Shep Hyken\'s Customer Service Blog

Posts tagged "customer confidence"

It was a major meeting for my friends at Volkswagen Australia. This was their Customer Experience Summit, and the theme for the meeting was “Think Small: Big Differences Come from SMALL Details.”

Jason Bradshaw, the Director of Customer Experience, shared his vision about Volkswagen Australia being recognized and known for their amazing customer service. His goal is for VW to be one of the best in the industry. His bold move was to tell the audience, which consisted of the ownership and management of the Volkswagen dealerships throughout the country, that everyone should think small. Really? How can thinking small propel you to greatness? Well, it turns out Jason was onto something… BIG! Continue reading

Congratulations to Squaremouth, who just won a Gold Stevie Award for Customer Service Department of the Year – for the fourth time! (For those that don’t know, the Stevie is an international business award that recognizes top performing organizations in several categories including customer service.) Squaremouth is an online travel insurance company that compares travel insurance products from every major provider in the United States. They allow travelers the opportunity to compare and purchase travel insurance using their “comparison engine” that has over 40,000 customer reviews. Continue reading

Posting Online Reviews - Low ResSocial Media Policy

Recently I read an article about a hotel that had a unique social media clause written into their special event contracts. This hotel was built in the 1830’s and appears to specialize in weddings.  The property looks to be quite beautiful; however their social media policy is not. Continue reading

Today I received amazing customer service from American Express.  My cell phone rang and it was an Amex customer services representative calling to ask me to verify some of the recent charges I had made.  The pattern looked like as if my card had been compromised and there were fraudulent charges in the past 12 hours. Continue reading

The Cult of the Customer comes from five very distinct phases, or cults, that companies operate in.  Do any of these describe you and/or your company?

1. The Cult of Uncertainty – This is where most companies are working from.  In the worst situation, the customer has no confidence as the experiences are unpredictable.  Not to beat up on the airlines, but how confident can one be that a flight will be on time when the airline arrives on time only 75% of the time?

2. The Cult of Alignment – This is where the company has created a brand promise, or mantra, that lets employees and customers know what to expect.  For example, Outback Steakhouse had a brand promise that was “Great Food, No Rules!”

3. The Cult of Experience – Even with a great brand promise, the customer may not have confidence until that promise is experienced, sometimes numerous times.

4. The Cult of Ownership – Once the customer experiences the promise, and it is predictable, the customer owns it. This is a powerful place to be.

5. The Cult of Amazement – This is the ultimate Cult.  When the experience is predictable and is consistently better than average, the company has risen beyond satisfactory. People may think that “amazement” means a WOW experience. Yet it is simpler than that.  It is confidence in a consistently above average experience that puts companies into this Cult.

It is in the Cult of Amazement where customer loyalty really begins.  Understanding the five Cults, and where you and your company fit in, is the beginning of creating Amazement, which leads to loyalty and eventually evangelism; when your customers are more than just loyal. It’s when they rave about you to their friends and associates.

Which Cult are you in?

Here is your homework assignment.  Find out more about these five Cults, and where you and your company fits in by going to and download (at no cost) a checklist.  Before you can know where you are going, you have to know where you are.

(For more information on The Cult of the Customer, click here.)

That may have been true in the 1970 movie “Love Story,” but it is definitely not true in the world of customer service – even if your customers love you.

Just recently I’ve had several clients call to discuss problems they were having with service recovery.  While their issues were somewhat complicated, the strategies we discussed were simple and direct.  Here are the seven strategies that can help turn a touchy situation with a customer into a confidence building Moment of Magic®.

When a customer comes to you with a problem (assume it is on the phone, but this applies to any situation), take the following steps:

1.  Apologize for the problem.  (See – you do have to say your sorry!) It may not be your fault, but at this time, you represent your company.  It is now your opportunity to show how good you are.
2. Acknowledge the problem.  Ask the customer to repeat the problem, allowing them to vent.  Actively listen.  Ask open ended questions to get more information.
3. Apologize again!  If at this time you realize the customer needs to be talking to someone else, do not simply transfer him/her.  The proper hand-off is to bring this other person into the conversation so you can explain the problem.  Let the customer become part of a three-way conversation.  If you do hand off the problem, jump to Strategy Seven.
4. At this point it is time to move into fixing the problem.  Explain how that is going to happen, and go to work to fix it.
5. Make sure you do all of this with the right attitude.
6. Create a sense of urgency.  Fix the problem as quickly as possible.
7. Stay in touch and/or circle back.  Stay in touch with the customer to let him/her know the progress that is being made.  When the problem has been resolved, follow up (even if you handed this off to someone else) to ensure the customer is happy and to give closure to the problem.

