mistakes can make you look silly.

Dan Gingiss: Driving, enhancing and calculating. Oh, my.

[This Just Happened] Rideshare Then and Now

We love telling stories and sharing key insights you can implement or avoid based on our experiences. Can you believe that this just happened?

Joey Coleman: Do you remember your first trip using a rideshare app or rideshare service, Dan?

Dan Gingiss: I do. I was a little bit nervous because I wasn’t sure if it was going to work. I was kind of excited to try it. I was not in my own city, I remember that. And so, yeah, I got a really nice car, leather seats, the person was super friendly, I got offered a bottle of water and they got out of the car to help me with my luggage, and I was like, “Man, this is not that far from being in a limo and certainly is very far from being in a taxi.”

Joey Coleman: Absolutely. And I too remember my very first rideshare trip and thinking, “Oh, my gosh, the taxi industry is done, and this is so much more economical than town car service or a limo, but you feel like a celebrity. You feel like you’re being treated incredibly well.” As a general rule, my experience with rideshare apps, predominantly Uber and Lyft, I use both, has been like that until the last six months.

What I’ve noticed in the last six months is that I feel that the customer service has been dropping dramatically. I take rideshare services a lot because I fly to cities that I don’t know. When I come out of the airport, I jump in one of those as opposed to taking a taxi. They don’t get out of the car anymore, they don’t help with the luggage, rarely is there a bottle of water, they don’t have phone chargers, they often seem irritated. In the last few months, because it’s been a little warmer in some of the places I’ve been traveling, I’ve noticed an aversion to using the air conditioners, which is kind of, no pan intended, a blast from the past or a lack of glass.

Dan Gingiss: Oh, I see what you did.

Joey Coleman: See what I did there? That takes me back to taxis when I lived in Washington, D.C. that were notorious. D.C. is hot as can be in the summer. They were notorious for not running the AC, and if you asked them to turn on the AC, first of all, they would look at you like you just asked them to donate a kidney to you, second of all, they would say, “Oh, the AC is broken.” And I’m like, “The AC is not broken.”

Dan Gingiss: Just like the credit card machine.

Joey Coleman: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And so what I think is interesting here is when rideshare apps came into the market, they set the bar very high differentiating themselves from taxis by the customer service and the customer experience. Now that that’s going away, it kind of just feels like a taxi to me again.

Dan Gingiss: Well, it’s interesting that you point this out because I’m going to add two things to your list that have been bothering me lately. The first is that way too many drivers use incredibly strong scents in their cars, and there’s been times where I get in a car and the first thing I have to do is roll down the window because my eyes are watering at how strong the odor is. Relatedly, oftentimes I get into cars that smell like cigarette smoke, which is also something that I don’t particularly want to smell. But the other thing is I’m absolutely shocked at how drivers have their own music on the radio that’s generally really loud, and for whatever reason, most of the time, not my kind of music. No joke.

Joey Coleman: And you have a pretty broad musical appreciation, in my experience.

Dan Gingiss: I do, I do.

Joey Coleman: You know what I mean? So it’s not like Dan is… For those of you that haven’t spent as much time in cars listening to music with Dan as I have, it’s not like Dan gets in and it’s, “I’m only listening to ’80s diva music, okay? Nothing else, right? He’s got a broad… There’s nothing wrong with that.

Dan Gingiss: I like ’80s diva music.

Joey Coleman: He does like ’80s diva music.

Dan Gingiss: But no, for example, the last time I was in a rideshare, which was on the way to the airport to come see you here in Denver, Joey, the music that was playing was this extremely loud, extremely explicit song that had F-bombs flying all over the place, and I’m like, “That just doesn’t seem appropriate for a service provider, regardless of whether I like the music or not. It just doesn’t seem like it’s the kind of environment that you would want to create for a customer.

Joey Coleman: Yeah. So here’s the conundrum. We have the opportunity to rank the drivers. If you don’t mind my asking, would that result in a lower star rating from you?

Dan Gingiss: Well, that’s probably a subject for an entirely different segment. But I think one of the things that’s gotten complicated about the rideshares is they almost make you feel guilty to leave anything below a five-star rating.

Joey Coleman: Exactly. That’s the point I was hoping to get to. I 100% agree because there have been times where I’ve wanted to give them a lower ranking, but I also know that this is their livelihood and that this contributes to their overall ranking score, and that they’re also ranking me. I’ve also heard through the grapevine, I’m not entirely sure if this is true, but that the app increasingly builds into their algorithm whether or not you tip. So if you don’t tip, you get a lower score that the driver sees when they’re deciding whether to accept your ride or not.

Dan Gingiss: Oh, wow. That’s really interesting.

Joey Coleman: Right? That adds a whole other layer to this because it’s like, wait a second. I think with some of the apps, I’m not 100% sure on this, I don’t think the tip 100% goes to the driver. I think it gets factored in to the percentage that the business takes. So the rideshare apps are making more money by adding the tip, and if they’re taking a percentage, they’re obviously incentivizing you to tip because that’s going to increase their revenue.

Dan Gingiss: You and I were talking about this off air the other night about the number of places now that we’re expected to tip, and to me, I tip and tip generously for great service. But as you described, if it’s somebody that picks me up, doesn’t say hello, doesn’t help me with my bags, doesn’t speak a word while he’s driving and then drops me off, I’m not exactly sure why I’m supposed to tip for that. There wasn’t really any service provided other than the four wheels that got me from point A to point B. Whereas when I do get a friendly driver and I have a really nice conversation with them, and we hit it off, and he helps me with my bag or whatever, then I’m more than willing to tip because the service has been provided.

But I want to get into the why that this has changed because I have a hypothesis I want to run it by you and see if you agree. So when Uber and Lyft first came out, I had the opportunity to ride. It happened to be with an Uber driver in Seattle. I remember this was early days because I was sitting in the front seat. So it was probably one of the first times I had taken it.

Joey Coleman: Rookie move.

Dan Gingiss: Yeah, I didn’t know. I was speaking to her, and she used to be a taxi driver. What was interesting to me was she was explaining all the reasons she left taxi driving and became an Uber driver. A few of them were that she had to buy this really expensive taxi medallion that was thousands of dollars that didn’t even get her any insurance on her car, whereas Uber provided auto insurance for her. She had to have all this cash in her pocket and she was afraid of being robbed. She had to go to different parts of the city that she was uncomfortable with, all these things and she’s listing them one by one and explaining how Uber had basically resolved all of those.

