Author Archives: Shep Hyken

About Shep Hyken

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker, and New York Times, bestselling business author. For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs, go to www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken

Balancing Artificial Intelligence with the Human Touch

GUEST POST from Shep Hyken

As AI and ChatGPT-type technologies grow in capability and ease of use and become more cost-effective, more and more companies are making their way to the digital experience. Still, the best companies know better than to switch to 100% digital.

I had a chance to interview Nicole Kyle, managing director and co-founder of CMP Research (Customer Management Practice), for Amazing Business Radio. Kyle’s team provides research and advisory services for the contact center industry and conducts some of the most critical research on the topic of self-service and digital customer service. I first met Kyle at CCW, the largest contact center conference in the industry. I’ve summarized seven of her key observations below, followed by my commentary:

  1. The Amazon Effect has trained customers to expect a level of service that’s not always in line with what companies and brands can provide. This is exactly what’s happening with customer expectations. They no longer compare you just to your direct competitors but to the best experience they’ve had from any company. Amazon and other rockstar brands focused on CX (customer experience) have set the bar higher for all companies in all industries.
  2. People’s acceptance and eventual normalization of digital experiences accelerated during the pandemic, and they have become a way of life for many customers. The pandemic forced customers to accept self-service. For example, many customers never went online to buy groceries, vehicles or other items that were traditionally shopped for in person. Once customers got used to it, as the pandemic became history, many never returned to the “old way” of doing business. At a minimum, many customers expect a choice between the two.
  3. Customers have new priorities and are placing a premium on their time. Seventy-two percent of customers say they want to spend less time interacting with customer service. They want to be self-sufficient in managing typical customer service issues. In other words, they want self-service options that will get them answers to their questions efficiently and in a timely manner. Our CX research differs and is less than half of that 72% number. When I asked Kyle about the discrepancy, she responded, “Customers who have a poor self-service experience are less likely to return to self-service. While there is an increase in preference, you’re not seeing the adoption because some companies aren’t offering the type of self-service experience the customer wants.”
  4. The digital dexterity of society is improving! That phrase is a great way to describe self-service adoption, specifically how customers view chatbots or other ChatGPT-type technologies. Kyle explained, “Digital experiences became normalized during the pandemic, and digital tools, such as generative AI, are now starting to help people in their daily lives, making them more digitally capable.” That translates into customers’ higher acceptance and desire for digital support and CX.
  5. Many customers can tell the difference between talking to an AI chatbot and a live chat with a human agent due to their ability to access technology and the quality of the chatbot. However, customers are still willing to use the tools if the results are good. When it comes to AI interacting with customers via text or voice, don’t get hung up on how lifelike (or not) the experience is as long as it gets your customers what they want quickly and efficiently.
  6. The No. 1 driver of satisfaction (according to 78% of customers surveyed) in a self-service experience is personalization. Personalization is more important than ever in customer service and CX. So, how do you personalize digital support? The “machine” must not only be capable of delivering the correct answers and solutions, but it must also recognize the existing customer, remember issues the customer had in the past, make suggestions that are specific to the customer and provide other customized, personalized approaches to the experience.
  7. With increased investments in self-service and generative AI, 60% of executives say they will reduce the number of frontline customer-facing jobs. But, the good news is that jobs will be created for employees to monitor performance, track data and more. I’m holding firm in my predictions over the past two years that while there may be some job disruption, the frontline customer support agent job will not be eliminated. To Kyle’s point, there will be job opportunities related to the contact center, even if they are not on the front line.

Self-service and automation are a balancing act. The companies that have gone “all in” and eliminated human-to-human customer support have had pushback from customers. Companies that have not adopted newer technologies are frustrating many customers who want and expect self-service solutions. While it may differ from one company to the next, the balance is critical, but smart leaders will find the balance and continue to adapt to the ever-changing expectations of their customers.

Image Credits: Unsplash
This article originally appeared on Forbes.com

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Happy Employees Make Happy Customers

Happy Employees Make Happy Customers

GUEST POST from Shep Hyken

Often, the best companies to do business with are the best companies to work for. When you look at the Google ratings for Round Room Holdings’ TCC and Wireless Zone, two Verizon Wireless retailers with approximately 1,200 retail stores throughout the U.S., you’ll find they are “hitting it out of the park” in both customer reviews and employee satisfaction. I had a chance to interview Chad Jensen, president of TCC and Wireless Zone since 2019, and he shed light on their incredible success, how they do it, and how any company can have similar results.

