Webinar

How to Use Customer Service to Stand Out from the Competition

 

How can your company stand out in a market full of people doing pretty much the same things as you? Technology used to be a key differentiator, but is now easily accessible to almost everyone. The greatest opportunity to be sustainably different from your competition is customer experience.

Join Shep Hyken, customer service and experience expert, and Nick Francis, CEO of Help Scout, as they discuss the role of support teams and departments in creating consistently great customer experiences.

What you’ll learn:

  • Where should a customer service team fit in an organization?
  • How can leaders create a customer-centered culture across all areas of the company?
  • What factors matter most in delivering on your customer service vision?

Read full transcript

Nick Francis: Hey, everyone. Nice to see you. Happy Friday. My name is Nick Francis. I’m the co-founder/CEO at Help Scout. We make customer support software for businesses of all sizes. Today I am joined by a friend of mine, a thought leader, an expert, an overall really great guy.

Shep Hyken: Thank you.

Nick Francis: Shep, tell us a little bit about yourself, buddy.

Shep Hyken: I’m your friend. That’s the first thing. Nick, thanks for having me here. Well, my name is Shep Hyken, and I am a customer service and experience expert. People ask me, “What do you do for a living?” My answer is if you’ve ever hung up the phone, or walked away from a business, or walked out of a store or restaurant and you thought, “Wow. Those people are amazing.” Well, that’s what I help my clients do. We work with companies that want to create amazing experiences. I’m a speaker, author. We have trainers that go out and do it. That’s kind of what I’m about, and I like to have a good time, which is why I’m hanging with Nick Francis.

Nick Francis: We’ll do our best to have a good time. We’ve got about 30 minutes with you today. Just to give you an overview, and all the listeners here, of what we’re going to talk about today, really it’s a broad topic. We’re going to talk about the role of customer service in building a successful business. Before we get into that, I just want to talk a little bit about HelpU. HELPU is possibly the reason you’re here today. It’s an educational resource for customer service professionals that the folks at Help Scout have created. However, it’s completely objective. You don’t have to be a Help Scout customer. All you need to do is care about customer support, customer centric culture. Whether you’re a leader or a customer service professional, we’ve got some really outstanding content for you, and best of all, it’s free. So, go to https://www.helpscout.net/helpu.

Shep Hyken: We love free.

Nick Francis: Be sure to check out that resource, and Shep has a post that was just posted I think in the last week, so we’ve got a lot of really great thought leaders contributing content, so do check that out. For now, Shep, we’re going to dive into a convo, man. I’ve got some questions for you, and maybe-

Shep Hyken: All right. I’m ready. Hit me. I’m ready.

Nick Francis: Tell me a little bit about who’s doing a great job centering their company around the customer right now.

Shep Hyken: Well, in my mind probably one of the most impressive companies ever on the planet, and this is almost stereotypical or cliché at this point, is a company that starts with A, and that’s Amazon. If there’s one company that is so customer focused, it’s got to be them, because everything they do is about the customer. As a matter of fact, if you look at the research and everything that they’re doing, they’re even willing to give up margin to be innovative and try new things that are more focused on the customer.

Shep Hyken: Now, I recognize that way of doing business doesn’t work for every company, you know, giving up margin for the sake of the customer, but when you have enough customers, and you grow at the rate they do, and there’s that kind of volume, you can start thinking, “Rather than just profit, what can I do to make sure we sustain our customers, if not grow our customers?” The only way you’re going to do it is to stay ahead of the game when it comes to customer service. They are, without a doubt … They’re going amazing things.

Shep Hyken: Just today I read an article that they are figuring out … You know, everybody talks in retail the last mile, getting that product to the consumer. Well, they know there … And I love the term porch pirate. There are porch pirates out there that if you order something from Amazon, or Target, or Walmart, or whatever, and it gets delivered, and it’s sitting on the porch, there’s a chance that it might not be there when you get home, because of the porch pirates. Walmart, by the way, is doing something similar to this. They’re actually now setting up a system that gives bonded delivery people one time access to drop merchandise off inside your door, so you’ve got a key that only works one time. There’s a lock company that’s creating this.

