S4e6 The Customer Emotional Connection Edition with John Patterson
James chats with John Patterson, founder and President of Progressive Insights a member of the Chip Bell Group. He has over 30 years of executive leadership experience in the hospitality, business services, real estate and financial services industries.
He is the co-author of three books with Chip Bell including the award winning international best seller Wired and Dangerous; How Customers Have Changed and What to do About It. His articles have appeared in Customer Relationship Management, Incentive Magazine, SBusiness, Quality Digest, Customer Service Excellence, M World, Sales and Service Excellence, and Leadership Excellence. He has appeared live on ABC News and Fox Business.
A leading authority on leadership, customer loyalty, and service innovation, John’s consulting practice specialises in helping organisations create cultures which effectively deliver great customer experiences that drive loyalty and bottom line growth.
They discuss referrals and long term relationships, service vision, how customers are changing, free holiday meals, loving up your customers, loyal customers as advocates, and devotion.
James Nathan 00:55
Hello, and welcome to The Only One Business Show with me your host, James Nathan, and today back in the studio with a really fantastic guest for you all the way from Atlanta, Georgia. And I say all the way because it’s a long way from where I am in England, but maybe not so far from you. This gentleman is the Founder and President of Progressive Insights, a member of the Chip Bell Group. He spent over 30 years in executive leadership and having…. well building leadership experience in the hospitality, business services, real estate and financial services industries. He was also a supply officer in the US Navy, and holds a graduate degree in business from Darden School at the University of Virginia, as well as a BS in business administration from the Citadel, not a guy to be messed with. He’s the co author of three books with Chip Bell, including the award winning international best seller, Wired and Dangerous – How Customers Have Changed and What To Do About It. He’s also been in…. you name the magazine, basically, but with any of the big customer relationship management style publications, as well as having appeared on ABC News and Fox Business. A leading authority on leadership, customer loyalty and service innovation. His consulting practice specialises in helping organisations create cultures which effectively deliver great customer experiences and drive loyalty to the bottom line. I don’t think we could, we could ask for more than that. And a client list he’s given me here which is basically just a who’s who: McDonald’s, Popeyes, Sodexo, the list goes on and on. Please welcome John Patterson. John. Hi, how are you today?
John Patterson 02:34
Great, James. Thank you. And thanks for having me today.
James Nathan 02:36
Oh, it’s a pleasure. Your client list is impressive, John.
John Patterson 02:39
Thank you. Appreciate that.
James Nathan 02:42
I don’t think there’s an answer other than thank you is there to that to that statement.
John Patterson 02:45
No, I love it. You can say it over and over.
James Nathan 02:52
And long may it continue. We were chatting, just before we went live to talking about, you know, business at the moment and referral. How important is customer referral to you?
John Patterson 03:03
Oh, it’s, it is my lifeblood to me. I mean, as we said, when we were chatting before, the selling process turns into something very easy. When you have a very happy, satisfied, ecstatic client, who says, you know, these people, you need to meet these people. And then the better part as an advocate, is that referral source go into the client saying, Listen, you need to talk to this guy, he can really help you. And it’s just works wonders, as you will know. And that’s really what’s kept me busy.
James Nathan 03:40
It’s a wonderful, wonderful thing. Well, how did you get into into this area? How did you how did you start in and how did you progress in customer experience and customer?
John Patterson 03:52
So I worked in operations on the real estate side, apartments, hotels, that kind of stuff. And I always enjoyed the customer interaction and really trying to figure out how do we deliver consistently a great experience really got me going. And when I decided to go out on my own, I had used chip Bell, in an order in a publicly traded company to help us do what Chip and I do, and was just absolutely amazed with what he brought to the table. So I went to see Chip, he was living in Dallas, Texas at the time, and we kind of hit it off. And I said, you know, I’d like to see if we can partner on this. And he said, well, go find some businesses that we can do. And you know, it’s just one of those things, James that a guy who had worked for me in a past life called me up and said, hey, I need some help with this. Can you guys do it? And I thought well, I can do it with Chip’s help. So I took that to him and it was our first engagement was a company in the travel business that did not have a good reputation and wanted to get a good reputation. So we needed to change the experience, which was a terrific engagement. And then on the corporate real estate side, that’s really a continuation of some stuff I did when I was with other companies. And part of my responsibility was corporate real estate. So just kind of fell into that and had some brokers call me up and say, hey, would you do this? And you know, as anybody who’s an entrepreneur starting something new, somebody says, Would you do it? I said, what they pay me? And the broker said, yes, they would, I said, then I would do it. And we’re off and running. And so it’s evolved over time. And the two disciplines are different enough. So they tend to peak at different times, which is great. So I have a little bit of anti cyclicality if that’s a term built in to the business, and you know, Chip and I’ve been fortunate over the years to watch the business grow, to do some international work, et cetera, we just had a client, James, bring us back. And we realise that the first engagement we have with this client was in 2006, to the day, and we’ve done work with them off and on at different levels over the years, but it was great to go back and see how some of the people had developed, how their business has changed and help them take it to the next level.
