In the latest episode of Stacy Sherman’s podcast, two leaders of customer experience and service, Stacy Sherman and Dan Gingiss, the ultimate “Experience Maker” come together for a dynamic and insightful conversation.
As experts in their field, they dive deep into the nuances of customer experience (CX), offering listeners tons of actionable strategies such as seamlessly blending CX with marketing, the art of storytelling in customer engagement, and the importance of an all-encompassing organizational approach to CX.
Sherman and Gingiss also shed light on the critical role of leadership in nurturing a customer-first culture and discuss the effectiveness of practical, real-world CX initiatives.
This episode is a must-listen for anyone looking to enrich their understanding and execution of customer experience, providing both thought-provoking concepts and hands-on advice.
Key Lessons and Takeaways As An Experience Maker:
Integrating Customer Experience and Marketing: CX can be an effective marketing strategy. Satisfied customers’ word-of-mouth is more powerful than traditional marketing campaigns.
Passion Drives CX Innovation: A genuine passion for the dynamic and ever-evolving field of CX can lead to more innovative and effective strategies.
Storytelling as a CX Tool: Using storytelling in CX helps in educating and engaging customers more effectively.
Experience Makers in Business: It’s crucial to have individuals or teams in a business who consistently consider decisions from the customer’s perspective, ensuring customer-centric solutions.
CX is a Cross-Functional Responsibility: Every department, including finance, legal, and operations, plays a role in CX, not just the customer service or front-line teams.
Beyond Metrics in Customer Feedback: Understanding the reasons behind customer satisfaction levels is as important as the metrics like NPS and C-SAT themselves.
CX and Supply Chain Linkage: Supply chain issues can significantly impact customer experience, highlighting the need for transparency and communication.
Leadership’s Role in CX Culture: Effective leadership is key in promoting a customer-centric culture within an organization, and leaders should actively participate in CX initiatives.
Becoming Your Own Customer: One of the best ways to understand and improve CX is by experiencing your company’s customer journey firsthand.
Simplicity and Practicality in CX Efforts: Start with simple, practical, and inexpensive CX initiatives. Focus on small, manageable steps to create significant improvements in customer experience.
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Your Role As An Experience Maker
Stacy Sherman: Welcome Dan Gingiss. I am so happy you are here. And as the audience listens through this episode, they’re going to understand exactly why I say that. So to begin, welcome and tell the audience who are you, what do you do dan?
Dan Gingiss: Well, thank you, Stacy. So excited to be here and chat with you every time you and I chat
And so I like to say I live at the intersection of CX and marketing and really believe that customer experience is the [00:01:00] best marketing strategy that companies can have because after all, if we can get our customers talking about us with word of mouth marketing, that’s much more powerful than any campaign we put out there.
So that’s what I do. And I absolutely love it.
Stacy Sherman: I love that you said that and it ties nicely to our mutual friend, Colin Shaw. I had a recent episode we talked about is CX the new marketing, and it was really a debatable topics. I love that you brought up marketing and strategy and CX, because like you, I came from marketing and I fell into CX.
So like you, so question, why, why do you do what you do? What’s your, why your passion.
Dan Gingiss: Yeah, passion is actually the right word. I mean, I got to the point where I was no longer passionate about marketing in general. I just couldn’t get excited about another email campaign or another social media campaign or what have you.
It just felt very repetitive to me. [00:02:00] And customer experience is always evolving. It’s always changing and things around us. What’s happening in the universe affects customer experience so much every day. So it’s one of these topics that seems to be always relevant. And that really excites me because there’s always new examples to share.
As you know, I’m a storyteller at heart. My book has a lot of stories in it because I feel like that’s the way that people like learning. I certainly how I like learning and there’s new customer experience stories every single day. So it’s always exciting and new. It’s always evolving. I don’t think there’s a destination in customer experience.
I think it is constantly a journey and that’s, to me, what makes it.
Stacy Sherman: That’s very well said. I’ve not heard anyone phrase it like that. And it’s, it’s so true. I love that statement. What is one fact that people may not know about you besides being a story teller?
Dan Gingiss: Well, a fun fact is that in business [00:03:00] school, I sort of on a dare decided to join the men’s acapella group.
