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This business coaching lesson teaches the importance of quality control and how candid feedback can improve your business.

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Featured Coaching Excerpt - Notes & Transcript, Part 1
  • Candor: Unreserved, honest, and sincere expression
  • Lesson Nugget: Everyone needs to hear praise, but it is important to the growth of your business that you hear criticism.
  • Ask Yourself: Do you seek out criticism for your business's quality?
  • Notable Quotable: "If you don't know what you don't know then you can't grow." - Arthur Greeno

coursera for customer service training


-What's going on guys? My name is Daniel McKenna. I'm the executive producer and official captain of the hype squad here at Thrive 15.

Today we have Clay Clark speaking with Arthur Greeno about the magic of candid feedback in this customer service training. Specifically, we're talking about that candid feedback that businesses don't usually have.

If people aren't willing to shoot you straight, you don't know what's actually going on inside your business. Once you have that magic of candor-- that candid feedback --you actually know what to improve, and what needs to change, and what actually works with what you're doing.

Today's lesson could be super valuable for you. At Thrive 15 we believe that knowledge without application is meaningless. Unless you take the time to actually learn something and then apply it to your life and your business, today's lesson is going to be more meaningless than hiring a four-fingered hand model. It looks weird and it freaks out the children.

-Arthur Greeno, how are you my friend?

-Great. How are you?

-I'm doing super well. I'm kind of that zone of super wellness where it's almost too good. You know what I mean?

-I do. I do.

-Now a real quick, a quick story. Tell the folks at home what you did with alligators yesterday. Because this doesn't relate at all to quality but I think we need to know you are in fact a human and not just a quality Nazi. Tell them what you did with the alligators yesterday.

-Well, you know we did what everyone does with alligators. We brought 'em to the house and we threw them in the pool and we let all my employees come over and swim with the alligators.

-Just real talk though. You actually took real alligators--


-And then you tape their- what is it called? A snout? You taped their snout?

-I don't know what it's called, but we taped it shut.

-Their beak? You taped their mouth shut.

-Their teeth.

-Their teeth. And you threw them in. How many alligators were in the pool?


-Two. This is just the kind of thing that he does. That's just real talk there. So.

-Do we need to have a PETA disclosure here?

-Now we're going to segue right into--


-Quality. And about how candor produces quality products and services.


-Now, Arthur, a lot of people watching this I know we have either we have employees or we either have a business or we want to start a business. And when we want to do that what happens is is that we ultimately have to convince a group of people to work with us to help us achieve our goal. As opposed to against us to keep us from achieving our goal. And so we have to be candid with our people in order to help the company improve.

And so I'm going to read the definition of the word candor as written as described by Webster. It says unreserved, honest, or sincere expression. So, Arthur in your mind why is it so important for business owners and managers to seek candid feedback and constructive criticism from the actual customers?

-Well I think that if you don't know what you don't know you can't grow.

-If you don't know what you don't know then you can't grow. It's like a hip hop artist.

-[BEATBOXING] OK. Don't. Never mind.


-Stop right there.

-OK. That's just-- that's us. Just, we're just down with the hip hop. OK.

So, what you're saying though, is it you want to seek out the feedback. And so if your chicken doesn't taste good you want to know about it.

-Absolutely. I want to know as fast as we can. And customers are actually really good at giving you candid feedback.

-So, Arthur in your mind why do most people struggle with being candid about the-- like, say example--

I know you have customers that you've said don't have a problem telling you that they're upset.


-And there's also a bunch of data that talks about customers who are not upset or customers who are upset won't sometimes tell the restaurant. They'll just go somewhere else?


-Why is it that some customers won't tell you that the food's bad and will just go somewhere else?

-Well, I think some of it is they think that either we're not going to change it or they think that, you know, it's confrontation and they don't like confrontation. Or that we'll be upset by it or they might hurt our feelings about it. There's a number of reasons on why they wouldn't be candid.

-You started owning your own Chick-Fil-A store when you were 22?


-Is that right? How did you train yourself to actually seek out the criticism from customers? The feedback as opposed to just wanting praise all the time? How did you train yourself? How did you get used to that?

-Well, OK, first of all it is a process of getting used to it. There's no liking it. I mean, we want to hear praise. I mean, one of our biggest needs as people is to feel accepted. When somebody comes up and says, I ate at your restaurant and your chicken sandwich tasted like chicken jerky, you don't want to hear it. You know? But you have to hear it.


-Because you can't improve and you can't fix things if you don't hear it.

-If you're watching this right now and you've kind of slid into this justify culture, I know that I did this with my business for at least the first four or five years. Where anytime someone complained it was because they did something wrong.