We can break down the company’s success into three areas: employees, customers, and community.

1. Employees: It all starts with the employees. Jensen’s company has a 90% employee satisfaction rating and 70% employee retention in a retail industry with annual employee turnover rates that are well over 100%. Why? Because Jensen made it abundantly clear that the company puts employees first. The best example of this came not even a year after he took over as president when he and the rest of the world faced the pandemic. His leadership style was immediately put to the test. He was adamant about taking care of the employees. First and foremost was safety, as well as a concern for mental health. And he was determined to keep people employed, saying, “Even if it meant we took a hit on our financials, we were okay with that.” He understood early on that the decisions they made would define how they came out of the pandemic. Employees knew the company had their backs. In exchange, they were confident, fulfilled, and engaged with their customers, ensuring they had an experience that would bring them back. Employee satisfaction is at 90%. As I’ve mentioned many times in my past articles, what’s happening inside an organization is felt by customers on the outside. Jensen’s strategy shows this concept can be tremendously successful.

2. Customers: A focus on the employee experience turns into a positive customer experience. The goal is to provide “the best customer service.” Being the best is a lofty goal. While it’s not a contest, the comment speaks to the commitment the retailer has to its customers. The numbers tell the story. The company’s Google score ranges from 4.7 to 4.9 out of five. Jensen beams with pride over the customer satisfaction numbers, as companies he admires, such as Disney and Chick-fil-A, don’t have numbers quite as high. Jensen said, “We checked, and Disneyland’s Google rating was a 4.5. We’re literally (making customers) happier than the ‘Happiest Place on Earth.’” While a high Google rating is validating, Jensen emphasizes it’s really about the experience that gets customers to come back.

3. Community: Jensen’s efforts to give back to the community create positive results on several levels. He explained, “The more we give back to our communities, the more presence we get, and the better employees we get.” Many companies have a purpose beyond profit. It’s typically a recognizable cause, such as sustainability, poverty, medical research, or other popular causes. Companies like Ace Hardware have raised more than $140 million for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Patagonia gives 1% of its sales to the preservation and restoration of the environment. TCC and Wireless Zone take a more grassroots approach and give back to the communities their stores serve. They sponsor community events, local pet shelters, food banks, school events, and more. They have given more than 1.3 million backpacks filled with school supplies to kids in their communities. While the corporate HQ is behind this “give back” program, it’s the employees who get the most joy out of being a part of it, once again creating a great employee experience.

By prioritizing the TCC and Wireless Zone employee experience, combined with efforts to create an amazing customer experience as well as support for the communities they serve, the result is a company with some of the lowest turnover in the retail industry, higher Google ratings than “The Happiest Place on Earth” and loyal customers who keep coming back. That’s what happens when you create a company that has what Jensen refers to as “a culture of good.”

Image Credits: Pixabay
This article originally appeared on Forbes.com

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Six Steps to Creating a Brand Experience Personality

Six Steps to Creating a Brand Experience Personality

GUEST POST from Shep Hyken

Two weeks ago, I contributed an article that compared the different concert experiences I had with two rock legends, Bob Dylan and Ringo Starr. The title of the article summed up the point I was trying to make: Transactions versus Experiences

I want to take it a step further this week. Last week’s content was meant to get you thinking. Now, I want you to take action on the content. So, here are six ways to create an experience personality that will transform your company or brand from merely providing products and services to doing so with personality:

  1. Your Company’s Personality: I don’t care what you sell. It could be military equipment or comic books. Every company has a personality, and these personalities run the gamut from serious to whimsical. What are the adjectives that customers use to describe you? How would you like them to describe you? These are two great questions to ask as you start to explore your company’s personality.
  2. Communicate Your Company’s Personality: Once you know it, don’t keep it a secret. When you know the perception you want customers to have of your organization, empower your employees to deliver on the personality.
  3. Top-Down Personality: If you want employees on the front line to deliver on the company’s personality, it must be modeled from the top down. In other words, leaders must practice the behaviors they want their employees to practice. The personality comes from the top and makes its way through the entire organization, eventually being felt by the customers.

