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This business coaching episode explains the components of excellent customer service.

Results-Focused Training, Tools, and Workshops from Expert Business Coaches.

Featured Coaching Excerpt - Notes & Transcript, Part 1
  • Lesson Nugget: Being reliable means not letting things keep you from getting your job done.
  • Lesson Nugget: Leave your emotions out of it; there is no upside to arguing with the customer.
  • Believe. Listen. Answer. Satisfy. Trust. - David C. Novak
  • Lesson Nugget: If you aren't sure, give the benefit of the doubt to the other person.
  • Lesson Nugget: If a customer is angry with you, stay calm and never argue. Keep in mind that 99% of the time, the reason they are yelling has nothing to do with you.

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-Now, you say here, a lot about-- you wrote about being reliable. What does that mean, to be reliable? I think a lot of people have excuses that we think are valid. I overslept. I have a head cold. I'm tired.

-Then you're not reliable. I mean, reliability, credibility, setting the example, keeping your promises-- how important is that in life?

-We're going to get into some specifics here. Here we go. You have a grand opening of a hotel at the Disney. You open up a new-- because this has happened a lot. You opened up a new property a new something, and you're supposed to be there. And you don't feel well.

-You're there.

-You're there.

-You have sprained your ankle--

-If you're not in the hospital, you need to be there.

-You sprained your ankle. You can still kind of limp to work, Grand opening, are you there?

-Yeah, absolutely. And Priscilla gets very annoyed at me for doing things like. It's like me driving 1,000 miles overnight. She wasn't very happy about that. But I was there.

And that's two reasons. She knows the reason. First, I'm very compulsive. And first, I have this sense of fear of failure.


-I just can't. I don't want somebody criticizing me. I didn't show up in Africa, where I had five opponents. So I just--

-Just do it.

-Do what you've gotta do.

-Now, you say, "never, ever argue with the customer." Yeah, just, there's no upside to arguing with a customer. And a lot of your customers are going to be really bad people.

-What if they're really wrong?


What if they're really wrong? They're crazy wrong?

-Still, they can-- but don't raise your voice. Just keep it low key, calm. Try to bring them back around. Keep trying to bring them around.

Because again, when this is happening, 99% of the time, what they're yelling about is not the situation you're right they're faced with. They're upset and yelling and screaming because they've got 10 other problems in their life that's driven them. This one little thing see them off.

They're mother is sick, or wife is leaving them. They have foreclosure on their house. All these other things in people's lives is what makes people overreact.

And we told our people at Disney, don't get defensive. Don't try to win the argument with the customer. Because if we win, we're going to lose. And we won't see them again.

Let's bring them around. Our goal is to bring them around, keep them as a customer if we can, and continue to have them come here and spend money. And professionals stay cool, calm, and collected. And parents stay cool, calm, and collected.

-The CEO of YUM Brands, he wrote a system he came up with called BLAST, which is Believe, Listen, Answer, Satisfy, Trust. So if somebody's freaking out at you, if a customer's upset--

-Give them the benefit of the doubt.

-Yeah. Bill Merritt told me that way back. He said, Lee, anytime you're in doubt, go in favor of the guest. He said, Lee, any time you're in doubt, go in favor of the cast member, the associate. Because if you're not sure, give them the benefit of the doubt.


-If you're sure, you can go whichever way you want.

Featured Coaching Excerpt - Notes & Transcript, Part 2
  • Lesson Nugget: Don't ever tell a customer, "No". Tell them, "Let me see what I can do". This gives you the opportunity to creatively solve their problem and make a memorable customer experience.
  • Lesson Nugget: Be flexible and do what you can to take care of customer's individual needs.
  • Lesson Nugget: Why it happened doesn't really matter; tell anyone that wasn't thrilled with your service that you are sorry, and work to fix it for next time.

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-Now, you say you never say no, except no problem.

-Yeah. The problem today, people want that's the first answer people give you. No. Could you order this for me? No. Could you-- here's the key. That's the answer you give 24 hours later. Even if you're not going to do it, act like you are. At least tell them, let me check on this. I'll get back to you tomorrow.

-I went to a print shop recently. I wanted to order Thrive stickers in a circular pattern. And I said can you make these in a circular pattern? The person right away says, no. How should that person have handled that?

-They should've said, let me find out. Let me see what I can do. Let me make some calls. Let me go online and see-- first of all, there's no such-- that's not even true. You can do anything like that.

-That's what I'm saying.

-Yeah. So that person had not been [INAUDIBLE] that we never say no. You know why people say no right away? Because it's first thing they hear from their parents when they're babies. No. No. Get away from the table. No. No. And then they use it the rest of their life. It's the short word.

-It's kind of a lazy answer too.

LEE COCKERELL: And it works in every language, just about. And we say at Disney, you'll get a lot of credit for trying. If you come back a person 24 hours a day and said, I tried. I made the calls. I went outside. We couldn't find it anywhere. I'll continue to look for it, but for right now, we can't do it. You don't have to say the word no.

