Looking for These 5 Traits Served Me Well in Hiring

by Colin Shaw on November 24, 2015

I have a confession to make: I am an easy interview. Why? People easily sway me. Despite my status as a hiring wally, I have hired many people in my career. Most of them have been great. So how did I do this? To quote a fellow Brit, “I get by with a little help from my friends.”

What I have done to good effect is to get different people from across the organization to interview the person as well. This method also helps the candidate, as they can speak to a cross-section of people and make sure the job is right for them.

We have a few traits we look for in candidates, traits we all agree are essential to success on our team here at Beyond Philosophy. The following five traits have served the members of my team well:

  1. Emotional Intelligence. People with high emotional intelligence (EQ) can control their emotions and the emotions of others. Research indicates they are also good at getting people to do what they want. I hire candidates with high EQs knowing full well their ability to get people to do what they want includes me. However, I am okay with that because they are also the most likely to develop Employee Engagement, an essential ingredient to delivering on the Beyond Philosophy brand promise.
  2. Positive Attitude. Do they have that positive, Can-do attitude? You can train a lot of things, but an attitude isn’t one of them.
  3. Initiative. Initiative is critical to us when hiring. We like to see how the person uses their initiative to prepare for the interview—or doesn’t. I’ll be honest; too many people turn up for interviews without doing the preparation! The candidates that impress me most are the ones who are proactive, not reactive.
  4. Sound Reasoning. I ask people to come in with a 100-day plan, which, as the name implies, is the plan of what they would do in their first hundred days. I judge the plan by how they present it and the thought behind it. I have people turn up with no thought put behind this plan and wing it. I also have those who spend a great deal of time and present a professional presentation. Guess which candidate I hire?
  5. Independent Working Skills. In this virtual world, you must be able to delegate a task and trust the person to do it. I once had an assistant who used to work well in the office. However, when we converted to working from home, she couldn’t handle it. Whenever I spoke to her, she was always doing the washing or ironing or something else—she was an independent worker, just not on my stuff! If you’re going to run a virtual team based around the globe, you need to trust they will work. I say to my team, “I don’t care where you work in the world as long as you work.” Some people are going to do this some aren’t. The ones I hire, however, are the former not the latter.

Putting someone in a position for which they are not suited results in challenges for everyone from managers to clients to the employee him or herself. My job is to select the candidates with these skills and natural talents and then match them to appropriate job that allows them to thrive here (the rest of the team’s job is to make sure I didn’t get duped in the interview!). If I don’t do this, then they will fail. But also I will have failed them, too.

What do you think are important qualities in your team? I’d be interested to hear your desired talents and strengths for candidates in the comments below.

If you enjoyed this post, you might be interested in the following blogs:

Colin Shaw is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s first organizations devoted to customer experience. Colin is an international author of five bestselling books and an engaging keynote speaker.

Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter @ColinShaw_CX

Colin ShawLooking for These 5 Traits Served Me Well in Hiring

The Truths All Bosses Know About Being the Boss

by Colin Shaw on November 20, 2015

In this series, professionals share how they embrace the entrepreneurial mindset. See the stories here, then write your own (use #BetheBoss in the post).

I was a senior executive with 3,500 people reporting to me globally. I had worked my way up and found my place in corporate life. I had it all: a big expense account, a big budget, and a big salary. So with all of these big things happening for me what did I do? I quit, of course!

No, I didn’t break down. No, I wasn’t sacked. It was simply because I had reached my goal, and I was now bored. I had just finished a big project on improving our Customer Experience (in the year 2000), before the words Customer Experience were even a term. I had the idea of a second career. A second journey to establish a consulting company based on Customer Experience. My new goal was to become the world’s foremost authority on the subject.

Five books later, many keynote speeches, and many radio and TV interviews behind me, I am on my way to that goal.

I have never looked back.

Since 2002, I have learned some truths about starting my own business. Truths every entrepreneur should consider before they strike out on their own, leaving those comfortable, secure positions behind them and being the boss once in for all.

Truth #1:

Fear Should Motivate You, Not Stop You

When I made the decision to leave corporate life. I was scared. I had three kids
just approaching college age and an expensive lifestyle. Was I really prepared to lose all of that?

I had a reputation. I was a success. Would I be in this new role?

There is one thing most people who are considering starting their own business worry about: What if I fail? Or a more specific version: What if I crash and burn, and we lose everything?

