At the end of the day, business is all about serving your customers and being good at it. Jill Raff, CEO and Founder of The Jill Raff Group and an experienced customer experience strategist, shares her journey and passion for customer service as she lets us in on her customer experience transformation process. Growing up in the McDonalds family from age seven, she learned the results of quality, service, cleanliness, and value and that the common ingredient for success was outstanding customer experience. Even as the world seems so detached of human connection with everything automated, business should recognize that customers are people first, and Jill tells us more about it.
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The Journey Of A McDonalds Girl with Jill Raff
A Passion for Customer Service
Our guest is Jill Raff, CEO and Founder of The Jill Raff Group. She is an experienced CX strategist and published author. For over 25 years, she has been delivering world-class customer service and experiences. She’s obsessed with helping service-focused businesses develop high levels of customer loyalty, increase repeat business and reduce employee turnover by guiding them to deliver celebrity customer experience. Jill’s work is led by her 7 Ingredient Customer Experience Transformation process. She developed her customer-first philosophy growing up in the McDonald’s family. From age seven while shadowing her father, she experienced firsthand the results of Ray Kroc’s philosophy of quality, service, cleanliness and value.
Her passion, knowledge and understanding have been shaped by global experience and working across different industries. She discovered firsthand that the common ingredient for success was outstanding customer experience. Jill now uses her diverse background to help businesses identify their own issues, fixing them through the power of customer connection and transforming transactions into interactions. Welcome, Jill. One of the most important conversations of the business owner can have is about customer service, because without customers we have nothing. It doesn’t matter if you’re on internet, brick and mortar, whatever business it is, without customer service we’re lost. Can you fill us in how you got there and what you do and how you do it and all those good things?
It’s great to be here talking to you, Art. Thank you for having me on. I agree 100% and I think broadly that in businesses now, there are many of them but not all. Every time I speak to someone and I tell them what I’m doing, they’re like, “I have to tell you about this experience or I have to tell you what happened when I went shopping here or when I ate there.” Businesses are not training their people. They’re not hiring their people correctly. We can go to the details, there’s so much. I am truly obsessed with customer experience because that’s what I grew up with. It makes me insane to go and see how poorly people are trained and the experiences are not good. That companies are not training their people to appreciate that their customers have made a choice to come to you and to spend their time and their money over a competitor. Companies need to build a culture around appreciating their customer’s choice to come to them.
How did you get there? How did that start for you? I know you started with your family in the McDonald’s business, is that correct?
Yes. I know that a lot of people are probably thinking McDonald’s now, their experience may not be so good, which also makes my stomach turn because that is what I grew up with. My parents opened McDonald’s number 150 in 1959. It was early on and Ray Kroc was very deeply involved and he was there at every step. At the time there were only twelve regional markets, even less when my parents started in the business. I know what good service is about and I know how I was raised in it. Truly now it is a part of my DNA. It’s just through osmosis. I saw my dad in the store and how he interacted with everybody from the maintenance man to his staff on the various stations, working on the fry station or the management. I would see him in his office and how he worked with and treated people in his office. I saw firsthand what customer service is and how you relate to people. I was trained in that even early on.Wake up every morning loving what you do, feeling confident that your employees and customers are with you for the long haul, and most definitely passionate about your business. Click To Tweet
I’m the youngest of three girls and being young and seeing my sisters out there working and I couldn’t work. I was really bummed. My sweet dad had me answering the phone. I was seven years old and the jingle at the time was, “Good morning, McDonald’s is your kind of place, may I help you please?” Of course, I will never forget that. He even called a couple of times a day to make sure that I earned my earnings, my keep for the day that I earned my job. If you think about it now, whoever answers that phone there, there’s actually a position for that. They call them customer first impression directors. Whether it’s on the phone or whether you meet someone walking into a brick and mortar place, whether it’s a law office or retail shop, it’s your customer’s first impression of your business. It’s important that if you’re answering the phone, that you smile while you’re greeting them because they feel that smile through the phone. You smile and you look at them in the eyes when you see them. It’s something that I grew up with.