-When we were-- I was training DJs. People come up and ask for crazy songs. So you can imagine, everyone's dancing, have a great time. We're listening to-- the bride and groom have request an all '70s-themed wedding. And then some guy will come up and go, do you have any Merle Haggard? And if you ever told the guy no, he would get irate. So instead, I would tell the guys to say, you know, that's a great request. Let me just check with the couple to see if we can mix that in. And if we can, we'll do it.

-If they approve it, we'll do it.

-And it was never a problem.

-That's beautiful.

-You know, it was kind of our move there.

You know what song was played at our wedding in Oklahoma--

CLAY CLARK: What's that?

-During the prayer?


-We were having a little nightclub kind of-- because there was no place to have it. It was 25, 30 people. One of those folding doors in a 5 o'clock nightclub kind of place. And an old drunk cowboy put in the song while Priscilla's dad was giving the prayer--


-Your Cheatin' Heart.


-It was the song that starting playing, and we all laughed-- Your Cheatin' Heart.

-There's a certain romance there.

-And the cowboy kind of staggered in to want to be with us. And, it was like--

-Oh, wow.


-I wish you had the wedding video for that. That could be something.

-Yeah, I don't even think they video cameras in those days, it was so long ago.

-Unless you wanted a drawing of that moment. OK, now you said here, be flexible. What does that mean?

-Be flexible. You know. Guest says, I need to have this at 6 o'clock. Try to figure out if you can do that. Don't say, no, it always takes 24 hours for this kind of thing. Even my dry cleaners when I say, hey, I'm going on a trip tomorrow. I'd like to get these back by 3:00, because they don't usually give them back till 5:00. He said, OK, fine. We'll move them up. Just being flexible, not being unreasonable, try. And I don't know if you remember the old days you'd go to a restaurant and they'd say, no substitutions.


-What? What do you mean, no-- today that never happens anywhere.


-You're just flexible. You don't want the fry. You want the green beans. You want the asparagus which cost-- fine. No problem. We're flexible. And I think just in all parts of life, instead of going right to some hard rule, try to ask, can I be flexible?

-What about the idea here of apologizing--

-By the way, the airlines-- Southwest is flexible. Delta's not.

-Well, one of the things on Thrive that's been interesting, and as we've interviewed people and met with people, you hear Southwest, Southwest, Southwest, JetBlue, JetBlue, JetBlue. You hear-- these are companies that people are happy with. You hear Starbucks, Starbucks, Starbucks. You hear them, and then you'll hear the people that people who are not too happy with. And it's common. Everyone in America knows it. And so it's easy to kind of pick on the big brands that aren't successful.

And I think the big challenge for Thrivers as they watch this is to ask themselves in being that company that people don't want to go to? Am I doing the things that-- the things that these big companies that are easy to point out their flaws-- am I as a small businesses owner doing those things?

-Absolutely. I think that's huge.

-Reflection's an important part of life.

-Get that mirror.


-Now, apologize like you really mean it. What does that mean?

LEE COCKERELL: I don't think-- Priscilla would tell you. She said, people don't apologize. She said men never apologize-- but to learn to say you're sorry. And I think she's right on that, and I think about that a lot. When was the last time you had a problem with a business where they just said, I'm really sorry that happened. We're going to fix it for you. What they is say our computer was down, there was a snowstorm.

Nobody ever says, I'm sorry, first of all, that happened to you, sir. Because you probably don't really need to know, or want to know, why it happened. Just say you're sorry. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy your meal. You don't have to tell them the cook is on drugs and we just fired three people back there. Don't tell people all this stuff. We're really sorry that didn't appeal to you, or it wasn't good enough for you... small business management.

-So you don't need to tell people all the details.

-A sincere apology.

-Just say I'm sorry.

Remember when people said it sincerely? And years ago, people sincerely-- don't ever underestimate the power of that word. And I think it's true. It's probably true in our marriage as much as it is in a job or with a customer. I'm


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Featured Coaching Excerpt - Notes & Transcript, Part 3
  • Lesson Nugget: To stand out of the pack and achieve operational excellence, surprise your customers with something extra.
  • Lesson Nugget: Just being "on top of it" and getting your work done quickly can be that "something extra" that people will come back for.
  • Lesson Nugget: The "something extra" doesn't have to be something HUGE. Just something that sticks out as unique that your customers didn't expect.
  • Lesson Nugget: Your move shouldn't be to pressure people into a sale. You should work on being so excellent, the customer would be crazy to not want to buy from you.
  • Lesson Nugget: There is always room for improvement; constantly look for ways that you can improve what you do.

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-So the final two points that-- that you made your booklet that I thought were powerful was one is surprise them with something extra.

-Right. So what? So I gave you books yesterday.


-Was that extra? Did you expect that?