It’s a fair concern. It could happen. But it couldn’t happen, too.

For anyone considering leaving a job to start their own business, I would offer one important piece of advice: Being afraid is never the reason not to try. Fear could have stopped me from changing my career and my life for the better. If I had listened to my fears, I might still be in my former position — or even worse, NOT in my former position! But fear is also good. It motivates you to work hard and plan. It drives you.

When it comes to risk, there are sometimes legitimate reasons not to take one. However, fear of failure isn’t one of those reasons. It should motivate you to do your best and take it seriously, but it should never stop you.

Truth #2:

Negative Reinforcement Positively Won’t Work

One of your jobs leading a team is to inspire people to do what you want. Inexperienced bosses think you do this by being firm (and furious) with your
team. That’s one way to go, but in my experience, positive reinforcement works loads better. We all know that old saying, “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” It’s both old and well-known because it’s true. When you are talking about inspiring behavior you like, there is no faster path to it than emotional rewards and positive feelings.

Does that mean your whole team has to hold hands and skip through the meadow? Of course not!  Negative reinforcement has its uses. However, the most consistent inspiration tends to be positive.

Truth #3:

You Have Faults That Didn’t Go Away When You Became “The Boss.”

Everyone has faults (except my wife of course! :-) A joke, darling, in case you are reading this). No matter where you go, there they are. If you get defensive when you are stressed about earnings, you will continue to do that even when the stress concerns your own earnings.

For example, I am not great at interviewing new hires. I never have been because I am easily swayed by people. I want to believe they are as great for the job as they think they are. It’s a fault of mine that I recognize as a part of my entire career, and it didn’t go away like magic as soon as the people I was hiring were for my own company. So I work around it by having others in my organization interview people also. It helps. Fewer bad hires and also a chance for the candidate to get a few different people’s read on the company.

When you blow it, admit it. Honesty is the best policy (nearly always), and especially when you are to blame because of one of your faults. Acknowledge your mistake (or fault), apologize for the problem, and present a plan to fix the damage. This will not only fix the immediate problem, but it will also build a bridge of trust with your team and ironically makes you stronger as a leader.

Starting my own business has been great for me. It has opened doors and provided opportunities for my development and happiness that I might never have had in my corporate job.

When you are considering a big move like becoming your own boss, it’s important to consider these three truths — and crunch a lot of numbers! It’s normal to have the fear of failure, to have to find your stride as leader, and to manage your faults even as “the Boss.”

But another important truth is that I left my corporate job and never looked back in spite of them.

And the truth is you could, too.

If you enjoyed this post, you might be interested in the following blogs:

Colin Shaw is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s first organizations devoted to customer experience. Colin is an international author of five bestselling books and an engaging keynote speaker.

Colin is proud to be recognized by Brand Quarterly’s as one of the ‘Top 50 Marketing Thought Leaders over 50’.


Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter & Periscope @ColinShaw_CX

Colin ShawThe Truths All Bosses Know About Being the Boss

Kate Spade Revamps Retail Experiences to Deliver Brand Values

by Colin Shaw on November 17, 2015

Kate Spade New York has their hand in many types of luxury items these days, from handbags to clothing to fragrance to stationery. Their website claims the brand has 175 shops internationally. Something else they have? A great new retail strategy.

Consumers for the luxury brand can look forward to a change in their experience. According to Business Insider, the new experience is called a “guest journey” and the sales associate is now their “muse.”

However, the names are just the start of the changes. The associates (muses) are tasked with not just “making the sale,” but first and foremost to engage with the Customer. In other words, the muses must determine how the Customer wants the experience to go that day, and then deliver that version of it. Muses will now also greet the guest only, but they won’t show product unless asked specifically to do so.

I’ll be honest, today we are exploring the experience of an industry I know NOTHING about, women’s fashion. But I do know enough to see that there is a great benefit to making the Customer feel like they are on a journey—particularly when they are spending the kind of money they are at one of these shops.

Setting the Expectations As High As Possible

Luxury brands, more than most, have set an expectation in the minds of their Customers, and it’s as high as the prices on the merchandise. By revamping the Customer Experience to reflect the brand value of luxury, Kate Spade is joining the ranks of Apple and Lululemon.

