Jeff Toister, Author of The Guaranteed Customer Experience
Jeff talks about:
· What is a customer guarantee?
· How do you ensure promises are kept?
· How do you recover from a broken promise?
The people who have influenced Jeff the most in the past year:
· Denise Lee Yohn
· Leslie O’Flahavan
His note to all customer service professionals:
“Write your own thank you letter, put it on your desk and then read it once a day for three weeks at the beginning of your shift, and try to earn a real version of that letter.”
Nick Glimsdahl 0:03
Welcome to the Press 1 For Nick podcast. My name is Nick Glimsdahl. And my guest this week is Jeff hoister. Jeff is the author, consultant and trainer who helps companies develop customer focus cultures. He’s written four books, including the guaranteed customer experience, which we’ll talk about here shortly. And he’s got more than 500,000 people on six continents have taken one of his video based training courses on LinkedIn learning, and so much more. He He’s a man of many mysteries, which we’ll get into. But Welcome to the Press 1 For Nick podcast, Jeff.
Thanks for having me, Nick. And now I’m wondering what those mysteries are thinking. Okay, I, you know, I’m just trying to pull it out through the conversation.
So speaking of mysteries, though, the one question I asked every single guest the very beginning and is, what’s one thing people might not know about Jeff?
Jeff Toister 0:54
Whoo, um, without getting into TMI, right, I think that’s
one of the things that I really enjoy is the outdoors. And so a lot of my free time is spent hiking, and exploring the wilderness. So I know you and I can see each other, the audience camp, but behind my head is a picture of the mesquite dunes and Death Valley, and yet a do a bit of hike over some huge sand dunes to be able to get to that vantage point. So that’s, that’s how I decompress. And that’s, that’s one of the things I love to do is spending time outdoors. See you there it is, right there a man of many mysteries, it’s there to solve, right?
Nick Glimsdahl 1:37
Yeah, we can we can complete the podcast right now. So I want to dig into to the book, The guaranteed customer experience, how to win customers by keeping your promises. And the first question I have for you is, what is a customer guarantee?
Jeff Toister 1:55
I think most of us are familiar with a guarantee, it’s typically been applied to a product or service, you’ll this product will not break for a year. And if it does, we’ll fix it. So that that’s the basic model of a guarantee. And all I did was take that model and apply it to customer experience. So now instead of this thing will not break, which is kind of table stakes, that’s not exciting. The guarantee becomes you will have a great experience. And it gets even more specific around maybe a particular problem. So I’ll give you an example. There is a chain of gas station convenience stores, mostly located in Texas, called buches. And they do one thing that every other gas station convenience store chain has yet to figure out which is they keep their restrooms amazingly clean each and every one. Now that doesn’t seem like a big deal. But they framed a guarantee around it. So they advertise it and say, hey, we’ve got really clean restrooms. And then you show up, guess what, the restrooms are amazingly clean, there’s not a line, you feel great. And if they ever deviate from that there’s something wrong, there’s always somebody on site to fix it immediately. And that’s a big part of the guarantee, too, which is, it’s not enough to say, Hey, we’re going to do this. If you fail, you have to have a way to make it right. So that’s an example of just applying the concept of a guarantee to a specific experience. Yeah, I love that I can only imagine every time that I’m on the road and with with my family, the first thing that we go to is we’re trying to find her like, oh, an hour in two hours. And oh, we got to find a bathroom. Right. So if there was a buches, every hour on the hour, there was a buches I would be stopping at because the family needs a clean bathroom. And that’s the last thing you want to go to was a dirty bathroom at a dirty gas station. And so you’ve experienced this where sometimes it’s like, oh, this is great. And then the same brand, just down the road horror show. All right out of commission. I was traveling recently and I saw a billboard not for buches. But it advertised extra clean restrooms. Okay, let’s see what you got. Spoiler alert, they were not extra clean. What
Nick Glimsdahl 4:20
did it say extra clean compared to what we used to have. Maybe Maybe that was it. Maybe there’s an Asterix on the very bottom, you couldn’t read it. I drove by too fast.
