Quiz time: What does customer service have to do with community experience? A whole lot, actually. Setting expectations and maintaining boundaries are crucial, whether you're on a phone call with a frustrated customer or managing all the personalities in your online community. It's people stuff, ya dig?
Nick Glimsdahl knows a thing or twenty about making customers and employees feel happy, and he joins us today to help weave together the worlds of customer experience and community experience. He's the host of the podcast Press 1 for Nick, which offers stories, best practices, and lessons from leaders in the realms of customer service and customer experience. He's also the author of the book Reasons NOT to Focus on Employee Experience: A Comprehensive Guide.
In today's conversation, Jillian and Tony press “1” to pick Nick's brain on all things customer service, and how they relate to community experience—especially when people are unhappy. At the root of all of it—not surprisingly—is what Nick calls “tactical empathy”: hearing people out and meeting them where they're at so you have a starting point to solve their problems.
You're going to hear some delightful stories, like the one about the 86-year-old woman who called an insurance company's customer line every day just to have someone to talk to. Or why Zappos' customer service team encourages people to call them about, well, anything (like where to find the best pizza in San Francisco).
Nick Glimsdahl, a Director of Contact Center Solutions at VDS, is a thought leader in both the customer service and customer experience fields. He is also the host of a customer service and customer experience podcast, Press 1 for Nick. The Press 1 For Nick podcast is both educational and engaging, and each episode offers listeners a dynamic blend of insightful stories, best practices, and invaluable lessons.
In This Episode:
- How Nick became passionate about the world of customer experience
- “Tactical empathy” and other deescalation tactics
- Lonely, bored folks who dial into call centers (and what to do about them)
- Why you should remember that “unaddressed emotions never die” as a community manager
- “Engagement” vs “contact”
- Zappos' unique approach to the call center experience
- Humanizing the remote work experience
- Organizational buy-in for healthy boundary-setting
- Scary intersection stories
- How to effectively talk to customer service folks
- Hockey rivalries
*Note — the following links are Amazon affiliate links.
- Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss
- Reasons NOT to Focus on Employee Experience: A Comprehensive Guide by Nick Glimsdahl
- Stories That Stick by Kindra Hall
The CX 023: The Pandora’s Box of Customer Experience with Nick Glimsdahl
Tony Bacigalupo: To speak to a customer service representative, press one. If hearing something like this strikes fear into your body, you're far from alone. Dealing with customer service on both ends of the phone can be an incredibly harrowing experience. Fortunately, we've got Nick Glimsdahl here today who is an expert in the field. He's AKA, press one for Nick. And he's going to tell us all kinds of healthy tips for dealing with customers in customer service, being a better customer, and all sorts of other things in between. So let's get into the conversation with Nick Glimsdahl. Okay. What's up, everybody. Welcome to The Community Experience Podcast. I'm Tony Bacigalupo.
Jillian Benbow: And I am Jillian Benbow.
Tony: So, when we talk about business, we always talk about pain points. How can you fix someone's pain? And just hearing about Nick's existence and that his internet handle is press one for Nick. I just love that he's just leaned right into this nasty maras of pain that is customer service.
Jillian: Way to sell it!
Tony: Because what else is there that's more obviously universally painful, really, for people on both ends of the phone, that customer service can be a very painful thing, but maybe it doesn't have to be?
Jillian: Maybe not?
Tony: So I just love that he's really leaned into that. And I'm excited for us to get into the conversation with him. But, Jill, what are you excited to talk about?
Jillian: Nick is great. He is just a great human and so it's always fun to talk to him. And customer service and community and even employee experience, they all overlap a lot. A lot of the tactics, a lot of the best practices and whatnot are very similar. So I was really excited to talk to Nick and talk about the mostly customer service and how some of the things that are going on there are also going on in community and basically, let's share notes and let's see how we make our communities, our customer bases, et cetera, just the best they can be through excellent communication and services.