And I had never sung in front of people before and, ended up making the group. It was a ton of fun and the best part for me being a huge baseball fan is that we sung the national Anthem at three major league ballparks. And that was just such an incredible memory,
Stacy Sherman: incredible experience.
Dan Gingiss: Of course.
Stacy Sherman: To speak our language.
So getting into that, you have focused so much on getting people to understand, like I have your all experience makers. What does that mean in your words?
Dan Gingiss: So the experience maker is the person or people at a business that are thinking through every business problem from a customer’s perspective. Now that doesn’t mean that you don’t think about it from the [00:04:00] financial perspective or the profit perspective or anything like that.
It means that you always run it through the filter of the customer. And too often companies forget to do that. So think about the guy. I have a, just to have a feeling that it was a guy at one airline a few years ago that said, Hey, I have a great idea. Let’s start charging people for checking bags. And then somebody else said, yeah, but we’ve always done that as part of the ticket price, it’s always for free.
And the finance guys. Well, that’s okay. We’ll make billions of dollars. Right? But, nobody ever talked to the customer about it. Right. And, and it became this nuisance fee that of course became one of many nuisance fees. And so the experience maker doesn’t do that. They always consider the customer angle.
And what they end up doing is finding better solutions that are both customer friendly and profit.
Stacy Sherman: I love that. And I believe that CX professionals who work in any size company have to help those people like [00:05:00] finance. I’ll often hear them say, look, I’m not the frontline. I have nothing to do with the customer.
I said, oh yes, you do. You have a CX job. You know why? Because if the customer’s frustrated paying their bill, Guests who has an impact on that. Right. And, and the whole bill and pay stage of the customer journey. So what you’re saying makes so much sense, and I think we’re creating a movement where people feel and own it no matter what role they are in.
Dan Gingiss: Absolutely. And you’re so right about the finance person, about the legal team, about the operations team. Everybody has something to do with the customer, even if they don’t talk to the customer directly. And you’re right. That finance person is responsible for invoicing.
They’re probably responsible for pricing, for payment terms, for the types of payment mechanisms that your company accepts. Right? Do you accept every credit card brand? Do you accept cryptocurrency? Whatever. That’s all. [00:06:00] Customer-facing even if it doesn’t feel like it to the finance person and so totally with you that CX is everyone’s job, but the experience maker is really that person for whom it is everything that they think about.
Because I do believe that companies can also make the mistake that if they consider CX to be everybody’s job, it becomes nobody’s job. And if it’s, you know, 5% of everybody’s end of year review nobody pays attention to it. So you still need that centralized team that is focused on every aspect of it.
And again, looks at every decision from that customer lens.
Stacy Sherman: What’s your perspective on people’s bonuses being tied to being an experience maker? Is that a good idea or not?
Dan Gingiss: Really interesting. I suppose it depends on what metrics you’re looking at. I find that the satisfaction metrics like NPS, and C-SAT tell you only half the story, they tell you how [00:07:00] you’re doing, but they don’t tell you why.
And so if C-SAT goes up or down in a month, if it goes up, we all celebrate and pat ourselves on the back, if it goes down, we make rationalizations about why it probably went down, but we don’t generally know why. And so we have to look at first of all, the qualitative feedback from customers, but we also have to look at the business metrics that are representative of customer experience.
So something like customer retention rate would be something that I would goal people on and bonus people on. Are we keeping the customers that we work so hard to aquire? Very often, we are bonusing people on acquiring new customers, which is great, but if they’re out the door in a week, it doesn’t really matter.
So we have to keep them. And I think if you’re trying to compensate people on customer experience, that’s one of the places I would definitely start.
Stacy Sherman: I like that. And I also want to say that companies who are just starting out or [00:08:00] newly engaging in customer experience practices, It’s okay to start with NPS.
It’s okay to start somewhere, but then eventually evolve it and continue to elevate your metrics and your practice. So I believe we’re both saying the exact same.
Dan Gingiss: I mean, NPS is really necessary. You do need to know how you’re doing. Right? You need some measurement that you can compare month over month, year over year.
It’s just that if the end game in NPS is just to put it in a report and send it to management, then it’s not particularly useful because it doesn’t give you any action items, what to do about it.