Then as I continued on throughout my life, I worked throughout in the business, throughout various stations growing up, any chance I could to earn some extra money. In fact, when I was older and a teenager, I went to work in the office instead of in the store because I can make more money in the office. It didn’t last very long because I was bored and I missed that customer engagement. I loved working on the register so I could engage with people. I took a pay cut and went back and worked in the store. It’s a part of who I am and every career, every other work that I’ve done, I’ve always thought, “What’s the best interest of the customer? What can I do to make their experience good? How do I meet their needs? How do I solve their problem and do it from their perspective?” That’s the work ethic that I was raised in.
That’s a great work ethic to start at seven. I started selling Christmas cards back in the ‘50s. In the back of comic books, they had an ad that you could buy Christmas cards in July and you could go and sell them. That’s what I did and I earned money that way and I did well at it. What happened with me is it led me to another thing. One day I knocked on a door and the guy looked at me and said, “You’re a spunky little guy. How would you like to have a paper route?” He gave me ten customer paper routes. Within a year, I had turned it into 160 customers and my brother and his best friend helped me deliver papers every day because I couldn’t deliver that many physically myself. I hired them, my older brother and his friend. It was great. I had an epiphany when we were talking, and it was what do you think about all this automated answering stuff right now?
I hate it. Especially when it’s designed in such a way that you have to go through three levels to possibly speak to someone. What’s even more frustrating is it just happened to me. I was calling and I went through three levels and still, there was no option to press anything to speak to a human being. Yet on the website it said, “If you have a problem or it’s an emergency and you need to speak with someone, call this number.” I called that number and there was no way I could speak to a human. I thought, “I must have messed up.” I went back. Sure enough, that’s what it said on their website and it’s so infuriating. That’s the other big thing with what I’m doing is I’m so passionate about it. I’m so obsessed that we need to deliver as a business a great experience but in doing so, we are going back to connecting human to human. Customers are people first and their customers second. That’s super important to remember and we need that human interaction.
Everything has gotten so automated now that it’s taken that human connection away from things and that is irritating. It’s frustrating. It bugs you because you want to talk to somebody to explain because you can’t do it to a recording. You can’t explain what you need and they’ll guide you from one place to another and you never get there.
It’s this endless loop. To me, looking at it from the professional side, what message are you as a business sending to your customer when you send them around this endless downward spiral? What are you telling them? You’re telling them basically you don’t care about their time. You don’t care about solving their problem or their need and who wants to do business with a company like that? They don’t even care enough to at least at some point help you get to a person and make it easy to do so.
That’s a valid point because you don’t want to do business with them but in some instances, you have to. Particularly the medical end of it now because you called the doctor’s office and it’s got an automated machine and it goes through all the stuff and it drives me nuts. After your McDonald’s experience, what was next for you?
Growing up I always had a dream of being a fashion designer. My mom talked me out of going the design route. I’d never done art but growing up I loved fashion. There wasn’t so much designer initially. The way I knew of entree into the fashion world was through merchandising and marketing. I grew up in Columbus, Georgia. It wasn’t like we had high fashion in Columbus, Georgia and so merchandising marketing was the avenue. My mom said, “It’s terrible because everyone’s holidays are going to be your craziest and busiest workdays.” Long story short, I decided to hand down and one thing led to another and ultimately, I came back to deciding this is what I love. I’m going to follow my dream. I went to the University of Texas here in Austin for undergrad. After my undergraduate degree, I moved to New York City and I went to Parsons School of Design for fashion design. I did become a fashion designer and worked for many years for Bridgend Designer in markets as well as in Europe. I worked in Italy as well. I followed another dream there.
People are like, “What does that have to do with customer experience?” Every time I had to design a collection or develop or source or buy yarns because I was a knitwear specialist. I was a knitwear designer. I was always having to think of our target market, who we were selling for whichever collection I was working with. What do they want? What styles? Is it going to be low neck? Is it depending upon the age of the client? Is it higher neck? Do we cover their arms? All these little details, pricing, yarn, construction, duty, wherever it was made and production. There are so many elements. I always had to be thinking of the end goal and that is the customer and what is it that they are looking for. How am I solving the customer’s need or problem in that case?
