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.

I am increasingly convinced that the proliferation of choice (for consumers and business leaders) makes prioritization one of the most important elements of personal and business success.

Many of us will begin 2020 with a long list of new strategic priorities. We’ll identify six, seven, or more new projects to add to business objectives that carried over from 2019. All these new initiatives may be relevant to future success, but few will likely garner widespread buy-in and effective execution.

From my vantage point, the art of business success is to identify key business objectives and execute against them flawlessly. All too often, companies drift in what I call shiny ball syndrome...

What will customers expect and encounter when they interact with you and your business in 2025?

I know that the question is asking about a distant horizon line, but it wasn’t long ago that 2020 seemed like it was forever far away.

About 28 years ago, I used to speak about managing the stress of the holidays. Those presentations were loosely based on the book Unplug the Christmas Machine: A Complete Guide to Putting Love and Joy Back into the Season. In it, the authors, Jo Robinson and Jean Staeheli, focused on four main themes:

  • Prioritize gift-giving to those who truly need your gifts
  • Engage in activities (across a well-paced holiday season – not just a day) that connect with your deepest personal values
  • Seek to be a peacemaker among friends and family
  • Commit to spiritual growth

Over time, I’ve come to believe we don’t need to and quite frankly can’t “Unplug the Christmas Machine” – that machine will run even if you or I were to find a way to unplug it.

I suspect our efforts are better spent focusing on how to create humanity-rich experiences this time of year. To that end, I offer some thoughts which I’ll lovingly call “gifts” for the season. These gifts can be given to...

For as many times as I have done it myself or experienced it, you’d think I would have made this connection much earlier. My newly emerging awareness involves the symbolic relationship between outstanding customer experience delivery and the practice of wrapping a personalized present and then putting a bow on it.

Allow me to explain…

The holiday season may bring out the best in humanity, but holiday shopping can also bring out the worst. We’ve all seen the “Black Friday Brawls” as shoppers play tug-of-war with the last doorbuster sale item and we've heard of “Cyber Grinches” who gobble up online deals for high-demand items only to resell them when scarcity drives up the price.

No matter your business, people can become – let’s call it - frayed this time of year. So, here are a few tips I’ve shared across the years to help people work through a service challenge or customer complaint. I hope you find value in them as you seek to make this a peaceful and profitable holiday season.

The next few weeks will be “make or break” for retailers. With more shopping occurring online (particularly through mobile devices), brick and mortar retailers are looking for ways to get people to leap from their couches and into their stores.

Here are some things to consider as you build a lasting customer relationship based on positive sales experiences.

I often consult with leaders who are trying to develop human-centric cultures. In the context of that work, I have shared my view that it's essential to make it easy for compassionate and caring people to stay with your business and also to make it easy for ungrateful and scarcity-minded people to find employment elsewhere. Unfortunately, I have seen many examples where talented and positive people churn because the culture does not suit them. Wouldn’t it be great if your company was actually too optimistic and positive such that it drove the miserable away?

In this Thanksgiving week (where we formally take pause to give thanks), I thought it would be worthwhile to remind ourselves of the importance of driving a year-round culture of optimism and gratitude.

Wherever you get your news, you are likely to read or hear something about the role sales-enhancing technology will play this holiday season. There's much at stake for this year’s retailers with spending projected to break a record and possibly top the 1 trillion-dollar mark.

Whether it's the way Target will be using augmented reality to help families visualize the Christmas trees they will be choosing for their homes, how Walmart will be enabling shoppers to scan the toy catalog using their mobile devices to rapidly locate items, or Best Buy’s use of push messaging to give shoppers real-time discount alerts – technology will be a shopping enabler this holiday season.

From my perspective, when it comes to customer experience excellence, what gets rewarded gets done and what gets talked about also gets done. After 25 years of consulting in what used to be called customer service and now is called customer experience, I have seen the power of well-designed customer experience reward and recognition programs as well as the effectiveness of leaders who tell stories of optimal customer experience delivery.

My favorite example of leadership storytelling involves David Feinberg, M.D. and the way he used stories to (in David’s words) “lead a revolution to put care back into healthcare.”

Let me give you a sense of how far customers are willing to be tracked in the name of personalization and convenience. Granted, my example comes from Sweden, but I sense it is a harbinger of things to come on a global basis.

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