This is when I realized that the rideshare industry, the reason it was so successful, is that it didn’t just solve all the problems of the passenger, it also solved the problems of the drivers. And so when you are able to connect both of those and provide, what is in essence, a service to both, you have a successful business. Now, what’s happened since then? What’s happened since then is all the taxi drivers that are going to leave taxi driving and move to rideshares have already done that.

Joey Coleman: Right.

Dan Gingiss: And so now the drivers that rideshare companies are attracting are people who are driving because they have to, not because they want to. So they’re doing it more begrudgingly, right? “I’m between jobs, I’m not making any money. I guess I’ll go drive for Uber or Lyft,” right? And you can see it on their faces. You can see, as you were sort of pointing out, that there are a number of drivers that look like they want to be anywhere but driving that vehicle.

Joey Coleman: Which nothing makes you feel more comforted as a passenger than looking to the front seat and seeing a driver who is clearly irritated to be in the car.

Dan Gingiss: I have two friends who have held other full-time jobs in the past who have decided to become Uber or Lyft drivers out of necessity because they had lost their job, maybe they got laid off and they just weren’t bringing in enough income to pay the bills. And so this is a relatively easy way for anyone with a car to earn some money and start paying the bills, but it doesn’t mean that they enjoy doing it, and they’re doing it out of necessity and there’s a chip on their shoulder a little bit because they feel like, “Man, I wish I really didn’t have to do this.”

Joey Coleman: Yeah. I think the other thing that we should flag, because I imagine some of our listeners are thinking this, Uber is a company, Lyft is a company that has a fleet, no pun intended, of employees that they’ve never met, employees that are using the app and have not really been trained, have not really signed on to a certain code or ethic of customer service, or maybe they did, but there’s really not a great way to police it. They’re not getting performance reviews and don’t have a direct manager necessarily who’s checking in on them every day. And so, of course, we run into this challenge where our frustration with the rideshare app might actually be a frustration with an individual driver who is way, way, way removed from the organization itself. But as we talk about a lot on the show, how any of your employees or teams that are representing or holding themselves out as representing your brand, however any of them act, and the impressions they give you, and the experiences they create for you can spin into your overall feeling.

So here’s the key takeaway from this segment, two things. Number one, if you distinguish yourself in the marketplace by having a better customer experience, you need to continue to maintain that bar. If you look at the marketplace and you say, “No one is providing a great customer experience. I’m going to raise the bar,” but then you get it and you bring a bunch of folks in, and new prospects, and new customers, and then you go back to the norm of how business was done in that industry, you will not be able to maintain your customers long term. Number two, if your business has employees that are regularly interacting with customers, it’s worth exploring, setting a standard for what that interaction looks like. The best way to set that standard is to model it by how you interact with your employees.

Look, rideshare apps are fantastic, they’re a great invention. Let’s just keep them moving forward. Let’s keep them as elevating the transportation experience instead of returning to the horse and buggy whip days of yesteryear.

[CX Press] If It Ain’t Broke…

There are so many great customer experience articles to read, but who has the time? We summarize them and offer clear takeaways you can implement starting tomorrow. Enjoy this segment of CX PRESS where we read the articles so you don’t need to.

Dan Gingiss: Today’s CX PRESS comes to us from Becky Roemen, whom I met as part of the CX Accelerator group, on her blog, Tin Cans and String. It’s called, “Don’t fix it if it isn’t broke. 10 reasons this phrase is holding your CX back.”

Joey Coleman: Oh, I bet I can think of a couple of those 10.

Dan Gingiss: Seriously, well, Becky notes that corporate budgets are often allocated to the squeaky wheels, the things that are broken or maybe just the loudest executive. And the result is that many important initiatives can get ignored. “Technologies, processes, and workflows are the enablers of great customer experiences,” she says, “just as easily, neglected technologies, processes, and workflows are the preventers of great customer experiences.”

So the article lists 10 watch-outs to make sure your company is allocating resources in a way that will provide the most value to the customer. Now as always, we’re going to include the link to the article in the show notes at www.experiencethisshow.com so you can check out the whole thing, but we’ll list a few of the 10 things here that really stuck out to us.

Joey Coleman: Alrighty. Number one, you’re defining broke wrong. Just because the IVR or any other technology is physically working does not mean that it’s efficient, or hitting the mark, or a good customer experience. Blinking lights is not the inverse of broke.

Dan Gingiss: Number three on Becky’s list, you’re comfortable with that’ll have to do. The phrase itself indicates that status quo is okay. Here, in 2019 and moving forward, nearly every industry is competing on customer experience more than price or any other factor. With that sort of competitive landscape, you can’t afford good enough anymore when it comes to the customer experience or how you provide support to your customers.

Joey Coleman: Sorry, Dan, I’m still recovering from that’ll have to do. That one drives me bonkers, right? So lazy. Fix it, folks, come on. Number six on the list, your voice of the customer program is weak. Investing in a good voice of the customer program means that you will have the data you need to drive decisions with the customer’s voice.

Dan Gingiss: And we’ve talked about this before, it’s got to be action oriented data. So just reading reports about what your customers are saying is not enough. We don’t need more reports. We need more data that will help us take action based on what the customer is saying.

Finally number 10 on Becky’s list, you’re focusing too much on the present day. Now, the current state of affairs doesn’t reflect what can or will happen in the future, nor your preparation to take it on. Future state planning is an incredibly important activity for the customer experience team to take part in.

So Joey, I thought this article, and obviously there were six other items on the list, but I thought this was really interesting because she’s right in the sense that we often are looking for that blinking light, or that shouting executive, or that squeaky wheel to determine where to put resources. And the thing is, is that at the same time, all these systems that we have are growing older every day and every year, and they’re getting more and more out of date, but because they’re still functioning, we’re not working to improve them.

Joey Coleman: Yeah, so we’re putting off until tomorrow a giant snowball that is building, right? I have a buddy who runs a technology company and he’s in a mastermind group I’m in, and was explaining to us something he’s been doing this year. Every three weeks, he carves off a day on his calendar, and on that day, he rebuilds one of their technology touchpoints. So he goes in and says, for example, “Oh, let’s look at the first email that you get when you sign up for our newsletter. Today, I’m only going to work on that. I’m going to make it best in class, best practice, really focus in, hammer it down, and also make sure that that technology piece is properly connected to the CRM and all the automations, and that they’re pulling the data they need and connecting everything together.”

What he’s found is while each of those days gives him the satisfaction of, “Wow, today I really fixed something. I accomplished something,” he’s a former technologist who’s now the CEO of the company, so it allows him to roll up his sleeves and get dirty, so to speak, and kind of get into the code, but what it also does is over the course of three months, he’s made dramatic improvements in these legacy systems that were working just fine, but he knew that they could be better.