Did that lead you into forming your own company after that experience?Companies need to build a culture around appreciating their customers’ choice to come to them. Click To Tweet
No, I worked for many years. It’s grueling. It’s pretty much a 24/7 business. Sadly, in my last job I was working for the Emanuel Collection for Emanuel Ungaro and my dad was diagnosed with cancer and unfortunately passed away within six months. It was a very challenging time. It’s already been 24 years. I can’t believe it but it led me to stop and say, “I’m burnt out and I need a break to absorb everything going on.” In that following year, it led me to another love of mine. I’ve always loved food. I grew up in the food business, but I’ve always loved also to cook and to bake and very detail-oriented. I decided to go to culinary school. I went to Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. I had studied some French in high school. I looked into going here in the States, but I thought why go and learn from someone who learns from the French when I can go directly and learn from the French myself and practice my French. That’s what I did and it was an amazing experience.
During that time, I went to London. They had a branch in London and I went from my middle term school there and unfortunately, it was not good. I decided to wait and go back to Paris and finish up my course, but I had an incredible experience of working doing a stodge at Harrods of London in their pastry kitchen. My pastry chef knew the chef there. It was an interesting experience both from the onboarding process. I talked about it in one of the steps of my process. Here I was being trained and onboarded just the same as all those people who are going to be out on the floor interfacing with our customers and yet I was baking in the kitchen. It was amazing. It was a dream come true because I’ve been there once when I was younger and just drooled all over the food halls. It’s an incredible experience.
I’m starting to have lots of thoughts about you. One of the things that I admire is that you’re a doer. It’s one of the things that I preach. A lot of people think it and talk about it, but they never go and do it. You’re a living proof that you can do it and you just follow your dreams in a methodical way. It’s not like chaos. You know what you’re doing when you go do these things that you’ve done. I admire it because so many people don’t do what their heart is yearning for them to do. That’s an awful and beautiful trait to have.
Thank you. I have tried to live my life with having no regrets. We don’t know what tomorrow’s going to promise. We don’t know what’s going to happen in the next life or whatever it is later in life. I felt I wanted to do something like I wanted to learn languages. I’ve always loved languages. I had a friend at the time, he’s still a good friend, but he was multilingual and I was inspired by that. I did have the fortune of doing my junior year in a university overseas. I did learn my first language there. I realized from that experience that to embrace and learn a language, to understand the nuances, you need to immerse yourself in the environment. You need to understand and see the culture and hear how people use it and try not to use your own language.
That’s how I did it. I thought, “How else can I go? How can I make it so that I can go live in these other places for the languages that I want to speak?” It just happened that my fashion design allowed me to move to Italy and work in Italy and learn the language. I studied a little bit before I went, but I couldn’t say anything. There’s an expression in Italian but I couldn’t put two H’s together as they say so throwing yourself in. I was telling people, “Don’t speak to me in English.” I put myself in Rome where people didn’t speak as much English so I’d be forced to do that. I did that with each of the languages that I learned after that studying and also being able to live there.
It’s interesting because a few years ago for my 65th birthday, we went to Italy and I was enthralled by the culture. I’ll tell you what the experiences we had there when we were in Sicily. We were sitting in a little restaurant and we’re looking out across the street and a bus stop. An elderly lady gets off the bus and sits down on the bench. The bus takes off and goes down the road. She gets up and she goes to walk across the street and there’s another bus coming, and she falls off of the curb in front of the bus. The bus driver slams on the brakes. In that instance, I have never seen so many people run out of homes and run out of restaurants. Everybody was running to her. She was very elderly and she fell off a pretty big curb. All the people there picked her up. I was so impressed with their concern for another human being.
I’ve spent time in New York and I’ve spent time in Austin and LA and all of these places. Sometimes you see somebody go down on the ground and no one will stop and help them. In the subway in New York, somebody will go and everybody’s saying, “Don’t bother. Let the people help them.” It impressed me and I love the culture. Then I have a friend that’s up in Florence and she’s a TV host, a news host. She and I have been friends for about seven years. She’s great. She keeps on wanting me to come over. After that experience, what got you into what you’re doing now? How did you come to that?
In the interim, I used my food background towards food styling. I moved back to New York and did food styling. I met my husband later in life and I wanted kids right away. During the food styling time and I was still freelancing in fashion and doing other things, I had a gentleman come up to me also and asked me if I wanted to join his real estate firm. A year later, I decided and I know that I can make a difference. I was in New York City. I’m a Southern girl and everyone always said, “There’s something different about you,” because I talk to people. I looked in their eyes and I connect. That’s who I am. I think that’s a big trait for Southerners. It echoes what you said about your experience living in New York, sadly. I became a real estate agent. I’m now still licensed in New York and licensed in Texas as well. The common thread for me in everything that I’ve done is about serving your customer. In real estate, you’re only as good as your past referral or your past client, what you’re doing. It’s the same thing with fashion, you’re only as good as your last season.