Shep Hyken Brand Experience Personality Cartoon

  1. Manage Every Moment: I have always been a huge fan of Jan Carlson’s Moments of Truth concept, in which every interaction a customer has with a company is an opportunity for them to form an impression. These interactions include advertising, websites, people-to-people, and more. Find ways to instill the personality into all of these interactions.
  2. Get Feedback: There is only one way to know for sure that you’re delivering on your company’s personality experience. Ask your customers.
  3. Be Consistent: The only way for your experience personality to become a reality is for the experience to be consistent and predictable. It can’t be an engaging experience this time and something other than engaging next time. When customers like the experience personality, they will want to experience more of it! Consistency counts!

As you adopt these strategies, your customers will become familiar and comfortable with the experience personality you portray. Take the time to work through these steps, get everyone on board and in alignment with the personality you want to be known for, and create the experience that gets customers to say, “I’ll be back!”

Image Credits: Pixabay, Shep Hyken

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How to Create a Good Loyalty Program

GUEST POST from Shep Hyken

What is a loyalty program? It’s a program designed to get customers to come back. That’s different than true customer loyalty, but it’s a pretty darn good start. In our 2024 State of Customer Service and CX research (sponsored by RingCentral), we included a section of questions that focused on customer loyalty and rewards programs. Before we get into the findings, let’s look at three examples of some of the best.

1. Amazon Prime: When I Googled the question, “Is Amazon Prime a membership program or a loyalty program?” the first answer came from an NBC News article that included this description: “Amazon Prime is Amazon’s paid loyalty program. …” First, Amazon offers tremendous value for its program, including free shipping, Prime TV and more, which by itself is worth paying for. However, there is also the psychology that if you pay for something, you want to get value from it, so use it. Therefore, many Amazon customers choose Amazon over competitors because they pay for the loyalty program and want to get the most value from it. Of course, Amazon is known for its stellar customer experience, so that combined with the Prime program gives it a competitive advantage over other online retailers.

2. Restoration Hardware: When you pay $200/year for its RH Members Program, you get 25% off all full-priced merchandise and 20% additional savings on sales items. In addition, you get complimentary access to its designers. The RH program is more of a discount program than a true loyalty program, but it does what it’s supposed to do, which is to get customers to come back. Like Amazon, I Googled the RH Members Program to see what others said, and many referred to it as a “Premium Loyalty Program.” And with that premium price, an RH customer expects a premium customer experience, and Restoration Hardware delivers.

3. American Airlines: American Airlines consistently ranks high among frequent flier programs, and The Points Guy rates AA as the best for earning status without ever flying. Using the AA credit card (most airlines have affiliations with credit card companies), you can rack up miles for free trips and status. An Omnisend.com article on loyalty programs included AA as the only airline in its list of 10 Businesses with the Best Loyalty Programs. I’ve been in the AA program since the 1980s and have amassed miles, perks and status. Reaching any level of status on the airline gives you more than perks. Employees recognize when passengers are members of their program and, quite simply put, “They treat you right.”

These are examples of paid and/or free loyalty programs and membership programs. There could be a book written to describe the many versions of loyalty programs. Most are marketing programs, focused on repeat business. There are points, discounts, perks, and now, experiences. Zsuzsa Kecsmar, co-founder of Antavo, a customizable loyalty platform and publisher of the Global Customer Loyalty Report, adds, “Loyalty programs used to be earn-and-burn. You spend a dollar and earn a point. But today’s loyalty programs can do much more with experiential rewards, early access and rewarding other activities outside of purchasing.”

As mentioned, are many versions of loyalty programs. A restaurant may offer a punch card where every fifth sandwich is free. Customers may be willing to pay to be part of a “loyalty program” to get perks and discounts. With all that in mind, here are some interesting findings from our research to help you decide if the effort to create a loyalty program is worth it:

  • 61% of customers said rewards programs were important to giving a company or brand repeat business.
  • 46% are willing to pay more for a company or brand that has a good loyalty or rewards program.
  • 76% are more likely to return to a company that has a good customer rewards program.
  • 57% would choose to switch to a brand that has a loyalty program if another brand did not.
  • 55% have recommended a brand or company to others because of its loyalty program.
  • 39% have made an unplanned purchase just to earn more points or rewards.

If a loyalty program is part of your business model (or if you’re considering it), these findings make the point. The numbers make a compelling argument for developing a loyalty program. The last finding is especially intriguing. Almost four in 10 customers made a purchase just to earn more points or rewards.

