The Michelli Experience

New York Times #1 bestselling author, Joseph Michelli, Ph.D., shares customer experience, leadership, and business insights from Mercedes-Benz, Starbucks, Ritz-Carlton, Zappos, Pike Place Fish, and many more. At The Michelli Experience, we help front-line employees, managers, and senior leaders deliver relevant and engaging service experiences. To that end, we provide keynote and workshop presentations, short-term and extended consulting services, and bestselling books to meet your needs.

This is the second installment in a series titled “Better Than Normal – Designing Transformative Experiences,” which will provide tools to help you position your employee and customer experience for relevance in a COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 world.

I have been busier than I’ve ever been before during the pandemic, but in those rare moments of reflection, I have been able to evaluate what brings value and what was simply a habit, and your customers are doing the same.

For example, I used to live in hotels and on planes, but I  haven’t struggled with getting my carry-on out of an overhead bin in months, and still business soars. Was all that air travel purposeful?

I am hoping my dry cleaner misses me because I was a loyal visitor when I wasn’t on the road. However, in the last few months, I haven’t had much of a reason to stop by. I’m not saying that planes, hotels, and dry cleaners aren’t important, I am merely suggesting that in this “better than normal” world we’re living in that all of us are given a chance to question decisions that used to seem reflective. It’s Monday, and I am home, I’d better go to the dry cleaner?

Let’s imagine your customers reflecting on the purposefulness of your business in their lives? How much of their purchases are driven by habit? How are you faring?

Ok, those are unpleasant questions, so let’s try something more positive. What might you do to increase the likelihood that customers will see the purposefulness of your offerings?

 

This is the first installment in a series titled “Better Than Normal – Designing Transformative Experiences,” which will provide tools to help you position your employee and customer experience for relevance in a COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 world.

I don’t know about you, but I am already eager to put the phrase “new normal” out to pasture! When most people say it, I hear the pain in their voice and a nostalgic longing for the way things used to be. There’s an “if only” packed into it. If only, we weren’t in this new normal. Or if only, I could have this part of the old normal back. The words new normal are somehow reminiscent of my father’s penchant for saying things like “those good old days.”

I hereby decree the words “new normal” no longer are useable, and I declare they shall be replaced with the phrase “better than normal.” Since I’m striking down phrases, I will replace “good old days” with “good new days.” Alas, if only I had that power beyond this simple blog.

I make these two proclamations to frame the importance of working to make “now” better than “then” and to make the “future” better than “now.”

Let me show you two ways customer experiences are already better than normal.

I suspect you may be at least a little like me. I like spontaneity, but only on my terms. I’m a fan of agendas, plans, and being confident that my position on an issue is well informed.

Then came COVID-19, a sub-microscopic infectious agent, roughly 1/1000 the width of a human hair.  I am lucky to date in that the virus has not rendered me or those I love ill, hospitalized, or worse. But it, along with the death of George Floyd, sent orderliness, planning, and knowledge certainty whirling. Those events probably did the same for you, your team members, and your customers.

It sounds strange, but I am starting to find value in discomfort and uncertainty.

Let’s face it, COVID-19 forced most business leaders and entrepreneurs to alter their operations, service delivery, and customer experience overnight.

If, before COVID -19, you sold flowers in a traditional retail store, suddenly; you had to find a way to take your entire business online. Service providers leveraged technologies to maintain relationships with their clients and minimize revenue losses.

COVID-19 was a gut punch that forced radical business transitions, reduced service interactions to digital exchanges, and produced functional yet largely undifferentiated service experiences.

During those urgent transitions, most leaders functioned on adrenaline and survival instincts.

I have an unusual perspective when it comes to the emotional impact of this pandemic. My view is shaped by working as a licensed clinical psychologist early in my career and helping people deal with anxiety, depression, loneliness, and isolation. It’s also affected by the last 20-plus years of my career, where I’ve helped mostly Fortune 500 leaders create positive emotional bonds with their customers.

I share that context because I am about to say something outrageous and I hope you will stay with me.

Ok, here goes…  

I am convinced that the loneliness, anxiety, sadness, and loss of control emerging from the pandemic can be POSITIVE, but only if (and it’s a big IF) we learn lessons by flipping our feelings.

Thank you for joining me on this third installment in my series “It’s Emotional – Creating an Unprecedented Team and Customer Experience in the Pandemic.” This series is designed to offer tools to manage your emotions as well as support the emotional journey of your prospects and customers.

A couple of installments back I talked about my dislike for how the word unprecedented is being used in the context of this pandemic. Typically, these days unprecedented implies no one has ever encountered a pandemic before and that history offers no guidance on how to cope and prevail. This week I am bristling at the way the word empathy is being used in the context of the pandemic. Quite frankly I love the word empathy and I’ve used the word regularly since I finished my doctorate in clinical psychology back in the late 1980s.

What’s bothersome about the word’s use these days, is that it’s thrown around as if everyone knows how to be empathic and as if it’s easy to demonstrate this component of emotional intelligence (EQ).

This is the second installment in my series “It’s Emotional–Creating an Unprecedented Team and Customer Experience in This Pandemic.” This series is designed to offer tools to manage your emotions as well as support the emotional journey of your prospects and customers.

There are days in this pandemic reality that quite literally seem upside down. While disorienting at times, I am heartened by how core leadership and human experience skills resoundingly apply; particularly when those skills are tempered by some new emotional guidelines.

This is the first installment in my series It’s Emotional–Creating an Unprecedented Team and Customer Experience in this Pandemic. This series is designed to offer tools to manage your emotions as well as support the emotional journey of your prospects and customers.

This week’s installment is titled Focus on the Hole. I take exception with the overuse of some words these days, particularly when those words suggest we are powerless or helpless.

One of my least favorite words (which I intentionally repurposed) for the title of this series is the word UNPRECEDENTED. Normally when we hear that word these days, it is used to signify the magnitude of the challenges we are all facing. With regard to challenges, let’s look at what the word implies.

This is the 5th and final installment in my series Break the Glass, where we are looking at what you can do to deliver a positive human experience in this time of great business disruption. (Next week will start a new series on the role emotions play in customer experience delivery.)

Sales trainers have long championed the concept of ABC. Which stands for always be closing. They suggest that when presenting your service or product, you should always be moving the conversation to close the sale. In the context of our current pandemic, I would modify ABC so that it stands for always be connecting.

This is the 4th installment in my series Break the Glass, where we are looking at what you can do to maintain a positive human experience in a time of great business disruption.

Our focus today is on being surprisingly kind.

Prior to COVID-19’s disruption across much of the world, my team and I launched something we call the Surprisingly Kind movement. We are collecting and sharing stories of surprising kindness.

 

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