Dan Gingiss: I love that. I have a similar example that is actually trying to fix things that are broke, but it’s related to the story you just told because when I was at Discover, I was finding that we weren’t ever able to prioritize small fixes because the technology cue was all about these giant enhancements, so you couldn’t get anybody’s attention with small fixes. So what I did was I actually collected nearly 100 small fixes and put them into one giant project, and that’s how I got it prioritized on the list, because when we finished that project, which really was only about a two-week or three-week project because these weren’t difficult fixes, they just, there were many of them, we had made such a big enhancement overall because we had gotten rid of so many pain points.

Joey Coleman: Folks, he’s not just pretty, he’s smart. Now, I love that idea, and I don’t know that there is a listener of our show that couldn’t implement that idea in their business. Make a list of all of the little things that you’ve been meaning to get to, and then take a week or take two weeks and make that the entire team’s focus, get everybody working on these things.

Lots of times, I think in larger organizations, so many of the projects are longterm, it’s the project for this quarter, the project for this year, and humans want to have a feeling of regular progress and milestones accomplished. So by giving a bunch of little bite size projects, combining them all into one master project, it allows you to get lots of dopamine hits along the way and have the whole team celebrating a big lift in the overall enhancement of the customer experience.

Dan Gingiss: So the takeaway here is that the concept of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix, could actually be hurting your customer experience. Make sure you take stock of things that are working but not necessarily optimally and try to stay a step or two ahead, so you’re focused on where you’re going and not just where you are today.

[Start the Conversation] Avtex: Balancing Security and Customer Experience

Joey Coleman: Sometimes, all it takes is a single question to get your company thinking about an improved customer experience. Here’s an idea for how you can start the conversation

This week’s Start the Conversation topic is balancing security and customer experience. Security is a critical component of customer relationships. Protecting personal information from prying eyes is a must for any organization. As security concerns grow and efforts to ensure customer privacy evolve, customer experiences can be negatively impacted. It’s important to balance security processes and policies with the needs of the customer and try to limit the negative impact security has on a customer’s experience during a single interaction and throughout the entire relationship. The other side of the coin is actually protecting customer data from breaches or leaks, which can cause catastrophic trust issues and affect brand perception.

Dan Gingiss: Here are three things to consider when thinking about security from a customer experience standpoint. One, remember the customers expect high security standards and that this is a key part of their experience with your brand. Two, you can still be creative in how you communicate security issues like password rules. While complex passwords may be valuable, complex instructions are not. Three, security, like customer experience, is really everyone’s job. Limit access to customer data to only those that need it to perform their jobs and ensure that physical security measures are in place to prevent internal or external data theft.

Joey Coleman: Oh, my goodness, I’m a big proponent of paying attention to security issues, but I’m an even bigger proponent of bringing customer experience to the security conversation. All too often, especially when we’re asked to create a login and password for a website, which by the way, unless we’re doing a financial transaction, I shouldn’t need a login and password for your site. If your site is just a content site where I can read white papers or watch videos, why are you passwording me in? I get that you might want to cookie me or track which ones I read, stop making me make a password to access your content that’s free anyway, just makes no sense to me.

But I think there’s a great opportunity as alluded to in Dan’s comments to make the experience part of the security. So when you say to me, when creating your password, it needs to have 15 letters and none of them can repeat, and at least one needs to be a capital, and we need a number, and we need a symbol, and you can’t use your name or any of your family members names, or variations of their names, or your pet’s names, or the name of our business brand in the password, it’s like they’re encouraging me to come up with a password that I’m actually not going to be able to remember, which means I’m going to have to access the reset password tool, which is going to repeat the process all over again,

Dan Gingiss: Couldn’t agree more. Don’t forget that you can only use certain symbols and not other symbols.

Joey Coleman: Right.

Dan Gingiss: And now for this week’s question about balancing security and customer experience, are our security policies or processes negatively impacting our customers? We encourage you to start the conversation within your own organization, and then continue it with our friends at Avtex, who are at experienceconversations.com, again, that experienceconversations.com.

[Say What?!] Don’t Make your Customer do Math

Joey Coleman: It’s shocking how often people use 38 words to describe something when two would do the trick. We are looking at you lawyers and accountants. Words matter and there is no excuse for trying to hide what you mean. We explore words and messaging in this next generation of say what?

Dan Gingiss: “It was my understanding that there would be no math.” That line always draws a chuckle when I speak with people about how math is actually important in the customer experience. By the way, the quote is from a famous Saturday night live skit where Chevy Chase plays the role of Gerald Ford at a debate responding to a budgetary question.

Joey Coleman: I never knew that. That’s a nice little… Dan Gingiss, ladies and gentlemen, man of a million facts.

Dan Gingiss: Math, like politics, always seems to divide people.

Joey Coleman: What a…

Dan Gingiss: Yeah, see what I did there? Ask someone if they like math, and it’s usually either a confident yes or a defiant no. In many focus groups, some of which I participated in, the line, “I hate math,” comes up way more often than you might think. Now, local driving range offers buckets of golf balls to practice your swing, but if you’re not practicing math, you might miss the arbitrage opportunity presented by the sign out in front.

Upon first glance, it looks legitimate. There are several bucket sizes of balls; small, medium, large and jumbo, and correspondingly, increasing prices; $5, $9, $20 and $25, but the math doesn’t make sense. When you buy a small bucket of 40 balls for $5, for example, you’re paying $12.5 cents per ball, but when you buy the jumbo, which is 150 balls for $25, you’re actually paying $16.7 cents per ball. Now, as consumers were trained to believe that the jumbo is the better deal, but in this particular case, it is a much worse deal, and in fact, it’s the most expensive. Buying five small buckets cost the same $25 as the jumbo bucket, but it gets you 200 golf balls instead of 150.

Joey Coleman: I agree with you, Dan. When we start talking about math, at least for me, it makes it a lot more complicated, which is why we’re going to include some photos in the show notes over at experiencethisshow.com, so that you all can see the sign that Dan was talking about. I do think it’s fascinating because we have been conditioned in our society to choose the jumbo option, especially if it says the best price or whatever it may be, because our presumption is that it’s going to cost less, and this ends up being a trick, that in this case, the driving range is playing on, folks. I also wonder, how do you think they would react if you walked up and said, “I’d like five small buckets of balls.”?

Dan Gingiss: Yeah, they’d probably think you’re crazy.

Joey Coleman: Because I know you did this, Dan.

Dan Gingiss: And I can tell you from experience, they think you’re nuts, right? So I actually don’t think they’re trying to trick people. I think the answer is they can’t do the math.