One key for a luxury brand is called “aspiration.” When retailers of luxury brands talk about aspiration, they refer to the value the brand name implies in the mind of the consumer. Aspiration is what drives a woman that sees a Kate Spade bag in the window of the shop to figure out if she can stand to eat noodles for the next month to pay for it. Aspiration means that consumers pay a premium to be a part of the brand, and are thrilled about it.

However, to remain aspirational, a brand can’t be too popular—or too accessible. Michael Kors, an equivalent brand for women’s fashion (or so I’m told…) is suffering from too much of both, and it shows in their sales numbers. To maintain their aspirational status, Kate Spade is pulling back from discounting and flash sales this year, a gutsy move in an economy that is still in recovery mode for many.

They also want a younger vibe. Their millennial-focused Kate Spade Saturday Stores closed last winter, but the line will continue in the Kate Spade New York Stores. They have a great new campaign with actress Anna Kendrick, called #missadventure:

The Warm Glow of Meeting Expectations

All of these measures, from calling sales associates muses to hiring a spokeswoman that personifies their target Customer, Kate Spade New York is sending a subconscious signal to consumers. Eventually these manifest into a brand message that sets an expectation for the quality of the experience. And this brand promise will convince a young twenty-something woman to spend her rent money on a great bag. Buying it from her muse, who delivers the experience, I mean “guest journey” she went to the store to have will give her a warm glow—which is great, because she’ll need it when she has to sleep in the park next month!

All joking aside, the idea that your retail experience should reflect your brand values is a tenet essential to creating a great Customer Experience for a Luxury brand. And that’s something that Kate Spade New York is designing their experience to do—in spades.

What other luxury retail experiences deliver their brand promise in spades? I’d love to hear your opinions in the comments below.

If you enjoyed this post, you might be interested in the following blogs:

Discounting a Luxury Brand: The Power of the Attention Cluster of Emotions

Bergdorf and the Subconscious

Apple: Imitation is the Highest Form of Flattery

Colin is proud to be recognized by Brand Quarterly’s as one of the ‘Top 50 Marketing Thought Leaders over 50’.

Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter & Periscope @ColinShaw_CX

Colin ShawKate Spade Revamps Retail Experiences to Deliver Brand Values

You Readers Are So Pathetic

by Colin Shaw on November 12, 2015

“Emotions are contagious. We’ve all known it experientially. You know after you have a really fun coffee with a friend, you feel good. When you have a rude clerk in a store, you walk away feeling bad.”

Daniel Goleman, Author of Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More Than IQ

If you read my rude title, you will be disappointed to discover that I don’t think you are pathetic, but a new scientific study proves being rude to someone is contagious. When you are rude to two people, they are rude to two people and so on and so on and so on. In other words, rudeness spreads faster than a shampoo endorsement between friends in the 70s and it can destroy your Customer Experience.

The study by researchers at the University of Florida showed that during a negotiation exercise when one of the participants was rude, it offended their partner. Their offended partner then took a spiteful action against them (there was a money split as part of the negotiation that could be equal, selfish, or spiteful.) However, what was interesting was that the offended partner was also more likely to be rude to their negotiation partner in the next interaction.

So Why is Rudeness Contagious?

Researchers posit that the rude interaction brings the idea of rudeness to the front of mind awareness. In a second experiment, researchers had participants recognize “rude-related” words. They discovered that when the participants witnessed a rude confrontation between and experimenter and someone who arrived late (it was staged), the participants recognized the words much faster. Moreover, in a third experiment, participants didn’t give people the benefit of the doubt if their comments could be interpreted as rude if they saw a rude interaction beforehand.

As many of you know, I’m British. We Brits have a reputation for maintaining the highest standards of manners and being polite to a fault.

At the risk of stating the obvious, being polite to Customers in a Customer Experience is critical. Even when they aren’t. Monty Python’s Flying Circus demonstrates what not to do as a Customer-Facing employee: (Be warned: there are some insensitivities references to gender orientation in here).


Stop the Flow of Rudeness

There are many instances where rudeness can occur in a Customer interaction. Unfortunately, it can happen on either side. While you can train your employees how to respond to rude employees, there isn’t that much you can do about the Customers. I am going to be speaking about this at Customer Engagement Summit in London on November 26th.

In some extreme cases, you can fire the Customer. The Customer isn’t always right, after all. But you can’t fire all the Customers that are rude in an exchange. After all, everyone has a bad day now and then.

