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This episode is all about the customer and is full of so much important information that’s going to be very valuable to you and your business.

Listen in as I interview Tema Frank, author of People Shock: The Path to Profits When Customers Rule.

Tema is an author, consultant, speaker and teacher on the customer experience in the digital era.

Show Notes

Most businesses want happy customers, but overall customer experience ratings are dropping. Why?

The Amazon effect. The bar for customer experience is set very high and that’s what customers expect from all companies.

What can businesses do to improve customer experience?

Promise, People, Process

What should we do if people say negative things about us on social media?

Already be pro-active so your fans can come to your defense. But if you aren’t on a specific social network and find out there is negativity being said about your company, get on that network ASAP and speak to the customer. Try to have them take the conversation offline.

How can we win back customers who’ve left us because our service wasn’t great?

Contact them, admit your mistakes and let them know you are implementing changes. Ask them for feedback and ask them for another chance.

How do I convince the people I work with that we have to change things to serve customers better?

Understand what’s important to them, how can you help them so they can help you?

How can I inspire staff with a mission when the work we do isn’t earth-shattering? Making graphics isn’t going to solve world hunger!

You’re helping people accomplish goals, so you are changing the world.

What is “design thinking” and how could it help our business?

Start designing your business based on market research. Talk to people and come up with a solution on how your service or product will solve that problem.

We ask our customers to fill out surveys but they almost never do. How can we get more customer feedback?

By reaching out personally via phone call or personal email instead of sending a mass email or posting on social media.

Contact Tema

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Welcome to the show Tema. Thank you. I’m happy to be here. Tell us about yourself outside of your business well outside of my business I live in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada where it has been known to snow in every month of the year.

But I do love to travel for work and for fun, especially to Europe and and southern France and tell us about your business and how you got started my business right now I do consulting and speaking and teaching in the field of customer experience in the digital era. And I kind of came about it in a roundabout way. I started in bank marketing many, many years ago. And one of the things that I learned from that experience was how important your frontline staff are, and that the frontline staff, no matter how friendly and happy they are, if you don’t have your act together in the back end, there’s a limit to what they can do as far as customer experience goes. Then the second step on my journey was with the creation of web mystery shoppers in, which was really the world’s first company to test customer experience on the web, as well as all the offline channels.

To see if companies were offering consistent experience, and I really did that to try and bring it and marketing onto the same page, because in those days, this was in early 2000s, it usually controlled the websites and marketing and it often didn’t see eye to eye. And then more recently, I’ve sort of come full circle. And I have brought those two items together, as well as my interest in workplace issues. I wrote a book about 20 years ago called Canada’s best employers for women. And one of the things I learned is that the best for women are great for men too, even though the reverse isn’t always true. So my new book people shocked really combines all of that because what I’m saying in that book is that you need to treat all the people who interact with your company really well if you’re going to succeed. So that includes your staff, as well as your customers as well as your suppliers.

Peters, the public the whole range of people who your business can affect. I love that. So I have a few questions for you that are going to be based off of what you talked about in the book. Sure most businesses want happy customers. But overall customer experience ratings are dropping. Why do you think that is? I blame it on what I call the Amazon effect. And the Amazon effect basically is Amazon does so much so well. So they have really great prices. They have almost infinite selection. They’ve got really fast delivery, they have driven the bar so high in terms of customer service and customer experience, that it becomes really, really hard for other companies to compete with that level. And yet, that’s what customers have started to expect. customer expectations are getting higher and higher and higher. And companies are just struggling to cope with that. So what do you think we can do to improve the customer experience well

The way I position it in the book is really I think there are three P’s, the three p profit formula that you need to get right to make it work. And those three are the promise the people and the processes. So the promise is, what are you doing in your organization? And why? What is it that motivates you and your staff? What is it that ought to motivate your customers that you hope will be providing something special, and what are the values of your organization. So you really want to start with figuring those things out. Because if you have a clear sense of those, it’s going to make all the other stuff easier. So then the second part is people in there, you want to look at your internal people, which is your staff and the external people, which I mentioned already, people like customers and prospects and suppliers and distributors and stuff and you want to as far as your staff goes, you want to be finding ways that you can listen better