Realize that a loyalty program is more often a marketing program. Some consumers become loyal to the program more than to the company or brand. True loyalty is about a customer being emotionally connected to a company, not just to the perks and points in a loyalty program. If you combine an amazing customer experience with a loyalty program, you have a winning combination.

Image Credits: Unsplash

This article originally appeared on Forbes.com

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Transactions versus Experiences

Transactions versus Experiences

GUEST POST from Shep Hyken

In the past few months, I’ve been to several concerts. I’d say the entertainers were legends in the industry. Two of them were Bob Dylan and Ringo Starr (of the Beatles). Both are talented beyond words. They both have successful careers. They have both been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It’s important for you to know this, just in case you don’t know who they are. It’s a generational thing. If you were born in this century, you probably don’t know either of them, but trust me, they are rock stars and legends!

There was a difference in their shows. Bob Dylan came out and played. He barely spoke a word to the audience. His music was enough for his true fans. But for some of us who saw the legend for the first time, we might have expected more than just songs. If all we wanted was the music, we could have listened to his albums on iTunes or Spotify.

Ringo Starr, on the other hand, did more than just play songs. He brought energy and enthusiasm to the stage. While he and his all-star band played their most popular songs, there was more to the show. He shared commentary and stories, so the audience felt they had a glimpse into the personality of one of the most famous and iconic musicians on the planet.

This is the lead-in to today’s lesson, which is to understand the difference between experiencing a company or brand, and simply doing business with it.

Shep Hyken Magician Cartoon

The concert examples are not unlike two companies competing for a customer’s business. A company that doesn’t showcase its “personality” may be missing an opportunity to create a personal connection.

If you want to see this in action, go visit a Trader Joe’s grocery store and ask several of the crew members – their term for employees – some questions. Experience their reputation for fun, which goes beyond the employees’ personalities and includes a uniform, which is a somewhat “loud” Hawaiian shirt.

So, which company or brand are you? You don’t need outgoing employees wearing loud Hawaiian shirts for a customer to experience your brand. The point is to do something that makes the customer feel as if they are experiencing more than, for lack of a better description, placing an order and having it fulfilled. The distinction between merely conducting business with a company and truly experiencing it lies in the unique personality and engagement the company and its employees bring to every interaction.

Image Credits: Pexels

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Difference Between Customer Experience Perception and Reality

Difference Between Customer Experience Perception and Reality

GUEST POST from Shep Hyken

This is an important topic that every CEO, business owner, leader, manager, and supervisor must understand. When it comes to customer service and customer experience (CX), there is a difference between perception and reality.

First, how we think our customers perceive our customer service and CX is often not the reality. It’s just our perception. Reality isn’t what we think or believe. It’s what our customers say. Often, there is a big difference between our perception and the reality of our customers’ experiences.

Some may be saying, “Shep, you’ve covered this before.” Yes, however, it is worth covering again, especially since my friend Stephen Van Belleghem released his excellent book, A Diamond In the Rough, where he quotes a Bain survey finding that “80% of CEOs think their company is customer-centric, but only 8% of customers agree.”

One of my LinkedIn followers, Rajat Chawla, read my Forbes article about Van Belleghem’s book and asked, “What’s your best advice to bridge the gap?” As I always promise, if you reach out to me on any social channel and ask a question, I’ll answer it there or in my newsletter, videos, podcast, or on my TV show, Be Amazing or Go Home. So, here’s my answer:

There are at least three strategies for narrowing the gap between these perceptions:

  1. Leaders need to pay attention to their data. After they do a self-assessment, which is their perception, they should – if they haven’t already – survey their customers to discover their reality. That’s the most accurate way to measure the difference.
  2. Leaders should “mystery shop” their companies themselves. They should learn firsthand what it’s like to be a customer. They should be looking for the experiences their customers receive during peak hours or in the middle of the night, what a sales call is like compared to a customer service call, and more.
  3. Finally, leaders should spend time on the front line, either shadowing (listening in) on customer support calls or taking the calls themselves. I addressed spending time on the front line in my first book, Moments of Magic when I covered the All Aboard program in which executives spent one day each quarter with a salesperson visiting customers. In my most recent book, I’ll Be Back, I wrote about how Bill Gates visited the customer support center and asked to take customer support calls. The power of spending time on the front line is undisputed! Experiencing firsthand comments from customers is a powerful dose of reality – hopefully, good reality!