What is important is to give your team the tools to stop the flow of rudeness.  Help them recognize when they are feeling the compulsion to spread the rude on to the next Customer, and give them a way to stop themselves. It can be language to use, a distraction to employ or an escape valve, but whatever it is, it needs to be available to them at the moment. It needs to give them a way to give the next Customer the benefit of the doubt so they can say/do/perform what’s necessary to evoke a better emotion going forward.

It all comes down to Emotional Intelligence. It’s a skill that facilitates better decisions at the moment from your team. And it’s a skill that might save a Customer who is having a bad day from having a bad experience with your brand. Because you know they will tell two friends, and then they will tell two friends, and so on and so on, and so on.

If you enjoyed this post, you might be interested in the following blogs:

Training Employees on Nonverbal Clues

Employee Engagement and ROI: Are Your Employees Happy and Motivated?

Hire People with a High EQ

Colin Shaw is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s leading Customer experience consultancy & training organizations. Colin is an international author of five bestselling books and an engaging keynote speaker.

Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter & Periscope @ColinShaw_CX

Colin ShawYou Readers Are So Pathetic

Distraction is the Enemy of Productivity

by Colin Shaw on November 10, 2015

In this series, professionals share their secrets to being more productive. Read the posts here, then write your own (use #ProductivityHacks in the body).

Consistent productivity doesn’t happen by chance. Productive people have a secret to their productivity: Eliminate distractions.

Were you hoping for something more complicated?

It isn’t complicated. Being productive requires the elimination of things that keep you from getting things done. Distraction is the enemy of productivity.

Productivity is Not an Accident; It’s a Formula

The Formula for Productivity:

Productivity = Discipline = Completed Project

Completed project = (work time – connectivity – Toxic Influences) engaged team support

No one just happens to be productive and get everything important done on time and budget. It takes Discipline to eliminate distractions. And Discipline results in a Completed Project. In other words, productive people use discipline to complete projects by eliminating distractions.

Eliminating distractions requires each of the three Ds:

  • Disconnect. They reduce interruptions to facilitate focus on the task at hand.
  • Detox. They eradicate factors that create challenges or obstructions to progress.
  • Develop. They invest in the right resources to facilitate a more productive environment.

Let me share a few examples in some different contexts to help illustrate what I mean.

Disconnecting Connects You to Your Work

When you need to focus, you need to disconnect from your “connectedness.” Several years ago, entrepreneur Sethi Maneesh hired people off Craigslist for $8 an hour to slap him whenever he got off task. It worked; he increased his productivity to 98%. He credits this having someone keep him on track during the dull bits and bounce ideas off while working. Harvard Business Review’s blog published a post comparing the effects of our global connectivity to the delayed gratification marshmallow test from the ’60s. In that famous test, researchers presented a marshmallow to kids and asked them to wait 15 minutes to eat it. If they waited, researchers told them they would get a second marshmallow. The author compared waiting for the second marshmallow to resisting the urge to take in “blips of information” during your work.

You and I know that these blips can take the form of calls, texts, emails, meetings, status updates, pics, or tweets. When I need to get work done, I disconnect doing the bare minimum of correspondence or browsing feeds to focus.

Detox or Derail

If distractions are the enemy of productivity, motivation is its best mate. When you feel motivated, you get projects done. Recently, I powered through the final stages of my next book, which has been lagging a bit over the past few months. Why all of sudden the productivity? Simple: I was motivated to get the bloody thing done!

However, motivation is a fragile thing at times. The slightest things can sometimes derail it, derailing productivity at the same time. Sometimes it is derailed by unavoidable problems, personal emergencies or health issues. Other times it is derailed by a toxic influence. I wrote a while ago about toxic employeesand how they poison the culture at work with their demotivating banter disguised as “being realistic” or “playing devil’s advocate.” While there is nothing you can do some derailing influences, ridding your work zone of toxicity isn’t one of them. So if you sense that there is a toxic influence derailing your productivity, create distance as soon as possible.

Develop Your Team

Another important factor for productivity is having the resources available you need. Having a team that helps pick up the ball and contribute to the project is a major part of success in productivity. My team provides support and insight that help keep us on track for our goals. I always say, none of us is as clever as all of us. We use the intelligence we have a group to make better decisions.