When I moved to Austin, I got my license and I realized I had to start all over from scratch. I thought while I’m doing that, it could take some time to build up. There was a piece of me that felt like I was leaving so much on the table. I would be impacting one person at a time and one person. I didn’t feel that I would be having as large of an impact as I wanted and I wasn’t utilizing the majority of my skills and my abilities. I worked with a business coach and I brainstormed and I put together all my experiences and my skills and my training, etc. I realized what I want to do most is help people connect, help people come back again and see people as people. In a business format, it’s also a way to help businesses profit. It was like a light bulb went off. It was an epiphany. I did have this epiphany of this is my calling, this is my purpose. I had been told before, “You’re a real connector.” It feels right. It feels natural. It all led to me then launching this business as a customer experience strategist.
I’m able to utilize everything from starting at that age seven as a customer first impression director, so to speak, answering the phone up until now. It made so much sense. It’s what led me to create my customer experience transformation process to work with companies. I’m also working, particularly focusing on looking at the hospitality and the restaurant industry. There are many markets where we’re all customers every day, multiple times throughout the day. As you said at the beginning of the show, no matter what we do and where we’re going, we’re buying things and we’re having these experiences as customers. I think if I can help businesses who are sluggish, who aren’t growing, who are having frustrations with customer turnover and lack of repeat customers. The revenue’s dropping. I can go in and give them a fresh perspective, a fresh set of eyes on what’s going on and a real perspective.To really understand the nuances of language, you need to immerse yourself in the environment. Click To Tweet
Here’s a stat that blows me away that just about says it all. Forbes did a study and they said that 80% of executives feel that they are delivering an outstanding customer experience to their customers, while only 8% feel that that’s what they are receiving. That is an enormous customer delivery gap. What the owner expects and their perception of what’s happening in their business versus the customer’s experience of what they’re receiving in their business. It’s important for business owners to invest in their people. To invest in getting a true perspective of what’s going on so that they can hear what their customers’ perceptions and needs are so that they can answer them. That’s how they’re going to stay in business and grow.
My area of expertise is expectation. I’ve written the book, Expectation Therapy and all that. Customer expectations, because you have so many different types of people, it’s so hard to hone in and focus. Then you get customers that had a bad day. They’re irritated. Their kids have driven them nuts and all that thing. My daughter’s in retail and she cries on her dad’s shoulders sometimes about people that unload on her in her retail setting. Is it fair to say that you teach employees like my daughter how to deal with customers like that? I know you set up systems, but do you help the client experience in a store with what you do? I know you’re training the employees. What you train them in has to convert into the customer experience. I guess it’s a silly question I’m asking.
No, certainly it affects it. I believe in starting at the top because before someone like your daughter gets on the floor and sadly often abused by people who had a bad day. One thing is to train them that this is not about you. In fact, I’ve had this eBook, the companion piece talks about and asks questions. One of the things that I mentioned in there is in fact how everybody comes with their own stuff. We’re all onions. We have layers and layers of depth. Maybe someone did have a bad day and they’re taking it out. It’s hard but in some ways, employers are psychologists. We have to train our employees also to be able to put the shield on them, this emotional raincoat and just let that stuff run off because it’s not about them. It does have to start at the top. It has to start with the leadership and the first step in my process is about getting very clear on your core values and your mission statement. How are you different from your competitor? What is it that you want the world to know about you and why you’re here and how your employees play a piece of that?
The steps go around and the next would be the employees but certainly then, once the owner is super clear on that, they have to hire and train their management to be in alignment with that. Every decision made thereafter must reflect back and be in alignment with those values. The management must be the people who are hired and who are invested in that same core value. They then should be able to lead accordingly to the staff, regardless of how far. If it’s a restaurant, even your dishwasher. If it’s a retail store, maybe even someone who’s doing your cleaning or whatever it is. If there’s anyone there that is a part of your company, that represents you.