Customer Experience Reality Cartoon

What I love about these three strategies is that other than a little time and effort, there is little or no expense to implement them. So, what are you waiting for? If you haven’t already done so, discover the difference between your perceptions and your customers’ reality. And my wish for you is that there is little or no difference between the two!

Image Credits: Unsplash

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Are Your Customer Surveys Costing You Business?

Are Your Customer Surveys Costing You Business?

GUEST POST from Shep Hyken

Why does a company send out a customer satisfaction survey? Generally, it is to find out if they did a good job or what they can do to make the experience better.

In the weekly Super Amazing Show I do with Brittany Hodak, we talked about surveys. The general consensus was that shorter was better. After the show, we heard from John Hughes, who is connected with me on LinkedIn. Here is a shortened version of his comment:

“Saying, ‘Short surveys are better,’ is a bit like saying tall people are better at basketball. Yes, it helps, but you still have to be talented and have that extra ‘something’ to be a professional basketball player. … Rather than focusing on short surveys, I would say companies should truly investigate the principles by which customers choose them and then try to match the survey to the customers’ willingness to help. Ironically, customers at top service companies (think Ritz-Carlton, USAA, Chewy, Amazon, and Navy Federal Credit Union) are actually more willing to take longer surveys because they appreciate the relationship. An unwillingness to take a survey can be the most direct measure they do not value the relationship.”

First, I love John’s comment, especially the analogy to professional basketball. I won’t argue that some brands have customers who are more willing to take the longer surveys; however, Brittany and I were talking in general terms. And in general, short surveys get higher response rates. I shared with John that depending on how many surveys are sent out – as in a large number – the company can keep the surveys short and ask different questions, which should give them similar feedback as if they sent out fewer longer surveys.

Shep Hyken Customer Survey Cartoon

Here are some findings from our 2024 Customer Service and CX research (sponsored by RingCentral) that back up my comments:

  1. In 2024, 67% of customers said they don’t complete surveys if they are too long.
  2. Furthermore, almost one in five (19%) of customers stopped doing business with a company or brand because its satisfaction surveys were too long.
  3. And 23% of customers stopped doing business with a company because it kept sending too many surveys.

It’s not all gloom and doom for surveys. There are plenty of people who are happy to complete surveys, and we’ll share some of those findings later this year.

Back to John’s comment about customers at top service companies who will take the time to answer longer surveys. There are some rock star brands that are so good that customers are compelled to share their experience in a survey, be it long or short. But for most of us mere mortals, we should pay attention to what most customers are telling us about customer satisfaction surveys.

Image Credits: Unsplash

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Is Customer Obsession a Two-Way Street At Your Company?

Is Customer Obsession a Two-Way Street At Your Company?

GUEST POST from Shep Hyken

One of my favorite ways to measure a customer’s satisfaction level with a company or brand is by using the Net Promoter Score (NPS) question, which is, “On a scale of zero to 10, how likely are you to recommend this company to a friend or colleague?” If the customer answers with a nine or a 10, they are known as a “promoter.” The insight is obvious. The customer experience was good enough for them to recommend the company. That would be sufficient if all you were interested in was customer satisfaction, but taking this to the next level is to wonder if the customer will actually recommend the company to another person.

That’s what led Marbue Brown, founder of Customer Obsession Advantage (COA), to create a study. His goal was to find out what type of customer would go from saying they would recommend a company to actually doing so. The COA interviewed more than 1,200 consumers who rated 22 recognized brands to compare customers classified as NPS promoters and customers who were obsessed with a brand.

Consider the following findings from the COA study:

  1. 82% of obsessed customers say they will recommend you to others.
  2. 42% report they have already recommended you more than five times in the past year.
  3. 44% say they always/usually share their feelings about the company with others when given the opportunity.
  4. 26% say they have placed online reviews.
  5. 88% say they will “absolutely” repurchase in the next 12 months.

These are more than just findings. These are behaviors. Consider that 42% of customers have already recommended the company or brand five or more times in the past year. That’s huge! Or, that 26% placed online reviews. How would you like one in four customers to leave positive reviews about you? (Rhetorical question). These are significant actions that create positive word-of-mouth marketing moments.

