- Customer service is not a department – it’s a philosophy. These days, convenience is king. Customers are looking for companies to make their lives easier.
- Amazing customers doesn’t mean creating “WOW!” moments. It is about being better than average all the time.
- Follow this 6-step process to revolutionize your customer experience: Map, Analyse, Assess The Experience Gap, Brainstorm, Research, and Innovate.
Shep Hyken Career Development
Shep Hyken, Chief Amazement Officer (CAO) at Shepard Presentations, is an authentic customer service and experience expert. His first foray into this area came when he was only 12 years old and an avid magician.
After one of his shows, his Mum told him to write a thank you card to all attendees and ask them what they liked about the show. From then on, Shep understood the power of delighting your customers and using their opinions to improve every day.
After graduating from the University of Missouri, he met a few professional speakers and realized this was something he wanted to do as a career. He blended his impressive stage presence with a passion for customer experience to become a world-renowned speaker.
Shep has written seven New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books and created The Customer Focus, a training program for sharing his unique customer service insights.
We were thrilled to speak with Shep about his latest book, ‘The Convenience Revolution: How to Deliver a Customer Service Experience That Disrupts the Competition and Creates Fierce Loyalty’. He shares some must-know strategies that will transform your customer experience.
I loved reading ‘The Convenience Revolution’. Can you briefly dive into the theory behind it?
When I finished my previous book, ’Be Amazing or Go Home’, my editor noticed something interesting. I’d mainly interviewed smaller companies that despite their size were successful due to one factor: convenience. They were really easy to do business with and to make their customers’ lives so much simpler.
When thinking about it, I realized how this theory holds up in almost every area of business – the more convenient you are, the more successful you will be.
I remember reading about one company starting a driverless mobile convenience store that drives around 18 hours a day delivering goods to consumers. After researching, I found only one book on the power of convenience, so this was an opportunity to explore the concept and bring it to life.
What did you discover throughout the process of writing the book?
Customer service is not a department—it’s a philosophy. These days, excellent customer service is an expectation.
But how can you stand out if your competition is promising an excellent customer experience? How can you win? By being convenient! If product quality and price are equal, the thing that will set you apart from your competition is a convenient experience.
Whether you’re trying to out-service a competitor or disrupt an entire strategy, create less friction and be more useful. That’s how you unlock the next level of customer experience. When you do this, your customers will reward you with their money, loyalty, and referrals. What’s not to love?
Oftentimes, convenience trumps common sense. Think about a hotel minibar that charges you something like $4.50 for a coke can. This is astronomical, with a vending machine down the hallway charging about $1.50. But people go for the more expensive item sometimes because it’s convenient.
That’s the advantage of joining the convenience revolution. This book spells out how to leverage convenience as the most powerful way of differentiating yourself from your competition.
How should companies plan their convenience revolution?
I break it down into the following steps:
Take a look at your customer journey map and understand where all your interaction points are. I believe that every single thing your company does is part of the customer experience. These interaction points are the most important things to focus on first.
Map them to have a clear visual idea of every single interaction point. Going forward, improving interaction points should be your top priority.
Honestly assess every one of these interaction points. Spot possible friction, no matter how small, and try to guess what a customer would find difficult or frustrating. Companies should glean as much customer feedback as possible because these comments provide the best insights to improve your service.
3. The experience gap
Look for the experience gap within your organization. It’s the gap between the goal you wanted to achieve and the experience you delivered. The customer always has the ultimate say on whether you deliver the service they expect.
In the last few years, customers have become far smarter in what great service looks like. Top companies are raising the bar for customer service, so everyone else has to follow suit or else.
Now you’ve mapped out the interaction points, analyzed potential areas for friction, and assessed if your experience is matching up to your customers’ expectations. Now’s the time to get creative and brainstorm potential solutions.
Research should play a huge role in your brainstorming process. Take a look at the companies you admire and figure out why you love doing business with them (aside from their products).
Get specific about the experience itself. What do they do to make your life easier? How do they keep you coming back again? What can you transfer over to your own company?
