Improving Customer Service & Loyalty: Lessons from Shep Hyken

leadership development personal development sales May 18, 2009
Improving customer service and loyalty. Photo shows a barista serving a cup of coffee with a smile.

On Saturday, May 16 2009, iLearningGlobal Faculty member and Hall of Fame Presenter Shep Hyken gave members of iLearningGlobal a 35 minute presentation on Customer Service and Loyalty. 

In his presentation, Mr. Hyken suggested that the goal of any company should be to provide consistent, amazing customer service experiences. Having the best product, the best location, etc. is not enough. In multiple surveys 45%-80% of customers say they are satisfied with the service they receive, but have no plans to come back. To be successful, businesses need to be better than satisfactory. You want to create a customer experience that results in people wanting to come back to you. He mentions Morton’s Steakhouse as an example. Morton’s does almost no advertising. What they do is create a great experience, people talk about it and others want to come and have that great experience too.

Businesses go through 5 phases of customer (and employee) service development. As you read through these phases, consider where your business is now and where you want to be.

Phase 1 – Uncertainty: The customer has no confidence in the customer service. The service might be great or terribile. This can be because the company is new or an existing company fails to provide a consistent experience. For example, airlines are on time only ¾ of the time. As a passenger you don’t know when you will arrive at your destination. It’s an uncertain experience. This works within an organization too. If employees not sure what to expect from management or how they will be treated they will be uncertain how to treat the customers.

Phase 2 – Alignment: A company develops a brand promise to let customers and employees know what to expect. For example, Outback Steakhouse “Great Food, No Rules”. They have a menu, but if you want something different and they are capable of delivering it they just make it happen. You know what to expect. At Ritz Carlton: “We are ladies & gentlemen serving ladies & gentlemen.” Again, as a guest at Ritz Carlton you have the sense that you will be treated well and that you should treat the staff well too. In each of these cases it’s clear to both customers and employees what to expect.

Phase 3 – Experience: Create a consistent experience and by doing so build trust with your customers and employees. With a new company, everyone’s experience is a first experience, and they may all experience the same event differently depending on their point of view. By providing customers with a consistent experience you provide them an opportunity to notice more and enjoy the experience more the next time. Think about your experience the first time you go to a business, or visit a city. Have you ever watched a movie and noticed more details the 2nd or 3rd time and enjoyed it all the more. Until you do the same thing over again then everyone will have different experience..

Phase 4 – Ownership: Customers and employees have a sense of ownership in the experience. Confidence does take place. It is predictable.

Phase 5 -Amazement: Your customer experience is predictably better than average. The experience is great and better than you expect from similar businesses. In this phase customers have become your marketing team because they are happy to share their great experience with others. Once you reach this phase you need to work hard to stay. Continual improvement is necessary because others will be improving their service. Today, if you’re not improving you are losing ground.

Where in these phase of development are you now? Where do you want to be? What do you need to do different or in addition to what you are doing now to get you to the next level?

Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE is a speaker and author who works with companies and organizations who want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. His articles have been read in hundreds of publications, and he is the author of Moments of Magic™ and The Loyal Customer. He is also the creator of The Customer Focus™ program, which helps clients develop a customer service culture and loyalty mindset. Shep’s new book “The Cult of the Customer,” a Wall Street Journal and USA Today Best-Seller, is available at

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