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Selecting a customer service speaker to deliver a keynote address at your conference or meeting can be a challenging task. The right speaker has the potential to significantly enhance the quality of your event.  While there is no shortage of motivational speakers covering general topics capable of energizing your audience, the choices become more limited when focusing on specific areas like customer service and customer experience (CX). 

Hiring a speaker for a conference or meeting is never an easy choice. The impact of the right speaker can transform an ordinary conference into an extraordinary one. To help you minimize risks and make the optimal speaker choice for your upcoming event, Shep Hyken shares ten invaluable ideas.

Tips for Choosing the Best Customer Service Speaker for Your Conference

  1. A Google or Bing search is a starting point. Start using keywords such as customer service speaker, customer service keynote, motivational customer service speaker, professional customer service speaker, customer service expert. The top rankings on the first few pages might indicate a strong website, but that doesn’t always guarantee a good speaker. But it’s still a good starting point.  
  1. How long has the speaker been in business? Getting into the speaking business isn’t hard, but staying in the speaking business is. The longer the speaker you’re considering has been in business, the more likely you will have a successful experience.  
  1. What’s it like when you contact the speaker? The experience should be excellent. After all, you’re getting ready to hire someone to speak to your audience about customer experience or customer service, so shouldn’t the speaker walk the talk? If you can’t good service from a speaker who claims to be a customer service expert, you may be considering the wrong speaker. Consider how fast they respond, how quickly they get information to you, how timely they follow up with you, and more. 
  1. Does the speaker have a video? After a good website, the video may be a professional speaker’s most important marketing tool. Many videos are short “sizzle reels” with short ten-second clips of a speaker’s best moments. Look for something with a little more “meat” that includes clips showing the speaker’s style and personality. Even if the speaker’s video is filled with short clips, they might offer another video with longer segments or even a full performance. Just ask. 
  1. Have a pre-booking call. Narrow down your search to just a few speakers at most. If you have too many, you’ll end up with analysis paralysis. The choice can become daunting. Once you’ve made your “short list,” reach out to the speaker for a pre-booking call. Ask all relevant questions. If you’re comfortable with the answers, you’re getting closer to the right speaker. And what does the speaker ask you? Shep has a list of questions he goes through to understand the audience, their responsibilities, and the goals for the meeting. Two of his favorite questions to ask are, “What three things do you want the audience to remember after Shep’s speech?” and, “If we were to get together a year from now, what would have to happen for you to feel this is the best speaker investment you’ve ever made?” These two questions help Shep understand your success criteria and help him write a speech that aligns with your answers.    
  1. How does the speaker write the speech for your audience? In other words, what’s their process for writing and customizing the speech? This is a perfect question to ask in the pre-booking call. Even though you may share a lot of information prior to booking the speaker, you should still have what Shep refers to as the pre-speech call. This is where he works with the client to create the perfect content for the audience. Don’t get hung up on speech titles you might see on a website. They are easily changed. What’s important is the information you want the speaker to deliver in their speech. Often you can find speech content suggestions on the speaker’s website. Another idea is to ask the speaker for a copy of their book. For example, one of Shep’s successful books is Amaze Every Customer Every Time. This book has 52 tools (lessons). Sometimes, he’ll send the book (or one of his others) to the client. The client will sometimes spot customer service content that is perfect for the audience and will eventually be written into the speech. Learn the speaker’s process they have for preparing for your event before you make the choice to book them. 
  1. Study the client list and testimonials. Client lists are a speaker’s credibility list. For example, a company such as Amazon, Disney, or the Four Seasons that has hired a customer service or CX speaker to address their audience has huge credibility. Testimonials in the form of written comments or videos give you an idea of how the speaker’s content was received.  
  1. Has the speaker written a book? Many of today’s speakers have written books. If you find a speaker you like, ask them for a copy of their book. You’ll get a good feel for the type of information the speaker will share with your audience. Also, some speakers may have made prestigious bestseller lists, such as the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal lists. This level of credibility should also be considered.  
  1. Where has the speaker been published (outside of books)? Some professional speakers have been featured or have written for prestigious and well-known publications. You may also want to search YouTube to see if the speaker has posted videos or has been interviewed. All of this is credibility, and at the same time, the content that is in the articles, videos, and interviews will help determine if this speaker has what you’re looking for. Shep has written a weekly column since 2014. He’s written over 800 weekly customer service and CX articles for his website and many of those articles have been picked up by other publications. This shows a depth and breadth of content that almost any other speaker cannot match.     
  1. Ask about fees, including travel expenses. Professional speakers’ fees can run from very low to extremely high depending on experience, popularity (how busy they are), celebrity status, and more. If you feel good about the speaker you’re talking to, ask about fees early in the conversation. You don’t want to get too far into a conversation to realize the speaker, as much as you want them, is out of your budget. And travel expenses should never be a surprise. Ask for a cap on travel fees. Some speakers have a flat rate for travel or will give you a somewhat accurate estimate of the cost. Some even build it into their quoted speaking fee.  
Shep Hyken customer service keynote speaker

The Importance of Customer Service: Why Everyone Should Listen

Shep Hyken began his customer service speaking journey in 1983, making the beginning of a lifelong commitment to improving customer service and customer experience (CX). Over the years, Shep has dedicated his business to working with clients who aspire to cultivate enduring relationships with both their customers and employees. He firmly believes that customer experience, customer service, and employee satisfaction are pivotal catalysts for driving repeat business and fostering unwavering customer loyalty. Shep’s mantra is simple: 

Customer service is not a department. It’s a philosophy to be embraced by every employee of an organization, from the CEO (or owner) to the most recently hired employee.  

Customer service is obvious for people on the front line. For everyone else, if they don’t work directly with the customer, they support someone who does or is part of a process that contributes to the overall customer experience. Everyone has an internal or external customer – and sometimes both. Everyone needs to be appropriately trained and understand how they fit into the overall customer experience, whether on the front lines of an organization or working behind the scenes. 

Whether you’re searching for a customer service keynote speaker or in-depth customer service training, we invite you to explore these ten invaluable insights as you deliberate on your choice of speaker or trainer. Your event is a reflection of your commitment to excellence, and you deserve nothing but the best.

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