Shep Hyken: Amazon not only does it inside. They also do it in the trunk of your car, so if your car is sitting out in the front of your home or in the driveway, they can actually open your trunk, put the merchandise in, and close it. Pretty cool customer focused concepts, if you ask me, and that’s what great companies are doing. I know I’ve mentioned two almost cliches, but they’re icons in the customer service world.

Nick Francis: Yeah. You and I have talked a lot about innovation. It’s great, talking about these companies that are really leading with all sorts of technology and other things, but we’ve talked about this behind the scenes before. It’s not all about what’s new and what’s best. Really it comes down to fundamentals. Right? I mean, talk to me a little bit about the importance of fundamentals as well, something that applies to every business.

Shep Hyken: Well, I mean, think about this. I mean, the fundamentals, and I can get into it, but I want to give you an example of a company that beats out their competition. By the way, I can use the word disrupt, and when you think of disruptors, you think of industry disruptors, like an Amazon, or an Uber, or somebody like that. But when I look at who do I do business with, and why do I do business with them, I do business with my car dealership, because even though they’re 10 miles away, compared to the one that’s closer, less than walking distance from my office, that’s before I moved my office, that was the reason I did business with that dealership. They were more convenient logistically. I could walk back and forth when I needed my car services.

Shep Hyken: The other dealer comes along, and not only matched the price of competition, but they say, “Hey. You don’t have to come in here. We’ll bring the car to you.” Now, fundamentally what they’re thinking is how can I be more convenient to my customer than any other car dealership? I think that’s a great fundamental to be thinking about. Great service, it’s not just about being friendly, being nice, having knowledgeable reps. By the way, knowledge means not just knowledgeable about, “Hey. Here’s our product,” knowledge, but knowledgeable about your customer too.

Shep Hyken: There needs to be systems, and I know a company that has a pretty good system that allows you to track when your clients last contacted you, what they contacted you about, if you have to transfer them. You know, those are the kinds of things, when I talk to a rep, I don’t want to have to tell the story over and over again. That’s a fundamental, but I think a big fundamental today is how can I be easier to do business with? Less friction, total convenience. That could be how fast do I get in to talking to a rep? Do they have a good chat system that allows me pretty much instant access, a good chat bot that takes care of some of the lower level type of things I might have, like a change of address or want to change my credit card? You’re nodding your head yes, so I assume I’m giving you the answer that you wanted.

Nick Francis: Yeah.

Shep Hyken: We didn’t rehearse this either.

Nick Francis: No. We didn’t rehearse. I mean, it really comes down to the basics and making sure that chat bot really backs up a human.

Shep Hyken: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Oh. By the way, that is so important that you mention this. Every self-service system that you have, and I consider chat bot, even though it’s interactive, it’s kind of self-service, because you’re not involving any people, it’s got to be backed up by a human, and it’s got to be backed up by a human quickly when it doesn’t work.

Nick Francis: Very quickly. Yeah. I read something the other day that said 86% of customers expect any method of self-service to back up to a human. That’s absolutely critical.

Shep Hyken: Who are the other 14%? What are they out there doing?

Nick Francis: They’re probably geeks like me that don’t like to talk to people. I don’t know. Let’s talk about another thing that I’m really passionate about, which is org structure-wise, where a customer service team should fit within a small or mid-sized business and why that matters so much.

Shep Hyken: Wow. I think small, mid-sized, or large businesses to me, I love the concept that Jan Carlzon came up with years ago, that you look at an org chart, and you’ve got at the top you’ve got the CEO, the second level of management, and it gets wider and wider, and finally you get down to the bottom, your frontline facing employees, and then you have the customer. Well, what would happen if you flipped that over? That’s what Jan Carlzon did. He says, “Flip the pyramid.” You put the customer facing people at the very top, because you know what? They’re the ones that are going to make sure that customer wants to come back and do business with you, whether it’s sales or service, but especially service, because when you think of a customer service department …

Shep Hyken: Which I don’t like to think of service as a department. To me it’s a philosophy to be embraced by everybody, from the CEO to the most recently hired employee, somebody in the mail room, somebody on the frontline. They have to understand the vision. But the point here is that when you have a customer service on the front end, really what you’re saying is that customer service, if you look at the department, is for what happens when the customer experience fails.