Stacy Sherman: Yes. We talked before about marketing, finance. Let’s talk about supply chain for a moment. So you wrote an article, have some connections that you’ve been highlighting, the importance and connection of CX and [00:09:00] supply chain.
Tell me about.
Dan Gingiss: So, if you would have mentioned supply chain to me a year ago, my eyes would have glazed over. I would have said, that’s not anything I need to be interested in. And then I met a guy named Scott Luton who is with supply chain now. And Scott really opened up my eyes to the fact that supply chain is a huge impact on customer experience.
Now, I think as customers, we all started to see that during the pandemic when products that we were used to buying freely or now no longer available on shelves. And we got worried about that and we ran into supermarkets and bought all the toilet paper up, right. That’s supply chain. That is a supply chain issue.
And, and you know, all you have to do is turn on any newscast and you know that we have a computer chip. We have a computer chip shortage in the world. It’s affecting car manufacturers and computer and phone manufacturers. And the customer ends up feeling that, right? Because the items that they [00:10:00] want to buy may not be there.
Like they used to be because we can’t get the chips fast enough. So it is really critical. And I think from a CX perspective, it’s about like anything else, communicating with the customer and making sure that they understand, Hey, not just this product is out of stock. Tell me why. Tell me when it’s going to be back, tell me what you’re doing to try to get it to me as quickly as possible, and then customers will understand.
Stacy Sherman: Yes. So I’m dealing with supply chain a lot and what I notice, and one of the things that I’m trying to get everybody engaged is to communicate. That it’s natural that there’s going to be backlog, especially in a, in a COVID world post COVID. The key is to tell the customer that I haven’t forgotten about you and silence is not an option.
So CX [00:11:00] professionals have the opportunity to remind the frontline and the customer to that transparency. I think that’s really important as supply chain is doing their best to be able to manage the demand.
Dan Gingiss: You used the word transparency because it works really across the customer journey. When we talk to customers and are transparent with them, they trust us more.
And frankly, they’re more willing to forgive mistakes. I remember that one company I worked for, we used to find out that the website was down from Twitter because they would Twitter with no faster than our IT department. And I always wanted to send out a tweet saying, Hey, thanks. We know our website’s down, we’re working on it.
We’ll have it up as soon as possible. But the public relations team was like, oh no, no, no. We’re going to alert people that our website’s down and it’s going to look bad. I said, well, they’re either going to find out that way or they’re going to find out when they come to the website and it’s down. Right.
And I’d rather get out in front of it [00:12:00] and tell people and tell people that we’re working on than have them find out for themselves. And what do you think they’re going to do next? They’re going to pick up the phone and call customer service. So we can actually help prevent that by being proactive. And so many companies are afraid to acknowledge when they make a mistake or when something’s broken.
But the reality is we all make mistakes and customers are very forgiving when you’re communicated. They’re not so forgiving when they have to figure it all out themselves. Or you say something’s out of stock, but you don’t give them any other information. They’re going to your competitor to go buy that product.
Stacy Sherman: Absolutely. Customer service often is used as customer experience. People think they’re interchangeable. They’re not, but elaborate. What’s your view on.
Dan Gingiss: Well, I quoted the founder of Zane’s bicycles in my book, who once said that customer service is what happens when customer [00:13:00] experience breaks. And I love that quote because it’s true.
If we had a perfect customer experience, we wouldn’t need a customer service team. Now let’s all be honest. There’s no company that has a perfect customer experience. And, that’s why every company needs a customer service team, but we should be aware of the fact that customer service is a subset of customer experience.
It’s what happens when something in the experience isn’t working to, either the customer satisfaction or their expectations. The good news though, is that it also presents a huge opportunity because it often includes a one-on-one engagement with the customer. And the opportunity for a company to fix what’s wrong.
And I’m sure you’ve seen the same data that I seen that says that oftentimes customers are more satisfied with a company and more loyal after they’ve had a problem that’s resolved than they would have been if they never had a problem in the first place. It is absolutely customer service is one of those moments of truth within the customer [00:14:00] experience journey.