However, your team needs to be developed, invested in if you will.Aetna’s CEO Mark Bertolini invested in his team to help them be more focused at work by raising everyone’s pay to $16/hr. He did it to “make sure they brought their best selves to work every day.” The idea was if his lowest paid employees felt more financially secure, they would be able to handle their job better than if they were worried about money. For your team, it might not be money that you need to invest to develop them; it could be freedom to make decisions or own a part of the project.

When it comes to getting things done on a consistent basis, it’s safe to assume that this is no accident. The people that do this on a regular basis have a secret—and it’s time the rest of us knew it, too.

What would you add to the list? I’d love to hear your insight in the comments below.

If you enjoyed this post, you might be interested in the following blogs:

The High Cost of Emotional Labor

Do You Have a Secretly Toxic Employee Problem?

Change Your Mindset for Greater Productivity

Colin Shaw is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s leading Customer experience consultancy & training organizations. Colin is an international author of five bestselling books and an engaging keynote speaker.

Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter & Periscope @ColinShaw_CX

Colin ShawDistraction is the Enemy of Productivity

What My Boss Taught Me about Leadership

by Colin Shaw on November 3, 2015

Let me set the scene. My career was plateauing. I had done well, but things had started to get a bit stale. Then, I had a meeting/interview with Neil Hobbs. Neil would have the biggest impact on my professional life.

Neil had a reputation of being a tough boss. He set high standards and expected people to achieve them. He didn’t suffer fools gladly. I was nervous. The meeting went well. I told Neil what I thought about the organization both good and bad. And it seemed to hit the right chord–Neil offered me the role of running Marketing then and there.

To say I felt surprised would be an understatement.

After working for him for a while, I realized Neil spotted hidden talent in people, talent they didn’t see themselves. I was no exception; he saw something in me I didn’t see myself. He gave me the confidence to express myself and encouraged me to take risks. It turned out to be the break and the environment I needed to find my stride as a leader.

Neil wasn’t an easy boss as he was demanding, and rightly so.  He was tough, but in a good way. He removed me from my comfort zone. He set high standards and expected me to deliver. He forced me to do my best work, and never accepted anything less than my best effort. His style of management was inclusive, but also you knew who was boss. He had an ethos of debate and then decision. His phrase (which I often use today) was, “Once we agree, we do.”

But let me be clear: to the outside world he was a tough businessman. To his team, on the other hand, he was protective, understanding, and loyal. He would put his neck on the line for you.

I remember on one occasion I had taken a risk and things had gone wrong. He didn’t chastise me but instead applauded me for trying. Then, he went out of his way to protect me, putting himself in harm’s way politically as he did so. As a result, I would have walked over hot coals for Neil.

He took great pleasure in seeing the people he spotted moved on to bigger and better things. He moved me from Marketing to Customer Service, which was quite a surprise for people. This position, incidentally, set me on the path to Customer Experience.

Despite his tough exterior, there was nothing he wouldn’t do for one of his team. He was exceptionally loyal and protective of everyone. These traits inspired loyalty from his team. In some ways, you could say he established a cult. Now I realize the word cult normally has a negative connotation, but it can be good. In other words, if you were a square peg, Neil made sure you were in a square hole.

Key things I learned from Neil:

  • Take a risk on people; it can pay huge dividends.
  • Be fanatically loyal to your team.
  • Be approachable.
  • Be demanding and push people to do their best work.
  • Build a ‘cult’ in your team.
  • Think outside the square.

To this day, I believe a great part of what success I have, is down to Neil for which I thank him. I hear him in the back of my head when I am managing my team or presenting to an audience or listening to a client. I ask myself what Neil would do when faced with a tough decision. I hear him questioning my reasoning when I argue a point with myself. His wisdom, fierce loyalty, and demanding demeanor shaped me into the leader I am today. I can only hope to live up to his estimations of my ability and be the leader he always believed I could be.

Who in your career has made the greatest impact? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments below.

If you enjoyed this post, you might be interested in the following blogs:

Colin Shaw is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s first organizations devoted to customer experience. Colin is an international author of four bestselling books and an engaging keynote speaker.

Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter@ColinShaw_CX

Colin ShawWhat My Boss Taught Me about Leadership

Yoga Pants Can Realign Customer Experience

by Colin Shaw on October 29, 2015

Lululemon is a brand with a loyal cult-like following, but Customers began to sour on the Lululemon brand last year. However, the buzz is anything but sour on Lululemon these days. And it’s because they are realigning to their Customer-center.

