What We Can Learn from Extraordinary Companies – Q&A with Michel Falcon

What We Can Learn from Extraordinary Companies – Q&A with Michel Falcon

June 3, 2014
What We Can Learn from Extraordinary Companies – Q&A with Michel Falcon

Customer and employee experience coach and keynote speaker Michel Falcon joined us for webinar on June 17th, and he shared what ordinary companies do to improve the customer experience, and how extraordinary companies like Zappos and Southwest Airlines do it better.

To get ready for the event, we spoke with Michel about what he considers to be the most important customer experience lessons, and where we can look to learn them.

During the webinar, you’ll be outlining what extraordinary companies do to create outstanding customer experiences. Who does it best, in your opinion, and what’s the secret to their success?

We all recognize Zappos, Southwest Airlines, and Amazon for delivering exceptional service that has helped them grow their companies into world class organizations. I believe the secret to their success is that they invest in their long term vision and are always innovating on behalf of their customers to improve the experience. Many organizations create an exceptional customer experience, then stop innovating. It’s important to never remain satisfied with the status quo, even when things are going well.

I’ve spent years studying companies. My main focus is finding the next great companies that are going to recreate the customer experience within their industries. Last year, I spent time studying Uber and Airbnb because I recognized that they are leveraging a more efficient customer experience to disrupt their industries and improve the customer experience. In fact, I recently blogged about a few companies that I’m very bullish on this year—I predict they’ll really disrupt each of their industries because of their technology and their customer experience.

Before you became a coach and speaker, you worked at 1-800-GOT-JUNK?—what was the most important customer experience lesson you learned during your time there?

While at 1-800-GOT-JUNK? I was introduced to a couple of quotes that resonated with me and changed the way I operate:

1. “People don’t fail, systems do.”
If your employees aren’t delivering the level of service you expect then perhaps your training system is failing you, and not the employee. Or, maybe there is an opportunity to improve your hiring process. Either way, if their team isn’t delivering Zappos-like service, I coach companies to look themselves in the mirror and ask the hard questions before assuming it’s because of their employees.

2. “Inspect what you expect.”
I share this saying with anyone who will listen. Many organizations assume that their company is delivering exceptional service, but how do they really know without investigating? I coach CEOs and leaders to sit within their contact center and listen to live calls. At 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, it was common to see the founder and CEO of the company taking calls and speaking to customers as if he was an agent; it was very admirable.

What’s your customer experience spirit animal and why?

I’d have to say a giraffe, because their long necks allow them to see the entire landscape. I’m a very curious person who asks a lot of questions. To put it another way, I want to know everything. When leading a team, keynoting an event, or coaching a client, I challenge people to always ask questions to better understand the behavior of their customers, their likes and dislikes.

There are several ways to do this, like a VoC (Voice of the Customer) program. But don’t simply rely on it to gather “customer intelligence.” There are other methods to try. For example, there is tremendous value in conducting a mystery shopper program and hosting Customer Advisory Board meetings to become closer to your customers and improve the experience.

Watch the recording of our Zen Master webinar with Michel Falcon: Improving the Customer Experience: What We Can Learn from Extraordinary Companies