Stacy Sherman: Great explanation, one of the best, honestly, and it’s actually frustrating for me. I don’t know why it’s a pain point for me when people talk about customer service as CX. Does that hit a nerve for you? I don’t know why. Maybe it’s just, people need to understand that it’s different.
Dan Gingiss: At a lot of companies, the customer service team is the only team that ever speaks to customers.
Now I would argue that’s a mistake in and of itself because we, all executives should be talking to customers. Marketers should be talking to customers. We all should be talking to customers. to understand their needs, their expectations or feelings, et cetera. But, in so many companies, the customer service team is the only frontline team quote unquote.
And so they’re looked at as customer experience, but the truth is, and we know this is that from the customer’s [00:15:00] perspective, the experience inlcudes digital interactions. It includes interactions that might happen in the mail or on social media. It includes, you know, all the marketing and advertising that the customer has consumed about the company.
So to a customer’s perspective, it’s not just customer service, but from the company perspective, if they’re the only people talking to the customer, I understand the confusion, even though you and I both know it’s not accurate.
Stacy Sherman: Yes. So we are about action. What are actionable tips? If someone listening says yes, I want to be an experience maker.
I want to do things differently at my workplace today. What would you recommend? What can they start?
Dan Gingiss: I recommend is to become a customer of your own company. This does not happen nearly enough. And yes, it’s more difficult in some companies than others. If you [00:16:00] absolutely can’t become a customer of your own company, then you need to attach yourself at the hip to an actual customer of your company.
Because until you do that until you. Literally walk in the shoes of a customer. You aren’t going to be able to understand what they’re going through because you’re looking at it from the wrong direction. You’re looking at it from the inside out and you need to be looking at it from the outside in. And the only way to do that is to become a customer.
You know, the first day that I joined discover card, I signed up for a discover card. I went through the process, I got the card in the mail. I activated it. I started using it. Um, I looked at my statements. I redeemed my. Did all of the things that customers do. And I ran into pain points and that’s how I knew what to fix because I went through and experienced it myself.
That’s absolutely key. I think the other thing that most companies don’t do and they could do very easily. This was another trick from discover that I thought was brilliant. Once a month, they required all Directors and above [00:17:00] to attend a call listening session. We would attend altogether as a Director..
The incentive was when they said Directors and above, they meant CEO CMO, all the executives were there. So you want it to show up. Right. And we’d listened to usually in an hour, four to five, randomly selected calls from a specific area of the business. Maybe credit cards, maybe student loans, whatever it is.
And then after each call, we would talk about two things. One was what kind of coaching would we provide to the agent? How could the agent have improved what they did on the call and, two, perhaps more importantly, why this customer has to call in the first place? What broke as the Zane cycles guy said that caught in the experience that caused them to call.
And what happened is because all the right people were in the room when we identified that, all the eyes would turn to the person in charge of fixing it and basically say, fix this by the next call listening session. Right. And so I found that to [00:18:00] be so powerful because there is nothing like hearing the literal voice of your customer, not reading it on a report, but hearing them, hearing the angst in their voice, hearing their frustration, hearing their
dissatisfaction. It hits you like right here, when you’re a customer experience person, it hits you when you hear a disappointed customer and you want to help them. And if you can get the right people in the room, you start to build this culture of lots of people that want to help them. And that’s, I think how you, you know, continue moving forward in CX
Stacy Sherman: Talking about culture
it requires really good leadership. I’ve had bosses who did not have my back. And I’ve had really good mentors and coaches. And the good news is that as a boss, myself, I have taken what was really bad, learned a [00:19:00] lot from that and taken the good and then smashed it together. And that’s how I lead and lead with a heart.
My question for you is the time you spent in corporate, what was great leadership? What did that look like to you? Because we know that when the employees feel valued, included, and appreciated, the customer sees and feels it.
Dan Gingiss: Yeah, you sort of, uh, you sort of said it. I always looked at it as the best bosses or the ones that when I came upon a brick wall, they were standing there with a sledgehammer to knock it.
The worst bosses were the ones that were standing there with the bricks and mortar building the darn wall. Right. And so, and I’ve had both bosses as well. And it is so frustrating when you don’t have a boss that helps, you know, everybody gets stuck at some point. And when I was a boss, I always looked. My job [00:20:00] basically is to make it easier for my employees to get their job done.