September 1st, the high-end yoga-wear maker introduced their new Pant Wall. The new fits are arranged according to how they feel when worn, rather than the silhouette as it was in the past. The new pants range from Tight fit to Relaxed and include other fits such as Held in, Hugged or Naked.

I realize of course that I am not the target of Lululemon, since I would never wear yoga pants (you’re welcome!). They certainly wouldn’t have my size. And if they did, the sight of me wearing this is enough to put everyone off their food for a week! However, the last fit description sounds interesting, to say the least!

The new fit descriptions are designed to help Customers know which fit is appropriate for what activity. The new wall is in response to Customer Feedback that they were confused about how the pants should fit and sometimes bought them too big. The Pant Wall was designed to help Customers feel less confused in the store more satisfied with their purchase after they leave.

The Customer response to the change seems to be positive, according to analysts. They are upgrading the stock and forecasting a positive turning point the brand by the 4th quarter. Morgan Stanley upgraded LULU, predicting that the stock will continue its success in earnings for 2016.

The VOC is the Key

So what does this story show us? It shows us two things. First, that listening to the Voice of the Customer (VOC) is an important part of your brand strategy. Second, that incorporating what you hear in the VOC to your Customer Experience pays off for your bottom line, a.k.a. stock price value rising.

An important part of your success (a.k.a. stock price value rising), is having a few ways to keep in touch with the VOC. Lululemon has a few channels in place to listen to the VOC:

  • There is the Ambassador program, designed to give local athletes and brand ambassadors a way to weigh in on the product lines.
  • Then there is the heylululemon.com site (also called their feedback page) where they invite their Customers to make suggestions and submit ideas.
  • There is the Guest Education Centre, where they answer all questions and concerns via email, live chat, or call center.

They also do roundtable research at the store level. One of my work associates emailed me recently regarding a recent experience she had with Lululemon. When she was invited to an event at the store, she thought it was a party with drinks and snacks and would feature an exclusive preview for new products. However, it turned out to be something much more rewarding. Here’s what she described:

“…Don’t get me wrong, there were drinks and snacks. However, I, along with about 10 other people, had the opportunity to not only network a bit, but also sit at a round table where we were asked about our lives and what inspires us, as well as our thoughts, likes, and reasons for shopping with Lulu.  Then, they offered us a chance to give feedback on our concerns and what they could change and improve (whilst notes were taken by the store and Regional managers of the brand). They also had new products we were given the opportunity to try on and give feedback as well. At the end of the evening, it was also a nice surprise to be given a gift card to shop with them again.”

All of these listening channels are paying off—and according to stock pundits, by next year or even the fourth quarter this year, quite literally.

It’s nice to see a brand remember what makes Customer Loyalty and Retention work. Lululemon had begun to lose their balance with their Customers coming out of their pose as the top Yoga-wear brand.  But by realigning their strategy with a Customer focus and listening to the VOC, they are once again finding their Customer Center, and positioned to take the top spot once more.

How are you listening to the VOC with your brand?

If you enjoyed this post, you might be interested in the following blogs:

5 Ways to Make a Great Impression on Your New Customer

When It Comes to Customer Experience, You Have to Keep Rolling the Dice

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly in Customer Experience Lately

Colin Shaw is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s leading Customer experience consultancy & training organizations. Colin is an international author of five bestselling books and an engaging keynote speaker.

Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter & Periscope @ColinShaw_CX

Colin ShawYoga Pants Can Realign Customer Experience

Customers Emotions are Predictable

by Colin Shaw on October 22, 2015

Science has begun to predict the intensity of emotions in others with accuracy. This fact is important because when you can predict emotions, you can also plan for them in your Customer Experience.

Why do we need to plan for emotions? Simply put, because then we can manage them in others when necessary.

Over 50% of any Customer Experience behavior is driven by emotions. Emotions cause you to grab the product further back on the shelf to avoid people’s cooties and they are why we buy fishing lures we don’t need (or maybe that’s just me).

We’d like to think we buy rationally, but we don’t. It’s emotional and because of that, we assume it’s unpredictable. However, science keeps taking steps to gain the ability to predict emotional responses in people.

