“Putting the Customer First”A Focus on Service Excellence

Welcome Back to Soupfly!!

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I recently returned from a quick trip to Orlando for the National Customer Service Association National Conference.  My time was so short and scheduled while in Orlando that I did not have a chance to go to Universal Studios, or Seaworld or Disneyland.  However, I will say that what I experienced at the conference had it’s own magic!

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I was blessed in a number of different ways at the Conference, but before I get to that let me start off by saying what a well run conference it was. The Team- from the National Office consisting of Bill and Diane Crutcher, and Ashley Ruggles, did a stand out job of organizing and putting on a flawless event. Also, the NCSA Team from Central Florida who hosted the event, led by President of Board of Directors, Wes Tindal were so hospitable, welcoming and helpful.  A very special commendation goes to Ashley who ran the behind the scenes.  She is, to me, the perfect example of  what 5 Star Customer Service Execution is all about.  I worked with her during the months leading up to the conference via email and phone calls and she absolutely made me feel like I was the only customer/speaker that she had to take care of at that moment. Then, at the conference she was organized, responsive, caring and incredibly helpful.  She was a one woman show.  Not to say that Bill and Diane didn’t also run things.  It’s just that Ashley took the bulk of the behind the scenes, so Bill & Diane could focus on what was happening on stage, so to speak.  Ashley is, as I understand, relatively new in her position but she truly understands Customer Care/Service.  So, my hat-fedora-is off to you Ashley!! Thanks for making this event a huge success!

Now, a word about Bill Crutcher, the President of the National Customer Service Association.  To know Bill is to know his Team. I know why Ashley is so great at what she does-because we tend to attract people like ourselves to our team, and Bill is one of those people who exudes hospitality, care and empathy.  I remember the first time we had a conversation on the phone, some months ago, when he invited me to be a speaker for this event. He has a warmth and a genuineness that is felt just as easily over the phone as when speaking with him in person.  He made me feel welcome and a special part of this event each time we communicated.  In fact,  I was truly eager to arrive at the Conference merely to meet Bill, and Ashley and other members of their team, including Diane-Bill’s wife.

I had hoped to arrive for early check-in on Sunday evening, but due to my flight being delayed (thanks Frontier Airlines) I was unable to.  When I finally got settled in my hotel room, opened my laptop and checked my email-here was an email sent at 8:35 pm from Ashley, stating how excited they all were and looking forward to meet me the next day.  WOW! To me, that is Customer Service.

When I arrived at the Conference the next day, the welcome and greeting in person was equally as warm and friendly from all three of them, Bill, Diane and Ashley. So, why am I sharing with you in such detail about such things?  Because something as seemingly small as an email, or how one greets a customer, or how they talk with them on the phone, all these contribute to what I call “Setting the Tone”.  That is establishing the tone of the communication, the connection between you and your customer.  Since I was an attendee and an invited speaker to this Conference, I was their Customer.  Setting the Tone creates  the first impression, the expectation in the mind of the customer. If we get that right from the start, then if any hiccups, speed bumps or Soupflies arise along the way, it is so much easier to deal with them effectively and still win back the customer.  Setting the Tone is one of the single most, if not THE Most important aspect of the Customer Service interaction.    So, I say “thank you and congratulations!” to Bill and his entire team from the NCSA for a great customer experience.

As for the location of the event and the level of customer service delivered by their team, I would say that it was a mixture of good, mediocre and poor service interactions. But since this post is not about that, I will leave the details of that information for another time.

Back to the Conference-I learned some new tools and strategies on Creating a Customer Service focused culture from the various speakers. I learned the importance of taking formulas and principles and boiling them down as Claudia Bogard, Customer Experience Director of the FAA, calls it. We heard from, and were inspired by a wide range of Customer Service Experts from a variety of organizations representing a multitude of industries.  The common thread in each presentation was how to learn what our customers’ not only need, but more importantly- what they want, and how to deliver that in  a positive customer interaction.

The breakout speakers that I had the privilege of listening to were, Kizzy Dominguez who presented about approaching Customer Service with the generations in mind. She spoke of how each generation of individuals, views customer service according to their own particular mindset and that to be effective we ought to use that as our lens when dealing with them. A very thought-provoking presentation. Thank you Kizzy!

I also, sat in the presentation of Gregg Baron, who taught us about creating more +1 Experiences and gave us an understanding of the 7 Basic aspects of Customer Service.  Another very interesting and useful perspective shared.  Thanks Gregg!  Next,

I learned from licensed hypnotherapist, Aimee Eipers, about how to manage stress and how it can affect the Customer Service experience. Such a very important and often overlooked topic.  Thanks for sharing Aimee!