So you said Bucky you say have a great customer guarantee. So what makes a great customer guarantee? So there’s there’s really three elements of an experience guarantee. And if you have all three of those elements in place, you’re going to win business from your competitors and keep it so the first element is a promise. That’s really the the most important element of a guarantee is a promise that’s intended to provide
Jeff Toister 5:00
Some sort of assurance. So buches promise is, we’ve got clean restrooms. Or if you order something from Amazon, they’re promises we will get you blank, whatever it is tomorrow, which is amazingly fast, right or Starbucks, we will get you a decent cup of coffee conveniently. So you can think about all the brands you like, there, it starts with a promise. The second step is action, you have to take action to keep that promise. That’s what separates buches, which has amazingly clean restrooms from this other convenience store that promise clean restrooms, failed to deliver. And, and that’s where a lot of customers get burned in their experience. you order something, it breaks immediately. You you pay for something, and it doesn’t arrive, you know, the all the different things you that you’ve scheduled time off of work. So the repair person can be there between one and four. And they never show up. All these different promises that are broken are frustrating to customers. And they betray trust. So you have to keep your promises. The third step then is recovery. The recovery means that tries you might, you won’t be 100%, you’ll never keep 100% of your promises. And so when something does go wrong, you have to be prepared to make it right. And by making it right. It’s really restoring trust. And in the customer service world, particularly in contact centers. I think a lot of contact centers don’t realize we’re already at step three, something went wrong, the customer now feels that the promises have been broken. And they’re looking for recovery. And so that’s the snapshot of that experience guarantee a promise, action and recovery if something goes wrong.
Nick Glimsdahl 6:51
Every time I think of a guarantee, I don’t know what’s in my head, I feel like like a 90s movie of a guy was slicked back hair at a used car dealership. And he’s got his hand on on the edge of the side mirror. And he’s like, man, I guarantee you that this is the car for you. This is the perfect thing and it’s not gonna break for 100,000 miles. So there’s there’s a lot behind a guarantee. And I love those three steps around that. So are their perception, perceptive customer cautious is around money back guarantees, because from a consumers perfect perspective, I feel like there is a gotcha or maybe an abstract.
Jeff Toister 7:33
So I think MONEY MONEY BACK is the remedy. It’s the recovery. What’s more important is the quality of the promise that you’re making. And so a good promise really does three things. It one is it’s valuable to the customer. So you mentioned the road trip experience, we have clean restrooms is valuable. We have unlimited soda, not valuable when you need a restaurant, right? So the promise itself has to be valuable to the consumer. It has to be specific. And what does that mean? It means that you’ll have a great experience. I have no idea what you mean by that. But there’s another book another company I wrote about called Armstrong garden centers. And their brand promise is gardening without guesswork. In other words, they’ll take someone like me, who accidentally has killed a lot of plants, and turned me into a competent gardener is very specific. The third one is realistic, it has to be a promise you can keep. So the used car person who’s saying this car is the best car you’ve ever driven, it’ll last for 100,000 miles, knowing it will break down as soon as you drive it off the lot. It’s not a great promise. But on the other hand, if I make you a promise that I know I can keep that’s realistic. And that is what really creates trust for our customers. So it’s the promise is more important. Money Back is just a remedy. That might be the most appropriate remedy if you don’t keep that promise.
Nick Glimsdahl 9:15
Yeah, I love that because there’s not just a money back guarantee. So how do you ensure because you mentioned the promises that are kept. So how do you ensure promises are kept?
Jeff Toister 9:27
The big picture is you have to monitor them. And I think that’s where a lot of companies fail, right? We we have to know what promises we’re making. And then we have to monitor how often those promises are kept and how often they’re broken. Now I’m a big fan of trimed, which is the public transportation system in Portland. And a little over a year ago, I got a chance to tour their command center. And it’s amazing because they have miles and miles of light rail buses. In a trolley system, it’s pretty incredible how many people they move around the city and how they do it efficiently. But in their command center, they have 20 to 30 employees working, they have multiple video screens, monitors, etc. And they are in real time monitoring how each route is doing. They’re looking for an anticipating problems. And they’re providing that data real time to a host of places, whether it’s their website, their app, they have a feature where you can text your stock number, they’ll tell you the next bus that’s coming in when to expect it. They also work with third parties. So this is a very complex system. But what they’re doing is they’re monitoring for broken promises, and then adjusting when something goes wrong. Now, you don’t need something that complex, but what you do need to do is have some system in your organization to monitor for broken promises. So I’ll give you a simple example. I have a weekly email, it’s called customer service Tip of the Week, one tip via email, once per week, and I subscribe to my own email. And the reason I do is every now and then even though something looked great, when I created the email and scheduled it, when it comes out on the other end, there’s something wrong. And by being my own customer, I see it in real time exactly how my customers and subscribers see it. And hopefully I can spot any problems before anyone else does. So your monitoring system could be big or small, but you need a monitoring system.