Joey Coleman: They just can’t. So it’s not that it’s nefarious intent on their part. It’s just lack of computational skill.

Dan Gingiss: Exactly. I want to give another example, which we’ll also include in the show notes at experiencethisshow.com, and this one comes from my 13-year-old. So kudos to my 13-year-old who found this and recognized the problem. So he was at a big amusement park, a major brand, and he wanted to play one of the carnival games, and he noticed that one play of the carnival game was $2 and three plays were $5. Now, that part makes sense, but then there was the value play, again, the sign suggesting that this is the best value. It is, after all, called the value play. That one is five plays for $10. Now, for those of you who hate math, that’s the same $2 as buying just one play, not much of a value, right?

Joey Coleman: So then, once again, could you go up and say, “I’d like two, three plays, so I’d like six plays for $10.”

Dan Gingiss: Right, exactly. And they’ll probably look at you like, “Who is this guy who can’t do math?” Right? And the three plays for $5 actually works out to the best deal because it’s only a $1.67 per play instead of $2. So if you were making an economic decision, that’s exactly what you would do just as Joey said.

Here’s one more from my hometown of Chicago. One of my favorite treats in Chicago is called Chicago Mix popcorn, and it’s something that we do just wonderfully in my city. It is a mixture of cheese popcorn and caramel popcorn together in the same bag. It is absolutely addicting and it’s delicious. But one brand has a sign that lists the prices of these bags, and it’s similar to the golf balls in the sense that, as the size of the bags go up, so do the prices. But here’s the weird thing about this one. The one pound bag, and one pound is equivalent to 16 ounces, is $13.95, but the two smaller bags are 6 ounces and 10 ounces. So if you bought a small and a medium bag, you would have that same one pound. But those two bags together only cost $12, which is actually 11% less expensive.

So again, Joey might ask, “Can you imagine somebody coming in and saying, “I’ll have a small bag and a medium bag,” instead of just ordering a large bag? But actually, you’d be saving money in doing so.

Joey Coleman: I think part of the challenge here is, we’ve just, as humans, gotten lazy. We see this when you go, and I don’t know if you ever end up paying cash for anything, Dan, but lots of times when you give cash to someone, if the cash register isn’t working, if they are, let’s say below the age of 50, they really struggle to make the change. If they’re above the age of 50, they have no problem cranking out the change. I’m not saying that to be ageist, it’s that I don’t think we’re teaching basic math and basic math skills the same way we used to.

I agree with you, I don’t think this is a nefarious intent by the majority of these companies, as much as it is just no one in the organization really likes to do the math, no one has actually looked at the numbers, and no one is actually feeling comfortable enough to say, “Wait a second, what we’re charging doesn’t make sense.”

Dan Gingiss: But here’s the thing. We talk a lot about how every single interaction with a brand contributes to the overall perception of the customer experience. And at least for me, somebody who can appreciate math, these errors make the companies look silly and they reduce my opinion of them. In fact, they make me not trust them as much because you do question whether it’s nefarious.

Joey Coleman: Yeah, I was going to say, I think when you say you feel that it’s silly, I think the majority of people would feel taken advantage of.

Dan Gingiss: I think that’s definitely possible. Or they would look down on them and say, “These people aren’t very bright,” and neither one of those are particularly complimentary, right? So the point in saying this is that these mistakes seem like they’re smaller humorous, but they can actually have a pretty big impact on your brand image. So the takeaway here, math is important even if you don’t like math, and math errors can make your business look bad and cause customers to lose trust.

Joey Coleman: Wow. Thanks for joining us for another episode of Experience This.

Dan Gingiss: We know there are tons of podcasts to listen to, magazines and books to read, reality TV to watch. We don’t take for granted that you’ve decided to spend some quality time listening to the two of us.

Joey Coleman: We hope you enjoyed our discussions, and if you do, we’d love to hear about it. Come on over to experiencethisshow.com and let us know what segments you enjoyed, what new segments you’d like to hear. This show is all about experience and we want you to be part of the Experience This show.

Dan Gingiss: Thanks again for your time, and we’ll see you next week for more…

Joey Coleman: Experience…

Dan Gingiss: This.

Episode 75: How to Live Up to the Standard of Making a Customer’s Entire Day

Join us as we discuss how sometimes what you see isn’t necessarily wise to believe, how to create a remarkable experience in a commoditized industry, and why the sense of smell plays a huge role in brand perception.

Manipulations, Massages, and Madelines – Oh My!

[Say What] Deepfake Videos Require Everyone to Be Skeptical

Most people are familiar with the age old maxim, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” Increasingly, thanks to advances in artificial intelligence and video editing, you simply cannot believe everything you see. Deepfakes are the product of human image synthesis compiled via artificial intelligence. By combining and superimposing existing images and videos onto source images or videos, deepfakes confuse the viewer and allow for videos that aren’t “real” to appear genuine. These videos can then be used to show real people (often celebrities) doing and saying things that they never actually said or did.

This is the video we reference created by Jordan Peele.

Throughout 2019, deepfakes were used for entertainment and satire (fairly harmless applications), as well as political and propaganda efforts (much more problematic). Because deepfakes are designed to purposefully deceive people and spread false information, they are going to increasingly become a challenge for companies and consumers alike. The more difficult it becomes to tell the difference between what is true and what is deception, the more challenging it will be to know whether a brand experience or impression is authentic or not.

[A]s brands and companies, we need to start thinking about how deepfakes could impact our customers’ experiences. What happens if trust erodes slowly, or in the converse, is wiped away because of a major event (caused by a deepfake video)?

Joey Coleman, co-host of ExperienceThis! Show podcast

Fortunately, as quickly as deepfakes are emergining in society, companies are developing artificial intelligence solutions that can help recognize deep fakes before they are widely disseminated. While it is encouraging that companies are starting to develop the technology to expose these deceptive messages, the technology to create deepfakes is improving so quickly that the videos are getting more and more difficult to evaluate.

How can you help avoid the perils of deepfakes? First, don’t trust everything you see. Make sure to be discerning with any video that comes across your screen – especially those that seem out of character. Second, start thinking about the impact a deepfake could have on your customers’ experiences. Finally, put plans in place to mitigate the damage that could potentially happen.

[Dissecting the Experience] The Best Part of Your Day – at John Robert’s Spa

Earlier this season, we heard from customer service expert John DiJulius and discussed his newest book, The Relationship Economy. One of John’s businesses, the John Robert’s Spa – a full-service salon and spa with four locations in northeast Ohio – pairs high-quality services with John’s signature customer service.

