An Interview with Simon T. Bailey
About Simon T. Bailey
Simon T. Bailey is the former sales director of the Disney Institute. He has worked with Microsoft, Chevron, Million Dollar Round Table, Subway, The Conference Board, and has impacted many people around the globe with his ideas about customer and employee engagement. He is the best-selling author of Release Your Brilliance and Shift Your Brilliance.
Simon T. Bailey has had 28 years of experience in the hospitality industry. He’s worked for four major hotel chains, at the Orlando Convention and Visitors Bureau for three years, and for seven years at Disney, with three of those years as Sales Director of the Disney Institute.
Since working for Disney, he has worked with 1,000 organizations and consulted with over a dozen organizations on six continents on how to implement a customer experience strategy that increases their customer satisfaction scores and ultimately impacts their bottom line.
The demand on businesses today to be better, faster, cheaper and more innovative than the next is tremendous. With the shifts in the market and the demands of a turbulent economy, organizations feel pressured to do more with less and desperate to get and retain customers. It’s easy for an organization to feel overwhelmed, exhausted and even hopeless when it comes to meeting revenue and profit goals.
A study by Booz & Co. shows that customers want to do business with companies who are known for their kindness and meaningfulness. In fact, they believe that this is increasingly “human in nature.” And customers want to do business with companies that are aligned with their values of meaning and purpose.
One industry trend can be seen at Starbucks. When a customer buys the next person in line their favorite beverage – no as an act of charity – it creates a momentum in acknowledgement of commonality and humanity. The gesture is smll, but the act is endlessly inspiring. In fact, hashtag #payitforward has become a part of the culture where people can spread love.
Businesses are also branding the employee experience. When IBM celebrated their 100th anniversary, they went to the 158 countries they do business in to ask their employees why they joined IBM. Those employees not only shared their story of how they came to IBM, but also why they are passionate about IBM. IBM has now used those videos as a means to connect with their customers in a deeper and a more profound way. They launched an entire campaign called “I am an IBMer” to celebrate that 100th year anniversary.
According to research by the Gallup organization, human decision is 70% emotional and 30% rational. When customers emotionally connect with a brand, they will spend more and tell other people about it.
Myth #1: Most Customers complain when they encounter a problem.
According to research from Salesforce.com, the reality is that 70%-90% of customers don’t even complain, and they are the ones you should be worried about.
Myth #2: It’s better to invest in marketing and advertising rather than customer service.
The reality is that it costs five times as much to win a new customer as it does to keep an old one. Eighty percent of future customer revenue will come from 20% of your existing customers. So, what can organizations do with their existing 20% of customers to make them feel loved and connected to the brand? Keep in mind, the brand is not the product or service you offer. The brand is an emotion, a perception, and a memory. So when planning about future customer revenue, how are the existing 20% of customers being taken cared of?
- Businesses don’t invest enough time in hiring the right talent in order to create the experience they want customers to have. For example, when Disney hires individuals, they spend the first day at Disney University where they drink the Kool-Aid, sniff the pixie dust, and get a microchip in their head so they can come out singing “It’s a Small World After All.” Joking aside, Disney never sent Simon out to do a job; rather, Disney sent Simon out to create a moment. When the right people are hired, they will go beyond the job description and create great moments for customers. Invest enough upfront time for the right talent instead of a warm body.
- The second mistake to consider is that at Pixar, employees must dedicate up to four hours of every single week to their education. Pixar University is a vital catalyst for employees, who are encouraged to take responsibility for their own growth. For example, an accountant will sign up for an art class. But why should an accountant take an art class? Because it’s in Pixar’s ethos that they want to be more observant of everything. How much are you investing in your employees so they can create the best customer experience?
- The third industry mistake is that businesses do not check in with newly hired individuals within their first 30-90 days to see how they are doing, or even how that new hire would like to improve the customer experience. This is a missed opportunity. For example, The Ritz-Carlton has a checkpoint with employees every 30-60-90 days to see what they are learning and asking what they can do differently or better.
- At the Wynn/Encore in Las Vegas, they impart the power of storytelling. Line supervisors hold meetings throughout the hotel and casino before every shift, three times a day and seven days a week. These line supervisors are the core of the operation. They carry the culture of the institution, they know what’s going on in their area, and how well their people are doing. They might even have 12 or so employees that they oversee. The power of storytelling is that the supervisors are imbedding the chip of that organization’s culture. In that culture, an employee can walk up to a guest and be able to provide them with instant gratification without having to check the standard operating procedure – and to do it unsupervised. Steve Wynn believes if you have people who relate to the customer person-to-person, they will never go anywhere else. It not only benefits the customer, but it also gives the employee pride that the organization trusts him or her to make the best decision on the spot for that customer.
