EP36: Shep Hyken - How To Deliver Amazing Customer Service

Do you WOW your clients?

If not, you might lose them.

According to our guest, customer service expert and New York Times best-selling author, Shep Hyken, you have to recognize every interaction you have with a client forms an impression, so make it a good one.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • The power of gratitude and how it will take your customer service to new heights

  • The importance of truly understanding your clients' needs

  • How to deal with difficult customers in a respectful way

If you'd like to find out more about Shep, visit here.

To access Shep's free Five Ways to Create an Amazing Customer Experience online course for 30 days, click this link. Please use your email address as your username when you setup your account. After that's complete, you may sign in again at www.ShepardVirtualTraining.com. If you need any support or have any questions, you may contact Shep's Client Support at stephanie@hyken.com.

To check out Shep's book, Amaze Ever Customer, Every Time, read this.


Michael Palmer: 01:12 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer and today is going to be an excellent episode. Our guest is a trusted customer service and experience expert as well. He is a New York Times best selling author. His mission is to help companies deliver amazing customer service experiences and we're so happy to have him on the show. Welcome to the podcast, Shep Hyken. 

Shep Hyken: 01:39 Hey, great to be here. Thanks for having me, Michael. 

MP: 01:41 It is our honor and uh, I'm sure the listeners are on the edge of their seats because we have a New York Times bestselling author on the show. I think that's, I think there might be a first for The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. Wow. But it's great to have you. 

SH: 01:56 Hey, great to be here. And I'm excited because we're going to talk about something I'm very passionate about. 

MP: 02:01 Yeah, let's do it. Well, tell me, how did you become this person that is so passionate and delivering such amazing change in the world around customer service? 

SH: 02:13 Well, I mean, it goes back to when I was a kid. My parents taught me the right thing. They taught me, you know, say thank you, do polite things. I had my own little business when I was 12 years old doing a birthday party, magic shows, which I did, you know, throughout my teen teenage years, you know, 12, 13, 14, 15, uh, worked my way in and I clubs. But throughout that entire time, I knew what customer service was and didn't even know it was called customer service. It was just doing the right thing. It was a very common sense. So I'm graduating college, I'm working with this oil company and they sell and I did not have a job. And, and by the way, this is less than a year out of college and I thought I was going to work for them the rest of my life. 

SH: 02:52 And I saw a couple of professional speakers, motivational type speakers, and I thought I could do that. I had little entertainment background, I had, you know, business and going to college and working for a company. So I wrote a speech about customer service and started doing it. And that's how it all started. And I started reading, researching, doing more, you know, playing back on my personal experiences. And over the years of the research and all the different clients I've worked with, I've developed an expertise. The other thing is Michael, and this is what I even sometimes say to myself, Gosh, I don't have a Ph.D. in this. I don't have a master's in business. You know, an MBA, you know, so what qualifies me? And Yeah, there's a lot of experience there and there's a lot of research, but one of the things I pride myself on is the ability to deliver it in a way that's understandable to others. 

MP: 03:45 Beautiful. And that's what I think is most valuable is what people need. Yup. And just listening to you speak, what I really hear is this concept of customer service. And we have, our listeners are small business owners that often, probably a lot of the times they don't get the bandwidth to even think about that concept. And so you, you, you've gone out and spent your greater part of your life really your career thinking and understanding and translating and trying to figure out what's the simplest and concept to help people like our listeners improve their customer service. And now why should they really care about customer service?

SH: 04:15 Right. Well, there's a couple of questions in that one question. And I think back to when I was a kid, I was always the one that said thank you to everybody. And I think a big part of service is showing gratitude and making sure the people you work with or do business with, you know, how much you appreciate the opportunity to do so. 

SH: 04:48 And there's no shortage of people saying thank you. Uh, actually there is a shortage, I think. I think that it's the reverse. I'm surprised when I go into a store and I pay for something and the person bags up, whatever it is I bought and they hand it to me without saying thank you. And I look at them and I go, hey, thanks for taking care of me. And they look at me like I have two heads. So the key is we need to be the kind of person that steps up that expresses the gratitude. And by the way, that may be the very first step to making a customer feel appreciated is to simply let them know you appreciate them and say saying thank you. And there are many ways you can say thank you verbally if it's a great client that you've done business with that spent a lot of money with you, why aren't you sending a thank you note every once in a while? Why not a personal holiday card that does just doesn't have your name signed on it, but it has a note that's personal that you don't send to everybody. And I think that's just a step of starting it. People sending to me, what's the simplest concept of service that I can think of that you know, would help somebody, is to recognize every interaction you have is an opportunity that customers to form an impression, every interaction. So it should be a good one, don't you think?