Every employee of the salon/spa is given a card they are expected to keep with them at all times. The card outlines the standards they are expected to maintain and serves as a regular reminder of their commitment. The company’s vision statement is to be the best experience in our guests’ day. By outlining ways to live up to this standard, John sets an expectation that is both understandable and achievable.

Three Pillars that John Robert’s Employees Follow:

  • Mastering: John’s team strives to be the best trained and educated staff in the industry.
  • Emotional Connection: John’s team uses his signature “Secret Service” to connect with clients. The specialize in collecting and utilizing customer information – specifically about their customers’ family, occupation, recreation, and dreams (FORD).
  • Give More – John’s team is committed to a surprise and delight philosophy at all times.

We make them feel like the most important person in front of us and then finally give more. That’s our above and beyond pillar. Surprise and delight. Look for opportunities to go above and beyond. Be the best experience in our guest’s day – mastering, emotional connection, and give more.

John DiJulius, owner of John Robert’s Spa and author of The Relationship Economy

John sets a standard that is achievable, but he also sets a standard that makes the experience memorable and remarkable. This keeps employees focused on what matters. What can you do to set a standard that is achievable and understandable and will bring your customer experience to a new level?

[Start the Conversation] Avtex: Social Media as a Customer Experience Channel

Most potential customers now turn immediately to social media when they need to research and interact with businesses. These platforms allow customers to read reviews, ask questions, and seek support for specific issues. Unfortunately, many businesses either fail to leverage social media as a CX tool or do a poor job of maintaining their CX channels. 

To use social media as a CX channel, businesses should:

  1. Know which platforms are most popular with their target audience and focus efforts there.
  2. Create detailed policies and procedures specifically for social channels (What sorts of interactions will these channels support? Who will support them? What tone will the organization take in communicating with customers and prospects?)
  3. Observe the effectiveness of their efforts and adjust as necessary.

Start the conversation with this question: Are we effectively using social media to support and engage customers?

To continue the conversation, go to: experienceconversations.com.

[This Just Happened] The Smell of Experience

Can you remember a time when you walked into a place that smelled particularly amazing? Or perhaps, a certain smell that triggers a fond memory of your childhood? Or the scent of a specific vacation? The sense of smell is one of the most primal senses and it ties directly to our memories – triggering emotions quickly and deeply.

The sense of smell can positively affect your customer and user experience. When you walk into a store and it smells amazing, you will have a better time at the store. You will even buy more products. You will be more relaxed, happy. But imagine you walked into the local retail shop and it smelled really bad… You will walk right back out of there!

Tuli Kraus, Fresh Scents, Inc.

Is your business fully taking advantage of the sensory experience of scent? If your business has a physical presence or you offer physical products, smell should definitely be considered when designing your customer experience.

Links We Referenced

Host Contact Information

Tweet Dan Gingiss: @DGingiss

Email Joey: JoeyC@JoeyColeman.com

DanGingiss.com

JoeyColeman.com

Subscribe to Experience This on Apple Podcasts

Episode Transcript

Download a transcript of the entire Episode 75 here or read it below:

Dan Gingiss: Welcome to Experience This.

Joey Coleman: Where you’ll find inspiring examples of customer experience, great stories of customer service and tips on how to make your customers love you even more.

Dan Gingiss: Always upbeat and definitely entertaining, customer attention expert Joey Coleman.

Joey Coleman: And social media expert Dan Gingiss, serve as your hosts for a weekly dose of positive customer experience.

Dan Gingiss: So hold onto your headphones, it’s time to Experience This.

Joey Coleman: Get ready for another episode of the Experience This show.

Dan Gingiss: Join us as we discuss how seeing isn’t necessarily believing, how to create a remarkable experience in a commodity industry, and why the sense of smell plays a huge role in brand perception.

Joey Coleman: Manipulations, Massages, and Mayhem. Oh my.

[Say What] Deepfakes

Joey Coleman: It’s shocking how often people use 38 words to describe something when two would do the trick. We’re looking at you lawyers and accountants. Words matter and there is no excuse for trying to hide what you mean. We explore words and messaging in this next iteration of, Say What?

Dan, I’m going to go out on a limb here. I’d like to make a bold prediction.

Dan Gingiss: Oh, boy. I love it when you do that, Joey.

Joey Coleman: All right. Now this, at initial glance, could be seen as a negative prediction, which is not my intention. I just think it’s an important topic that we’re seeing in the news more and more and I think we’re going to see it a lot more in, let’s say, the next six months to a year. Here’s my prediction. I think at least one well known brand is going to deal with a major, deep fake issue.

Dan Gingiss: Sorry, did you say deep fake? I’m not familiar with that concept.

Joey Coleman: Yes. A deep fake issue. A deep fake is a video created using artificial intelligence. The intention of the video is to show real people, often celebrities or spokespeople, people that we know, doing and saying things that they never actually did. Now that’s why we made this a Say What segment.

When it comes to deep fakes, it’s very difficult to believe what the person on the video is actually saying. Now, in the last year, we’ve seen deep fakes used for entertainment, for satire, and as both political and propaganda tools. In fact, former president Barack Obama and Jordan Peele created a deep fake video to illustrate how this works, which we’ll play for you now.

To be clear before we play it, this is not President Obama speaking. Because you can’t see the video. Although, you can see the video if you go over to our show notes at experiencethisshow.com. What you’re hearing is not President Obama actually, but it looks and sounds like him.

Jordan Peele: We’re entering an era in which our enemies can make it look like anyone is saying anything at any point in time. Even if they would never say those things. So for instance, they could have me say things like… I don’t know. Killmonger was right or Ben Carson is in the sunken place. Now you see, I would never say these things, at least not in a public address, but someone else would. Someone like Jordan Peele.

This is a dangerous time. Moving forward we need to be more vigilant with what we trust from the internet. It’s a time when we need to rely on trusted news sources. May sound basic, but how we move forward in the age of information is going to be the difference between whether we survive or whether we become some kind of dystopia.

Joey Coleman: What’s troubling about this video, and deep fakes in general, is that they are designed to intentionally mislead people and spread false information. I think we’re going to see some brands deal with public backlash because of messaging that is spread via deep fake videos about those brands.

Dan Gingiss: I remember seeing some of these as well, and I can’t decide what’s worse, that this is happening more and more, or that the technology is advancing so quickly that telling the difference between real video footage and deep fake is incredibly difficult.

Joey Coleman: I agree Dan, and this isn’t just going to be a challenge for social media companies and for video hosting companies and all the copyright issues and the way they might get sued. This is going to be a challenge for companies and consumers alike.