The strategies are simple, but the execution may not be.  Some problems may take a long time to resolve, while others can be fixed immediately.  Regardless of what the problem is, the above strategies are the basics.  The end has to result in more than just a fixed problem.  You want the customer to say this:

“I love doing business with them.  Even when there is a problem, I can count on them.”

Always remember that service recovery isn’t just about fixing a problem.  It is also about the renewal of customer confidence.

Shep Hyken is the Chief Amazement Officer (CAO) of Shepard Presentations, LLC.  As a speaker and author, Shep helps companies build loyal relationships with their customers and employees by helping them deliver amazing levels of customer service.  He is the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of “The Cult of the Customer” and “The Amazement Revolution” and the creator of The Customer Focus customer service training program.  For more contact Shep Hyken; (314) 692-2200 or  Web:

Copyright © 2011, Shep Hyken


As I travel around the world doing speeches I look for examples of the concepts and strategies that I cover in my articles and speeches.  Today I saw a great one.

Two guys were walking around the hotel I was staying at with a paint brush and a cup of paint.  One had white paint and the other had gray paint.  They were walking the halls to look for any nicks or chips in the walls.  They told me they did this every week – just walk around and touch up the walls.  That way the hotel always looks fresh and clean for the guests.

The hotel employees weren’t bringing out the gallons of paint needed for an annual clean-up. No, this was an on-going exercise of managing even the smallest details to ensure a positive experience for the guest of their hotel.

The lesson here is about managing the details.  Sometimes it is the small things that stand out and give a customer confidence, create a positive experience or create a good impression.

All Moments of Truth, even the small ones, make a difference.  Manage the details.  Make them count!

An appropriate quote comes to mind on this subject.  Back in the 1800’s Gustave Flaubert was known to have said, “Le bon Dieu est dans le detail,” which translates to, “God is in the details.”  The meaning is that what one does should be done thoroughly.  Hence, details are important.

In the early 1980’s there was a big push for customer service.  No doubt that service is still, and always will be, important.  Over the last few years I’ve noticed my clients are starting to look for new phrases to put a spin on delivering great service.  Customer delight, the customer experience and “wowing” the customer come to mind.  And, there is the really big one: Creating Loyalty.

I’ve written that customer loyalty is not about a lifetime.  It is about the next time, every time!

The goal with the above quote was to simplify customer loyalty by breaking it down into much smaller parts.  After all, a lifetime is a very long time.

Recently I was asked, “How does one create loyalty?”  At first I thought the answer would be a long one.  But, what came out was as simple as it gets.  There is a formula for loyalty.

Loyalty = Great Service + Confidence

Provide great service.  That’s expected.  Do it consistently and you’ll create confidence. Consistently great service builds confidence and will eventually lead to loyalty.  And in the end, we don’t want satisfied customers.  We want loyal customers!

We have been doing business with a printer on a somewhat regular basis for several years. I remember the first day their sales rep called on us.  They brought us samples, followed up throughout the process and personally delivered our order.  This type of service continued for the next several times we placed orders.

Then one day the sales rep couldn’t come out and asked us to come to them.  We thought nothing of it, went and visited their facility and placed our order.  Then, the order was delivered and there was an extra charge for courier service.  This was the first time we had been charged for delivery.  Usually our sales rep personally delivered the finished product.

We were frustrated.  I’ve told them not to expect us to come in and not to charge us for the delivery – at least as a line item on the final invoice.  I’ve asked them to quote a price that includes everything related to the project.  If we wanted a price breakdown, we would ask for it.

We had come to expect a certain level of service, and they set the expectation based on the first several times we worked together.  Then something changed.  So, what happened?

A simple answer might be in an old cliché.  The honeymoon is over.

They did what they could to get our business.  The expectation they created was not anything unusual.  As a matter of fact, we thought this was the norm.  Another printer we do business with for other types of projects has a sales rep that brings samples, delivers, just stops by to say hello – and more.

Our relationship is now in jeopardy.  It is a shame.  They are nice people.  Their price, while not always the lowest has been competitive.  They have been able to do some of the special projects that our other printer couldn’t or didn’t want to do.  They originally provided us a level of service that we had been used to, and therefore expected – but asking for what they used to do for us now seems like an inconvenience for them.

