Shep Hyken: Customer Service Doesn’t Cost — It pays
If you are in the customer service industry, you have probably heard of Shep Hyken. As Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations, his mission is to bring customer experience to the forefront of businesses’ strategy.
Hyken has accumulated a wealth of knowledge on the art of facilitating exceptional service. He works with leading organizations to create what he calls customer service “moments of magic” to drive customer satisfaction and loyalty. You can also catch Hyken’s CX vision in his bestselling books and speaking sessions worldwide.
We spoke to Hyken to get a front-line look at how the customer service world is changing, where innovative technology can help, and the common pitfalls to avoid. Learn more about how investing in customer service can help drive your bottom line.
WalkMe: If customer service had a tagline what would it be?
Shep Hyken: Our personal mantra here at Shepard Presentations is “always be amazing!”. Another one I like is, “customer service is not a department, it is a philosophy.”
WalkMe: Which companies do you consider to be leaders in customer service, and why?
Shep Hyken: It’s almost a cliche in the world of customer service, but Amazon, in my mind is one of the most exemplary companies when it comes to customer experience. They prioritize customer convenience. The platform is easy to use, and as a company, they are responsive when there is a problem. If you want to go from A-Z, then Zappos — owned by Amazon — so no surprise there.
WalkMe: What are 3 things every customer service “moment of magic” has in common?
Shep Hyken: That is an interesting question. First of all, I would say a moment of magic is always a better-than-average interaction. Number two, it is purposeful. It doesn’t happen by accident. People are properly trained, the system is set up to facilitate a certain level of service.
Lastly, it needs to be predictable. I need to know that when I deal with a certain company, I will always have a certain quality of experience. Companies with great customer service are the ones purposefully and consistently creating above-average interactions.
WalkMe: What do you think most businesses lack when it comes to providing a superior customer service?
Shep Hyken: There are a couple things. Number one: It is not in their culture. Customer service is still defined as a department — this goes back to the tagline. Number two, the people are not properly hired, and three, the reps are not properly trained.
WalkMe: Scaling customer service can reduce the quality of service. Do you have any tips for companies experiencing growing pains?
Shep Hyken: You can’t afford to let scaling business interfere with the consistent experience the customer has. Inconsistency erodes trust and confidence in the company. So the only way you can grow customer loyalty is if every interaction — regardless of your growth, or the channels of service you add — offers a consistent experience on par with the expectation you have created.
“Loyal customers buy more, they spend more, and they talk about you, reducing marketing costs.”
WalkMe: As AI and bots become a more popular option for customer support, how should companies decide when to use automation vs. humans?
Shep Hyken: Automation and bots are great for lower levels customer interactions such as changing a billing address, adding to an order, or checking a balance. Those basic customer service questions can be handled very easily by artificial intelligence. The AI or bot must be able to recognize the customer’s question contextually, regardless of misspelling or word choice. If it senses something more complex, it should be able to seamlessly switch over to a human.
I think it is important for companies to decide at what point automation stops making sense. In other words, where does the customer start to have friction and struggle with the responses? It is also the company’s job to educate customers on using technology and self-service. If you have customers on the phone, you can let them know that they could have reached the same result with a shorter wait time through self-service.
Provide incentives to use technology instead of calling or emailing support. I’ll give you an example, I just received an email from the hotel I am staying at tomorrow saying that if I check in through their app, I will receive an extra 500 points. In a sense, these companies are bribing customers to use their online options. Airlines have employed a similar method to shift passengers from in-person check-ins to online.
This switch allows lower level customer service reps to be trained on more sophisticated customer problems and channels…and maybe even some are upgraded to a higher tier of support. So this move is really strategic to increase customer satisfaction and retention.
WalkMe: What excites you about the future of customer service? What concerns you?
Shep Hyken: These questions go hand in hand. The future excites me because a huge number of companies — 80-90% — are recognizing that customer service and CX is the key differentiator of their business. This excites me for several reasons: it is amazing for the customer, and it is great for my line of work.
What concerns me is that if you read this statistic: 62 billion dollars lost due to the poor customer service — and that is up 52% from the year prior — it looks like the level of customer service is going down. It’s not.
If you look at the statistics from the American Customer Satisfaction Index you’ll see that in virtually every industry, including the government, customer satisfaction is on the rise. However, these scores aren’t keeping pace with the rockstars of the customer service world. What that means is that even if a customer is doing better, it still isn’t good enough.
I am excited when I see articles that say when you invest in a stock portfolio that is focused on companies the best service, you outperform the S&P. That is proof: Customer service doesn’t cost. It pays. The dividend comes in the form of dollars and it comes in the form of happier customers. Loyal customers buy more, they spend more, and they talk about you, reducing marketing costs.
“Customer service doesn’t cost. It pays.”
WalkMe: Great! Thank you so much, Shep. Any last thoughts?
Shep Hyken: I just want to circle back to what we talked about this at the beginning: the customer experience has to be a part of company culture. A lot of people think of customer service as the department customers call when something goes wrong. In reality, it is every employee’s job to contribute to the customer experience. It starts at the warehouse producing the good and continues long past when the customer receives the service or product.
Every single person in an organization has an impact on the customer — and everyone should be trained with this philosophy in mind.
Shep Hyken is a customer service and experience expert and the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations. He is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author and has been inducted into the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame for lifetime achievement in the speaking profession. His latest book, “Be Amazing or Go Home: Seven Customer Service Habits that Create Confidence with Everyone” was recently released. Shep works with companies and organizations who want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees.