Episode 311

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No one needs to tell you that it’s easier and more cost-effective to keep existing clients rather than continuing to hunt and pitch for new ones. There’s an obvious need to genuinely nurture these relationships, but oftentimes this advice is more theory than tangible. It’s rare to find a clear game plan for creating lasting change that is simple, even if it’s not always easy. This conversation sheds light on that challenge and how to solve it.

Author and keynote speaker Shep Hyken is one of the world’s most well-known and well-respected experts on client service. He is dedicated to helping companies create customer experiences that bring them back over and over again. He does so with insights and gusto intended to challenge how you approach your crew, clients, and customers.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Shep and I discuss more than just the theories of creating good client relationships. In addition to talking about the need to create a sense of amazement and the downfall of settling for “fine,” Shep outlines the specific, tangible steps that can be taken to create a culture that is focused on the customer experience and how to make sure your clients won’t even consider looking anywhere else for what they need.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

Client Service

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Why it’s important to measure a client’s likelihood to return
  • How to create a sense of amazement with your customers and clients
  • The problem with “fine” in client service
  • The #1 culture-changing tool
  • A 6-step process for creating a culture that is focused on the customer
  • Precisely how to create an “I’ll be back” experience
“In the agency business, it’s so much easier to keep our clients than to constantly be churning and having to make presentations to new clients all the time.” @hyken Share on X “Measure behavior not history.” @hyken Share on X “The moment of magic is an interaction you have with a client that is better than average.” @hyken Share on X “Fine is not fine. Fine is a 4-letter word that starts with ‘F’, and when it comes to customer service and experience, it’s the F-bomb.” @hyken Share on X “Training isn’t something you did, it’s something you do.” @hyken Share on X “If you’re going to do something similar to what your competitor is doing, figure out a way to make it your own.” @hyken Share on X “When you say what you do differently and why should someone do business with you, it’s not your people, it’s your process.” @hyken Share on X

Ways to contact Shep Hyken:

Additional Resources:

Intro:

If you’re going to take the risk of running an agency, shouldn’t you get the benefits too? Welcome to Agency Management Institute’s Build A Better Agency podcast presented by White Label IQ. Tune in every week for insights on how small to midsize agencies are surviving and thriving in today’s market. We’ll show you how to make more money and keep more of what you make. We want to help you build an agency that is sustainable, scalable, and if you want down the road, sellable. With 25+ years of experience as both an agency owner and agency consultant, please welcome your host, Drew McClellan.

Drew McClellan:

Hey, everybody. Drew McClellan here from Agency Management Institute. Thanks for coming back and joining us for another episode. I think you’re going to be super happy that you are back for this conversation. So before I tell you a little bit about our guest and what we’re going to talk about today, as always, I have something to chat with you about. One of the things that I would like you to consider is, we have a workshop coming up in December called Money Matters.

And for two days, all we do is talk about money. We talk about how to make more money, how to keep more of the money you make, we talk about pricing and proposals, we talk about what I call agency math. And this is the math that is not taught anywhere in any school, but it’s math that allows you to take all the subjectivity out of your decisions because you have data. You have numbers, facts, that allow you to decide, can I hire a new person? Can I give somebody a raise? Are we as profitable as we should be? Where am I bleeding money? So we’re going to spend a lot of time on all of those, and we’re going to talk through all of it.

We’re going to talk about taxes, we’re going to talk about proposals, about how to upsell clients, we are going to talk about a variety of things that directly impact your bottom line and your personal bottom line. We’re going to dig into all of that for two days. It’s December 9th and 10th in Orlando, Florida, at the lovely Yacht and Beach Resort on Disney property. But this is one of the workshops where I will have owners walk up to me and say, oh, my God, why in the world did I not attend this workshop 10 years ago? I think about all the money that I could have saved, made, fill in the blank.

And my answer to them is, you know what, at least you’re here now. And so now you can make corrections and changes moving forward. So don’t be that person. Don’t be the person five years from now who walks up to me and says, Drew, why didn’t you tell me I had to be here? I am telling you now, this workshop … First of all, we have a money back guarantee. If you don’t like to workshop, if you don’t learn anything at the workshop, if you think I’m boring, whatever. I don’t need to know the reason. You just need to say to me, Drew, I want my money back, and we will give you all of your money back.