Draw in examples from different industries, global leaders, and more. Try to be creative with your process. Think about any company, person, or even state you admire and figure out the reason why. What lessons can you transfer across and embed within your organization?
For example, you might’ve lived in a place with an amazing self-service portal from the local government. You could access all your medical records, driving license details, tax records from one single place. Perhaps this self-service functionality also applies to your own business. Consumers love having easy-to-access information, especially for their data.
Use these insights and ideas to revolutionize your customer service and experience. Think about how you could become the trademark of your industry and don’t be afraid to try new things.
Which specific areas should companies focus on? Where do opportunities lie to reinvent their customer experience?
In ‘The Convenience Revolution’ book, I present 6 principal areas of focus, supported by numerous examples from Fortune 500 companies and small local businesses.
1. Reduce friction
Although it seems obvious, this should be the main focus for all companies out there. Think of Uber and Lyft. They’ve removed the friction from the classic process: getting out your phone, calling a taxi company, waiting for the taxi to arrive, paying, etc. Instead, people open the app, request a lift, and leave.
Give people control over their experience. Nowadays, consumers don’t want to call up your company and wait to speak to a customer service representative. Let them find answers to their problems with all the necessary information at their fingertips.
Amazon revolutionized self-service. You can seamlessly find anything you could ever want to buy before handling the entire buying and returns process yourself. I’ve seen this creep into medical and dental care. I can now go online and book a dental appointment without calling anyone.
Technology is the mainstay of all innovation. Sharing money via digital wallets like Venmo is technology. There’s no need for a checkbook, buy an envelope and stamps, mail my cheque to you, and wait a few days to receive it. I can send money instantly across the country. It’s changed the game by making the process easy and frictionless.
I’ve seen these new photocopiers with sensors to detect running low on toner. As soon as your levels drop below a certain point, it automatically orders new toner for you. Technology, when done right, can automatically take care of all the menial, time-consuming tasks that people avoid.
Subscription-based models are quickly rising in popularity. I’m a member of the Dollar Shave Club. Every month I automatically receive my razor blades, so I never again have to pick them up from a store. Whether it’s Spotify, Audible, or Amazon Prime, people are happy to pay a small amount each month for a service that makes their lives easier.
While customer support started among software companies, more businesses realized this is the way forward. For example, Porsche has its own subscription model where customers pay a monthly fee to access their entire fleet of cars.
Think about how you can do this within your business. If you can lock customers into a subscription you gain regular revenue and increase the understanding of your clients, and deliver more value in the process.
I’ve recently started doing business with a new car dealership. They don’t even have a waiting room. They deliver the car to you, and when it needs to be serviced, they’ll come to collect it and drop it off when done. This is the ultimate example of convenience.
Sure, if your car needs to be fixed you’ll go to the garage, but it’s a slow and torturous process. These guys recognized an area of huge friction for customers and removed it from the process.
Is your location convenient for your customers? What are your hours of operation? Think about banks that are only open during business hours. This is massively inconvenient for their customers. If customers have a problem, they either need to take a day off to go, do that during their lunch break, or sneak out of work early.
When done well, being easily accessible is a real competitive advantage. 90% of all Americans live within 10 minutes of a Walmart—it’s staggering. It’s no wonder they have consistently huge revenue.
That’s such a good point. Is there anything else that you’d like to add before we wrap up?
I just want to emphasize that creating customer amazement isn’t about creating a “WOW!” experience. You simply have to be a little better than average all the time.
If readers are interested in learning more on this subject, we’ve just commissioned a study of over 1,000 consumers in the ACA Report (Achieving Customer Amazement). There are some fascinating stats, so check them out.
With a variety of integration approaches and capabilities available today, now more than ever is easier to connect all your customer experience (CX) technologies. It is the best way to win over your customers on any channel. Ensure you have a roadmap for integrating applications and maximize the potential of your customer data to provide the CX your customers expect from you.
Elena Kosturanova, Technical Integrations Consultant at Massive Rocket
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