A study published in the journal PLOS Biology out of Dartmouth reveals a way to predict human emotions based on the subject’s brain activity. The Dartmouth team found an accurate activation pattern of negative emotions that estimates how negative a person will feel when they look at upsetting photos. The findings are important for treating people with mental or health disorders, and, on a higher level, for understanding how your brain generates emotions. Moreover, because the pattern they mapped out works “remarkably well” with new participants, it shows emotional responses are similar across large groups of people.

These scientific discoveries translate into helpful prompts for how we handle the emotional moments in our business transactions. Let me explain.

In business, there are times in a Customer Experience when things don’t go well, and it is not your fault. Let’s say there is a weather delay during the holiday season and you work at the airline that now has to inform passengers they aren’t going to make it to their destination. You can’t do anything about the weather or the fact that the news is going to generate stress for passengers.

Here’s where predicting the intensity of negative emotions comes in handy. When you predict the emotional response of your Customers, you can prepare to deliver the news in a way that helps mitigate the impact for the Customers.

Stress is caused by the strain of adverse or pressure-filled situations. In the case of a weather delay and being stranded at the airport, stress is caused by not knowing what to do next. A way to mitigate this is to have resources available that help passengers figure out what to do next. Maybe it’s a referral to another airline or car rental agency. Maybe it’s a drink ticket for the local bar. Whatever it is, it should address the problem of “what to do next,” so it can soften the intensity of the stress the passenger feels during their experience with you.

The idea is that by having a resource available to mitigate the predicted emotional response proactively, you soften the blow of the bad news and create a positive memory for the passenger associated with your airline. And based on the study from Dartmouth, you know those emotional responses will be the same with your Customers.

The key takeaways here are simple: Emotions are more predictable and more common amongst a group of people than you thought they were. When you predict emotions, you can plan to manage them to a better emotional outcome than if you don’t plan. If you work for the airline with no plan for how to deliver the weather delay news to passengers, I predict you will wish you had one of those drink tickets I suggested for yourself.

If you enjoyed this post, you might be interested in the following blogs:

Colin Shaw is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s leading Customer experience consultancy & training organizations. Colin is an international author of five bestselling books and an engaging keynote speaker.

Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter & Periscope @ColinShaw_CX

Colin ShawCustomers Emotions are Predictable

3 Ways to Improve Your Training to the Next Level

by Colin Shaw on October 20, 2015

There are a lot of elements that must come together brilliantly for an experience to be perfect. One essential element often neglected, but essential is the training of your Customer-facing teams.

In my view, there is a great lack of training on soft skills with Customers and when there is training available it is too basic and not frequent enough. There are, however, three major things your training must address to be successful. Fail to do these three and your training will be incomplete, and your experience will be uneven at best.

When you ask any successful company how they train their employees they will undoubtedly tell you some variation of the following three items:

#1: You must understand what really makes up an experience.

To move your training to the next level you need to understand the conscious and subconscious and how the emotional reactions to the experience you provide influence most experiences.  We know that over 50% of a Customer experience is emotional so this is important. This concept is a key part of Apple’s training strategy. Witness their leaked training guide:

Apple Case Study

So there are things one notices and pays attention to (the rational and conscious elements of an experience, like the price or the shipping time, etc.) and then there are the things one notices but doesn’t know how to describe (the emotional and subconscious, e.g., feeling frustrated or hassled, surprised and delighted, or safe or unsafe.) You have to understand how these things work together to create an impression for the Customer on how they “feel” about your experience.

#2: You must provide the right elements to evoke the correct emotion.

When it comes to providing the right elements in your experience to create an emotional response that feels right for Customers, you must first understand what the moments in your experience are. To facilitate this understanding, we always recommend pretending you are a Customer and walking the experience with an Outside-In Perspective. Once you see it as a Customer sees it, you will know what you need to change to get where you want to go. Usually during an exercise like the one I just described, you will see where you are hassling people, frustrating them or possibly even how you are doing things right. Either way, identifying what you have now is the key to where to start fixing the experience to “feel right” to Customers.

#3: You must communicate these moments and train teams how to recognize the signs of how a Customer is feeling.