It has to start at the top and yes, the training comes at that level if that’s what the company needs. One of the cool things that I do is every business is different. The main structure and the roadmap are the same in terms of customer engagement. I would look at what’s going on, where their problem area is, where do they need the most support? Then we would co-create a solution around what it is that they are having issues with. Then I would go in and work up a system of consulting, training or whatever it is that they would want. Maybe it’s one-on-one with the owner. Maybe it’s one to management. Whatever the company would need. We would then go in and be able to also assess what’s happening so that we eliminate that delivery gap of the 80% to 8%. That’s another one of my offerings.
When there’s clear direction, it stops the turnover in an organization, don’t you think?
100%. People have to know what’s expected of them and it is human nature. If we don’t know what we stand for, what our purpose is in something, we don’t know what’s expected of us and we haven’t bought into and agreed to that expectation, the owner is wrong. How can you expect someone to deliver what you want if you haven’t made it clear for them? People generally are good natured. They want to help. They want to be proud of their work. They want to deliver what you want. When we give them the opportunity by clearly defining what our expectations are, people will surprise you and most likely overdeliver if you treat them with that respect.
One of the things that I was thinking about when you were speaking about all this was in Expectation Therapy, the three key elements of it are to identify, to clarify and solidify with the written plan. That came out of physics class that I took one time and then I turned it into a behavioral formula for teaching people about expectations and how to handle them. That is the key about expecting. Once you know how to expect and manage your expectations and know how to clearly state them, life becomes so much easier. The disappointments stop because disappointment starts with unmet expectations. Think about in marriages, in employment and anything, everybody gets upset when they don’t know what to expect. One of the other things I teach is how do you expect the unexpected. That’s a whole different thing. That’s about families, some tragedy happening and how do you expect the unexpected. I don’t want to go there right now. I’ll get off on a tangent. One of the things I thought about too was it seems like the larger the entity that you’re working with, the more difficult it is to get that message all the way through their system.
It’s interesting that you say that. I don’t know about difficulty, but I would say it comes down to how they’re structured. For example, Harrods of London is an enormous organization and yet here I was in one distinct part as I mentioned before in the kitchen. I was still going through the same process. Here they had their onboarding very clear. In that onboarding, it was so interesting because they gave me a little booklet that I still have of all the expectations of what their core values are, what they stand for, who they serve, how they serve and what they expected of you. There was a video of Mr. Al-Fayed who owns Harrods and there he was talking to us. Growing up in McDonald’s and seeing that, I was so impressed. It was incredible. I use some of those techniques. Those are some of the strategies that I offer and suggest as a part of my process because it’s very effective.
Here’s this huge organization but it was their way to simplify and to make sure whoever came into their doors representing and interfacing it all with the customer or was a part of their organization at any level would experience the same onboarding. They would have the same expectations and know what I had to do to perform to be able to represent that company. Here’s this great huge organization. They did it in such a great way because it was thought through. They had a plan. They had a system and they met it consistently. Consistency is also big and very important in that.In real estate, you're only as good as your past referral. Click To Tweet
I’ve been reconnecting with some of the people who worked for my dad on my Facebook. It’s been so enlightening. It’s been so cool for me to hear, especially having lost my dad long ago, when I read and hear these stories. It makes me smile and warms my heart because I realized this was my foundation and to know that there was a system. Someone said to me, “Your dad had all these videos for us and he gave us homework and we would come together and meet and talk about it.” I had no idea. I was too young at that level when it was going on. I thought that was cool and it triggered the thought about my experience at Harrods and not knowing that my own dad was doing that.
It’s amazing that it transforms across so many generations and it is carried on through you. What’s in the future for you? Let’s rub that magic ball and figure out where Jill is going.
My goal honestly is to connect with people as much as possible to be able to help businesses and restaurants transform transactions into interactions. Because in the restaurant industry, in any business and interestingly in real estate, they call it their transaction, which has always bothered me. A transaction by definition is an exchange of goods or services for money. It’s a very cold transaction. There’s nothing else. There’s no human element, no motion. We need to transform transactions into interactions. My goal is to go in and help businesses identify what is going on. Where are they losing money on customers and employees? How does that all circle back to serving your customers? I see it as a winning trifecta. When we meet the needs of our customers and we train and we do all these things correctly, the owner wins. The salespeople win and the customers win. On the bigger scale, which lights me up, is that if companies are doing well, they’re giving back to their communities as well.