I will tell you that I’ve never had anyone say that to me. But if you want to be the first one because we really didn’t deliver for you what we promised that we would, I am fine with that. But I would love for you to join us, I would love for you to have this knowledge, I would love for you to be able to run your business differently in terms of being really clear about the decision making that you get to make when you really understand all of the math and the numbers. And also all the other things that I talked about before.

So anyway, I’m waxing on but I just I love teaching this workshop, because I can literally see in people’s faces like, … Sometimes people saying out loud, they’ll go, oh my god, I didn’t know that. Or, how did I not know that? So it’s fun for me to teach something that I know is going to be so valuable to the attendees. So I would love it if you joined us. So enough of that. I will hop off my soapbox. All right.

So today’s topic is client service and being very client-centric in the way that we deliver the work that we do. And the cool thing is, I have probably the world’s most well-known, most well respected expert in customer experience and customer service, Shep Hyken. And so if you’ve been around at all, you probably recognize Shep’s name, you’ve probably read one of his many books, you’ve probably seen him speak at conferences. He’s just the guru of this. And so he’s got a brand new book out called I’ll be back. And it’s all about how to create this amazing customer experience that brings clients back over and over and over again.

And so with that, I want to get right to it because I think you’re going to want to hear from him all that he has to share. And you’re going to find him to be a very generous guest. And so buckle down and get ready for lots of big tangible ideas that you can put into play right away. All right. Let’s get to it. Shep, welcome to the podcast. Thanks for joining us.

Shep Hyken:

I am excited to be here. Thank you for having me.

Drew McClellan:

I’m glad we finally got to this. So it’s great timing because you’ve got a brand new book coming out this week. And so tell everybody a little bit about your background and about the new book.

Shep Hyken:

Sure, sure. So I started off in my own business. And actually, I think I learned customer service from my grandparents or my parents. My first job was at eight years old, I worked at my grandpa’s pharmacy, I did everything. I painted the shelves, I counted pills, I did inventory, I did the cash register, learned how to interact with people. At age 12, I started a birthday party magic show business. And after getting paid for my first show, my mom told me to go write a thank you note to these very nice people who just paid me a lot of money and that’s really nice, I’ll do that.

And then my dad said, call them, get feedback, find out if you did a good job and ask what tricks they like. And if you do this enough, you’ll learn that there’s certain tricks that nobody talks about, get rid of them until people start talking about every trick that you do. Little did I know, that’s called customer appreciation, getting feedback and process improvement. And I’m learning [inaudible 00:06:04]. And so I thought it was a lot of fun to get into business and watch my business grow. I mean, within a matter of a year or so I’m doing weekends full of birthday parties and graduated on to working in nightclubs and eventually doing corporate events.

Graduated college, and what am I going to do with my life? And I saw a couple of motivational speakers. I said, entertainment background, I can do that and I love business. So I started writing this speech based on customer service. And it’s because it was what I was drawn to as a kid. That’s where it all started. And over the years, I’ve just expanded and continue to grow and create. And here we are today talking to each other.

Drew McClellan:

Well, you’ve created quite a name and a reputation for yourself in those years, so that you helped a lot of people think differently about the customer experience. So clearly it was a calling.

Shep Hyken:

Yeah. Well, thanks. And this book is number eight. I’ll Be Back: How to Get Customers to Come Back Again & Again. Originally, when I started writing this book, I started thinking about it just about a year and a half ago, right about the time we went into the pandemic. The I’ll be back theme had nothing to do with us coming back to business the way had all these … I guess the pandemic has created a lot of shutdowns, and now all the bands are being lifted and life is getting back to what looks like it could be normal again, at least in a lot of countries. Some countries are still struggling.

But regardless, the I’ll be back idea was a client of mine said we measure everything. We measure if people were happy, what they liked about the experience, et cetera, et cetera. But the one measurement that we look at most is how often they come back.

Drew McClellan:

Sure.

Shep Hyken:

That’s brilliant. And what I learned is what he was saying, and these are my words, not his, is it all of the surveys that we send out on a scale of one to five, were you happy or net promoter score on a scale of 0 to 10, would you recommend us? That’s measuring history. Now, history is important, because you can learn from history and you’ll learn what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong. But that doesn’t measure a really important fact, and that is, does the customer, in our case, a client is what we typically call them, want to come back.

And that’s what we need to measure his behavior, tense I’ll be back. How to get your customers, clients, guest patients, whatever you want to call them to come back again and again. And in the agency business, I believe that we don’t … It’s so much easier to keep our clients than to constantly be churning and [crosstalk 00:08:45] presentations to come up [crosstalk 00:08:46] all the time.

