Q: When you are growing up who's someone who you think of who inspired you?
A: I've a long list, but let me start with my mom, and it may sound stereotypical but she raised 6 kids all under the age of 20...she had this unbelievable energy...she never made excuses nor complained, and just had this unbelievable faith and belief in all her kids...[1:29]
Q: And as a result to your mom's strong faith and belief in all of you and you in particular, John, how do you draw on that lesson that encouragement, that role model, that she shared with you back then? How does come through today in a decision today, or way you treat people?
A: I think its believing in people even when it's not easy to...you know when someones failing...one of my kids...one of my employee...[02:40]
Q: What makes it possible for you to continue to believe when people are in a tough situation?
A: Drawin' in my experience growin' up, it wasn't easy to believe in. I was ADD LD, requested to repeat a lot of grades...and my mom always stuck it up for me and she would tell me, I was to do great thing. And whenever we're faced with that situation I always say and ask my leaders to do the same thing, when someone's failing, "let's look in the mirror first," no one came here to fail. No one wants to be making mistakes, we give them all the support and encouragement, confidence that we could. And its usually something we could've done better, you know when we do that most of the time we get rewarded, it kind of the same thing, and that no ones ever gonna give them second or third chances...as I told you I like words, and another favorite word of mine now is 'Encourage'...look at the word, split it up, 'In-courage,' and the new meaning is to put courage in someone else... [03:15]
Q: This isn't your first book, Relationship Economy, what is it that inspired you to say all of these things that I've learned, all of this list that I've put together, all of these processes need to be shared and put it into book form? What was the point when you've realized that Relationship Economy needs to be a book, John?
A: We're in the midst of the digital age, the digital revolution and I love technology...and technology is not the enemy, we weren't using it to eliminate customer experience, the human interaction face to face , and just seeing how the pendulum is swinging so far over that high tech note touch and seeing the ramifications in the digital age is having on us personally and professionally...you know, today's illiterate are those who have the inability to truly make a deep connection with others and you know when you think about that we can all point the finger in us older people like to think that these are the millennial...we are the one who raised them and we're judging them. And number two, make no mistake about it, the lack of people skills that is happening in our society is the responsibility of the business leaders to fix...and that's where it all comes, that's where the best companies I have found are leading the relationship economy by building, marrying digital and human experience to the best outcome. [05:50]
Q: Where do you see that evidence of the fix occurring where businesses have taken responsibility and saying we really want our employees to have great communication skills and people skills because that's one of our values, it's something we really care about?
A: So as we probably know there is a rapid decline in people skills and we're in the midst of the touch screen age and that's not a generational thing, right? We have little kids on iPad and we have grandparents all over social media so across the board our people skills are eroding and lack of interaction is causing us to be relationship disadvantaged and they say the length of social relationships is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes per day, and its not an isolated problem for just the millennial, every generation is a little weaker than the one previous...our digital intelligence is up but our emotional intelligence is down. Leaders are getting younger because our reliance on digital intelligence...Over 40% of our employees have bosses younger than them...younger leaders who didn't have the decades to formulate the relationship skills that must had have and might microwave emotional intelligence....There's no greater skill that can be taught or worked on than the ability to build an instant rapport with others, whether that be an acquaintance, customer, coworker, friend or total stranger. That should be taught in every level of school, at home and in business. Unfortunately its not. And so that's where comes back to businesses have to focus on that if they want to be successful. Because the easiest thing to copy today is technology. Innovation used to give us 12 to 18 months to give our company a competitive advantage. Well, today innovation is all technology and I'm sure though you and your listeners have used the Uber app, I'm sure they've used Rift app. And when I've made those apps black and white you can't tell which one is which, and like I said its the easiest thing to copy if your competitive mind and you come out with some gadgets...that's the easiest thing I can copy. So by itself technology is not the differentiating. So we gotta create three things that I find that companies are dominating the relationship economy are doing. They're using technology to form basic tasks enabling their employees to focus on what's more important. Building relationships results higher customer loyalty, lifetime value and job satisfaction. The second thing is build a culture internally that creates emotional connection with your employees with each other. Right now, in history we've the highest turnover business I've ever had, and there's more job available than people looking, and too many businesses are throwin' up their hands...business leaders throwin' up their hands...that's why we have more turnover...great companies don't have high turnover even in todays time. Cheap play has the high customer satisfaction of all, anyone in their industry. They also have, they also don't pay any better than their competitors. And thirdly they have the lowest turnover of their competitors. Same for American Express, same for all world-class businesses. And finally the third piece to that strategy is to create relationship built in training for new and existing employees because they don't just have it and it can be taught, and if you don't teach it, it can be translated into actions, and it's gonna be cold transactions instead of warm interactions that build loyalty. [07:56]
Q: Where do you draw the line? what kinds of questions do you use to evaluate the line as to where technology ought to have a role in taking over transactions or activities, and where should it stop because now it's starting to erode the fundamental relationship that we have of each other?