The idea that through giving great customer service, we can make a better world that we live in. Help the communities we live in and then globally at large. I want to be able to help companies thrive through delivering an outstanding customer experience. Not just service because to me customer service, which is the word that was used all the time in the early days with McDonald’s and in earlier businesses but to me, the service is the given. It is that transaction. Service to me is a transaction. What I think needs to happen and have everyone up their game a little bit is transform it into a genuine interaction. Interactions will in turn create those connections and connection equals profit. To me, that’s important because 86% of people are willing to pay more for superior customer experience. It’s a win-win.
Let me ask you a question. These things pop into my head. I guess that’s why the show is called Shower Epiphanies. What is the difference between customer relations and customer service?
Look at the words. It’s right there in the verbiage. Customer service, you are serving people. I do think you need to serve them but serve them from the perspective of wanting to help them not just make a sale. Customer relations, relationships. It’s about making that relationship with someone. Having that rapport. Treating them as a person because people are people first and it is people first.
The only reason I asked was because when I go to different businesses and I see things, I’ll see some companies say, “We give excellent customer service.” Then I hear other companies talk about customer relationships, which leads me to one of my pet peeves. We can discuss it here pretty quick, but it’s in labels. I get really hung up in label sometimes because in the research that I’ve done with labels is that people tend to live up to the label that they’re put on. Kids are told that they’re ugly or stupid and they lived that their entire life. When we were working in the prison system, I did a survey trying to determine if the prisoners had ever been told that they were going to end up in jail. We asked the question, “Had you ever been told as a child that you were going to end up in jail?” Both men and women in men’s prison and women’s prison. Do you know that almost 90% of all of them were told as a child that they were going to end up in prison?
They lived right up to the expectations. They were told this is what they’re going to do. They’re like, “We’re going to do this.” That’s scary. It’s sad.
I have a friend and I love her dearly. She’s a dear friend, but she calls her two sons, jackasses. She said, “My two jackasses.” It’s always my two jackasses. They’re older, they’re seventeen and nineteen. I keep telling her, “Don’t do that.” Getting back to the labels, one of my big things is it irritates me to know when people in the internet marketing world called their clients their tribe. I find that offensive because to me, the people that I work with are more my family than they are my tribe. A family is something that is deeper and there’s more love involved in it and there’s more closeness. A tribe is something you control. You try to control a tribe. It’s just my thing. I’m going to put it out there. You can respond how you want.
That’s why I love language so much and having learned them in the country because you see how the nuances of words and how we bring our own experiences even to certain words. Certainly, they are definitions, but the words we choose to use say so much about who we are and about our culture that we live in. It’s very fascinating. I find word choices and I try to be articulate and express exactly what I want to say. Sometimes listening to every word that people say gets me into trouble because I hear the words they choose and then I’ll respond to that and were like, “That’s not what I meant,” which is great. That’s fine, but I only know what they’ve said.The words we choose to use say so much about who we are. Click To Tweet
Even with the words that people express, it’s not that cut and dry because we as listeners bring our own experiences into it. Like your friend that you talked about. I have two teenagers. I just can’t imagine. What we say to them will stick with them for life. How they’re going to interpret that about their own self-esteem and when they go forward in life. Every time they hear that expression, that word, it is going to trigger all kinds of stuff for them. We bring our own stuff to every situation, all the lingo and everything else. It’s very interesting to me.
What’s interesting to me is that semantics and words and all of that is so entwined in good customer service and good communication. I’ve gone into stores and talk to somebody and went, “I’m done.” Ten words out of their mouths and I’m done. I can’t handle it. It does become important and our schools aren’t teaching it. They don’t teach that stuff. Our school systems need to get back to the basics and start teaching these kids basics. We all have our stories of going into the store and purchasing something and giving change to somebody and they can’t figure out what to give you back.
I have so many stories. I write down the different experiences that I have. I have so many experiences around change back. I think of my dad because that was the one thing that I learned early on when I worked on the register was counting back change. There was this very specific systematic way of doing so and rounding up or rounding down, getting rid of small change. How do you add and give them an extra penny or two? You’d think you spun their world because if you give them something in addition, literally I’ve had people like deer in headlights. They’re like, “I don’t know what to give you.” I said, “I gave you $0.07 and you can round it down to $0.50.” I talked them through it and they’re like, “I already put it in the register. This is what I have to give you back.” It’s like, “How about we just use our brains?” Don’t get me started on that one. That makes me so crazy. It was very interesting.