And because I have more ability as a manager to do that. I know more people, I can, I can get certain executives to pick up the phone where they might not for a lower level person. And so I looked at my job as being the one. To knock down the walls. And the best bosses I had were the ones that did that for me, I will say I experienced in corporate America that the higher I went up in the ranks, the fewer mentors there were for me, even though I continued to be a mentor to us.
Who were younger or more junior to me. And that was a frustration too, because I think everyone needs a mentor up to, and including the CEO, right. Because we all want to grow. We all want to become better. We all need honest feedback. Somebody who’s going to tell us like it is. And I think that’s really critical as well.
And to that end a little piece of advice, we might be getting slightly off topic here, but one of the things that I found to be really using. Because [00:21:00] whenever I wrote employee reviews, I always made sure that every employee got three strengths and three opportunities. And that caused me to really have to think about what is this employee doing really well, that I want them to do more of.
And what are some things that I want this employee to work? I called them opportunities, not weaknesses because everyone has opportunities. And I made sure it was three and three, so that employees didn’t go and chat at the water cooler and say, well, I got three pieces of negative feedback and you, you got four.
So, you know, whatever, I wanted everybody to have the same. So it stretched me as a manager to have to really give good feedback to people. And I found that people really appreciated it because it so rare that someone actually gives you real honest to goodness feedback and tells you how to get better.
And, and most people want to get better. They just don’t know how.
Stacy Sherman: So you are applying CX best practice from even that story, because you know what you are personalizing the feedback. You are [00:22:00] personalizing the interaction, which is exactly what we need to do with customers. So you’re walking the talk, even in just performance review.
Dan Gingiss: I try to walk the talk in everything I do Stacy. So I know, you know, you’ve seen me present on stage when I’m teaching people how to create remarkable experiences, my goal is to create a remarkable experience while I’m doing that. You know, I want to be on stage and have the audience think this guy’s practicing what he’s preaching because I’m having a good time.
I’m really enjoying, this is a great experience while I’m learning something. And so to me, it’s always about practicing what you preach. If I tell people to be responsive in social media, and then they tweet at me, and I know that. Then I don’t have credibility anymore. Right. So it’s really important. And I think that goes for how you manage people as well.
We know that happy employees equal happy customers. We know that we can’t ask employees to provide great experiences if they don’t know what one looks like, because they’re not getting it from their employer. And [00:23:00] so this stuff is all really connected and I always found that the best teams that I managed, I knew I was on and they were on, when we all sort of felt like we’re in this together, we’ve got each other’s back, we’re all peddling in the same direction.
And then, you know, it’s unstoppable.
Stacy Sherman: That’s beautiful. It’s so true. And I know that you walk that talk and people like you, and hope that it comes through for me, is that we’re authentic and we’re real. And there’s no bullshit. There’s really no bullshit because your customer knows it and strangers know it.
Anybody knows it.
Dan Gingiss: For sure. And, you are the same because you have spent and are spending time in corporate America as well. And so we know how it is. We know how difficult it is to get things approved, to get things, to get budget, to get legal approval, to get your bosses okay. And so that’s why when I [00:24:00] recommend actions, I put them through a filter.
They have to be simple, practical and inexpensive. Because, if I give you a great customer experience story, and then I say, you know what, Stacy, here’s a great idea for you. Why don’t you invite all of your clients to a private firework show with live music by Bruce Springsteen. And you’ll be like, wow, that sounds amazing.
If only I had $3 million to do that, right. It’s just not practical and it’s too expensive. And so, yeah, that might be an unbelievable customer experience that everybody talks about for the rest of their life. But is this really going to help anybody listening to your podcast get better at CX it’s not.
And so I really try to focus on stories that people hear and they say, wait, why are we not doing this? We can do this tomorrow. It doesn’t cost me anything. I don’t really need permission. I can just go do this. And I can start making a difference. And I love when people get that aha moment, because customer experience doesn’t have to be [00:25:00] hard.
It doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Stop thinking it, stop thinking of CX as this massive transformation. That’s going to take multiple years and start thinking of it as a bunch of little steps that when you add them together, make big changes.