Shep Hyken: Or maybe they just have a basic question, but whenever they make that contact with the customer, the goal is to validate what that customer is … made the choice to do business with you. That’s what customer service is. It’s validation, you know, that, “Hey, I’m doing business with this company. I made the right choice. Whenever I call, they’re always friendly, always knowledgeable, always helpful. They always take care of me, even when there’s problems.” The word always followed by something positive is what we’re looking for.

Nick Francis: You mentioned something really important, which is that customer service is DNA. Right? It’s not-

Shep Hyken: Yup. It’s in the culture.

Nick Francis: It’s not operating over in a corner. It really is core to your DNA as a team, as a culture, and everything. Right? So, it helps that we have this concept called support driven growth. Right? How do we leverage not only our customer centricity as a team, as a company, but how do we leverage our support team to put them on the front lines and help them grow our business? Right? This isn’t about support being a cost of doing business.

Nick Francis: This is about elevating support, not only when there’s a challenge, but to be proactive and be helpful with customers when they may not be running into an issue, but you want to help them be more successful with your product. Right? It’s about being a little bit more proactive and growing the business via those channels. Right? These are the people that are talking to your customers. Why does it always have to have this negative connotation or there has to be a problem. Right? You can talk to them and give them a great experience in so many other ways.

Shep Hyken: So, you can look at customer service one of two ways. You can look at customer service as a mistake or a complaint handled well, or you can look at … Here’s the big one. Look at customer service as an extension of your marketing and sales department, and that elevates it all. As a matter of fact, one of my clients is Ace Hardware, great organization. Ace is a huge, multi-billion dollar co-op based out of Chicago, but they have, I don’t know as of late, about 47, 4,800 retail stores around the world. I can’t remember how many actual owners, but about 2,000 plus owners. Some of them are little mom and pops.

Shep Hyken: Now, imagine that this Ace Hardware Store has been there for years, 12,000 square feet, 15,000 square feet, and then 150,000 square foot competitor named Home Depot, or Menards, or Lowes, goes up right next to it. Here’s the thing. It’s not about handling mistakes well. It’s about delivering a level of service that makes a customer say, “Wow.” This is the way David beats Goliath, okay, is through customer service. This is the way you disrupt a competitor, and it becomes an extension of the marketing department. When you do well, people will go out and come back, that’s sales, but they’ll also tell others about that experience. That’s marketing. That’s word of mouth marketing. That is the most powerful. When somebody gives you a testimonial about how great you are, I think that’s an impressive way of getting the message across as to why someone should do business with you.

Nick Francis: Absolutely. As an advocate and somebody that’s super passionate about SMBs, I’m always looking for ways to differentiate that you can’t write a check for.

Shep Hyken: Yup. Yup.

Nick Francis: Customer-

Shep Hyken: That’s the way to do it. I mean, talk about the small business against the big business. By the way, here’s the other point. Word of mouth marketing. How powerful is it? Well, Ace Hardware banks on it, because the typical large box store will outspend them by 30 times their ad budget. How do you compete against that? You create an experience where people want to come back. I don’t care if it’s in person, if it’s on the phone, customer service is about taking care of people and making them say, “You know what? These people I’m dealing with, they’re amazing.”

Nick Francis: Yeah. Differentiate with things that you can’t pay for, and that’s pretty much our marketing style at Help Scout. We’re surrounded by people with a lot more resources, a lot more people. We want to invest all of our resources into things that you can’t write a check for. Right? It takes some level of ingenuity and creativity. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I really love that opportunity. Let’s go into another question. What factors matter most in delivering on your customer service vision? Is it leadership, operational structure, training?