MP: 06:01 Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. 

MP: 06:11 I love what you're saying and I think this is such an interesting story that you told around the checkout and I mean I've become desensitized to that, right? I think it's just we're so far away from why anybody's doing anything, you know? It's like, why are you at the till serving me? Like who, who actually Ben is benefiting in this relationship and you're right. It's a disconnect between, hey, you're in our store. Thank you for being here. My job depends on you actually shopping here and I think people just sort of becoming entitled, I guess to whatever it is that they have in this fast-moving, moving world. But that simple thing of just saying, you know what, I appreciate you by saying thank you and actually believing it and thinking that is brilliant.

MP: 06:53 That in itself it's, yeah, it's uncommon. Common Sense. Yeah. 

MP: 06:58 We need more of that uncommon common sense. Let's keep that theme going. So, you mentioned just saying thank you. These notes, just giving a little bit of the human experience I guess I hear in that is signing a note. What have you seen in terms of your customers after they've worked with you and read some of your, your things, what of that, what are, what are the things that they've taken on and implemented? 

SH: 07:22 Sure. So a, and by the way, it could be sending a note, an email, a text message of the best way. Somebody likes to communicate, any sign of gratitude. So to the question, what have my customers done and client's done when we work with them? Well, you know, so many times when I'm asked to do a speech, I focus on here's things that you can do right away, uh, when you go back to work. But if you really want to change a company, it has to start with the owner and the leadership of a company. And I realize a lot of the people that are listening to this podcast are in small businesses. Maybe they're solo entrepreneurs. So you've just got to make a conscious decision. Am I going to be customer or client focused or not? And if you decided to go forward with it, define what your vision is. 

SH: 08:08 What does customer service look like to you? And I always like to talk about what I call the customer service mantra. And that is a sentence long, one sentence that defines who you are and what you are when it comes to service. And my favorite example of that is the Ritz Carlton who uses nine words where ladies and Gentlemen Serving Ladies and gentlemen, I love that one. Another one that's three words along. Is Ace hardware a helpful place or are helpful hardware place? Uh, three, three words. And what their goal is is they know they provide good service, they know they compete against huge stores, big box stores like you know, a Lowe's or a home depot that also provide service. So what they want to do is take it to the next level. They want to provide helpful service, which means when you go in there and you have a project, they're going to ask you a lot of questions to make sure that you walk out with everything you need so you don't have to come back for something you forgot. 

SH: 09:12 I mean, imagine going in to buy a can of paint and getting home and realize you forgot to buy the brushes. Somebody at ace hardware will ask you, do you need brushes with the can of paint? And, and that's in its most basic example, but, but that's what the folks at ace have tried to do. They've tried to bump it up with, with the Ritz Carlton Carlton Warrior Ladies and Gentlemen Serving Ladies and gentlemen. They are saying, Hey, when you come to work for us, this is how we behave. And all of the training they do both at ace and at Ritz in any other company that creates this type of division, the training is toward that vision or that, that service statement, that mantra if you will. Beautiful. And I can see that, you know, uh, for the, for our listeners taking on a concept like this, while it's, it's going to be good for their business. 

SH: 10:00 They're also, they're working with who their clients are, are the owners of small, medium-sized businesses as well, is that their manager can almost treat our customers well and you know, be customer-focused, but as well, help our clients be customer-focused because the training and listening that they're getting right now is valuable for the customer base. So maybe it's setting the example, you know, um, we're, we're, I would love to say that our company is a role model for service. We don't just teach it. We actually model the behavior. You know, if you call us, we're going to call you back in a really short period of time. We're going to follow up with you. We typically don't drop the ball. I'm not going to say that we're perfect, nobody's perfect. But when there is a problem, we step up. We apologize, we acknowledge it, we fix what needs to get fixed. 