Theory, understanding, and design are great, foundational elements of any experience. However, if you fail to communicate what you discovered to the people who provide the experience, then you are wasting your time with the first three parts. Regardless of what your understanding and research reveal, it is of utmost importance you take the time to train the people interacting with Customers in your organization on what you have learned. Start by explaining how feelings influence how a Customer behaves, follow up with an example of how your present experience creates these feelings, then propose a way to change those parts of your experience to be better. Many times this means training in empathetic listening, better communication, and specific actions (and phrases) to apply in the most common Customer interaction experiences.

So there you have it, the three elements essential to the success of your training program. First, understanding how experiences work and influence how your Customers behave. Secondly, understand how your experience evokes emotions at present. Finally, help your team reach that same level of understanding so that when you give them the tools to create the right experience, they are willing and able to deliver. Fail to include these three elements and you might as well not have had training for Customer-facing employees at all.

What do you think? What do training programs miss for Customer-facing teams? I’d be interested to hear what you think in the comments below.

If you enjoyed this post, you might be interested in the following blogs:

Colin Shaw3 Ways to Improve Your Training to the Next Level

Customers Want Better Customer Service…or Else!

by Colin Shaw on October 15, 2015

New  research reveals that 98% of U.S. Consumers say Customer Service is important to them when choosing a brand and forming loyalty with it. This situation is not just unique to the U.S. In the U.K., 97% of Customers believe that Customer Service is important to them when they choose where they do business. Furthermore, it also reports 63% of 1,000 U.K. consumers said they have stopped doing business with companies that blow it with Customer service.

According to the 2015 U.K. State of Multichannel Customer Service Reportpublished by Parature and Microsoft Dynamics CRM, it’s not a moment too soon. It’s the law of Customer Experience Supply and Demand: they demand it so you better supply it!

How are companies blowing it? They evoke the wrong Customer emotions during the experience. According the report, the common complaints from those Customers surveyed included:

Feeling Hassled:

  •      Feeling passed around between different agents during an interaction (23%)
  •      Needing to contact a company several times to resolve a single issue (23%)

Feeling Frustrated:

  • Not finding their information or getting resolution online (16%)
  • Waiting on hold too long (15%)

Not Feeling Valued:

  •      Navigating automated systems, feeling unable to reach a real person (13%)
  •      Suffering impolite agents (9%)

All of these complaints correspond with feelings. That’s because over 50% of a Customer Experience is how a Customer feels about it. Organizations that fail to make a Customer feel a certain way during their interactions get dropped by them.  As the numbers show here not feeling valued and feeling hassled and frustrated are the type of emotions that facilitate getting dropped!

We know from our work with London Business School (that culminated in my bestselling book, The DNA of the Customer Experience, How emotions drive value, Palgrave Macmillan 2007) the emotions Frustrated and Valued are two that destroy and drive value, respectively. We normally establish how an organization is performing against a benched market research called Emotional Signature.

Customers are more demanding than in the past about the online presence of a company, too. Of the U.K. Customers surveyed, 92% of them expect a self-service portal on the website for Customer service, with 43% also saying they that portal to be mobile responsive. Sixty-five percent of these Customers also expect a response within 24 hours when they tweet about something to a company.

That’s just the U.K. For the U.S. Report, Parature and Microsoft Dynamics CRM,they produced this infographic:


It’s great that more companies are working on improving the Customer Experience for Customers. The thing about improvement is that it’s a journey, not a destination. Believe me, as soon as you think you have arrived, the destination gets changed again. Companies that didn’t even have a mobile site until last month shouldn’t relax now—they need to make sure it’s responsive to the online self-service Customer portal. Organizations that came up with great new live-agent systems at the call centers can’t relax until they learn how certain call protocols  employed by agents come across as abrupt or cold with Customers calling in for help.

It comes down to this: Customer Experience needs to move to the next level of Customer Experience. And there is always another level to reach.

Customers are a demanding lot. They want the best price with the most comprehensive service, and they want access to all of these things 24 hours a day, seven days a week—on their smartphone! However, the truth is, organizations better give it to them. In today’s competitive and global marketplace, if Customers don’t get what they demand, they aren’t in short supply to go somewhere else to get it.

Are you ready to move your organization to the next level of Customer Experience?

If you enjoyed this post, you might be interested in the following blogs:

Colin Shaw is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s leading Customer experience consultancy & training organizations. Colin is an international author of five bestselling books and an engaging keynote speaker.

Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter & Periscope @ColinShaw_CX

Colin ShawCustomers Want Better Customer Service…or Else!