Lesson: Business is kind of like dating.  The first time you do business with someone is like a date.  You hope they want to go out – or do business with you – again.  You finally, as some say, close the deal.  To me, that is like getting married and going on the honeymoon. This is really the start of the long-term relationship.  Get that?  This is important!  The close is really the start.  So, don’t fall down after the honeymoon.  In business the honeymoon should never be over!

I am always looking for great examples of customer service in my daily life. Something happened the other night that I think is “kind of cool.” My wife and I went to a great restaurant – Corky’s. It just opened. Prices were extremely reasonable and the food was better than good. The owner talked to us quite a bit. Yes, we had a good experience at Corky’s and we plan to go back soon, but there’s more.

A good part of our conversation with the owner was about his recommending other restaurants for us to go to. That’s right; he was telling us where we should go next weekend. Was he trying to tell us he would rather us go to his competition and not come back? I don’t think so.

This man was so confident about his own business, that he could talk well of his competitors knowing that we will still be back. When did you last talk to a salesperson that told you how great their competition was? Do you have enough confidence in your company’s products and services to praise your competitors? Like I said, this was “kind of cool.”

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, professional  speaker and New York Times   bestselling business author. For information contact (314) 692-2200 or For information on The  Customer  Focus™ customer service training programs go to Follow on Twitter: @Hyken
(Copyright ©MMXII, Shep Hyken)

Mark Twain once said, “I feel bad for the man that can’t spell a word more than one way.”  I guess this was in response to someone finding a mistake in his writings.

The other day I was working with a client. He had hired me to be the opening speaker at a sales conference. He showed me a letter that we had written him. It was only four sentences long, but it had three mistakes. Wow, was I embarrassed! Continue reading

Here is the second of ten frequently asked questions about customer service. I’m posting them one at a time and hope that readers of this blog will comment or share their answer to these questions. Here’s question number two…

What’s the difference between customer service and customer loyalty?

Customer service is what you and your organization provide. Customer loyalty is the result of the service. I have a simple customer loyalty formula:

Great customer service (what you provide) + Confidence (which comes from the customer’s predictable experience) = Customer Loyalty (potentially)

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, professional speaker and New York Times bestselling business author. For information contact (314) 692-2200 or For information on The  Customer  Focus™ customer service training programs go to Follow on Twitter: @Hyken
(Copyright ©MMXII, Shep Hyken)

People like to be around people they know they like and they trust. It can take quite a while for someone to really know and like you, let alone trust you. However, it can take just a moment to create a negative impression that quickly erodes confidence. One way to build a relationship is to practice confidence building habits. Here are four simple confidence building habits that will help you build an even stronger relationship with your customers as well as the people you work with. Continue reading

An Excellent Customer Service Lesson

Today I was flying home from a speaking engagement. As I looked at the airport monitors to confirm my flight was on time, and the monitor indicated it was. Directly next to the departing flight schedule was the arriving flight schedule. On that monitor it indicated that the plane that we were going to be using for our flight was an hour late coming in. That would make us late.

I asked our gate agent which information I should believe. He knew I was joking and he laughed. We ended up being almost two hours delayed.

What intrigues me enough to write this short article is that everyone I asked about the flight said we were on time. No one knew – at least no one that I talked to from the airlines. I think this is incompetence. Not from the people I talked to, but from the people who inform, or are supposed to inform, the people I talked to.

These types of incidents on the airlines have been happening to me for years. And it doesn’t matter which airline it is. They all seem to do it. So I find myself always checking and double checking the information that some very nice people are willing to tell me. In other words, I lack confidence in them. It isn’t because these people are incompetent. However, the system which operates behind the scenes, and perhaps this is a bit harsh to say, is incompetent. Unfortunately, this reflects on the front-line personnel, who do the best job they can.

At the end of the day, incompetence leads to lack of confidence. Lack of confidence erodes customer loyalty. And lack of loyalty works against the function of virtually any business, which is to get and keep your customers.

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, professional speaker and New York Times bestselling business author. For information contact (314) 692-2200 or go to For information on The Customer Focus customer service training programs go to Follow on Twitter: @Hyken
(Copyright ©MMXII, Shep Hyken)

The other day I was at an airport and had time to grab a pizza prior to the flight. The pizza was supposed to be from a recognizable restaurant chain. While it looked like it should have, it didn’t taste like it should have. It turns out the pizzas are flown in frozen and baked on site. The quality was not what was expected and a bad reflection on the restaurant.
Continue reading