Drew McClellan:

No doubt. That is for sure in our industry. So this is book eight. I don’t know about you, but after I finish a book, I’m pretty sure that I’m never going to write one again. And then it’s like having children, after a while you sort of forget about the pain and you decide to do it. But for me, what actually gets me to write the book is it feels like this is something that I can’t keep inside anymore, that people need to know this. So what was it about this book before you sat down and wrote it that made you feel like you had to write it?

Shep Hyken:

It’s like a big idea. And that big idea was measure behavior, not history. That’s my interpretation of what this gentleman was telling me. I think that’s bigger than an article. You can start with an article. But if you think about it, what is it that drives people to want to come back? I write quite a bit. I have a weekly column in Forbes, I write my own blogs, I write for other clients as well. And as a result, I’m constantly coming up with new ideas and new material. And I thought, well, I think I’ve got enough now that I can look at my foundational material which is in every book that I write, as well as a number of new concepts, or at least concepts that are hitting at a different direction.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah. Well, I think you did it. I mean, it’s a great book and I think it’s … What I appreciated about it was it’s sort of industry agnostic. As I was reading it, I was thinking, well, this would work for a dry cleaner, this would work for an agency, this would work for an accounting firm, this would work for anybody.

Shep Hyken:

Manufacturing, even the government. Yes, the government.

Drew McClellan:

That’s right. Okay. And even maybe the government.

Shep Hyken:

Yes.

Drew McClellan:

So one of the words that you use in the book that I think it’s just a great word, but you talk about this idea of creating a sense of amazement in our customers or our clients. Talk to us a little bit about that concept, what you mean by it, and how the heck do we do it?

Shep Hyken:

Yeah. So again, this is foundational. And it actually starts when I wrote my first book titled Moments of Magic. It was about how do you create a moment of magic? And the moment of magic is an interaction that you have with a client that is better than average. People think magic over the top, blow me away, make the Statue of Liberty disappear. No. This is simply a positive experience because it is magical when it happens consistently. So let’s go back to a book, or actually, it was an article that I read, many, many years ago, back in the 1980s when I started my business by Jan Carlzon.

Eventually he wrote a book which was titled the same as the article. The article is called Moments of Truth. And he defined the moment of truth in business. Today, there’s several different versions of what a moment of truth is. But his was, anytime the customer comes into contact with any aspect of a business, they form an impression. Now, his customer was a passenger, he was the president of Scandinavian Airlines, and was asked to take it over and was losing millions of dollars.

So he went into every city they had a presence, went into an airplane hangar, and he gathered everybody together. And he talked about this idea of the moment of truth. And he said, “You need to manage the passengers moments of truth, every interaction they have with us.” And he said if you’re not actually dealing directly with the passenger, you’re supporting somebody that is. So you need to manage that experience internally as well. That’s brilliant. And he said they can go two different ways, good and bad.

Now, back even at my young age, I recognized, well, good and bad, moment of truth could be a moment of misery if it’s bad, a moment of magic if it’s positive. But I also recognized the third moment of truth, which was a dangerous moment of truth, and that was the moment of mediocrity. That is the one that’s average, boring, just okay. How is it working with them? They’re fine. Fine is not fine. Fine is a four letter word that starts with F. And when it comes to customer service and experience, it’s the F bomb.

Drew McClellan:

You’re right. The complacency of it. Right.

Shep Hyken:

What does fine really mean? Fine doesn’t mean fine. Drew, I don’t know if you’re married or not. You married?

Drew McClellan:

Nope.

Shep Hyken:

No. Okay. Ever been married?

Drew McClellan:

Yes.

Shep Hyken:

Yes.

Drew McClellan:

And it turned out not to be fine.

Shep Hyken:

But at one point, I would imagine you said something like, I noticed something is a little amiss here. So you ask, is everything okay? And if your spouse said everything’s fine, that meant-

Drew McClellan:

You knew it was not.

Shep Hyken:

Not fine.

Drew McClellan:

That’s right. That’s right.

Shep Hyken:

Now, if you put an adjective in front of it like, hey, mighty fine, then you’re okay. But fine by itself. So fine is mediocrity. And the problem with fine or an average experience is people don’t complain about it. If somebody has a bad experience or they have something to complain about, even if it’s not “a bad experience” but maybe they need help, maybe they’re running into some problems, maybe they’re having an issue with an employee, well, that would be a complaint of sorts, letting you know about it is an opportunity to fix it. Okay. And move it from a moment of misery into a moment of magic, but average is not-

Drew McClellan:

And it also says I care enough to tell you about it, so I have some investment in you. But if things are fine, what it means is this is transactional to me, and I can find somebody else to do what you do.

