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If you’ve ever had anything to do with Customer Experience, you’ve probably heard of Shep Hyken. Being an absolute genius, everybody wants an interview with Shep Hyken or even a speech from him on Customer Experience. The man’s pretty much a magician when it comes to making customers happy (maybe because he actually was a magician as a kid).
Well, today Shep Hyken decided to bring some of his magic to Engati and do an interview with us.
Interview With Shep Hyken
"We have the pleasure of welcoming Shep Hyken to our interview series. I’m Vanessa Rose from the Engati team. Let’s begin with just a quick intro of Engati - Engati is the world’s leading open multilingual, no code, chatbot platform available across 14 channels with 25,000 bots created across 186 countries in every domain and use case. We run the Engati blog and video channel which receives upwards of 200,000 visitors annually. And now for our guest-
Shep Hyken is the founder and Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations. He is a globally renowned voice in the field of customer support and experience. Shep has authored 7 bestselling business books on different topics related to customer service, his latest one being ‘The Convenience Revolution’.
He has also written innumerable articles for publications such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and USA Today. Shep has also been inducted into the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame for lifetime achievement in the professional speaking industry.
Welcome, Shep. We’re thrilled to have you “
“It's great to be here, and that's a very nice introduction. Thank you so much. My mom would be very happy with that”
“So, let's get to the first question, Shep?”
“What attracted and fascinated you about the world of customer service?”
“You know, I've always been attracted to taking care of customers ever since I was a young boy. At the age of 12 years old, I had my first business. It was a birthday party, magic show business, right? I performed my magic at parties and kids would laugh and clap, and they’d give me a paycheck as I walked out the door.
And my mom said, ‘Write a Thank You note, those people really paid you a lot of money!’ So that was the first introduction to showing appreciation.
My dad said, ‘Call them next week, thank them again and find out if you did a good job.’ That was my introduction to getting feedback.
And then my dad said,
‘Ask them specific questions. And when they tell you what tricks they like or don't like, change up the show. So you get a show where everything's great’
I thought, ‘Wow!’ and little did I know that's process improvement.
So as I was growing up, I was learning to run my business with the idea of taking care of customers, showing appreciation, getting feedback, creating a better experience as a result of that feedback. And that's really how it all started.”
“Brilliant . And how do you think the customer service landscape has changed from the offline era to today’s AI-based online models?”
“That is a great question. How has it changed? So my short answer is it hasn't changed at all.
And here's why- Customers have a problem or a question. They want it answered or resolved, and they want to be happy when it's over.
That's been the same since the very beginning. It's the same today. It'll probably be the same tomorrow.
Now, what has changed, is the way we go about delivering that information. Resolving that problem. As you know, chatbots are big today. Interactive voice response systems. The ability to communicate on channels other than the telephone or in person.
It was, you know, started out as email. Then we have messaging and Facebook and Twitter and social channels and review sites. And there're all different ways that customers can communicate, all the different channels. And there're many different ways that companies respond.
So, what's changed is not what the customer's expectations are at the end or the beginning. What's changed is what's happening in the middle. And I think it's only going to get better!”
“AI is still in its infancy, yet it’s profoundly changing the way businesses operate. What role do you think AI will play in creating a positive experience for customers?”
“Sure, So I would say AI is out of its infancy. Although 10 years from now, when we look back at where we are today, we’ll say, ‘Yeah, it was still a baby’.
But I think we're out of the infant stage. And the reason is it because it's getting so good in some cases. For certain applications to the customer to interact with a bot or to interact with some type of AI. It's almost as if you're getting the information quicker than you could if you were talking to a human.
You're getting it in a way that you interpret it as if you are actually talking to a human. It's you're giving control of the customer in certain situations where they can use AI to get what they want quicker and faster. It's a self-service solution.
And on the other side, the company is using AI to support the agent. Giving the agent greater information, so they can pass that on to the customer because oftentimes the agent knows how to interact better with the computer and the artificial intelligence than the customer might, which I think is a very powerful place to use AI.