Whatever metric you have chosen to measure customer satisfaction— NPS, CSAT (Customer Satisfaction), CES (Customer Effort Score), Time Well Spent, etc.—they are all good tools that serve a purpose and provide important information, but they must be used for more than vanity. A high NPS is just a number, and it should offer more than bragging rights. While it’s nice to know you’re making your customers happy enough to recommend you, leave reviews, etc., it’s more important to recognize that these high scores are opportunities to take action. In other words, actions speak louder than words. A high NPS does not guarantee a customer will promote your business. You must determine if they are obsessed with your brand. While the customer with a high COA score may promote without prompting, why take a chance that they won’t?

For example, a high NPS is especially powerful in the B2B world, where salespeople often call on their customers. When a customer gives a high score, follow up with a phone call or personalized email to thank them for the high score and ask them, “In our survey, you mentioned you would recommend us. Would you be willing to share the names or make introductions to those people?” You may be pleasantly surprised at the positive responses you get from customers who are obsessed with your company.

The insights from Brown’s COA study highlight the behaviors of obsessed customers. The challenge is for us to take traditional metrics like NPS, CSAT and others to another level. A willingness to recommend (a Net Promoter) is just another way to measure customer satisfaction unless you do something with the data. The magic happens when this willingness turns into a tangible action that includes repeated recommendations, online reviews and a customer who says, “I’ll be back” and means it! That’s the difference between a willingness to promote and customer obsession.

Image Credits: Pexels

This article originally appeared on Forbes.com

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Never Stop Looking for Improvement

Never Stop Looking for Improvement

GUEST POST from Shep Hyken

If it’s working fine, why mess with it?

Well, whatever “it” is may work just fine, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be better.

This idea came to me as I read an article about United Airlines changing the way passengers board the plane. Most airlines put passengers in groups and call them in order. United will continue doing this but make changes to some of the groups. First-class passengers and higher-level frequent fliers won’t notice, but there will be a change once Group 4 is called. Passengers with window seats will board first, followed by passengers in middle seats, and eventually, passengers with aisle seats. This new process will save two minutes.

Now, you might be thinking, “Two minutes. Big deal!” But, in the airline business, two minutes is a big deal. A mismanaged boarding process could delay the departure and cause disruptions throughout the day. So, while two minutes may not seem like much, the goal is to always look for ways to streamline an often chaotic process.

Improvement Cartoon of Shep Hyken

This story has at least two lessons. First, every company should tinker with what’s working by experimenting and looking for better ways to do “what they’ve always done,” even if it’s working. And second, small changes can add up to make a bigger difference when combined.

So, you have two choices:

  1. Do it the way you’ve always done it. Don’t question it. If it works, don’t try to change it. Unfortunately, many companies operate this way and miss opportunities to improve.
  2. Always look to improve everything, even when it’s working well. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been doing something that works, come back on a regular basis – maybe annually – and take a closer look. This is an excellent way to use a Journey Map. Look at every interaction point a customer has with your organization and ask, “Is there a way to make it better?” While there may not be a better way today, keep asking the question; you might find one over time.

Zig Ziglar, the famous motivational speaker, used to tell a story of a little girl who asked her mom, “Why do we cut the end off the roast before we put it in the oven?” Mom answered, “Because that’s how your grandmother taught me to cook it.” So, the little girl went to her grandmother and asked the same question. Grandma answered, “Because that’s how your great-grandmother taught me.” So, the little girl went to her great-grandmother and asked the same question. Great Grandma responded, “Because back then, the ovens were smaller than they are today, so we had to cut off the end to get it to fit.”

The moral of the story is if something worked yesterday, that doesn’t mean it’s the best thing to do today. Always look for improvement.

Image Credits: Shep Hyken, Pexels

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24 Customer Experience Mistakes to Stop in 2024

24 Customer Experience Mistakes to Stop in 2024

GUEST POST from Shep Hyken

My friend and fellow Customer Experience (CX) expert Brittany Hodak and I recently began a 52-week series for 2024 titled Shep and Brittany’s Super Amazing Show. In the second episode, rather than talk about what to do in 2024, we shared several tips on what not to do. More specifically, it’s about what we should stop doing. That inspired me and I thought it would be fun to put together a list of twenty-four (24) CX things to stop doing in 2024.