Nick Glimsdahl 11:36
Likely you just said at the very end there was you kind of are your own customer, you subscribe to your own email to make sure that it looks right. And then it comes out according to what you thought it was going to look like. There’s a lot of times when you go back to the contact center or any other customer service or customer experience. company and a lot of times they don’t eat their own food. And they say this is what the customer wants, maybe without asking them for one on the front end. And maybe on the back end, they don’t they implement it and don’t actually try it on their own, they don’t dial their one 800 number and see what it’s like or the painful experience it is to go inside their IVR and wait on hold for 30 minutes. And so I love the fact that you actually are going through that process, even though it’s it’s something small, and it takes an extra few minutes. But now you know what your customers are feeling and thinking.
Jeff Toister 12:30
And it’s a big critical step for empathy. You know, I’m glad you mentioned IVR. That’s a it’s a great example. Because I wonder how many companies have really thought about their interactive voice response system, and have gone through that process. And it’s an example I think of a fundamentally broken promise where, okay, I promised that this product or service will work. Okay, now it doesn’t or I have a question. So now I need help. And the phone for customers has become a channel of escalation. In other words, it’s not a first contact channel. It’s a second contact, I didn’t find the answer on the website, or I I went to social media didn’t find it there. So now I’m calling because it’s more urgent. And then we get an IVR system that instead of makes making it easy to connect with the right person was the first thing that rvr tells us after the regular garbage, you know, your calls important. This may be recorded. Hey, did you know we have a website? Of course, I know you have a website, and I couldn’t fix the problem. And now I’m here human, human human. So instead of making the recovery process, painless, and restoring trust, most of the time IVR is making the issue even worse.
Nick Glimsdahl 13:47
Yeah, and you said it also, when it comes to calling in, it’s usually the second channel of choice in when it comes to entering or interacting with customer service. It’s because something broke, the customer experience was flawed, which is okay, we’re all going to break in, something’s gonna go wrong. But what happens if you don’t fix your broken promises,
Jeff Toister 14:13
that’s when you lose customers. Because you’re at a critical moment where Trust has been broken, you’ve given customers a reason to actively seek out a competitor. Now, on the other hand, if you can restore confidence and recover, you might have a better chance of retaining that customers loyalty. So that is truly a moment of truth, where you’re either pushing a customer out the door, or you’re enhancing loyalty there, there aren’t a ton of neutral customer service experiences when it comes to contacting a contact set.
Nick Glimsdahl 14:55
Yes, you just mentioned how how you recover from a broken promise. Maybe Maybe Tell me more about that.
Jeff Toister 15:02
I think one of the fundamental misunderstandings that people in the customer service profession have is that it’s enough to say I’m sorry, or do the thing, do my shipments late, okay, we’ll find where the shipment is. And that’s not what really matters. What really matters is understanding the problem that your customer was originally trying to solve. So I’ll give you an example. I shipped some books to a client in Canada, and they did not arrive. So that’s a broken promise, I added a tracking date. And they didn’t show up when they were supposed to. And that’s a downstream problems, because my clients expecting the books as well. Right. So now we’ve got some issues.
Nick Glimsdahl 15:44
And it’s the book the guarantee customer is
Jeff Toister 15:47
- So it’s very meta, right? A little ironic. So recovery. For me, the person sending the books is not tracking the order, I had to call customer service multiple multiple times with the company that shipping the books. And each time they kept trying to find the books or Well, we can’t find them. And I kept explaining to them, that’s not the problem I’m trying to solve. What I’m trying to solve is to get those books in the hands of my client, whether it’s the particular order we’re looking at, or a brand new one, doesn’t matter, books to client, that’s the problem. And I think a lot of times customer service, we so are so focused on the transaction, or the thing, we ignore the problem the customer is trying to solve, even when the customer tells us directly. And emphatically, this is what I need to do.
Nick Glimsdahl 16:43
Is it because they’re so busy, and they’re running so fast, that they’re just trying to solve problems, instead of solving the root cause.
Jeff Toister 16:52
That’s a big part of it. time pressure definitely constrains our ability to focus and empathize with others. Other reasons. Certainly, it is the way the workflow is set up. So everything is based around a case or a ticket, or a transaction. And so that’s what we focus on. The third is are quality standards that we use to evaluate, you know, a lot of times, customer service agents aren’t given the leeway. I had a fun conversation at the post office today. Where I said to the person, I bet you’re going to ask me if I want any gift cards or stamps, and she left? She said, Yes. And I said, I bet you have to ask me even if I already said I don’t want them? And she said yes. And she said, Do you want any gift cards or stamps? And we both had a good laugh? But that’s the challenge is we constrain people and prevent them from truly understanding customer needs, because they have to stick to that script or that guideline. Yeah,
Nick Glimsdahl 17:57
this is the way we’ve always done it. Yeah. That’s, do you
Jeff Toister 18:00
want to get 100? on that on that monitoring score? You have to keep doing it that way?