-So if a customer ever said, well, the reason why-- hey I was very frustrated your DJ was not very entertaining. Then I'd be like, well it's because you obviously don't understand the word entertainment. That's what I thought. You know, I always was thinking well it's obviously because you're weird. Or obviously because of--

But at a certain point through much mentorship and much failure I learned that I had to seek criticism. To actually say, well, could you tell me what your expectations were and maybe where we were and kind of how we missed the mark?


-And just learning, it helped me so much. I started, I remember I will never forget. I asked one lady, I said, well, when you said we've missed the mark what do you mean? And she said it just wasn't professional. I said well could you maybe define that for me? I just want to know exactly what we did wrong.

She's like, well you're DJ showed up about 30 minutes late, you didn't follow my playlist, and she made this big list of things. Well, I started realizing that was almost an epidemic within our company where these same problems were happening week in week out but no one was telling me.

And so I had to kind of learn to seek out that


Watch more customer service trainings at Thrive15.com

Featured Coaching Excerpt - Notes & Transcript, Part 2
  • Lesson Nugget: Make sure you are watching your competition and hearing from customers about problems so that you can put in systems to fix them and grow your company.
  • Lesson Nugget: Being candid with your employees will strengthen the relationship you have with them and will get the problem fixed faster than sugarcoating it.


-Now as a business owner, I know it's hard to deal with the candid feedback from customers. But the business owners that I've consulted, the business owners that I've met who are the top level entrepreneurs actually have got to a point where they want to know. They don't want to know like it feels good, but they want to know--


- --because it helps them grow.


-What systems have you put in place so that you hear from your customers, and you hear that feedback from them? And what kind of things have you put in place so you have a pretty good pulse as to how they're feeling?

-Sure. One of the things that Chick-fil-A Incorporated puts on is it's a process where we survey our customers. Now, there's pros and cons of that. There's that the customer gets to let us know how they're doing. It also compares us as a chain. So I can know if the store right down the street from me, if they're having better scores in their drive-through, and they're saying their drive-thru's faster, we can-- I'll send my employees to that drive-through and say, hey, find out what's going on with those guys. Let's figure out what they're doing right. And so Chick-fil-A does that.

But then I've also, on our level, I've lived in Tulsa for many years. And I know a lot of people in Tulsa. And in fact, just the other day, I got a text from one of my friends about what happened, about his drive-thru experience. And we immediately sent that to my store. We printed it up on a document. And we put it up for-- to share with the employees, and say, guys, here's where we missed-- we dropped the ball. And I'll be honest, we dropped the ball all over the place on this one. And so we had to kind of relook at our procedures.

-I will say this, the one thing is I think a lot of people really struggle with this. But I just want you to get over-- if you're watching this, I don't care if the company's Thrive where we're producing entertain-- where we actually are traveling around the world interviewing some of the top entrepreneurs in the country, or producing this entertaining education. Whether it's Thrive, whether it's your local church, whether it's at college, whether it's the business you own, the business I own, we all are going to miss occasionally. We're all going to miss the mark. We all-- everybody's going to make an error.

And so, it's not a deal where you have to be perfect. It's more of a deal where you strive for perfection. And when you miss, you need to know about it right away so you can fix it.

-Yeah. Well, I think Thrive is a great example of that. I remember when we were first starting out how you had taken a crew of people to go do a video shoot. And some of them were not in the right uniform.


-And so you had to-- you learn from that and from the feedback, and you were able to turn around and make a list of this is how we're going to dress. And we had a big discussion about how should we dress, I how we not dress.

-Big. It's big. And this is the kind-- this is learning opportunities. Now here's the issue, though. Here we go. So now you as the owner are good at taking feedback. You're getting constructive feedback from customers.


-You know that as a company you've dropped the ball in some capacity. Now, you have to tell your employees. Now there's two ways to do it. There's the one where you say, hey, Arthur, you're a good guy. You're a good guy. We had a customer complaint. I'm sure it wasn't your fault. But you're a good guy. And you do a great job. And so, I wanted to share with you some feedback they had. And I share the feedback. And then you might respond and say, well, that's not my deal. That's somebody else's deal. That's not my deal. I'm like, OK, well, and then basically nobody ever takes the blame or ownership of it. Nobody improves. Nobody ever knows, because I never really get down to the brass tacks of it. So it's kind of like, I avoid being candid with you so I don't hurt your feelings. How have you learned to be candid with employees when you're giving that feedback to them?

-Well I found that it hurts-- when I'm candid with them and we can get to it and get it fixed and move on. It actually saves our relationship, versus later, I get frustrated saying, we've talked about this four times. But the truth is Arthur was never clear when we talked about it the other 3 times, because I was trying to worry about their feelings. Now, I do think we do have to be-- use wisdom. I had a girl one time who worked for me, and she needed some make up. And I was very young. And I went home to my wife, and I said, I made an employee cry today. And she said, what did you tell her. And I said, well I said, she needed to wear some make up. She goes, how did that go? How did you say that? And I said, well-- and I'll tell you right now, I was not very smart. And I said, well sometimes, sweetheart if the barn needs painting, you got to paint it.