James Nathan 06:35
That’s a long time.
John Patterson 06:36
It is it is and that is what gets me out of bed in the morning.
James Nathan 06:41
Well, you know, you’re talking to a guy who still thinks 30 years ago was 1970, you know, so. And so what was it about Chip, you said, you were amazed by what he who he was what he was doing? What was it that struck you about him?
John Patterson 06:56
Well, I’m going to read you his service vision. And because I think this says a lot about Chip. So it’s the service vision, which is a picture and words of the kind of experience you want employees and customers to have. Each and every time they interact with one another or with your firm. And the service vision of the Chip Bell Group is to provide selected clients with relevant service wisdom, they experience is incredibly empowering, surprisingly, as simple as delivered through a valued partnership. And if we break it down, James, what Chip is saying is selected clients, it’s the ones that are committed, because you know, culture change, as I know, you know, is not easy, takes longer than you think and makes people do things they haven’t done before. So we need that…. selected client is a dedicated client, he’s understands, this is a long term effort. And we get to hang in there. Relevant service wisdom is all about taking customer experience wisdom, and shaping it for the particular company, industry area that they are in, we want them to experience it as empowering. We want the empowerment to go from top to bottom and back up again. And usually, what we need to do for the customer experience is surprisingly simple. The implementation of it, it can be difficult. And certainly if technology has evolved, you have to be very detailed and understand what’s going on. But it is surprisingly simple. And the last part is delivering through a valued partnership. And that example I gave you a minute ago about starting in 2006. With somebody I’d say that’s a pretty good partnership we got going.
James Nathan 08:48
Oh, yeah, absolutely. And so when you when looking at the you know, the title Wired and Dangerous – How Customers have Changed and What To Do About It. How are customers still changing?
John Patterson 09:01
Yeah, it is amazing. They’re changing so fast. And I know you and your listeners know that customers are more powerful than ever before. And a lot of that has to do with the wired portion. And the ability to find a platform, a social platform, and tell people what you’re doing, how you feel about things, et cetera. So the feedback comes faster, and it’s louder. I think one of the key things to understand is there, way more choices out there than there ever were before. For customers and customers are better at selecting than they’ve ever been before. So that means the competition’s tougher. But we also know that customers are faster to leave. They are fickle. So when they used to, we used to say you probably have three strikes, maybe have four before they’re gone. Right now you might not have one because a fair number of customers. I believe it’s 68%, if I remember in the research correctly, are checking you out, before they they even make a purchase or interact with your company, because there’s so much good information.
James Nathan 10:12
I’m surprised us as little as that.
John Patterson 10:15
Well, it, I think it will grow, because it gets easier and easier that you have it. And I think there are a fair number of people who haven’t gotten out of the old habit and into the new habit. But they’re changing, they’re moving fast.
James Nathan 10:30
And is it? Is there more choice? Or is there more access to that choice?
John Patterson 10:37
We think there’s a little bit of both out there. We think there are more alternatives to look at. And there’s no question to your point, that the access to those people is way more and way more easier than it was before. Absolutely. So we’re more selective, you know, quicker to leave, they’re fickle. They’re loud. And that’s, again, that’s to have so many platforms, you know, we need to make sure we’re listening to all those platforms, and reacting to them, and we’re doing it in an effective way. And customers today, expect a great experience every time and they expect one that’s personalised meaning, you know, enough about them to personalise that experience. I mean, say what you will about Amazon and some of its culture and leadership challenges, but they sure know a lot about me. They sure use it well. And, you know, I sure spend a lot of money with them.
James Nathan 11:41
Well, you know, that… it’s very true, because the customer experience and the simplicity and access to whatever you need, whenever you want it within 24 hours is pretty extraordinary.
John Patterson 11:50
It is, it is and you know, they’re doing some within 12 hour delivery stuff now, which is just absolutely amazing.