SH: 10:50 We own whatever comes our way. And we always do it fast. But I think that's, uh, but when you become, uh, when somebody says, wow, and by that let's, let's pull back and let me tell you, when people ask me, what do you do for Living Shep? I have a real simple answer. I don't just tell them, hey, I'm a customer service expert. I ask them a question. I asked, have you ever walked away from a business, any type of business? And you thought to yourself, wow, those people are amazing. Well, that's what I help my clients do achieve amazing levels of service. And they go, oh, I get it. Because they can internalize that question. And if your people listening to this podcast say, okay, I'm going to be that role model, I'm going to deliver an amazing level of service, their clients are going to say, wow, you're amazing. And they're going to start thinking, how can I be amazing to my customers and clients? 

MP: 11:50 Absolutely. And they're going to, they're gonna think how, you know, how I live without 

MP: 11:54 working with a company that offers that. And I would think that this, in terms of differentiating yourself in a crowded and competitive market service, one thing that can do that, right?

SH: 12:05 Yeah. So service is the differentiator. The differentiator for so many companies. And here's why. And I want everybody here to hear this because it's a really important message. You know, I know that bookkeeping, accounting services, you think that your customers are going to compare you to a competitor who does what you do when it comes to service. That is not the case anymore. It used to be, but now what they're going to do is compare you to the great experience that they just had at whatever business they just recently went to. It could be a restaurant and hotel, it could be one of their vendors. And they're going to say, why can't this person be as good as the company that I, you know, the guy buys my car from the, you know, the restaurant that I go to. So I think it's really important to recognize the bar is raised. Our customers are smarter than ever. They know what good services and the people teaching them good service are the rock stars in their world and we need to keep up with those rock stars and we need to compete not just with our competitors, but in all levels of service. 

MP: 13:15 Yeah, it's beautiful. Now you, you've got a lot of ideas around and you've simplified things very well in terms of the ways to improve service in a business. Can we talk a little bit about that? 

SH: 13:30 Sure, sure. So you're, we're talking, yeah, that's the course that we had talked about earlier. The five ways to create customer amazement. 

MP: 13:37 Yeah, five ways. So let a little bit about those five ways. 

SH: 13:40 Wow. Okay. You know what? I wish I could tell you what those, no, we don't worry. We can edit it out. You could go grab the sheet. No, no, no, no. The truth is there are many, many more ways and five ways to create that, that service. But what I think is important for everybody to understand is that, I mean I have 50 different points that I make when I do my customer service presentations, but some of the basics are this every moment of truth, every interaction that you have with the customers, an opportunity to create an impression and it should be a good one. And that comes from Yon Carlson. That's Yon Carlson's concept of moments of truth and how we turned a business around that was losing, failing, potentially going out of business and made it successful and admired within his industry. And anybody can do that. 

SH: 14:28 They just have to be very proactively aware of every engagement and encounter and interaction they have with a customer. Uh, there are so many different concepts, but, but one of the, uh, several of them that I think is really important, you know, and whether they're not necessarily in the course that we're talking about, but let's, let's give you some good ones. I'll tell you one that is in the course that I think is really important. When I'm doing my speeches, I'm calling it quality. At every turn, you need to have a great service combined with a great product. In other words, being the best at something. If you don't combine the service with it, it doesn't matter. And I'll give you an example that comes from the course. I talk about cable TV, and if you think about it, I'm, I'm old enough to remember before we had cable TV and that meant there were like four or five channels and that was it. 

SH: 15:19 You had your choice and they weren't 24 hours a day at midnight or one o'clock in the morning. They'd go off the air and they'd come back on at five or six in the morning. Then cable TV came along and all of a sudden there were multiple channels that we could watch from different networks. They even had HBO back then. And showtime, I guess came along a, I remember MTV back in the late seventies I believe. So all of this came along and then cable started to grow with their quality and offerings. And today you can, you know, record and watch anytime you want. Very few people actually watch TV, uh, watched the show unless it's news or sports. They watch TV at the time it's actually on. That's where we're absolutely right about. So I mean, it's an amazing invention. What cable TV has done. 

