Interview with Shep Hyken – Customer Service expert

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To get an interview with a leading Customer experience specialist was an honor for me.  I got the opportunity to pick Shep’s brain for about 30 minutes and I asked him all the burning questions to do with the Customer experience and handling Self Service adoption.  A man whose tag line is “A Customer Service Culture, A Customer Loyalty Mindset” knows what he’s talking about!

Stefanie: What do you feel is the role of support?

Shep: It’s simple.  When customers need support, they need support.  So you need to give it.  Many tools can enable this or improve support such as live chat support.  But the key factor is that you must not only train the staff, but the customers too.  Educate them and make them self-reliant.

Stefanie: What are your tips for encouraging self-service?

Shep: It’s important to always have a bailout feature.  If the customer get stuck or is not happy with the service, they should have the option to talk to a real person.  They need to be helped immediately.

Stefanie: How do you get staff to focus on the real issues of support?  I.e. get the customers to be self-served for smaller issues.

Shep: All customers are different.  Some need human interaction.  Some don’t need it at all.  You need to educate the customer.  Zappos.com is an example.  They are 100% available to the customer.  They are a service provider who also offers shoes.  They offer customer service first.  They pay for the delivery, they offer full time support.  At the end of the day, technology is there to lower costs, and not to eliminate costs.  The support has to be there in case the customer wants it.

Stefanie: How do you see customer service moving forward in the future with online tools being fully accessible?

Shep: Websites are designed by people.  It’s getting more advanced and more perfect.  It won’t ever be the most perfect product but we can get close.  When a customer deals with a company, it’s an experience.  It goes through phases and you can become an evangelist for the product. You end up owning the experience and become comfortable.

Stefanie: What do you think is the key differentiator for good support and great support?

Shep: Good is what expected.  Great means it is easy for the customer, instant, got the answer I wanted immediately, got more than I expected kind of answers.  You create a benchmark (average) and then by pass it and go one step further. Define the average and bump it up.  Technology must have a bailout for the customer.

Stefanie: Give us an example of a change you did that made meaningful effect on the level of support you were giving?

Shep: Pro-active stance is needed.  This is the idea of identifying the problem and contacting the customer before they have contacted you.  Call them before they call you.  If problems arise, catch them before they catch you.

If you would like to learn more about Shep and his work and theories, check out his website.

Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE is a speaker and bestselling author who works with companies and organizations who want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees.

Stefanie Amini
is Specialist in Customer Success and chief writer and editor of I Want It Now, a blog for Customer Service Experts. Follow her @StefWalkMe