Shep Hyken:

Right. So what you’re trying to do, and here’s where amazement comes in, it is the consistent and predictable above average experiences. In other words, moments of magic, consistent and predictable. This is what your clients are going to say. I love doing business with them, why? They always call back quickly. They are always so knowledgeable about my industry and about how to make me more successful.

Even when there’s a problem, I know I can always count on them. That we’re always followed by something positive puts you in that zone of amazement. And that’s foundational. That’s in every book that I write. There’s a chapter in how do you create amazement and how do you manage those moments of truth and create hopefully moments of magic with it.

Drew McClellan:

So in terms of sort of creating that consistency, that sounds to me like that requires planning. It requires lots of internal communication. It requires checks and balances, right?

Shep Hyken:

Yeah. You have to know if you’re doing a good job.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah. Well, and if you’re promising, even internally, if you’re saying, look, we’re always going to return phone calls or emails within 24 hours, you need to know that you’re actually doing that and that everyone is actually doing it.

Shep Hyken:

Yeah. So I’m going to share with you a tip. It’s not from this book, it’s from another book I wrote called Call to the Customer. This is the number one culture changing tool that we share with our clients. I have trainers that go out and deliver my content in a training format. But this is without a doubt the best thing that come out of it. It’s such a simple idea. And it is what we call the moments of magic card. And all it is an index card, where we give it to every one of our team members.

And we ask them, would you please write down an example of when you created a positive experience for either a client or an internal customer. Somebody you worked with, somebody that was dependent upon you. And it could be something as simple as a client called, I returned the call in 10 minutes, they were so impressed. Okay, that’s pretty simple. But it’s a great moment of magic, isn’t it? Or it could be an internal colleague saying I had a project, I was going to have to do this by myself, but Drew stepped in, and because of him, I was able to go home at a reasonable hour on the weekend. That’s a bigger … And it’s internal.

So here’s what we ask our clients to do, and by the way, we practice this in our office as well, everybody each week shares their moment of magic. And if you’ve got 150 people, or 1500, or 10,000, or whatever, you’re going to have to do this by departments. But if you’ve got a small team, it’s easy to do on a regular basis. And by the way, it needs to be done on a regular basis. And you can switch it up. You can do tell me about the positive experience this week, tell me about a negative experience you turned into a positive experience. Tell me when you recognize somebody was struggling and you proactively went to help them. You can change it up a number of different ways.

But what we’re trying to do, and here’s why it becomes an important culture changing exercise, is you’re trying to do it on a regular basis, and you’re trying to create something I call service awareness. And when you get people to know that, yeah, this would be a good one that I want to share, it means they’re starting to look at all the interactions they have and choosing which ones they want to share. Hence, they’re now aware. And they do that on a weekly basis. And by the way, you can switch it up. You can say, everybody, next week, we’re going to do an innovative idea.

It could be any idea that’s going to make our company better. It could be a revenue enhancing customer experience, it could be how to save money, it could be how to be more green. Any idea. And you want everybody to bring what I call a moment of innovation to work that day and share it with everyone. So then by the way, you don’t just listen to them, you compile the best examples. So for example, in a simplistic one, I had an employee here that kept saying, she didn’t do it every week, but it was pretty regular, which she would say, client emailed me and I responded in 30 minutes. They were blown away how quickly we responded.

She would say in that call back and whatever. And I started to recognize, I’ve always preached quick response is important, but I never put a definitive timeline. What does quick response look like? And to you and your organization, your industry, there might be different expectations than in mine. So you need to come up with what your minimum standard is. Like, nobody’s going to wait longer than 30 minutes to get a response from us on email.

Now, if it’s after business hours, it will always be within 30 minutes or the next. By the way, it could be three hours, I’m just giving you a number. Same thing with phone calls. Same thing with somebody sends you a text. What is the expected response time? And by the way, it’s important to teach your clients that that’s the expected response.

Drew McClellan:

Absolutely. Right. Otherwise, how do they know that you’re not getting out of the park?

Shep Hyken:

Right.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah. And how do they know what to be able to count on. Yeah, yeah. So all of that, as I’m listening to you, I’m thinking, this is really about creating a culture internally of being very focused on the customer experience. So I know in the book, you talk about that, abou