Lastly, I was quite inspired by Steve Mayers, Director of Atlanta Airport. He shared insights of how he is leading his team to tranform Atlanta airport from a Customer Experience Management focus to a Guest Experience Management.  Central to his presentation was the idea that each of our customers, in his case-passengers, go through an emotional journey during every service experience.  It is our job as service professionals to recognize the emotions along that journey and ensure that there is a positive experience at each touch point.  I was so struck by the content of Steve’s talk that I asked him if he’d be open to allowing me to interview him for my 2nd book that I’m working on-I Am the Customer Experience. He did of course, oblige. So, sometime in the next couple weeks, I’ll be digging deep into that topic with him and gaining more insight that I can use for my 2nd book-I Am the Customer Experience.

I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to learn from so many wonderful, talented, knowledgeable Service Experts.  I also am very thankful for the connections I made with so many of the attendees and the potential opportunities to be invited to some of their organizations in the future to share about 5 Star Customer Experience from my perspective. I will share with you about those exciting upcoming events as we work out schedules and details.

As you might imagine, a huge highlight of the Conference for me was the honor and privilege of being one of the breakout speakers, myself. My presentation was entitled, “I Am the Customer Experience-Taking Ownership of the Service You Deliver & Creating a Culture of WOW!”  I presented twice on Tuesday to a full room each time. I brought the energy, the excitement and the content. Each group was engaged, participated and all gave me very positive feedback.  I would say it absolutely was a great success!! Thank you to all the attendees who sat in my presentation, for your positive energy, for participating and being open minded. This is a Show!

After my presentation, Bill, said that not only did he receive positive feedback from those who attended my session, but also, that many of them stated to him that they should have made me one of the keynote speakers.  There’s always next time Bill.

I did not get to stay for the closing of the Conference as I had a previously booked event to speak at on Wednesday evening. This was a celebration event for Make Up in the 702-one of the premiere hair and make up companies here in Las Vegas-that primarily services the wedding industry in Las Vegas.  Led by owner and founder, Megan Payne, they had recently hit a major milestone as a company of receiving 1000 positive customer reviews!  What an exceptional accomplishment!

Megan and I met earlier in the year when I was the keynote speaker at WIPA, Wedding Industry Professionals Association.  She was so touched and inspired by my presentation at WIPA that she invited me to share a few inspirational words with her team at this 1000 Reviews celebration.  For a company to receive 1000 reviews, they obviously must have a focus on the Customer Experience.

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As I spoke to them, I shared some of what I had recently learned at the NCSA Conference-that our customers are all on an emotional journey.  Whether they realize it or not, it is true.  This emotional journey may take place over months, days or just a few short hours.  As Hair & Make up professionals, I suggested to this group, that they do so much more than make their clients look beautiful.  They even do so much more than giving the brides confidence and drawing out the natural beauty that’s already there.  I suggested that they actually (both literally & figuratively) hold the hand of those brides as they go along this emotional journey. This journey may entail excitement, nervousness, sadness, introspection, peacefulness, joy and a whole myriad of other emotions.  In fact, as I was speaking, one of the women in the group began to tear up.  It was clear that what I was sharing was resonating.  Again, I was thankful for the privilege and opportunity to share some inspiring words with a group of Service Professionals.  Thank you Megan!!

We, as Service Professionals,-regardless of what industry we are in, must realize that we have the potential to make a powerful, positive impact on each of our clients, customers, guests every single day. We can choose to just go through the motions of our job, checking each task on the protocols/steps of service. Or we can choose to have a passion for Service and connect with the emotions of our customers and truly Serve them.   This is why I love Customer Service/Service & Hospitality.

 

Thank you for reading! I am so grateful for all my Soupfly Readers from around the world. This month we have had readers from the following countries:

United States, United Kingdom, Brazil, Bahamas, Portugal, Philippines, Indonesia, South Africa, Canada, Germany, Pakistan, Italy, France, Mexico, Costa Rica, Russia, Kenya, New Zealand, Thailand, Bangladesh.

If you would like to order a copy of my book, Getting to WOW! Everybody WINS with 5 Star Service, please go to my website (US orders only):http://gettingtowowbook.com/

For orders outside the US, please refer to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Getting-WOW-Everybody-WINS-Service/dp/0692359192/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1464204727&sr=1-1&keywords=christoff+j.+weihman

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Elevating Service & Hospitality,

Christoff J. Weihman

ASPIRE Enterprises

Las Vegas, NV

 

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