Dan Gingiss: It does sound pretty frightening from a brand perspective. Hopefully you’re going to share with us some things we can do to mitigate this.

Joey Coleman: Absolutely. Because here on Experience This, we like to tell positive stories, we don’t want to leave you hanging by getting you anxious and afraid of this. So here’s what we do. As customers and consumers, we need to learn not to trust everything we see. Now, I know that may feel like a sad moment and a sad time in our history, but the reality is we don’t want to presume everything is fake, but we need to be more discerning with what we hold as true.

I also think that as brands or companies, we need to start thinking about how deep fakes could impact our customer’s experiences. What happens if trust erodes slowly, or in the converse, is wiped away because of a major event? Having a deep fake strategy and being ready to counter any misleading videos or messages is something that mid and large sized brands should already be thinking about if they’re not.

Dan Gingiss: The good news is that several tech companies are developing sophisticated algorithms and artificial intelligence to help recognize deep fakes. The software company Adobe has partnered with the University of California at Berkeley to train AI to recognize facial manipulation. This tool could eventually help consumers detect deep fakes and companies to spot deep fakes before they are widely disseminated.

Joey Coleman: You know, I am thrilled to hear that companies are, especially places like the University of California at Berkeley and Adobe, are working together to solve some of these problems, but I actually think in many ways the genie’s out of the bottle. This is going to be happening faster and causing bigger consequences than the average business or citizen is going to be able to keep up with or catch up too.

I think it’s just in many ways a dangerous time, and I hate that we have to teach people to be skeptical of what they see, because there’s this whole phrase that has been around since the beginning of human time almost, that seeing is believing, and now we actually are going to need to say, well, seeing isn’t believing. You need to figure out what you’re actually believing.

Dan Gingiss: Well, yeah, if we play the scenario out a little bit, let’s say that President Obama and Jordan Peele got together for another video, but this time it’s a video of president Obama speaking with the audio provided by Jordan Peele, and him talking about how he found a worm in his McDonald’s hamburger. And now all of a sudden, this is a video that gets passed around the internet and McDonald’s is dealing with a PR crisis because a former president got a worm in his burger, except it’s completely made up.

That’s the kind of thing that brands are going to have to be ready for, and their PR teams are going to at least have to have a plan for, as you say. And some of it may also be about educating the public specifically on deep fakes so that it’s not just this, don’t trust everything you see, which is amorphous, because the reality is we don’t know what we can trust in what we can’t, but maybe training the public on how to spot a deep fake. How to confirm whether something’s real or not. There are websites like Snopes that will either confirm or deny rumors spreading around the internet and consumers should be using sites like that to get the truth.

Joey Coleman: What I’d love is if most of the people on Facebook who have aunts and uncles and cousins that are on Facebook would start using Snopes, because the amount of times I see something posted, and I’m like, that’s just not true, that’s absolutely not true. I know you read on the internet that Abraham Lincoln said that the Tesla was his favorite car, but that’s just not true.

Dan Gingiss: But Joey, if it was on the internet, it has to be true.

Joey Coleman: If it’s on the internet it’s real. Yeah. Let’s see if we can maybe do our part. I know we played an audio clip earlier, folks. If you go to experiencethisshow.com, in the show notes we’re going to include video links to several examples of deep fake videos. I want to put a disclaimer out here. The majority of these thus far, the ones that have been really well done, have been done with political candidates. Which is terrifying in and of itself, so please don’t take our posting of these videos as being endorsements or critical, either way, of any of these candidates, but I think it’s useful to actually see just how professional these videos have become and just how realistic they seem. It’s actually pretty terrifying.

As I said at the beginning of this segment, our intention in discussing deep fakes is not to upset people or to speak negatively. Rather, our goal is to make our listeners aware of a growing problem so that they can A, be vigilant in their own video watching and B, start to think about how a deep fake would impact their customer’s experiences and what can be done now to set in place response scripts to mitigate that impact.

Sometimes a remarkable experience deserves deeper investigation. We dive into the nitty gritty of customer interactions and dissect how and why they happen. Join us while we’re dissecting the experience.

Dan Gingiss: Earlier this season we heard from customer service expert John DiJulius, and talked about his new book, The Relationship Economy. Today we’re going to discuss one of John’s businesses, the John Roberts Spa, a full service salon and spa with four locations in Northeast Ohio. Started in 1993, the salons offer a combination of high quality services and John’s unmatched superior customer service. We’re going to dig into one of the many aspects which makes John Robert Spa so successful.

DiJulius hands out a card to every employee that they’re expected to carry around with them to remind them of the company’s purpose, customer service vision statement, some non-negotiable standards, and what he calls the nevers and always. Here’s John DiJulius to explain.

John DiJulius: I would like to share with you the John Roberts Spa customer service vision statement, pillars, and nevers and always. Every employee carries around a credo card with all of this on it. So our customer service vision statement, which I like to call the action statement, what we have to do every time we come in contact with anyone, be it 10 seconds or 90 minutes, it is to be the best experience in our guest’s day. Be the best part of our guest’s day. And why is that so important? Because our guests are dealing with craziness, chaos in their life, and we might be that one escape. They’re giving and giving and giving, and they come to us for a massage, hair cut, facial, pedicure, and most of all to be rejuvenated, to be refilled, so they can go back on and be Superman or Superwoman. What we’re all trying to be.

So to be the best experience in our guest’s day, that’s the what we have to do. The how is from the three pillars, mastering, emotional connection, and give more. The mastering pillar is to be operationally excellent. No one should be better at their jobs than we are. That can be the person answering the phones booking your appointment, the concierge hostess that’s greeting upon arrival, to the technician, hairdresser, esthetician, massage therapist.

The second pillar, emotional connection. We utilize our customer intelligence to personalize every experience. We collect and utilize Ford, F-O-R-D, family, occupation, recreation, and dreams. We make them feel like the most important person in front of us.

And then finally, give more. That’s our above and beyond pillar. Surprise and delight. The answer is always yes, regardless of the question. And whatever, whenever. Make their day. If it’s raining outside and they just got their hair done, ask them for their keys, pull the car around, walk them out with an umbrella, give them a John Roberts Spa umbrella, and they’ll bring it back the next time. Look for opportunities to go above and beyond. Be the best experience in our guest’s day, mastering, emotional connection, and give more.

Dan Gingiss: Pretty cool, huh Joey?

Joey Coleman: That is cool. And there’s so many pieces of that that we could dissect, but I got to say the one that really jumps out at me is that idea of wanting this to be the best part of their day. Wanting their experience at the spa to be the best part of the day. Because I think that sets a standard that is easily achievable and understandable by the staff and something that can be renewed every time that the customer comes back to the spa.