The other place AI is helping us is, taking data and making sense of it all. It's able to create quicker, faster, better calculations. Maybe not better, but definitely faster then we've ever had. As a result, when AI can help us interpret data and make predictions as a result of that data, I think we've come a long way.
I can't wait to see what happens even just next year. But in 10 years Oh, my gosh, where we're gonna be. We'll look back today will say, Yeah, this was the beginning. But the beginning really started about 4,5,6 years ago.”
“Do you think we have reached the stage where customer service is given the importance it deserves?”
"Oh, okay. Wow, a great question. Five years ago, survey companies, researchers were predicting that by this year, customer service and customer experience would be the most important thing that a company can deliver. I believe their prediction was accurate. However, many companies, even though they think they're doing a great job, aren't doing quite as well as they probably could.
So let's go back and look at some studies that were done just here in the United States, where I live, there's an organization that comes out of the University of Michigan called the American Customer Satisfaction Index. Actually, they created this study, and if you look over the years, you'll see in almost every area, every industry, there has been an improvement of customer service and customer experience. Customers are rating. Almost every industry, including the U.S. Government, in some cases, which is amazing to me, higher. And I'm joking, of course. Well, maybe not too much, but anyway, they're creating their rating these industries higher. But I believe what's happening is if you look at the expectation of the customers today, what's changed with them is that they expect more.
I'm not sure in many cases, that the companies that even if they're rated higher are being rated high enough. They're not meeting and exceeding the customer's expectations. Here's why- customers are smarter than ever before. They know what great service is. They've been introduced to amazing services by companies like Amazon, for example. And when I do my speeches and I'm often asked, what's the easiest, most convenient company to do business with? People will say Amazon. I've never had an audience not tell me that. They'll mention other companies too, but Amazon is out there.
Why? Because they're they create confidence. It's a self-service solution. They're open 24 hours, seven days a week. They're online. It's a Web-based solution. The control is in the customer's hands. They've given the customer what they need to make great, informed decisions. They show reviews. As soon as you place your order, you immediately get confirmation. You're often given a tracking number so you can track and watch your order being delivered. I know that in some cases, once in order is delivered, a picture is taken proving that the order has been delivered. It’s sitting outside your doorstep. Or perhaps there's a signature by somebody who signed for it. All of these go toward creating confidence in the customer they deliver, which is very convenient.
They have a subscription model for many of their items. Again, that's also convenient. So what's happened? And I know I'm going off and giving a lot of insight into Amazon. But that has created an expectation in many consumer's minds. Not just consumers, but even the B2B companies their customers now are comparing the service that they receive from any company with that of the best companies like Amazon that they interact with on a personal level.
So expectations were high. Companies need to recognize that expectation, and they need the work toward meeting them. Here's what I suggest companies do. So I'm not just giving you an answer. This is what I see. But this is how I think you can actually do something with this.
Take a look at the favourite companies that you do business with. Are they doing something that your company doesn't do? Basically, what is it that I love about this company? Write it down. If we're not doing it in our company, could we be doing it? Would the customer, even be interested if we were doing it. And start to incorporate some of that into the prophecy that you have with your customer.
The next thing I would do is, once you've identified the areas that you could excel in, take a look at all the touch-points. Journey map with your customers, your customers’ journey. In other words, plat out every single interacting point that that customer might have with your company for a phone call to an interaction on the website that they're on the website and going through, you know, ordering something, clicking on a check-out every step along the way, every step, even the tiniest little interactions. Plot those out and find.
Where can I create a more convenient and easier experience? If it's an interaction that’s people to people, take a look at your response time. If somebody is calling, how long do they have to stay on hold? Somebody's emailing, what's the time before they get a response? That type of thing. So what you're looking to do is look at every interaction point and find an opportunity to create a better service.”
“So you mean service can be a differentiator between companies?”
“Oh, definitely. Service becomes a differentiator between companies. I believe that if you create a better. So all things being equal, you got a great product and you've got good customer service. Your experience, the overall experience is going to be better. So let's really quickly talk about the difference between service and experience because they're definitely exclusive, you know, pieces.