Nick Glimsdahl 18:05
Yeah, exactly. So you have this book, and it’s called the guaranteed customer experience. And everybody talks good game on guarantees. So what sort of guarantee do you have with this book
Jeff Toister 18:18
Well, I appreciate you, you mentioning that. Nick, I know that’s a sly move, because I know you’ve read it.
on page five, I think I think as I think you have to eat your own food. And on page five, I put a guarantee in for the book. And I’ll paraphrase. But it essentially says that if you read the book, and you apply the model, and you don’t win and retain more customers, then you can book an hour one on one with me. And we’ll get you unstuck. And there’s a link that goes directly to my calendar, so people can book that time. And also have a customer support hotline in the book, I have my personal phone number, you can call or text and also have my email, that’s my personal email. You can email me so I want readers and I invite readers to contact me if they get stuck.
And I put that guarantee in there to back it up.
Nick Glimsdahl 19:16
Man, I love that because everybody has a guarantee, you talk about guarantee, but you’re putting your money where your mouth is. And literally, I mean your time is your money. And so taking an hour of your time and saying, Do what I am saying in this book and you’re going to have success, you’re going to have a better experience your customers are going to have a better experience. And that that means that means a lot because I joked there was Tom Brady Side Story Tom Brady sent out a message on social saying, Hey, here’s my personal phone number. Feel free to text me and the whole goal right was to have him gain a bunch of people be Attack. So then he can promote whatever he’s about to promote. But he said he was going to message every single one of these people. And I’m thinking, I’m going to push down against on this. And so I signed up for it. And I waited, and I waited. And then I got an automated message like, Hey, he’s super bogged down, it’s gonna be an extra 48 hours didn’t hear nothing. The day of the Super Bowl or the NFL Draft, what was that just this weekend? I get a message saying, Hey, I’m gonna be here at this location, feel free to check me out. I’m like, Dude, that was three months ago, where is my personal message that you guaranteed? So there’s two, and I’m not going to knock on on Tom Brady, just because he’s played at Michigan. But Tom Brady, yes, he’s a great football player. But if you’re going to promote a promise, stick to your promise, unlike Jeff boisar, who was going to put his text or his phone number personal and his personal email, and you’re not going to get an assistant, you’re going to get Jeff. That is the difference between what you say you’re going to do and actually doing what you say you’re going to do.
Jeff Toister 21:06
And it was an interesting example with Tom Brady, because we can, we could guess a little bit. Something tells me he might not have been fully aware of that promotion. And let’s, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. He’s the goat, right? He’s the greatest quarterback of all time. We want to think good things. Let’s let’s imagine he’s he wasn’t fully aware. Maybe he was. Well, just for the sake of this discussion. Yeah. One of the challenges in customer experience are all of the partnerships, the employees, the different links in the chain required to make those promises, but also keep those promises. So someone said, this is a great idea. And then someone set it up. And maybe somebody else was responsible for monitoring that or not monitoring that. And didn’t think through the impact on the customer. And often when we dissect those types of things, we find multiple people were looking narrowly at one thing. And we’re really thinking about the customer impact or how it would affect their experience.
Nick Glimsdahl 22:11
You mentioned that going back to monitoring the the, the the experience, right, so you talked about the money back guarantee talked about the the guaranteed customer experience. So what happens, if you don’t monitor it? What happens if there is this? This, this marketing team is saying, Hey, we’re going to create this promo and don’t actually maybe tell customer support, hey, we’re going to throw this out. So there might be an abundance of colors coming. That’s just one example. But what happens if you don’t monitor customer experience?
Jeff Toister 22:44
So that you gave a great example, where now we’re not on the same page marketing promises something operations can’t deliver customer service gets hammered for it? The short answer really is you lose customers. Because when promises are broken, trust is betrayed. And when you don’t monitor that, you don’t find ways to fix it, you keep breaking those same promises. And now you have a pattern that customers recognize. And it’s not a good one. And when customers know, oh, this company doesn’t keep its promises, then the mood changes, it changes from, hey, I think this is going to be a great experience. And it probably will be too, I know they’re going to screw up, and I’m going to spot it. And then I’ll tell people about it. And that’s I think that’s a big challenge for companies is failure to monitor just those basic basic promises. It has a multiplier effect, you not only lose customers, you lose word of mouth advertising, you spend more money on servicing. And there was a study that that I read a number of years ago, even customers that that don’t leave your company, when they’re upset, and that you’ve betrayed their trust, they find other ways to punish you, whether it’s doing less business posting negative reviews, online, you name it, they will find a way to punish you, even if they don’t leave entirely.