SH: 16:06 So I, I set this up that it's a brilliant, beautiful thing. I could be on the other side of the world, pull out my mobile phone and watch what's on my TV set at home. It's, it's truly amazing. But here's the problem. Cable TV, the industry has done a really poor job when it comes to customer service. They're known as one of the laggards now I think they're doing better and certain things have made them do better. They are. There was a debacle a couple of years ago with Comcast where somebody tried to disconnect their service and the sales rep or customer service rep kept drilling this customer for reasons why customers said, I just don't want it anymore. Just this connect me. And the way it was handled was terrible and the customer actually recorded the incident. So I think that after that went viral, the cable companies said, you know, we need to clean up a rack because typically if you want cable TV installed in your home, you have to take a half a day off work without pay to wait for the cable guy to show up. 

SH: 17:06 That's not very customer focused as no, it's bizarre. Yeah. But it's one of the coolest inventions, greatest technologies ever because it keeps us entertained, et Cetera, et cetera. So what would happen if the Ritz Carlton, Apple Computer, Amazon, Zappos, or one of those great customer-focused companies decided, hey, I want to get into the cable TV business. Do you think they're going to make people wait around for an hour or two hours? You know, however long. No, they're going to figure out ways around it. And the ways around it today, some of the cable companies are doing is they'll say, hey, we're gonna, we're gonna assign you a time. And it will be, you know, an hour timeframe, not a half-day timeframe. We're going to call you when we're on our way so we can meet you there. We're going to extend our hours so that we have hours that are after typical business hours because most people do have to work. 

SH: 17:55 We'll do weekends so we can install and put your cable in over the weekend. So they're starting to do things that are starting to be more customer-focused and not operations focused. So I know I went long-winded on this, but there's a great example of you can't have a great product and not provide great service because ultimately customers, by the way, will switch their cable TV company. If you got the greatest product in the world and you don't give great service, they'll find somebody that's close to what you do that treats them a little bit better. Conversely, by the way, you can have the greatest service in the world, but if you're lousy at what you do, the customer doesn't care how friendly you are. So it takes both together to make it work. 

MP: 18:44 Absolutely. And I love that analogy, that story that you've just shared in that it, we think of companies like Netflix and Amazon and these different companies that are are actually going and they're saying, well, what, what are these customers actually want today? What do they need and want? What are they complaining about? And they're delivering services and products in a way that it works for the customers today. And so cables now having to catch up and, and go and ask their customers. So one, one thing that I've taken away is just asking the customers what, what do you, what is good for you 

MP: 19:18 and what's right for you? What's good for you? Am I willing to bend and be flexible and do what it takes for you? My accountant and tax season, I'll call him up about three weeks before a, my returns are doing tell, hey, I'm ready. And he'll go, well, when do you want to come in? I go, well, when are you available? He says, other than when I'm sleeping, I'm available. Can we do it on Saturday? Absolutely. It doesn't matter. He's there. And I think that's sometimes what we need to do for our clients as well. 

SH: 19:46 Absolutely. And it's, it's just knowing what it is that fits for you. If you're the business, you get to decide and there are consequences to either way. Right. Do you know the, your accountant has consequences for working all hours? I'm sure his wife or his partner eyes. Yeah. It's like there are consequences, but you get to decide and you have to decide what it is that your customer wants and understand what your customer wants and put those two things together. But if you're not willing to do it, there may be somebody else in the marketplace that is. And so we have to take that just like cable, right? They could be, hey, let's not do anything about what our customers are complaining about. Oh, wait a second. There's now Netflix and Amazon and they're going to do it exactly the way our customers are wanting it. So we better wake up or we're going to be like Kodak. 

MP: 20:30 I know. I mean, Netflix is a major disruptor to the cable industry and Amazon's figured it out with, you know, their, their own network. And they've created, and by the way, I love what Amazon's done because Amazon decided they didn't want to compete. I mean, they are competing, but I, the, I read it is this, Amazon has figured out what the customer wanted. Okay. They want convenience. So they're going to charge membership to be part of their prime program. And Jeff Bezos when asked, why are you doing all this expensive programming for TVs and movies and things like that? And he said, well, we need to come up with a way to keep our members happy and want to keep paying the fee because not all of them utilize the prime service just for shipping. So he's a brilliant matte. It's not just about, hey, let's get into the TV business. 