A: I'm all for technology that makes companies faster, freein' up the time, their agents on the phone, their advisers can focus on where the expertise really lives, so that could be chat box, and frequently asked questions and scheduling appointment, and all of those things...when I said earlier that technology is not the enemy using it to eliminate the human experience. So there's Fido, a wireless company in Canada kinda like the Verizon Wireless, and they are forcing their customers to use their self-service kiosks to a point where if you don't and you call anyone and you talk to someone they charge 10 dollars in your accounts, right? Same thing with Spirit Airlines, if you don't check-in online and you checked in on the airport with their kiosk, they would say there's a fee that you would have to pay. So there's a significant percentage of the population that wants to speak with someone, and for the ones that don't, when they reach to a certain point that can't be rectified they should be penalized when they need to get help from a human being. So that's where its too much, and its removing the face to face, and I don't engage with that. I'm not loyal to an app, I'm loyal to a human being, and that's what makes price irrelevant, that what makes a brand, an organization I can't live without, not their technology. [12:52]
Q: What are some of the things that you teach, maybe two or three ideas, you teach in your customer service training that is unique, that they wouldn't get anywhere else because it helps them understand the kind of relationship you wanna have with your customers?
A: So everyone has to walk away from most important is how good any company is at customer service, any department, it comes down to their average level of service aptitude - CEO, to the mechanic warehouse, janitor, to the newest employee that's starting next week - and service aptitude is not innate, its not something we're born with, and think of every customer facing new employee between the ages of 19 to 25, they don't high service aptitude. You and I didn't grow up flying first class, staying in a five-star resorts, getting a Mercedes Benz when we turn 16, yet we are expected and we were expected that our employees to give that experience to those kind of clients, guest, patients, whatever...it's not fair...so understand that no one comes to work with high service aptitude. It is not the employees' responsibility to have high service aptitude, it is the company's to train it to them, and that's the soft skills, when most of the company's train them for technical skills. [19:36]
Q: So do you look for people particularly who are dealing customers in the spa business, who had experience in other related industries, or would you...take someone who had three times as much experience or they have six years experience working at another spa because then you would have to un-teach them, all of the bad habits they've learned?
A: Correct...we don't look for industry experience because we...wanna think totally like a different organization...we don't want anyone with an industry experience, very rarely do we want anyone with industry experience, we don't expect, its a bonus, but we don't expect employees to come with high service aptitude, right? We wanna train them what that is, what that looks like, how you build a rapport, how you make a brilliant come back when we dropped the ball, how you show compassion and empathy, and that is all a part of our training, and building instant rapport, that is huge...The art of building relationship has five keys to it. And I believe 4 of the five, can absolutely be trained...so the first one is must be authentic, the second one is having insatiable curiosity, the third key to the art of building relationship is having incredible empathy, the fourth one must love people, and the fifth one must be a great listener. Of those five, I truly believe number four, must love people, must the only one, the greatest training can't help. [21:30]
Q: How do you find that out in an interview?...How do you find indirect ways to identify whether that's something present in them so that makes it the better fit?
A: You have to make the interview process un-gameable...there are several technique...when there's a key candidate, probably the executive level, he takes them, that person for a meeting to a diner that they use all the time...and they purposely have the dinner screw up on the candidates' order repeatedly...just to see how the person handles stressful situations. there's another great technique we've learned...instead of spending six hours with six people, we'll spend one hour with six people, and we'll go around the room and tell us a time where you were above and beyond a customer, and so what the candidates are thinking is whoever has the best answer score the most point, and that's the opposite. We're paying attention to what the others' are doing when the other five candidates are speaking...is he nodding, smiling or laughing at the other candidate said, making them feel really comfortable cause that's what we were looking for, and the last example I'd share with you, we call it the five E's, we call this the Engagement indicator on the interview...do that in 3 seconds, 30 minutes...and the five E's are eye contact, enthusiastic greet, ear to your smile, engage and educate. So we keep track of that o the interview process to see someone who makes eye contact with us, how often they smile...now, I can't stress this enough, I almost don't like giving this example for an interview process because you cannot expect the candidate to be doing these things if the interviewer aren't doing these things. [24:10]
Q: So another thing that you do is you take some of the ambiguity out where people working for you as you've pointed out in the book because you don't say these are recommendations, you have never and always lists. Talk about how you came up with that.
A: Yeah, so we create certain nevers and always that we would never do or always do if the opportunity presents itself. Never point, always show them...why are we making our customers do the work, "yeah, absolutely, let me send you the attachment, let me send you a link." That's pointing. Never say no. You can't say no in any of my companies. They always doesn't mean you say "Yes," a lot of things you can say yes to. Always say yes, "let's work out what we can do," right? It's never a "no." But while we may not be able to make that happen today, here's what we can do. Never say "no problem," its a double negative, it means it's not inconvenient for me to do that for you, or certainly not about my convenience but yours. So always say, "my pleasure" or "absolutely, I'd be happy to." [29:43]
Q: What are energy givers and energy suckers?
A: Energy suckers are vampires...there are people I limit my time be around...the energy givers they raise the confidence of everyone they get in contact with, they're constantly showing gratitude and thanks, give everyone else the credit, the believe in others...they are there for others when they struggle or going through hard times...[33:05]
Q: Are these behaviors can be taught or somebody just this way or not this way?
A: I believe everything can be taught, I was not an energy giver...I have a carpe memento statement...and its what I wanna bring to every interaction I have...five years ago I created my carpe memento statement, it was to "create an energizing moment"...I have it on my phone, I have it on my mirror, in my bathroom, everywhere, my visor...create an energizing moment...and that was almost too easy...but here's the problem my energy was always positive...the harder part was making, what kind of energy I'm bringing. [34:07]
My Quest for the Best Lighting Round [36:48]