To the front lines, and as far as your customers go, you want to find ways to listen better to them, customers and potential customers. Because I think often companies just kind of float along thinking they’re doing fine. And then they’re shocked when customers leave, because they haven’t really kept in touch with them to find out how are they really feeling. So a lot of it has to do with communications. And then the third part is the, the processes and so what happens is a lot of companies say, yeah, we’re going to provide really great customer service, but then they don’t think about what do we need to change internally to make that happen. So as I said, you know, if you’ve got a great frontline staff, but every time they submit a form to the people in the back office to get something done, it gets lost or mishandled, they’re stuck and your customers around happy so you really need to re examine your processes. And if you do all of those things, then you can bring

Your customer experiences up to a level that will make customers really happy and give you a really strong competitive advantage. What do you think are some mistakes that companies make when it comes to the customer experience? One of the biggest ones is simply just not paying enough attention to their customers. They assume everything’s fine unless they hear otherwise. And by the time they’ve heard, otherwise, it’s too late. So I think that’s part of it. I think another big mistake they make is in not listening to the frontline staff. I mean, it’s kind of crazy that the people who work in call centers are some of the worst paid employees in most organizations, and yet, they’re the ones who are dealing with your customers. So it’s really, really important that you pay attention to what your customers are really experiencing, both by talking to them by observing them and by talking to those on your staff who interact with them and taking their suggestions about how things can be made better. What should we do when someone has a already talk negatively about our company or about us on social media where we can go in and have it removed well, and and you make a really good point there because you do not want to go in and have it removed, because then they’ll just come back, it’s 10 times stronger. So that’s a real drawback. So the first thing is, ideally, you want to get into social media a little bit proactively. So you want to already be in there developing a bit of a support network, showing people that you’re interested in them, and that you’re a helpful member of that social community. And then if somebody attacks you, they’re going to come to your defense. So that’s sort of ideally the first step. If you haven’t been there, though, and somebody start saying something bad about you. You want to get on really fast, and you want to say, I’m really upset that we’ve done something that disturbs you, would you be willing to talk to me offline and we can see what we can do to sort this out. So you’re saying publicly

You’re acknowledging that they’re upset. And you’re saying publicly, you know, I’m sorry about that. I want to help deal with it. But you’re trying to get them offline so that you don’t end up with them just blasting you in public over and over. And sometimes you get people who really are just trolls. And that’s all they want to do is they just want to bash you, I would say, Try answering them once or twice, and then if they continue, just ignore them and they’ll get buried. Most people will ignore them anyway. Okay, how do we went back customers who’ve left us because the service actually wasn’t so great. Well, again, I think what you want to do there is start by reaching out so you want to contact those people who were your customers if you possibly can and say, Look, I know we really messed up in the past. Now we’re really trying to change that. Is there anything we can do to try and get you to give us another chance? So start by asking them and ask them you know, what was it that we did that was a problem and do you have something

For how we could improve it. So you’re showing them again, that you are interested in what they have to say you recognize and apologize for the fact that you messed up. And a lot of customers are really quite willing to give you a second try. I mean, if they were your customers in the first place, there was something about what you offer that appealed to them. So if they see you’re really genuinely interested in trying to improve most of them will give you that second chance. And what about the people that we work with? Sometimes we are trying to get a certain process on board, but the people that were working with are not on board with us, how do we how do you suggest we go about getting everyone on the same page? Well, I think it’s really important that you start to understand what the people you work with are trying to accomplish, what are the things they get measured on? What are the things that are important to them, because if you understand what is important to them, then you may be able to find ways that you can help them and if you can help them they’re more likely to try and help you sometimes. Because if you’re the one who’s really interacting closely with customers and listening to customers, you may find their things that you know, that can help them do their job better. So, for instance, if they work in shipping, and you know that there have been a lot of complaints about products showing up broken, you have a way of being able to say, you know what, here’s some ways that I’ve heard that others pack these things for shipping. Maybe we can try that because customers aren’t that happy about it. And this way of doing it may even make your life a little bit easier. So there are ways to try and position it you always want to try and think what’s their perspective how can I turn what I needed to something that’s also going to help them How do you inspire staff if what we do is in exactly going to change the world like I design graphics I’m not like solving world peace with it.