James Nathan 12:01
Well, you know, I talking about that, you know, it’s gonna be a few years ago now, because I live in rural Oxfordshire, so I’m in a country town right in the middle of nowhere. I’m on the railway and the rest of it, but it’s pretty much you know, it’s, it’s a small place, we don’t have it, we have a lot of taxi fare out here. You know, there’s no buses, it’s tiny. But I can get same day stuff. You know, it’s an order, I can order some paper from my printer in the morning, and it will drop on my desk in the afternoon. And that’s quite amazing. You know. So from from a, from a seamless, I want this, can I have it sort of perspective, they’re incredible. But they’re, they’re also pretty good at handling problems, aren’t they?
John Patterson 12:37
They’re amazing. You know, my wife asked me to order a new Kindle for her, because she couldn’t find her own one. So I did, and it came and of course, then she found her old one. And she said, I don’t want it. And I’m like, okay, no big deal. And, you know, click on the, click on the site, tell them you’ve got to return, they asked you why you’re returning, boom, they authorised return, they email me the, the label for the box, and then boom, I’m off and my refund is showing up the next day. To your point.
James Nathan 13:12
It’s good, but it’s not well different in that that’s everyone’s doing that now aren’t they?
John Patterson 13:16
A lot of people are doing it, I think Amazon takes us to a little bit of a different level. In that in when I say that, it’s like, sometimes I tell you to return it. And I’ve had other times when they say just keep it, thank you very much, and they refund the money anyway. So, you know, if you remember Zappos in its heyday, and is still out there, you know, you could order as many shoes as you want and return as many as you want. And so I think sometimes organisations miss the importance of the return. There’s a lot of great information if you understand why stuff’s coming back. And if you mine that stuff, and make changes based on that the customer is giving you unbelievable feedback and insight and really would like to see you use it to make their experience better.
James Nathan 14:14
It’s intriguing. You said to me just a few moments ago, you said Amazon know a lot about me. You know and some people like that and some people don’t and you know, there’s no doubt that that information is power, it’s never been any different. But the insights that businesses take from that are quite extraordinary. You mentioned Zappos, you know on this on this podcast, Zappos, Southwest, Nordstrom, you know, you name it, we…. Disney, we talk about them. They’re all extraordinary. They make a very good…. they are they are exceptionally good at understanding their client and working with their client. You know, I’ve got people…. I know people who won’t fly southwest. They don’t want the razzmatazz, they just want to be left alone. Well, great. Don’t fly ’em. You know, but if you like that kind of experience, then that’s perfect for you. It’s good to talk about these big businesses. But how about the smaller ones? Who do you Who do you work with? Or who have you come across where you’ve had, you know, you’ve noticed something a bit different, they’ve worked with you in a really personal way that you’ve loved, who would you maybe talk about?
John Patterson 15:16
You know, there are two companies would probably talk about one is a tyre store, where you take your automobile. And they have captured the customer’s licence plate. So when a customer comes in, for service, and parks their car, the people in the store, type in the licence plate, so when you walk in the door, they address you by name, right, and you’re like, wow, that’s awesome. I haven’t been here that many times. And it just stays at a high level, the whole time that you’re there. And so you, you know, for them to pull that off, you know, they’re focused on it. Second one, is a small chain of bicycle shops that I’ve worked with over the last few years. And these are, you know, mid level to high end bicycles, and the customer experience is number one. So they have an obsession, when you pull your car up, and you’ve got a bike on the on your bike rack on the back of their car, they’re out the door to help you get that bike and get it in the shop, see what you need. They follow up with their customers after they buy a new bike to make sure the bike is right for them nope, you know, they have a 30 day, no obligation return policy with the bike. And there’s no hassle on that. So it, it’s all up. And I know the owner, who’s an amazing entrepreneur and uses Absolutely, the word customer comes out of his mouth, every other sentence. And he will accept nothing but great experiences, which is what you have to do. If you want to get there.
James Nathan 16:59
Okay, well, you mentioned bicycles, and you know, bicycles are a thing which people have a passion for. I mean, I think my Sioux Indian name would be you know, happy on two wheels. You know, if it’s got a motor as an I just love, or I love anything like that, you know…. when purchasing a bike is a, it’s, it’s no longer buying for transportation, it’s bought for fun, and there’s a passion attached to and I can imagine that people who run that sort of shop or get and build a business around leisure cycling would have that passion, whereas tires, you know, tires are something we need, arent they. Quite interesting to hear. Yeah, because that trick of knowing the name is something that’s lovely. I mean, I remember I worked for Hilton Corporation, when I was a student, as a barman. And you know that the guys on the door who did open the car door and take the luggage from the boot. But they’d always open the boot first and look for a luggage label so that they could then know the name of the person and welcome them as they opened the door. And I thought that was such a neat trick. And you’re talking about just taking that one step further to actually well, we’ve got some technology that will help us with this.