I went into a store not too long ago in one of our local malls up here and purchased something. I gave the girl $20 and she gave me $60 back. I said to her, “We have a little problem here.” She said, “What?” I said, “Look at my hand. I gave you $20 and you gave me $60 back.” She fought with me about it. I said, “They’re going to take it out of your pay. It’s coming out of your register.” I said, “If you think that I gave you $100,” because she kept on trying to tell me, I gave her $100. I knew I didn’t have $100 in my wallet. “There should be $100 bill inside your register.” She had to wait until the next customer came and the register to open so she could look in there to see if she had $100. I made it right. I could not do that to her. It was before Christmas and everything and not everybody would do that.
Art, thank you for raising a very important point. It is something that I think of and talk about and deal with my training, which is every person who comes to work interfacing with a customer is bringing their own experience or lack of experience. Whether their parents train them or didn’t train them. There’s so much variation there. It is the job of employers. They may not want to be mommy and daddy and they might not want to be the psychologist, but if you have people there representing you, you have to. You have to train them to respond in the way that your culture represents, that you want them as your company. That’s something that has to be leveled out. You don’t just put people out and say, “They’re going to bring to the picture whatever they know from their experiences.” That’s what you’re going to get with your customers. To me, that is very dangerous and scary.
I bring up the point of let’s equalize this. Regardless of someone who had a lot of experiences, someone who doesn’t, who came from maybe a home that didn’t get much training or one who did. Let’s find that equal playing field by telling them, setting the expectations, giving them the proper training and making sure they’re onboard with that before they’re actually engaging with the customer. Sadly, so many people are just thrown out on there and they’re left to their own devices to respond in the way that maybe they were talked to. Maybe they were talked to badly at home. They’re going to turn around and do the same thing to your customers unless you teach them otherwise.
I have a friend or I should say more of an acquaintance that’s a doctor. We have had conversations about patient expectations and how he can level his office to meet the expectations of his patients. One of the problems that he explained to me is when people come to the doctor, they come in and say, “Fix me.” Doctors can perform some miracles but they cannot perform miracles all the time. Things don’t go right and people are different and their bodies are different and all those things. I’ve been working with him on it. I think I’m going to have him give you a call. What you’ve done and have created works in any industry that deals with customers, whether it’s a patient, whether it’s a retail customer, whether it’s a wholesale customer, whether it’s food service or whatever it is. I see a need for it. How can people get ahold of you and where can they get ahold of you? Can you fill us in on all that?
I would welcome speaking to anyone if any of what we’ve talked about and what I’ve said resonates with you. Please do reach out to me. You can find me on my website, www.JillRaff.com. You can reach me there. You can find out more about what I do, how to work with me and how to have a conversation. There’s a Contact form there or you can call me directly at (917) 887-5899. I look forward to speaking to anyone who’s interested.
Jill, I can’t say enough thank yous to you. I’ve enjoyed this and I hope that the audience will reach out to you. If there’s anything that we need right now in our whole system, it’s communication and compassion with how we deal with each other. What you do is another feather in the cap of creating good relationships. Thank you for being on my show. I appreciate it and we will see you soon.
Thank you so much. I enjoyed it.
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About Jill Raff
Jill Raff, CEO and Founder of The Jill Raff Group, is an experienced CX Strategist and published author. For over 25 years, she has been delivering world-class customer service and experiences.
She is obsessed with helping service-focused businesses develop high levels of customer loyalty, increased repeat business, and reduced employee turnover by guiding them to deliver Celebrity Customer Experience™. Jill’s work is led by her 7 Ingredient Customer Experience Transformation process.
Jill developed her customer-first philosophy growing up in the “McDonald’s family.” From age seven, while shadowing her father, she experienced first-hand the results of the Ray Kroc’s philosophy of QSC & V (Quality. Service. Cleanliness. Value.)
Her passion, knowledge, and understanding have been shaped by global experience and working across different industries. She discovered first-hand that the common ingredient for success was outstanding customer experience. Jill now uses her diverse background to help businesses identify their own issues, fixing them through the power of customer connections – Transforming Transactions Into Interactions™.
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