It allows you to not think, I have to create the best experience they’ve ever had in their entire life. You’re just trying to make it the best of the day, which I think is a great way to keep employees focused on what really matters.

Dan Gingiss: Yeah. And it’s also training them to keep their eyes open. It obviously doesn’t rain every day, so they don’t need an umbrella every single time. But it is great that the employees recognize that somebody who just got their hair done doesn’t want to walk out into the rain. A problem I don’t tend to have very often, but I can at least-

Joey Coleman: See folks, Dan made that one on his own, I was going to let that go, but he made it.

Dan Gingiss: Yes, I can empathize. One of the things I thinks really cool is this list of nevers and always. John here lists 10 things that employees should never do and then a corresponding 10 things that they should always do, instead. Let’s take another listen.

John DiJulius: And then finally on our credo card, we have nevers and always. I’ll give you some examples. Something that no one in our staff represent our brand would never do or they will always do if the situation presents itself. Never points, always show them. That could be obviously face to face, someone asks you where the restroom is, or where the spa is, but that’s also over the phone. If someone calls up and asks for something, pointing would be saying, you can get that off our website. Showing them we’d be sending them a link.

Never say no. You cannot use that word. Now the always isn’t always say yes. Sometimes that’s not possible. The always is just focus on what you can do. Never say no problem. Always say certainly my pleasure, absolutely.

Some other ones never overshare. Always take care of it. Never show frustration publicly. Be a duck. Always be a duck. I want a duck. A duck is the most graceful, beautiful thing gliding across the water. What no one sees or knows is it’s paddling like hell underneath.

That is our credo cards. We go over this every day in appreciative title. One thing from it every day. So it’s always new. We can get probably 20 to 25 days out of a credo card without repeating it. That is our service vision pillars and nevers and always.

Dan Gingiss: I really like some of these and I think we’ve all experienced them with different companies that we do business with. This idea of when you’re in a really large home improvement store and you ask, hey, where are the nails? I’ve literally gotten this answer before, well you need to go down to aisle six, then turn left, then go past three different sections, then turn right, then you’ll see the washing machines, then head straight and then turn left and you’ll get there. And it’s like, yeah, I already forgot those instructions.

Joey Coleman: Can instead I follow the breadcrumbs, sir?

Dan Gingiss: And he’s saying, walk them there. Don’t point, just walk them there. And it’s such a big difference when somebody does that.

Joey Coleman: It really is. And at the risk of sounding old fashioned, it’s a return to grace and etiquette. When we were growing up, I don’t know about you guys, we were taught some of these things that I don’t think are taught as much anymore today. But that whole idea of being polite, calling people Mr. Smith, or Mrs. Smith, or Ms. Smith, and what we think of as the polite way to go through life, is not the normal way to go through life anymore.

In our effort to be more convenient and be more efficient, we’ve actually become more rude. And what I love is that John has this credo card that reminds his employees that at least when they’re there working in his shop, it’s about grace. It’s about politeness. It’s about really showing the customer the way, to deliver them that remarkable customer experience.

Dan Gingiss: The other thing I really liked, because you know I love language so much, is that he really focuses in on specific words that make a difference. John DiJulius has been saying for years that people should never say no problem in a customer service engagement. And the reason for that is that when a customer asks for something and you tell them no problem, you’ve now suggested to them that what they were asking for might have been a problem. And of course from their perspective it’s not a problem, it’s just something that they want.

It is also taking a negative word no, in front of problem, and turning it into a positive word, yes, or sure, or I’d be glad to, and I think this stuff does make a difference. You may not notice it in every interaction, but again, over time as you interact with the employees at John Robert Spa, you’re going to notice something different about them and you’re going to notice that they are more polite, that they are more graceful, that they’re using niceties, and you walk out of there feeling like you got more than just a haircut or a massage.

Joey Coleman: I also really liked his analogy to the duck. All too often I find myself in a business establishment where it’s clear that the staff is frustrated about something that has nothing to do with me. I walked into this environment. And while I wouldn’t want to suggest that folks shouldn’t be able to feel the emotions that they’re feeling and experience their emotions, there’s a difference between doing that on display for all of your customers to see, and doing it in more of a private setting or scenario. I think that standard for the team to look, we’re going to look graceful, we’re going to be elegant, even if it means underneath the system we’re running as fast as we can, is a great ideal to set for the staff.

Dan Gingiss: Never let them see you sweat, as the commercial used to say. The last thing I love about this is that, let’s face it, a salon is a commodity industry. I know in my hometown alone, there’s probably 10 choices that I could have if I wanted to go and get a massage. And so standing out with customer experience is absolutely critical because competing on price is a loser’s game and they’re essentially selling the same product. So the takeaway is when you properly train and prepare your employees to create a superior consistent experience and then show them how, you can develop the same reputation as John Roberts Spa of having a superior customer experience even in what is a commodity industry.

Joey Coleman: Sometimes all it takes is a single question to get your company thinking about an improved customer experience. Here’s an idea for how you can Start the Conversation.

Dan Gingiss: This week’s Start the Conversation topic is social media as a customer experience channel. Social media has become a preferred channel for customers to research and interact with businesses. These platforms allow customers to read reviews, ask questions, and seek support for specific issues. Unfortunately, many businesses either fail to leverage social media as a CX tool or do a poor job of maintaining their CX channels.

Joey Coleman: To use social as a CX channel, I talked to Dan and the folks at Avtechs because let’s be candid, I’m not really on social channels. But what businesses should do is number one, know which platforms are most popular with their target audience and focus efforts there. Number two, create detailed policies and procedures specifically for social channels. What sorts of interactions will these channels support? Who will support them? What tone will the organization take in communicating with customers and prospects? And number three, observe the effectiveness of their efforts and adjust as necessary.

Dan Gingiss: Well you’re right, Joey, this is a topic that is near and dear to my heart, because I literally wrote the book on the topic, which is called Winning at Social Customer Care and it will show you how to do those things that Joey just listed.

A couple of things that I want to point out here is it’s really important to be where your customers are in social media. I often get asked, especially after speeches, what social media channels should I be in? And my answer, which may not be as fulfilling as you might hope, is with another question, which is, which channels are your customers in?

When I worked at Humana and we were selling to seniors, it was not that important that we were in Snapchat, but it was very important that we were on Facebook. I also always suggest to people to respond to everyone, people who are complaining, people who are asking questions, and people who are complimenting you.

Joey Coleman: And now for this week’s question about social media as a customer experience channel, are we effectively using social media to support and engage customers? We encourage you to start the conversation within your own organization and then continue it with Avtechs at experienceconversations.com. That’s www.experienceconversations.com.