John Patterson 18:07
Well, you know, it is. I mean, your customer really wants you to show that you care. I mean, indifference and customer experience today is deadly. And so, you know, it’s a little thing, but it’s actually it’s a big thing to the customer. When you’re able to recognise that customer. Let me tell you about an interesting place. That’s really kind of my favourite restaurant and it’s not expensive. It’s a southwestern menu, you walk in you stand in line, and have a drink while you stand in line. You walk up to the cashier, you place your order. You go sit down, it’s called Taqueria Del Sol. I’m only there once a week and usually with some of my family but I’m a regular there and so most of the staff knows my name. And so they greet me by name. But once a year over the holidays James Taqueria gives all of his regulars a free holiday meal. You never know exactly when it’s coming. You sorta know when it’s coming and there is a no holds barred deal so you know when we get to that period of time I’m sure I have five children so I’m trying to take as many of my people and their spouses and significant others and all that and you know pitchers Margarita and all that. Taqueria has no problem with that. But what makes it work is a. the surprise aspect, b. the list of regulars is developed by the line staff. And I think that their fingerprints are all over it because after all, they’re the ones that are closer to what’s going on. But we took some friends with us who had never seen this before and they were like wow, how do you get a holiday meal? So well, you got to work your way up there. Yeah, you got to come off and and they like, well, we’re gonna do that next year and we’re gonna get one. I thought man, there’s some power in this.
James Nathan 20:11
Wow. Yeah. So for the cost of one meal they’ve got a loyal customer every week, wow.
John Patterson 20:14
It’s unbelievable. Yeah. Yeah, it’s unbelievable. And what a great thing.
James Nathan 20:20
I tell you, the first time that happened, how did you feel?
John Patterson 20:24
Fabulous? Yeah, it was, you know, it was a real high for us. And appreciative. You know, and we know the guys that own it. And we thank them all the time. And you know, they thank us right back. And I don’t know how you know, what the multiplier is on how much I spend to get that one holiday meal. But you know, it’s significant.
James Nathan 20:45
Any, any restaurant would be delighted to have someone come every week wouldn’t they, I mean, most businesses would struggle for them.
John Patterson 20:51
Yeah. You would think and tell people you know about the experience, which we do all the time?
James Nathan 20:58
Yeah. Yeah. Oh, you talked about referral earlier? How often do you talk about the about that place?
John Patterson 21:05
I almost every time I work with a group, it comes up because there’s a guy of syndicated radio guy named Jim Blessing. And he’s kind of has a small business focus. But one of the things he says on his programme every time he talks about the customer, he says, how are you loving up your customers? And that’s just his way of saying, you know, you got to love him up all the time, every time because you don’t know how often you’re going to see ’em. And you need to make sure that your customer is looking for you to treat them with respect, and show them that you care. And never ever take them for granted.
James Nathan 21:47
I think there’s two things there that you just did the last two I like the most, you know, show them that you care and don’t take them for granted. I wonder how many businesses lose customers because of complacency?
John Patterson 21:59
Oh, it’s unbelievable. I’ve got a statistic here. I can put my fingers on it real quick. First of all, you know what’s interesting is 70% of the customers journey experience is based on how the customer feels. But here’s the point we’re talking about only one and 26 customers will tell a business about their negative experience. The rest simply walk away.
James Nathan 22:27
Yep. And I bet you in, you know where I am in Britain, because of the cultural differences. It’s probably higher. Yeah. Because, you know, where I grew up in Australia, if you go out for a meal, and that meal is no good. You tell him, you know. It used to embarrass my, my wife, Mandy, when Mum was over, because we’d go out for dinner and she go hang on a second, this isn’t good enough. And she talked to him about it. You know, she wouldn’t be aggressive. She wouldn’t say I’m not having it. But she say look, I’m sorry, this isn’t cocktail wanted, or whatever it might be. British people aren’t like that. They’re very often….. they will they will….they won’t go back. But they won’t complain. And I think that’s very difficult for businesses because they can’t see… they don’t know what’s wrong.