Shep Hyken: Yes. Next question. No. I talk about this all the time, that there … I created this simple framework, six steps to creating a customer focused culture, and it does. It starts at the very top with leadership, and leadership defines what the customer service vision is going to be. My favorite is the Ritz-Carlton, outside of my own personal vision. The vision for the Ritz-Carlton is actually their credo, nine words long, “We’re ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” Everyone that comes to work at the Ritz, whether they’re working in the back of the house, whether they’re a server, whether they’re at the front desk, or whether they’re taking reservations, support call center type activity, they understand that vision, and they live it.

Shep Hyken: Our vision here at Shepard Presentations is to always be amazing. Whenever I’m seeing behavior that’s less tan amazing, I’ll say, “Hey. What’s our mantra here? To always be amazing. Well, do you think showing up late every day is amazing behavior?” “No. It’s not.” “Well, then be amazing or go home.” Which is a great title for a book, by the way, which I just wrote one over there. It just came out last week.

Nick Francis: That’s awesome. Well, tell us a little bit about the book while you’re at it.

Shep Hyken: Oh, man.

Nick Francis: That’s a good segue.

Shep Hyken: Check it out. Check it out. This is the only hardbound copy in existence, by the way, that I have. It’s just it’s called Be Amazing Or Go Home, Seven Customer Service Habits That Create Confidence This Everyone. I don’t care what part of the business you’re in. You’re dealing with a customer, either an external customer, which is who most of the people watching our show or listening to our show are dealing with, external customers, but if you’re supporting anybody internally, if somebody depends upon you for anything, they’re your internal customer. What’s happening on the inside of an organization is felt on the outside. These are just habits, like showing up on time, ready to go to work, doing what you say you’re going to do, being proactive. I’ve created about 35 or so habits that kind of fall under that genre that really are about building relationships and confidence with the people you work with and do business with.

Nick Francis: Well, you touched on something really important, Shep, which is we talked about customer support really being DNA, part of your company in a big way. It starts with the leadership level. Let’s talk a little bit about customer support teams and how we, as leaders, can serve those teams. Right? Nobody wants to … If you get bad customer support from somebody, it probably has little to do with them and a lot to do with the culture and the way that they’re treated and elevated within that culture. What can I do as a leader to really elevate the people that are talking to customers and really serve them, do my best to kind of empower them to live the values that are so strong within our organization?

Shep Hyken: Well, number one, as I mentioned, you need to define a clear vision, and the Ritz did it nine words. I did it in three, and other companies have done it in one sentence or two sentences, so they’re easy to remember. Then it must be communicated, and it must be trained. That’s the third step, and the fourth is, and this is where leadership comes back into it, they must demonstrate it and be role models. By the way, when you create a vision like this, it’s not something you just put on a wall. It’s something that you live, and breathe, and talk about all of the time. So, that training isn’t like, oh, onboard them, teach them about our vision, and never talk about it again. No. Onboarding is ongoing, constant training.

Shep Hyken: Being the role model, this is a powerful one. If you’re a leader, act the way you want others to act. My favorite example of this is Walt Disney. He talked about stooping to excellence. When he walked into a theme park, everybody knew who he was, at least the people that worked there. “Oh. There’s Mr. Disney. Hey. There’s a piece of paper on the ground. Let’s see if Mr. Disney picks it up.” Of course he picks it up. He is the role model. This is his vision, and if he didn’t stoop down to pick up that piece of paper and throw it away, he would give permission to everyone else to do the same. By the way, he called that stooping to excellence.

Shep Hyken: As a leader of a support team, if we don’t exhibit the behavior, if we don’t model what we want … By the way, I would expect that in service, this is one of my philosophies as well, is that you don’t necessarily have to have the title of the VP or the manager of. You can be the most recently hired employee put on that team. You can become that role model. You can be that leader that steps up and shows everybody how it’s done. I would say it’s important to train people properly.