Well, you know, you are in some ways

Almost anything, you can find a way to relate it to what’s going on in the world. So you design graphics. Well, if you’ve designed them, well, you’re helping to accomplish something. You’re either helping a company communicate effectively to potential customers, what it sells, or what it does. And if that company is selling something that’s useful to people, you’re helping people accomplish their goals. So you are in fact, doing something really important. You’re helping make their world a better place. If what you’re doing is strictly artistic. Again, you’re making the world a better place because you’re giving people pleasure through seeing what you’ve designed.

It’s definitely not just artistic. I wish it was though.

Yeah, well, one of those things. Same thing with writing. There’s this hierarchy, the more entertaining and interesting and free flowing creative writing, the less the pay. Yeah, so in the book, you talk about design thinking, what is it and

How could it help us with our business? So design thinking is a process where you start designing based on what you’ve learned about your potential market. So you start off by really going out there and doing some investigation. So let’s say you wanted to design a new form of diapers, let’s say you go out there, and you’d be talking to moms and watching them changing diapers and finding out what are the things that frustrate them about what they’ve currently got. And figuring out based on that feedback. What can we design that would work better for them that would solve their problem better. So design thinking really starts with that customer point of view. And throughout the process of developing whatever it is that you’re going to develop. You’re always thinking does this extra little bit help the customer or doesn’t it if it doesn’t help the customer in some way and I mean that help can still just be aesthetic so you’re designing diapers that have great art on them. Instead of students see pictures, there’s a market for that, right? So whatever it is that you’re designing, make sure that the customer gets something that they value out of it and take that right through the process, right up to and including how you sell those products. Okay, so basically, if I have an idea, it’s doing market research to figure out how it’s going to help the client instead of just going with what I think exactly Okay, exactly. perfect sense. That’s what I’ve been doing. I’m redesigning my graphic design website. And that is one thing that I have been working on because, yeah, it’s always been kind of like a portfolio like, this is what I do. But I want to be more like, this is how I can help you. Hmm, absolutely. Here’s a follow up question to that though. How do we actually get the feedback because sometimes we put out these surveys, we email our list or put it on Facebook and nobody really responds. Oh, and I know that feeling and it gets really frustrating.

And I think to a certain extent, we have to recognize that only some people are going to take the time to respond. So that can be very frustrating. Generally speaking, the best way if you’ve got especially a small number of customers or prospective customers, the best way to get feedback from them is really just reaching out very personally. So instead of sending a survey send them a personalized email or phone them and say you know, I really liked find out about what you personally think and that will increase your response rate. Okay, what is the best way for listeners to get in touch with you what’s your website where can we get your book Great thanks for asking all that so for people who are interested in the book go to people shock calm and when you’re there you can sign up for the people shock insiders list and you will get the introduction and first chapter of the book free as well as some other materials.

I’ll be releasing over the coming weeks and to learn more about customer experience and digital marketing generally go to Frank reactions calm and that’s my website and I also have a podcast that I do called the Frank reactions podcast and you can either listen to that on your favorite podcast listener or podcast player or you can also find that at the website and if you want to reach me personally you can send an email it’s ti m as in marketing a at Frank reactions calm or I’m also on Twitter simply at tema, Frank and on LinkedIn. Well, Tim, I thank you so much for sharing your story with us today. Well, thank you. It’s been a pleasure.


Cindy Rodriguez is the host of the Start Fierce Business Podcast. When she’s not interviewing awesome entrepreneurs, she’s working on growing her startup, going to Disney World with her daughter, or reading a book.

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