Stacy Sherman: So well said. Really. It is about those micro moments in, I always say crawl, walk, run, like start simple, get the basics, right.
Forget about the sophisticated technology and platforms and let’s get the basics. Right? Communicate, build the trust, follow through, keep the promise. It’s literally the basics. So what you’re saying is I hope people listening really believe and take action in small ways, because then they’ll keep going.
[00:26:00] They’ll be in the movement and not give up. If I had a bunch of CEO’s in my room, I love asking these two final questions. I have some CEOs, leaders of all different companies in my room. What’s the one thing you would tell them
Dan Gingiss: From the fact that I can help them improve their customer experience.
I would tell them what I said before. I would tell them to be a customer of their own company. And that does not mean having the VIP hotline that you call customer service and you get straight connected to a supervisor. I mean, don’t care that you’re the CEO. Call the toll free number like everybody else. Go through the IVR, like everybody else and experience it for yourself.
I’ll tell you a quick story. That’s in my book. When I was at a previous company that I worked for and you’ll just have to figure out which one I was tasked with creating a video for an all-employee event. [00:27:00] And I brought on a young intern and we had a great time creating this video. And it was all about how a young intern was trying to launch a new product if the company and all of
the ridiculous hurdles that he had to go through in order to do this. And so there’s a scene where he’s meeting with the legal department. And there’s a scene where he’s meeting with the branding department. And, he’s going through every one of these hurdles and the audience is laughing and cracking up because they can relate to all of it.
The only person in the audience who wasn’t laughing was the CEO. And I was told afterwards, he leaned over to one of his VPs and he said, Is it really like this? He had no idea because he never left his office. Right. And so you got to be, even as a CEO, you gotta be in there and understand be in the shoes, not only of your customer, but also of your employees.
And that helps you be a better leader.
Stacy Sherman: Likewise, kudos to the president of where I work. He calls the employees and says, thank you. [00:28:00] I heard the customer gave you a great customer experience rating, and some comments we do thousands of surveys and the president will pick up the phone and acknowledge the employees.
So I agree with you walk in the customer’s shoes, reach out to customers, but also show gratitude to the people that are making it happen.
Dan Gingiss: For sure.
Stacy Sherman: My last question. If you could go back in time, let’s say your 20 year old self, what advice would you give. You. younger Dan, then that, you know, now.
I would tell younger Dan to hang in there because the Cubs actually are going to win the world series.
I love it. That’s great. I haven’t had that answer.
Dan Gingiss: It is probably all I was thinking about when I was 20.
Stacy Sherman: That is great.
[00:29:00] Well, so final bragging moment. Where can people find you and learn more about.
Dan Gingiss: Sure I am pretty find-able. If you Google me. Dan Gingiss. I’m at Dangingiss.com and on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram dgingiss and would love to connect with you.
And again, I am very responsive, love meeting, new people and networking. So please reach out..
Stacy Sherman: And I’ll include your links in my show notes so it’s a low level of effort, as we say in CX speak, to find you. Well, thank you again. I’m so appreciative of your friendship and your wisdom and. To be continued.
Dan Gingiss: Thank you, Stacy.
About Dan Gingiss ~ An Experience Maker
Dan Gingiss is an international keynote speaker and coach who believes that a remarkable customer experience is your best sales and marketing strategy. His 20-year professional career included leadership positions at McDonald’s, Discover, and Humana.
Dan is the author of two books, The Experience Maker and Winning at Social Customer Care, and is the host of two shows, the Experience This! podcast and The Experience Maker LinkedIn live show. Learn more about him at www.dangingiss.com
About Stacy Sherman: Founder of Doing CX Right®
An award-winning certified marketing and customer experience (CX) corporate executive, speaker, author, and podcaster, known for DoingCXRight®. She created a Heart & Science™ framework that accelerates customer loyalty, referrals, and revenue, fueled by engaged employees and customer service representatives. Stacy’s been in the trenches improving experiences as a brand differentiator for 20+ years, working at companies of all sizes and industries, like Liveops, Schindler elevator, Verizon, Martha Steward Craft, AT&T++. Stacy is on a mission to help people DOING, not just TALKING about CX, so real human connections & happiness exist. Continue reading bio >here.