We love telling stories and sharing key insights you can implement or avoid based on our experiences. Can you believe that this just happened?

Dan Gingiss: I recently got the opportunity to speak at Inbound, one of the largest marketing conferences in the country, and I was invited to a networking dinner where I got to sit next to Naftuly Kraus, who goes by Tuli. His LinkedIn profile describes him as, The Scent Guy, because he works for a company called Fresh Scents Inc., which is a leader in the ambient marketing industry. The company provides nursing homes, schools, hospitals, gyms, office buildings, and more with, and I’m quoting, “scenting solutions” that are controlled by scent machines connected to mobile apps. The company’s website says, “With our sense of smell is so closely linked to memory, a pleasing aroma experience, or a bad one, can have lasting effects on a businesses bottom line.” I asked to Tuli to tell us a little bit more about the power of smell.

Tuli Kraus: Today I want to talk about how much of the sense of smell can positively affect your customer and user experience. When you walk into a store and it smells amazing, you will have a better time at the store. You might even buy more products. You will be more relaxed, happy. But imagine you walked into the local retail shop and it smelled really bad. You will walk right back out of there. You might’ve even tell your friends how bad your experience was.

Here’s a cool study that the Wheeling Jesuit University did. They had volunteers smell peppermint oil every two hours over the course of five days and when the study was over, they realized that these volunteers actually consumed 3,500 calories less, which was incredible.

There is a reason why these big hotel chains use great fragrances in the public areas, the common areas. I have friends that have come to me and said, “Tuli, have you ever been to this hotel in, for example, Colorado?” I said, “No,” and they tell me, “they have this amazing fragrance and it smells so good,” and I’m like, “Do you go there often?” They’re like, “I was there once a couple of years ago.” Just this just gives you an example how far deep in your brain the sense of smell can be stuck if it’s a good fragrance. Anyways, thanks for having me on the podcast. All the best guys.

Dan Gingiss: I don’t know about you Joey, but I found this to be absolutely fascinating, so I decided to research it a little bit more. According to Psychology Today, olfaction, which is also known as the sense of smell, is the most primal of our six senses. Throughout human evolution, the sense of smell has been key to our survival. A negative smell, such as a dead animal can trigger an instantaneous reflex to take flight, whereas a positive smell, such as burning wood or baking cookies, can trigger a sense of security. Smell directly ties to memories in a way that no other sense can. Humans are capable of distinguishing thousands of unique odors. So maybe The Rock was actually onto something when he yelled his signature question as a professional wrestler, “Do you smell what The Rock is cooking?”

Joey Coleman: Wow. I’m mostly stunned at this point because we are deep into four seasons of this podcast before we get our first professional wrestling reference in the show. Well done, Dan. Big fan of The Rock. I like it.

Well, if I may, let’s counter that with a literary reference that may play to another segment of our listeners. My wife Barrett is a voracious reader and early on in our relationship she introduced me to a fantastic book, In Remembrance of Things Past, and in this book, Marcel Proust illustrates how smell is linked to the earliest life experience and it’s stored in our memory and specific neural networks.

In this story, Proust describes very vividly how some forgotten childhood memories rocket back into the consciousness with the original intensity they had from the time, when a protagonist in the story that he’s writing about dips a Madeline Biscuit into a cup of tea.

First of all, honey, that one’s for you. Second of all, this concept is not new, thanks to The Rock. This is as, Dan noted out, primal in our existence as human beings, and I think a lot of businesses overlook the power of smell.

I have some good friends and clients, Steve and Katisha Weaver, who run a company in Ohio called Candle Lab, where you can actually go into their store, choose different scents, and then they mix them into candles or lotions. It’s actually a really unique and different experience because I don’t know about you, I’ve been gifted, shall I say, some of those scented candles that find their way being gifted right into a landfill somewhere as soon as I receive them.

Dan Gingiss: Or re-gifted.

Joey Coleman: Or re-gifted. But I actually try not to re-gift them because I’m like, why would anybody want this? But the thought of making my own was really fun.

And that’s where I think Tuli’s work as well as Steve and Katisha Weaver’s work is also a fantastic way to think about scent in your brand.

Dan Gingiss: For sure. And I just want to note for the record that while Proust was definitely onto something more than 100 years ago, The Rock clearly made smell cool again.

Joey Coleman: Oh, maybe that’s what it was.

Dan Gingiss: Tuli actually gave me a small vial of a scent that is absolutely recognizable as being from a major high end hotel chain. I can’t tell you which one because it’s one of his clients, but it was absolutely incredible because as soon as I smelled it, I could identify with that brand. And it turns out they’re not the only hotel chain that has their own smell. What I love about this is we often talk about how every interaction with the brand affects the overall customer experience, but rarely have we ever talked about an olfactory interaction.

I’ll tell you where I notice it the most. The first, and we have talked about this, is when I get into an Uber or Lyft and the car has a really heavy air freshener smell and I’ve got to immediately roll down the windows. That’s a negative connotation.

But on the positive side, I believe that every time I walk into a Starbucks I get that same pleasant smell that’s really comforting. It’s the smell of coffee, coffee beans, and usually some sort of baked goods combined. I believe that if I walked into a Starbucks blindfolded, I could probably tell you that I was in a Starbucks.

Joey Coleman: Well, and it’s interesting, so many smells are associated with specific industries. When we think about going into an open house in a real estate setting and looking at a home that you might buy, invariably they’re baking bread or chocolate chip cookies because they know those smells are really well received by the majority of people.

Or when you think about going into a hospital, often it smells like antiseptic cleaner and it has that more, yes, we’re glad it’s clean, but it feels a little on the chemically side and so automatically that’s creating emotions of fear, uncertainty, and angst in the patients that are coming to the hospital.

So I think the key takeaways here are that while smell may not be a part of every company’s customer experience, it should at least be something that you’re considering, especially if you are a business that has a physical presence. What are you doing to make sure that your brand not only looks good, but smells good?

Wow, thanks for joining us for another episode of Experience. This.

Dan Gingiss: We know there are tons of podcasts to listen to, magazines and books to read, reality TV to watch. We don’t take for granted that you’ve decided to spend some quality time listening to the two of us.

Joey Coleman: We hope you enjoyed our discussions, and if you do, we’d love to hear about it. Come on over to we experiencethisshow.com and let us know what segments you enjoyed, what new segments you’d like to hear. This show is all about experience and we want you to be part of the Experience This show.

Dan Gingiss: Thanks again for your time and we’ll see you next week. For more…

Joey Coleman: Experience This.

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