Now, this is important: Not everyone or every company is doing any or all of these. You and your organization may not be guilty of even one of these, but discussing the list can get you thinking about other things to stop doing or give you an idea of something to start doing. So, here are 24 things companies do that annoy their customers and that need to stop:

1. Stop wasting your customers’ time. If you can’t do something for them, tell them. Help them find alternatives. Don’t string your customer along.

2. Stop with long hold times. This is a major way of wasting a customer’s time. Along with this are those recorded messages that say “we are sorry and respect your time” … but we’re still too busy to answer your call. If you can’t stop long hold times, tell the customer how long it will be with an option to call back.

3. Stop using outdated technology. Your competitors will start using newer technologies, and guess what? Your customers might notice.

4. Stop using company jargon and technical language your customers might not understand. They become very frustrated.

5. Stop with the irritating “pop-ups” on websites. People hate when they land on a website and a window pops up before they can start reading the content. Then another, and sometimes another! There’s a right time and right way to do it. Keep the customer in mind when you allow “pop-up windows” on your website.

6. Stop saying, “No problem,” when your customer says, “Thank you.” Was it a problem? Of course not. For some reason, this has become a standard response, and even if it really wasn’t a problem, it is just the wrong response. Just say, “Your welcome,” or, “My pleasure.”

7. Stop with unnecessary apologies. Some people say, “I’m sorry,” again and again. I’m not suggesting you don’t apologize to customers when there is a problem or complaint. You should, but don’t over-apologize. It’s not necessary. An apology at the beginning of taking care of the conversation is appropriate. And a “thank you” and final apology at the end is always appreciated. But repeatedly saying “I’m sorry” could come across as defensive and insincere.

8. Stop focusing only on your customers when working on your CX and service initiatives. Employees must also be considered. A great customer experience starts with a great employee experience.

9. Stop spamming customers with too many unwanted messages.

10. Stop sending your customers generic messages (promotions, notes, emails, etc.). If you’re going to send a message, find a way to personalize it. And even if it is personalized, go back and re-read number nine.

11. Get out of the “one-size-fits-all” mindset. This falls under the topic of personalization, but this is not about a marketing message. We must recognize and embrace people’s differences in today’s diverse culture.

12. Stop causing friction. What part of your process could go away? Do you force your customers to take extra steps to do business with you? Find ways to eliminate anything that causes friction.

13. Stop ignoring your customers’ feedback. If the customer takes the time to share a comment, thank them, and if it is appropriate, do something with it.

14. Stop arguing with customers, even when they are wrong. I’ve written this many times before: The customer is NOT always right, but they are always the customer. So let them be wrong with dignity and respect.

15. Stop making your customers wait for you to respond. Get back to people within an appropriate time. Don’t make them wait.

16. Stop being inflexible. If you have standards and processes that customers don’t like, they will find someone else to do business with. NOTE: Some standards could fall under compliance of legal standards. It’s okay to not be flexible on those!

17. Don’t hide add-on fees from your customers. Some hotels are upsetting their guests with resort fees that can only be found in the small print.

18. Stop nickel-and-diming your customers. This is different than hidden fees. It’s about the customer accruing an extra charge every time they turn around.

19. Stop being afraid to tell your customers bad news. They may not like the news, but they will appreciate hearing about it from you directly.

20. Stop making customers come to you when you can go to them. When it comes to convenience, always put the customer first.

21. Stop ignoring your employees’ suggestions. People on the front line are more in sync with customers than anyone. Make it easy for them to let management and leadership know about opportunities to improve.

22. Stop relying solely on digital interactions. Some companies have eliminated customers’ ability to connect with a live customer support agent. Don’t become so enamored with technology that you forget that the most powerful relationship builder is the human-to-human experience.

23. Stop with the bad survey strategy. Surveys can be sent too quickly, too frequently and are often too long. A bad survey taints the customer experience.

24. Never stop trying. Never be complacent. Customer service and CX are continuing journeys that must continually be refreshed and renewed to keep up with the competition and your customers’ needs.

Hopefully you didn’t recognize yourself in any of these scenarios that frustrate customers, but if there’s something you need to work on, now is the time. Most importantly, number twenty-four applies to everyone—never stop trying! There’s always something new on the horizon to advance your customer service and customer experience (CX).

This article originally appeared on Forbes.com

Image Credits: Shep Hyken

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