Shep Hyken: By the way, hiring the right people is huge. Okay? You’ve got to get good people that can live your vision, so hire the right way. Interview them properly. Test them. Check their behavioral styles. Make sure they’re in alignment. Make sure their personalities are also in alignment with what you’re trying to achieve. If it is, then empower them to go out and do a great job, and become a teaching organization, meaning if somebody does a great job, tell them they did a great job and let them do more of it, and let them learn that that was the right behavior. If they don’t do such a great job, teach them how to do it better next time. By the way, somebody that does something wrong that never does it again, is exactly the kind of a person I want on my team. Once you teach them how to do it right, they don’t go back and mess it up again. Beautiful.

Nick Francis: And that’s one of the reasons customer support is really … it’s about fundamentals. We keep saying it’s all ABCs, because in the end it’s about empathy, putting yourself in the customer’s shoes, and being able to hear them from that vantage point. I mean, something that helps me to this day, every weekend, is just kind of going in, looking at the queue, and talking to customers. Right? Whether I’m thinking about product, whether I’m thinking about how to grow our team, or whether I’m thinking about how I can best serve the support team in our own organization, nothing helps me do that more than just talking to our own customers. You know? So, at whatever leadership level you might be, don’t lose that, because the moment I just answer three questions in the queue, my point of view has changed ever so slightly, so that I can be a better advocate for that team. I can be a better leader for that team. It really does make the biggest difference.

Shep Hyken: Do you know who …? I think this is one of the things I love about certain companies. Some of the most successful executives spend time in front of customers in the support area, answering calls, responding to emails, so they know first hand. By the way, they don’t do it like once. They do it like every month. They go down and spend time to make sure they’re getting a true pulse on what’s going on. It’s like they’re the undercover boss, but really it’s not undercover.

Nick Francis: Yeah. All right. Lets take some audience questions.

Shep Hyken: All right. We have a few.

Nick Francis: When you run a small or remote team, perhaps with just a couple people doing support, how would you keep them motivated to always provide top-notch support, even when they’re being bombarded after some major issue?

Shep Hyken: All right. Even if it’s just a couple people, they report to somebody, and that somebody needs to stay in constant touch, and those two people that are remote, especially because they’re out there, they need to feel like they’re being brought in and they’re part of a team, as opposed to being out there as an outlier. We talk about team meetings, group huddles. Well, just like we’re having this conversation today, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a live presentation for the rest of the world to see, but Zoom and Skype technology are great to bring small groups together, so they can talk.

Shep Hyken: Talk about what’s happened. One of the greatest … I’m going long on this, and I promise to be shorter on the next question, but this is a great one. One of the greatest … At least I think it’s great, so you can decide. One of the greatest culture changing exercises that we do with our clients is we have them take an index card, and we have everybody in the organization write down an example when they created a great experience for their customer, or where they turned a moment of misery around and made it great, or when they were just doing a great thing and they recognized they were doing it.

Shep Hyken: It could be as simple as returning a phone call quickly to somebody, and that person was impressed. It could be for an internal customer as well, or it could be something huge. Maybe there’s a disaster, and the team has to work straight through the weekend without any sleep to make sure that customer’s back up, doing whatever it is. Those are great. What we encourage our clients to do is everybody writes on an index card that example of when they created that great service experience. With a small team you just start the meeting off, “ Hey. Let’s begin with greatness. Give us the example of the great service that you created.”

Shep Hyken: What’s cool is that the first time you ask somebody to do this, if you tell them, “Hey. The meeting’s next week at 10:00 o’clock in the morning,” about five minutes to 10:00 they’ll start doing their homework, but when they realize that’s painful, “Oh. What did I do this week?”, they’re like, “God, I’m wracking my brain,” they’ll start saying, “Oh. This is a great example,” and they’ll write it down now, and then they’ll save it for their meeting, which means they become service aware when they’re in the moment. If they’re on the phone, if they’re responding on a chat, it doesn’t matter. When they feel like, “Gosh. I just was thanked. This person loves what I did. That’s my example,” and I think that’s a great way to start a meeting and bring everybody in and feel really good about what they do.