- USAA, which provides financial and insurance services to military families, was the first bank to allow service men and women to iPhone their deposits and have the balance texted to the soldiers in the field. A soldier can simply take a picture of their check through an app, send it over to their bank, and it shows up in their account. This is all because USAA believes in the military and in the customers that they serve. In fact, the USAA employees take their time answering customer calls with love and care.
3 Quick ways to close the chasm:
- How do you recognize what people are doing right instead of what they are doing wrong?
- How often do you shop your product? This can be determined by how people go about doing business with you, how the phones are answered, how the customer interaction takes place, etc.
What are the customer touch points throughout the experience from the moment they connect or engage with your brand? Among those touch points, which of those are opportunities or areas of improvement?
The Connection Blueprint
How Brands #ConnectWithLove:
- Be a Great First Impression: Present an alluring product or service that gets attention and makes the customer want to engage and be curious enough to get to know you better. At Disney, the trashcans are 24 paces apart on Main Street, U.S.A. Why is that important? Everyone who works there is in the trash business. Every piece of trash is picked up and discarded, because the cast members want to give a great first impression.
- Make Your Intentions Known: Communicate regularly and touch base with your customer in multiple ways. Always give them a chance to be heard, because you want to move from communication to connection. Communication is a transaction, but connection is a relationship. The currency of the future is relationships.
- Deliver Consistently: Deliver the same extraordinary product every time. Consistently go above and beyond to show customer love.
How Leaders #ConnectWithLove:
- Have a Vision: Know the “why” of what you’re doing and be clear about where you are leading your team.
- Lead/Serve by Example: Demonstrate through your actions what it takes to connect with love by starting with your acts of service and connection with your team.
- Build Trust: Through confident leadership, sound decision-making and consistency in exceptional delivery, you will automatically earn the trust of your team. Mental Post-it note: Trust is the emotional glue of all relationships, and it’s how we interact with each other that facilitates, builds and supports trust.
How Teams #ConnectWithLove:
- Be Self-Reliant: A team is made of individuals who believe that the whole is greater than the parts in order to deliver a brilliant customer experience.
- Understand your Customer: Work to make sure the team is always thinking about the customer’s needs and expectations. Understand who they are and what pleases them.
- Be Loyal: Using marriage as a metaphor, the best-matched couple will have a failed marriage if one of the pair is disloyal. Create a culture that produces loyalty among the team. Also, choose good people from the start and then treat them well.
How to Create a Customer Love Connection
- Commit: Consistently show your customers that they are loved and you are committed to innovation and new offerings to meet their changing needs.
- Get Feedback: Creating a 2-way communication as often as possible will increase the connection. Whether through social interactions, focus groups or surveys, stay on the pulse of what they are really thinking about your brand. Failure is not final. Failure is only feedback, and feedback is the breakfast of champions.
- Connect Through A Social Cause: Provide an avenue for customers to partner with your brand to make a difference in the world together. This connection will be unbreakable.
Health Central Hospital implemented the #ConnectwithLove Brilliant Customer Experience methodology and realized a positive improvement in their patient satisfaction scores. As a result, they were acquired by a larger healthcare system.
If companies got started with everything they learned today, in 30 days they would see a change in the behaviors and habits of their staff that are closest to the customers, because they would be modeling the desired behavior. In 90 days, they should be able to see an improvement in customer satisfaction scores, and in one year they should be able to realize a bottom-line impact.
- Communicate early and often with what is working and what is not working. Put in place the specific things that need to be improved to fix it and hold people accountable. People don’t like change, but change is a perfect opportunity to grow. Change is a friend – not a foe.
- Chasing consistency is the key to sustaining, and #connectwithlove is an easy and simple way to drive service.
- Measure what really matters.
- What gets recognized gets repeated.
Physical Action Step
Examine your existing customer service standards, procedures, mission and vision. Find out what is working right and what is not working and improve on that.
Connection. Connection is the foundation for customer love, and when an organization possesses that connection and their customers feel loved, they will tell everyone about it.