-I did not-- I did not expect that.

-I gave you pens this morning.

-Yeah, I didn't expect that.

-It cost me at least $4.

-And then your wife offered to take us to lunch today.

-She did? Oh my god.

-I will say that-- and I mean this. Growing up, my dad has always had a-- a-- he's always been encouraging of entrepreneurs and stuff. But when you grow up around different people and family members and stuff, some people say things like, well, you know, the rich get richer or the rich are just screwing people over and that's how they made her successful.

But what I have found when we were around Mr George Foreman and we around the founder of Hobby Lobby, we were around yourself, we've around all these different people-- Mr. Robinson, David Robinson, the other day-- it just-- they always have this desire and this habit of doing more than paid for. They always something extra. And specifically, let's say I own a hardware store. How could I give something extra?

-I told a hardware store that the other day. Make sure you have a little something for every kid that comes in with his dad. I don't care if it's a Tootsie Roll.


-You just made that-- guy's going to-- the kid's going to-- dad, let's go back to that hardware store. A little extra? Let me show you how to use this before you leave.

That's what you get in a small hardware store that you don't get in the big brands. Let me come over to your house and help you with that. Let me recommend a good contractor for you. That's something--

-If I'm a dentist-- if I'm a dentist, how can I do something extra?

-I think, as Priscilla said, be on time. Run an efficient office. Come and see the patients and check them yourself, a lot of little things that are different in every place else.

Our dentist happens to be on top of it, man. I mean, they run efficient. They're on time. You're never in there-- when it says 8 o'clock, you're -- you're on at 8 o'clock and it's done. And they run that thing.

-If you're a hair salon, how do you do more than expected?

-You know, maybe it's give them a bottle of some new beverage or a new product. Could be a beverage. When I get get my hair cut, they always have coffee for me or they have-- if they want something to eat or if they want--

-But it's something they don't expect, right? Like, something the customer doesn't expect.

-Oh, and they give me a shampoo. It's like the best. And I tell them-- because she's taught them how to just work on your head for five or 10 minutes and massage.

-Yeah. Awesome.

-And she gets $5 for that when I tip her.


-You know? And yeah, a little extra-- and my business. That's what I said.

I say you can have me the whole day. I'm not just going to fly in and give a speech. I'll do whatever you want me to do.

I'll give five seminars. I have some clients, I said, I'll do three sessions today for you. Because you have trouble getting people in.

So I'll do one at six-- I get one right now. We're going-- I said I'll do it 6:00 in the morning and I'll do it 10 o'clock at night. Whenever you need-- get your People.

And they go, really? I said, yeah. Is that included in the day rate?

The whole day? That's all it costs? I said, yeah, that's how. And I'm still shocked they pay me that much.

-Now, final question is, keep doing it better. What does that mean?

-Yeah, if you ever don't think you can be better, I don't care how great yo are. It's never too late to get better.


-I don't care how great you are. You can be greater. I don't care how great your service are.

Can be better. I don't care how clean your place is. It can be cleaner.

I don't care how good your food tastes. It can taste better. It's never-- to get better.

-We'll leave--

-You can improve your marriage. And I think you think you have a perfect one.

-Uh, no, I do not. I will-- I will say this. In our-- in our marriage, I-- I just asked my wife. We got back in-- we flew in to Orlando.

And I asked her on the phone because she was with me in San Antonio. And I said, hun, did I treat you right? Is there anything I could have done better?

And I try to ask that. I did. I asked her that. And I always ask that because, you know, my wife picks up on things. And she wants me to introduce her and wants me to make sure I pull out the chair for her and treat her like a lady.

And sometimes as a man, I revert back to man bear pig sort of, you know? And so I-- I ask these things. But I always am amazed by how I can get better.

And this time, I got a thumbs up. But usually, there's at least two or three things I can do better. So I--

-It'll eventually become natural.


-Some of these things.

-Well, 12 years in, it's still-- I'm still--

-You're still working--

-Working-- working through it.

-Actually, on our 40th anniversary five years ago, Priscilla said she was going to stay. So I know I've gotten a little better.

-Yes. Ha ha?

-See? So that's-- don't try too hard. That was the last one, actually--

-Don't try to hard.

- --that I put in my book. Don't try too hard.

-Don't try too hard.

-You ever dealt with those people that try too hard to sell you something? Like, you ever try a timeshare? You think some-- Disney doesn't try too hard. We-- no pressure. And we sell more than anybody in the industry... small business management.

-So you say you don't try too hard. The pressure is the--

-Anybody try to sell you a car too hard?


-Or you got to get this today. Tomorrow, the price is going up. You better make your mind up right now because I'm not going to--

-It's the last car on the planet.

-So when people try too hard, we don't trust them.


-So be careful about--

-Applying too much pressure is--

-Don't apply too much pressure.

-OK, don't try too hard.

-Because it can bite yo. Because people don't trust that. We've all

been there.

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