John Patterson 23:06
It is difficult. I’m sure it is. You know, we we say there is gold, there’s gold in those complaints. If you mine them correctly, make the adjustments you need to make. I mean, it’s fabulous there. But if you don’t, if you don’t know about it, to your point, you know, they’re just gone. The customer has gone.
James Nathan 23:31
I know you talk about, you know, satisfaction or, you know, surveys of customers, customer survey initiatives. I bore people a little bit with this because I have a problem with satisfaction surveys. John, I don’t understand why anyone would want to be satisfied. I only think people want to be delighted.
John Patterson 23:49
James Nathan 23:50
You know, and it’s a you know, when when someone’s not happy? We often we need we need a mechanism don’t We don’t to get them to talk to us.
John Patterson 23:59
We do, we do. If you look at the research, and if you survey people who left a business 75% of them will tell you they’re satisfied. And so that to your point, satisfaction does not get us much of anything today. What does is like you said, delight the customer. Provide the kind of experience that gets you customer loyalty because loyal customers act different than other customers. You know, loyal customers are advocates they sell for you. Yep, they deepen their relationship. They don’t leave as quickly. You know, they’re much more forgiving than other customers. And there’s less anger directed at the front line or your employees like working there better. And employees are proud to work at a place that’s known for delighting the customer. It’s just it’s a better environment overall. Not only for the customer but for the employee and leaders as well?
James Nathan 25:03
Oh, absolutely we know, we know that our staff staff treat our customers the way we treat them. But if the customers are happy and the staff are happy, well, gosh, I can’t imagine what more you’d really want. I know you’ve you’ve talked about customer loyalty there and use the language devotion at times. How do you build that? How do you get customers devoted to you? Or what can you do to encourage them to be devoted to you.
John Patterson 25:30
I think it starts, you know, you asked me about Chip and I read you his service vision. And I think an effort that starts within an organisation that says, you know, what, we’re going to deliver the kind of experience on a consistent basis that does drive delight, does drive loyalty, it starts with understanding what your vision of that experience is. Chip, and I call it a service vision is really a picture in words, as I said earlier, of the kind of experience you want your employees and your customers to have each and every time, no matter where they’re interacting with the organisation. And that service vision has four elements that help you figure it out. They are the leaders vision of where you’re going, employees value for the organisation, what customers value for the organisation. And then taking those strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats out of your strategic plan, and looking at what applies here. And one of the things that really gets the effort off is deciding, let’s say we use a five point scale, do you want to be a five, like some of those organisations you were talking about before, and like Southwest and Disney, etc, you wanna be a five or four, or a three, which is three being average. So wouldn’t recommend it to us, we’re going the wrong way. And one is we’re out of the game, pretty much totally. But you have to create a target, an understanding of where you want to take the experience. And then you have to build alignment around that target. And get leadership involved. Get some quick wins as you change the culture. And then build some standards and norms that help people know what you’re looking for, and how to deliver on that. Change your metrics. So they reflect where you’re going and look at your processes and make sure they reflect where you’re going as well. Not something you do in a day or a week or a month. Takes a lot of time to do this, and take the organisation to a new level. But the payback, as we know, is phenomenal. It’s absolutely phenomenal.
James Nathan 27:55
John, there’s been a whole lot of good stuff to think about there. And hopefully, and I certainly have people listening and making some notes and thinking right, what can I put into action? What are the things that these guys have been talking about? Where’s my opportunity to move my business forward. But if I was to ask you for your one big piece of advice, one golden nugget, one thing that people could do today to make their businesses better for today and better for the years to come? What would that be?
John Patterson 28:24
I think it’s a great question, James. And I think one of the things to remember is that customers are looking for an emotional connection in the experience. And so delivering a constant, consistent experience across all channels and maintaining a positive emotion connection consistently, is critical for building employee and customer trust. And in order to do that, you got to know the customer very well well enough to anticipate their needs, and beat them to that destination. There’s a great quote by Maya Angelou, you may have heard this, I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel. And so understanding how you’re making the customer feel across all those different channels that we use today, and making sure it’s aligned with where you want to go, is what I think you need to do. And that’s the nugget, I would say.
James Nathan 29:26
John, that’s absolutely fantastic and a brilliant way to finish up. Thank you so much for taking the time out to chat to me and, and all the very best.
John Patterson 29:35
Same here, James, thanks for having me. It’s been a real pleasure.