-That's what you said to her?

-That's what I said to her. And she cried. And I went home, and my wife beat me.

-If the barn needs painting, sometimes you have to paint it.

-So I've learned since then that if there's ever a situation like that, I'll call one of my female managers. And we'll agree upon what needs to happen. And I will let them handle it.

-Now is one of your new quotes sometimes if you put lipstick on a pig, it's still a pig. Do you say that? You ever say that quote?

-No, I haven't said that to someone but I've thought it.

-OK. All right. OK. Wow.

-But I didn't know any better. I was like, let's fix the problem. I mean that was my mindset, fix the problem. Let's get on with it, and that's what I blurted out. And it takes practice. It-- being candid with somebody and not stepping on toes is an art that you need to look at.

Featured Coaching Excerpt - Notes & Transcript, Part 3
  • Notable Quotable: "You simply cannot manage people to better performance if you do not give candid, consistent feedback through a system that is loaded with integrity." - Jack Welch
  • Lesson Nugget: If you are not candid with your employees, it will discredit you. They will know they can get away with low quality work.
  • Lesson Nugget: Overcoming the fear of being candid with your employees is necessary to the growth of your company.
  • "Being able to execute is a special and distinct skill. It means a person knows how to put decisions into action and push them forward to completion, through resistance, chaos, or unexpected obstacles. People who can execute know that winning is about results." - Jack Welch


-Now, Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE-- this guy grew GE every year that he was the CEO by massive amounts, widely regarded as one of the top CEOs of all time. He says, "You simply cannot manage people to better performance if you do not give candid, consistent feedback through a system that is loaded with integrity." Why can't you be a manager and be a successful manager if you're not candid? Why, in your mind?

-Because you're not being honest with them. Because this is a problem that you have, whether in your business or with yourself as a leader, saying, hey, I have a problem with the way this person is behaving and you're not telling them. It can it discredits. And the employees know. Most of time, the employees know, you know what? I'll only did that with half-heart. I didn't do it right. And boy, I got away with it.

-I had a move that I used to do, once I started learning to be candid. Any employee who was not difficult, I would be candid with. So any employee who could handle criticism, I'm like, look, you have to do that better. You did this well, but you've got to answer the phone this way. This is how you answer the phone.

And I could be candid with that guy because that guy could handle the feedback. But the exploder-- there's always that exploder in your office who-- you give them any feedback and they're like, well, jeez, I'm being micromanaged. I can't work under these conditions. I would never give them feedback. So I'd kind of avoid giving candid feedback to the exploder and just give it to the non-exploder. How did you learn the art of being candid with your whole staff all of the time? Because you have exploders in your office and if you have the timid people and the people who want the feedback-- how did you--

-Well, what I've found through a lot of pain is that, if I'm living in fear of that person exploding on me, then it never gets fixed. And I can't move on to that level of excellence that we need to have because I'm living in fear. And so to me, it's one of those, let's get past that. Let's move on. So yes, they'll be a pain as this person explodes, but the end result is they work for you. And if you need to remove them from that situation, then you need remove them from the situation.

-Now I want speak directly to you as a Thriver if you're watching this and you're having a hard time being candid. If you cannot be candid with the exploder on your staff or that type A personality, what you're going to end up doing is you're going to end up working for your employees.

-That's absolutely right.

-And so I know at least three or four examples of people right now that I am talking to right now that I've met at conferences, who've called me about some consulting deals. And they have said, I have no problem being candid with anybody except for this person. They blow up every time you try to give them feedback. And so I just kind of don't. And you can't do that because then they end up being the boss. So you got to be candid with all the time.

-You have to.

-Now, I struggled mightily for years to grow my businesses for at least the first four or five years because I just couldn't be candid. I just I couldn't do it. And I couldn't execute my plan because you need people to execute the plan. Now, Jack Welch says this, he says, "Being able to execute is a special and distinct skill. It means a person knows how to put decisions into action and to push them forward to completion through resistance, chaos, and unexpected obstacles."

People who can execute know that winning is about results. Talk to me about how you're able to be candid, to push the idea through even when the team is not excited about it.

-Well sometimes, when you're being candid with someone, it's not your result. Sometimes it's not about how Arthur feels. If we look at customer service data and the customer service data is saying that we're slow in the drive through, it's really easy for me sit down with my team and say, guys, this isn't Arthur saying we got to go faster. This isn't about Arthur's micromanaging me.

The customers are stating you're slow in the drive-through. So what do we need to do to improve that? And so, when you have those levels-- we talked about this earlier-- when you have those levels of quality reinforcement in there, then it's really easy to pull the data.


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