SH: 21:22 Let's get into the customer retention business. Yeah. So, uh, there's another lesson learned there. It's not quite customer service, but some brilliant marketing.

MP: 21:35 Absolutely. Absolutely. And it's very interesting, I mean, for the listeners, these are really big examples. I mean they're massive companies, but all of the concepts are absolutely applicable to a business of your size. And so it's just that going right back to the beginning of the interview, are you going to be customer-focused or are you not? And you don't have to have, you know, you don't have to. I offer free cable TV to have your customers be happy, but you have to understand what do they want and how can you help them. Now I have a great question for you and a, and then I know we'll probably start to wrap it up and we'll learn more about the course that you have, Shep. 

SH: 22:07 But this one is a, it comes up, right? Bookkeepers, accountants, all, all of them. They deal with sensitive things like people's money and there are timelines and you know, sometimes customers, you know, you ask them to do something, they don't do it and that's a consequence for them. And so you could have customers that are upset and it's out of our listeners' control, but they've got an upset customer.

MP: 22:30 Wow. What would you, what would be your advice for them? SH: 22:35 Well first, let's get rid of the rumor that the customer's always right because they aren't.

MP: 22:45 Yes, that's refreshing. I love that. That's good.

SH: 22:50 Yeah. Let's say this together is not always right. Are you ready, Michael? The customer is not always right. And once we understand that, then we could start to work with the customer. So when there's a problem, and by the way, when they're not, right. 

SH: 22:59 Yeah, that's okay. You still need to treat them like they're the customer because they are always the customer and they need to be treated with dignity and respect. So when there is a problem, and by the way, I tell my clients this all the time, hey, we're coming up on your date. There are several things I need. And by the way I say date, I do speaking engagements. So we're coming up on your speaking engagements and when we sent you our agreement, we sent you a couple of other documents that we don't have back yet. In order for me to give you the best speech, you need to fill out this questionnaire and have an appointment where we sit down and spend an hour together. So I understand who your audience is, who the goals are. And by the way, I don't need this to be successful, but if you want it to be better than it could be, we need to spend this time together. 

SH: 23:47 And I tell the client right upfront, this is what I expect from you. And if you don't do it, this is what you can expect. And I think all of our bookkeepers and accountants, things don't come in on the deadline. We need to have a system that triggers reminders for our clients. But we also need to let the clients know that if you don't get it to me on time, I can't guarantee we're going to be able to turn it around in time. So there is the responsibility of both parts. And I believe it's an incumbent. It's so important to be clear that if you don't, the customer doesn't hit a deadline. They can't expect you to do that. So spell it out right upfront communication. It's key. But back to the customer not being right. If they make a mistake, you need to acknowledge the problem and say, you know what? 

SH: 24:35 I'm sorry and you need to apologize for it. That's first the first two things, even if it's not your fault, you know, I'm really sorry this happened. I'm not, you know, I would understand. Let's IX. Let's talk about what I'm, do you remember we talked about when we started that there were certain forums that had to be filled out, dates that had to be met? Yes. Did I get you all of that? Yes. All right. We're going to try to fix this the best way we can, but you need to get that information to me. Do you see what's happening? We have to communicate. We have to go back. By the way, don't ever say it's not my fault, it's your fault. Let's look at the history and figure out what happened. Handle this subject very carefully because it is sensitive, they're upset and in many cases, they're just wrong and if they are wrong, you need to do it in such a way that gives them the confidence and gives them a little bit of control back. 

SH: 25:25 And so ask them, get you what you need, and then turn around. And I'm just using that as one example. I think it's great. That makes sense to you. It makes a great x. It makes great sense. And I love, I think that there's a, something, the way you said it is very, it's subtle, but it's very important. I'm sorry that this happened to you. That is so it's, it's, it's an apology and it's not that you did it, that I did it or anybody did it. It's this, I'm sorry that this has happened, right? And so you're not going to say, Hey, I told you this had to be returned to me. Say, look, we needed to get this and we obviously don't have it now, so let's figure out what we're going to do right now to move this thing forward. Let's not rehash the past, but it's clear. 