Service is part of the experience. Experience is everything the customer experiences with your company. So service might be when I interact with the company to answer a question, to have a problem resolved. Even in the sales process, how is how am I being treated? That’s service.
Most of the time, it's people doing business with people or people interacting with a company through Artificial Intelligence, chat, whatever. Experience is everything. I receive a package in the mail and I look at it. Oh! I know who it's from. I open it up. It's packaged well, I open the box and everything's wrapped ever so nicely. That's part of the experience that's not part of service.
But all of it goes together, and companies need to recognize both sides of this, these two different groups are very important to pay attention to. And by the way, back to the original question while I went off on a tangent there. All things being equal, products great, even the service is great. Experience will trump it all, and the customer will go to whoever is easiest to do business with.”
Service becomes a differentiator between companies
“Chatbots are redefining customer experiences. Do you think they are being accepted well by customers?”
“Chatbots are being accepted well for the basic customer interactions. If I want to check to see if a shipment has gone out where it is in the process, chatbots can work with me, can get me that information If I have a more important question and the chatbot may, at that point, shift me to dealing with the live agent.
By the way, one of the things I love about chatbots is a good system that will recognize ‘I'm not answering this customer's question. I can tell by the words that they're using that this is a foul-up.’ At that point, it should seamlessly connect to a human being, and the human takes over, looks at the context, at the sentiment of the question and can hopefully answer the question for that chatbot. Once that reaches a level where it's time to flip to a human who might be able to answer it better, that makes sense.”
“So do you have any other thing like you’d like to leave our users with?
“Oh, there's so many ideas. Where can we start? I think that there's a couple of thoughts. Number one is customer service is not a department. It's a philosophy, and this is to be embraced by everybody in an organization, from the CEO to the most recently hired person. So recognize, it's in everybody's interest to take care of their customer.
Not just an outside customer, but perhaps an internal customer as well. Somebody who depends on you for anything inside your company. So recognize that when we do things right on the inside, it's going to be felt on the outside. So Number one, service is not a department. It's a philosophy.
Customer service is not a department. It's a philosophy
Number two. What's happening on the inside of the organization is felt on the outside. And I want to share a real quick thought about creating this culture. Because if you really want to have a culture of service and it just starts with leadership at the top, I'm gonna give you a quick six-step process. It's very simple, by the way it sounds. It can be very sophisticated and take a long time to execute based on the size of your company. A small company with a dozen people can do this in a very short time. A company with 20,000 or 80,000 people could take 5 to 6-7 years to do. But this is how it's done.
Leadership defines what the vision is for customer service. This isn't the overall vision statement or specific vision for communicated to every employee over and over again. By the way, when I say create a vision, I want to go back to number one. I'm thinking of a one-sentence descriptor of what the service and the vision should be. For example, my favorite is the Ritz Carlton that says, ‘Our ladies and gentlemen, serving ladies and gentlemen’, those nine words describe exactly what they want to achieve.
All right, Number two communication. Everybody knows it, and if it's short, it's one sentence, they should have it memorized.
Number three. You train every employee, and that means everyone; front line, behind the scenes, accounting department, warehouse people. Everybody gets trained on what this service vision is and how they contribute to it.
Number four leaders, managers, supervisors. They take the role of role model. They demonstrate how they treat each other as the way you want your customers treated.
Number five. If somebody, an employee, team members is out of alignment, not following that vision and is not part of it all, it's the manager's or leader's responsibility to get them back into alignment.
By the way, this could be more than just one person. It could be an entire department that's not participating at the level it can be a region for an international company or national company, where it's a large group. Got to get it back into alignment.
And number six, when it's working, celebrate it! Let everyone know. So that’s a lot to digest. But that's the sixth step. Simple process, simple does not mean easy.
“Thank you. That's really helpful.”
“My pleasure, my pleasure. It's great to be here, and let's all embrace the whole philosophy of taking care of each other through great customer service, and I hope everybody stays strong and healthy.”