Nick Francis: That’s awesome. I’ve got a two word answer to that question, which is to jump in. When you’re on a small team, get in the trenches with them. You know? That’s super important. As you said, Shep, lead by example. There’s no better way to go about it. Especially if there’s a major issue, it’s all hands on deck, and you’re right there in the trenches with them. I think that makes all the difference in the world. Lets start with another question. Where in an organization’s hierarchical structure do you find customer support teams are usually situated?

Nick Francis: I can start with an example of kind of how we’ve done it at Help Scout, because we’ve moved it around a couple of different times. As of the last couple of years, we’ve actually grouped customer support in a group we call growth, which includes sales, marketing, and support.

Shep Hyken: There you go.

Nick Francis: We do want all of those people rowing in the same direction. Support is much more than a reactive thing for us. It’s a proactive thing. We want to elevate our folks into a position where it feels like they’re collaborating across the entire customer facing organization. But we’ve recently changed that, because, at Help Scout at least, most of what they’re doing is related to the product. Right? They have to be product experts. At Help Scout they have to be deeply technical, and so now the support organization reports directly to me.

Nick Francis: I’m very involved in product. That’s kind of where my skillset lies. Because of that, support reports to me, and I can also, understanding the values and DNA that we have, I can invest in making sure that support is elevated in the organization in a way that I couldn’t do when support wasn’t reporting directly through me. In my opinion, it really is important for support to report directly up to the CEO, but also to feel like they’re rowing in the same direction as other aspects of the marketing team, the revenue generating teams. You want to make sure they can collaborate really well. What do you think, Shep?

Shep Hyken: I agree 100%. We talked about that earlier in the program. My example, we were hired to do a training project for a company that had seven cities that we went to, and the president of the company showed up to introduce the trainer at each of the seven cities, and that president … It was a full day of training. That president didn’t leave after the introduction. He sat in the back of the room. I’m sure he was multitasking, but every time there was a break, during lunch, the president was seen, showing to all the people that are on that front line, “Hey. This guy obviously thinks it’s important enough that he’s giving up his entire day. You know what else? He’s going to six other cities on top of ours to prove it.”

Shep Hyken: I think when the executive, whether it be the CEO or one of the leaders of the company … Depending upon your size of a company, you might have a founder, CEO, and five people working for you or might have 500 or 5,000. It doesn’t matter. When they’re an expert, but apparently at this point I play one on TV, or at least video. Let me give you a couple of thoughts, because I did do some research on some of the companies that seem to just really nail it with hiring. Nordstrom is a great example of somebody that nails it with hiring. When somebody asks, “How do you hire these people and train them?”, one of the Nordstrom’s … and this came out of The Nordstrom Way, a book that was written by Robert Spector, that was just revised. He said the answer from … I can’t remember which Nordstrom member of the family it was, but he said, “We don’t train them. Their parents trained them. We just take what they have and make it work for us.”

Shep Hyken: I think, you know, the old saying, “Hire for attitude. Train to skill,” that’s pretty generic and general, but when you start thinking about it, what skillset, what attitude, what mindset do they come to you with? Number one, take a look at that background. There’s all types of behavioral style assessments that will give you an idea of what somebody’s background is. Number two, there’s some important questions that you should ask. I think every company needs to come up with the right question that fits for them.

Shep Hyken: Recently, I’ve been working with a company that franchises hair salons. Can you imagine me working for the people that … you know, hair. I don’t really go into them very often, but one of the questions you might ask a new stylist that you’re considering is, “Hey. Tell me about your sheers.” The sheers could cost, you know, the scissors can cost $50 or $500, so do you want somebody working in your high end salon, if that’s what it is, if you’re a high end salon, if they didn’t think enough of the most important piece of equipment they have to spend more than 50, 60 bucks? There’s a question that tells you a little bit about them.