SH: 26:12 Well, you know, and I'm just, you know, some form wasn't signed, something wasn't done on a timely basis. Uh, but what can we do to make it right now? What can we, what's the best thing that we could do? You know, I have a friend of mine that talks about the relentless solution focus. It'd be RSF as z as he calls it and everything you do, no matter how bad it is, there's always something that's going to make it better. Figure out what it is. It could just mean taking a breath of fresh air and stepping back and then, you know, and just resting a moment.

MP: 26:42 Absolutely. 

MP: 26:49 Well I love that. I think it's very disarming and I think it gets to that, that solution-focused opportunity, which, which is brilliant. Um, chef, let's talk about, you've got a great course that you're offering. I know it's not going to be available forever and so tell us a little bit about that and um, of course, we're going to have a link on our episode free for people to get access to that, but get them a little bit of a teaser as to what you're offering. 

SH: 27:13 Sure. And when I say offering, it truly is an offer. It's a gift. A, you asked me what could we give away to the audience that would be of great value. So for about the next 30 days, we're going to leave this life and it is one of our courses. It's called Five Ways To Create A Customer Amazement. We normally sell it for $49. There will be a link that is associated with this podcast and all you need to do is click on it. You'll self enroll and uh, you'll set up, uh, your, your, your username will be your email address. You'll set up whatever password you want and you'll have access to this course for 30 days. And uh, we're, we're going to give you access for 30 days, but once you enroll, you'll have it for 30 days. It's not a long course. We'll take you 20, 30 minutes. But you know what, it's what you're going to need to get into the right mindset to get focused, to get aligned with the whole concept of delivering an amazing customer experience.

MP: 28:11 Absolutely. And I know as we talked about, Shep, you know this podcast, if you're listening right now, maybe does this offer if have this great gift that chip has put up is not available, but you've got a great book as well. Tell us a little bit about your book. I think that's one great place that people could go and just start to consume some of the great work you've done. Tell us a little bit about that. 

SH: 28:29 Sure, and before I do that if somebody's watching this or listening to this, a year from now if you click on the link, we'll make sure you get something. Okay, so it's a, if you're listening to this as it comes out, we're going to leave it live for 30 days, but I promise you when you click on that link a year or a year and a half or two years from now, there'll be something of value waiting for you. My most recent book is called Amaze. Every customer, every time love this book. There are 52 tools in this book. I called them tools or tips, tactics, whatever you want to call them, that will help you create a better customer experience. And these are tools that anybody listening, this is, you're the perfect group for this. And I'll tell you why you're smaller and when you're smaller, it means you're nimble and quick and you can implement any one of these ideas quickly. Now there's 52. I look at one a week and say, okay, I can do this at the end of the week. Think about how could I did, what did I do to implement this? And you know, just go through each one of them one at a time and if they resonate with you, go for it. Uh, the books available at Amazon.com and maybe, uh, it's been out a couple of years now, it might still be at your local bookstores.

MP: 29:42 That's awesome. I like it and I think that's great, I love the concept of, I'm very tactical, so I love, you know, here's a bunch of things you can do. Do one, measure it, see if it worked. Go onto the next one. That's fantastic. We're going to have all of these links up on the podcast episode. So if you're listening on your, your device, you could just, there's a link there, it'll take you right to it. You can get to all these fabulous links that Shep's going to be there. And I, I have to say, I love the fact that there's going to be something awesome at the end of whatever link you have, regardless of when listeners are. And that's just your amazing customer service philosophy. And so thanks for sharing that as well with the shop. Oh my pleasure. And I hope everybody here utilizes it because it really is a great value. 

SH: 30:23 We have clients that fast $49 for this course. We're giving it to everybody listening at this point for the next 30 days for no charge, go get it. Start thinking, make a decision to be customer-focused. You will. MP: 30:35 We will, uh, reap the rewards that we've heard about on this episode today. Shep, thank you so much for being on the podcast. It was excellent. There were so many gold nuggets that I think our listeners just absolutely love.

SH: 30:45 It's my pleasure and look forward to doing again with you, Michael. Have me back at any time.

MP: 30:50 Oh, thank you. That wraps another episode of the successful bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's guest and get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com 

MP: 31:07 until next time, goodbye.