Nick Glimsdahl 24:13
Is 100% true? So Jeff, I ask every guest two questions. And the first question is what book or person in customer service or customer experience has influenced you the most in the past year. And then the second one is, if you could leave a note to all the customer service professionals, it’s going to hit everybody’s desk Monday at 8am mode and say,
Jeff Toister 24:34
well, let’s go with the first one. The list is too long. So I’m always gonna leave people off, but there’s two people specifically that helped me with the book itself, the guaranteed customer experience. And so I got I have to give a shout out to them. So one is Denise Lee on and I think she’s been on your podcast,
Jeff Toister 24:57
I remember, probably six months before started writing the book, it was still an idea. And I was having coffee with Denise was a friend of mine. And she was one of the first people I shared this idea with. And I’m like, I’m not sure. And for your listeners who don’t know, Denise, she’s one of the greatest thinkers out there when it comes to branding, and few really fusing your brand and culture together. So this is someone whose opinion I really, really respect. And she’s smiling. She said, I think you should go for it. This sounds like a good book. If she had not said that. If she said, Well, it’s good luck. I mean, that’s what you want to do with your time. I don’t know if I would have written it. So thank you, Denise. Another person that I gave a shout out to in the book is another friend of mine, Leslie Ofra. Haven, and Leslie is the customer service writing expert. And I was stuck as writer sometimes get stuck. I have a great editorial team. But there was some issue I just couldn’t get past. And I shared a chapter with Leslie and we talked through it and she gave me so much of her time. And she helped me get unstuck. And the rest of the book went so much better because of that. So Denise and Leslie, thank you. You’re awesome. And I’m indebted to your friendship. Now, the second question is, you’ll give people one thing, one thing to write that letter. And it’s funny, you mentioned a letter because there’s an exercise that I’ve, I’ve loved doing for years, to help people discover that one thing, and it’s called the thank you letter exercise. So the one thing if you had one quality, I think its intent, it’s the intent to create a good experience for your customer. And so the exercise is imagine that you did an amazing job for a customer and they were so happy that they were moved to write a thank you letter. And what you do is you actually write that thank you letter that you would have hoped to receive. And so if you’re listening, write your own thank you letter, put it on your desk. Now the magic happens when you read it once a day, for three weeks, at the beginning of your shift, and try to earn a real version of that letter. It’s an incredible exercise. And it’s a lot of fun.
Nick Glimsdahl 27:13
No sound advice? I think it’s something every every customer service representative should do tonight for their first shift in the morning. And yes, the nice and Leslie are our rock stars in the industry and everybody should go follow them as well. Jeff, what’s the best way for my listeners to connect with you?
Jeff Toister 27:37
Well, we already mentioned my contact information, it’s in the book.
Nick Glimsdahl 27:41
If you don’t got to buy the book, you got to buy the book to get I’m not sending his phone number or email address out you got to buy the book first.
Jeff Toister 27:50
You’re the fight that is it. If you Amazon, you can preview the first few pages of the book. It’s in the preview. So I’m giving people the cheat code or you just go to Amazon and preview it. But if you go to guaranteed experienced comm, you’ll find my contact information there, you can download the first chapter and find my contact information. I am really, really easy to connect with. So you’re right. We haven’t given it out on air. But one extra step and you have my personal information.
Nick Glimsdahl 28:21
one extra step or you could just buy the book The guaranteed customer experience how to win customers by keeping your promises by Jeff hoister. Go online and also take a peek at his LinkedIn learning courses. He’s got a bunch out there he’s he’s killing it in in customer service and customer experience but highly recommend you take the time and get this book. It’s a it’s a it’s a good read. Jeff, thanks so much for your time. I really appreciate it and look forward to your the success you have with this book. Nick, thanks for having me.
The Press 1 For Nick podcast is both educational and engaging, and each episode offers listeners a dynamic blend of insightful stories, best practices, and invaluable lessons.
Nick’s guests – each with a unique wealth of knowledge – include leaders from a variety of backgrounds and industries. Some of his guests include:
- Customer service & customer experience leaders
- A hostage negotiator
- Award-winning authors
- Home Depot’s Senior Director of Customer Care
- Former VP of Disney’s Magic Kingdom
- Lyft’s Head of Partner and Customer Engagement
- Deputy Chief Veteran Experience Officer from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs
On every episode Nick asks his guest two questions:
- What book or person has influenced you the most in the past year?
- If you could leave a note to all the Customer Service and CX professionals, what would it say?
You can find all the podcast guests’ answers under their episodes below.
If all you want is the guests’ book recommendations, you can go here.