Shep Hyken: One of my clients is a grocery store chain, a major chain, and they ask some of the … depending on what the job is, “Hey. When you come in, come in 15 minutes early. Walk the store. We want feedback. Where do I think we can improve?” Great question, but my favorite question to ask, going back to Nordstrom, is something that’s asked in every interview, “Can you give me a definition of what good customer service is?” There’s hundreds of good ones, and there’s the obvious wrong ones. Start out toward the beginning of that conversation. The interview could be over really quick, or you could take it to the next level really fast.

Nick Francis: That’s a great tactic, and we ask a question that you can answer similarly, which is, “Why are you interested in working at Help Scout?” It’s so simple. We ask that on every job that we have, and you can tell someone that’s invested, somebody that’s done their research, somebody that really cares deeply about the mission and values, and someone that’s kind of going through the motions. Right?

Shep Hyken: Yeah. That, by the way, it’s an obvious … you know, “Why do you want to work here?”, is a great question. Another question is, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” You know, the right answer would be, “Boy. This looks like a really nice place to work too.” It’s amazing. You can tell by looking at a resume. A job jumper is looking, “Well, between now and five years I’ll probably have three more jobs, and this is where I’d like to be one day.” But I think your point is well taken. Why? And, “What do you know about Help Scout?” That can be a big indicator as well, you know, if they do their research.

Nick Francis: Those are the kind of tactical questions that we ask. The first thing that we do is ask them to answer a few questions, like their email support, which require you to know a little bit about the product. One of our questions asks something that specifically requires you to go out, do some Google searching on another provider, give some images, to basically walk somebody through how to do something, which is really great. We also ask, “Help Scout just had a status issue. Somebody tripped over the plug and unplugged Help Scout.”

Shep Hyken: Oh, no.

Nick Francis: “How would you craft this message to our customers?” Right? You can get so much from those sorts of things, like just somebody’s writing style, somebody’s empathy for the customer, how detailed they are. So many of those really challenging customer support issues, we just give them three examples and ask them to address those. Then finally, and I don’t want this to be overlooked for a customer support team, it’s not just about reacting to the bad situations. Right? We’ve talked about this.

Nick Francis: We also ask anyone that moves along in the process to give us a demo of Help Scout. Sell me on the product. They put together like a 20 minute demo, and that means so much, because now I trust every single person that’s on our support team to get on the phone with a customer, walk them through the product, and close a sale without even having to refer it to anybody else. They need to have that level of confidence and competency. It tells us so much about their abilities to not only react, but to be proactive.

Shep Hyken: Yup. Yup. Love it. If you think about it, those questions where, you know, “Here’s three questions,” those are the same types of questions, you know, “How much would you spend on your shears? Take some time, and go out, and get me some answers,” that’s your version of these types of questions, so it’s powerful, because if they do their homework well, you know, “Okay. This person really wants this job.” They come in, and they obviously didn’t take a look at it. They aren’t taking it serious enough. It blows my mind the number of people that don’t take it serious. Whatever you do, if you’re putting somebody on the front line, don’t put a mirror up to their nose, and if it fogs up, hire them. Okay? You risk your entire brand on somebody, because your brand is only as strong as your weakest employee.

Nick Francis: That’s true. Awesome. I think that’s an amazing way to wrap up this 30 minute discussion. Thank you so much, Shep, for joining us. We’re going to include this recording on HelpU, so https://www.helpscout.net/helpu, along with some of the other stuff that you’ve written for us. It’s outstanding. Next month we’re going to be talking to Adrian Swinscoe. I’ve talked with Adrian before, another really great customer service expert. You don’t want to miss this one. We’ll talk about ramping up service for busy times, such as the holidays, which are upcoming. Thank you again, Shep. Really appreciate you being with us today. We’ll talk to everybody soon.

Shep Hyken: Thanks. Great hanging with you, Nick. Thank you.

Nick Francis: All right. See you, everyone.

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