Tony: Yeah. Online community management is essentially being at the end of that phone tree just all the time, that you're going to get this continuous flow of communication, have to deal with the boundaries you have to set, and how to make people ultimately feel better.
Jillian: Yeah. It's a huge part of the job. It's not all-inclusive, but it's certainly a big part.
Tony: Well, and I think with the right boundaries, you can maintain your ability to talk to people and not get yourself at a place where you let yourself get really hurt. And I think that's one of the things I'm excited for us to cover in this as well is just as a community manager, as a customer service rep, how do you set your own boundaries and take care of yourself so that you don't burn out?
Jillian: Setting expectations and maintaining boundaries are two of the biggest things to do in these sorts of roles to keep yourself fresh.
Tony: So what do you say, Jill?
Jillian: Let's do it.
Tony: Let's fire it up.
Jillian: All right. Welcome to the Community Experience Podcast. And today we have a wonderful guest, Nick Glimsdahl. Welcome Nick.
Tony: Press one for Nick.
Nick Glimsdahl: Yeah, thank you. It's press one for Nick.
Jillian: Press one for Nick.
Tony: Press one for Nick.
Tony: What happens if you press two? What do we get?
Nick: The world should find out. But I think it's really, really good things on top of hitting one. But you have to hit one first and then you have to hit two.
Jillian: The key is to hit one and then just go crazy, just start pushing buttons.
Jillian: So Nick, tell our audience what happens when they press one? What is Press One slash One, Two for Nick?
Nick: So Press One For Nick, we focus on customer service and customer experience. We bring on guests. So it's anywhere from international hostage negotiators — I just brought on the CEO of Success magazine to talk about storytelling. I brought on the guy who ran Magic Kingdom at Disney. And the whole goal is to inform and inspire people around customer service and customer experience and get them interested in focusing back on the customer. And my mission is all about having fun serving others. If I could do that on that journey and add value to others and be a little bit out of the box, that's the goal I'm going for.
Jillian: You know I'm all about this. And actually Nick and I, when we first connected, just totally immediately started dorking out about just the the Venn diagram overlap between what community experience and customer experience mean. And so many people use those terms interchangeably so I'd love to just dive into that. But quickly, Nick, what got you passionate about this? What sparked this for you as something you wanted to focus on?
Nick: Yeah, so four years ago I got into an organization where I was a consultant on the contact center side, and the more you lean into that call center, contact center space or customer service space, you realize it is not just about that. It's about the customer experience. So then I Googled customer experience and then I opened up Pandora's box and you can't really shut it when it's opened. And so then it led me to start writing, to start speaking on customer service and customer experience, and then the whole pandemic hit. I don't know if you guys have heard of this thing called the pandemic. Yeah, it's new, I think.
Jillian: Is that a bread?
Nick: Yeah, exactly. It's a new bread. It's buttered twice. Yeah, exactly. And I was like, "How do I find ways to add value to others without me being like everybody else?" And I can go send them an awesome email and spend 20 minutes on that, and it's not going to add a whole lot of traction, or I can find ways to interview other people and build my brand along the way. So it's been awesome. I'm up to, I think, 120 some episodes as of today.
Jillian: That's amazing. And you've had some amazing guests.
Nick: Yeah. And like I said, I mentioned it at the beginning, but you think of a guy like Chris Voss, who was an international FBI hostage negotiator. He would go anytime there was a huge, crazy bank robber, or if somebody took somebody in a different country, he'd be the main guy to go talk to. And I think he was by far my longest episode, because who's going to tell an international hostage negotiator to stop talking.
Jillian: His book is an amazing too. If anybody's interested.
Nick: Yeah. It's called Never Split The Difference.
Nick: It's an amazing book.
Jillian: Yeah, he tells a lot of, I guess it's literal, but lack of a better term, war stories and it's fascinating. And anybody that's just into psychology and psychology personality, I was way into it. I want to touch on call centers because one of my first after college jobs was at a call center for a ski resort, helping people book their vacations. And I hope to never do that again. I still have PTSD when my phone rings and I don't know who it is, which like everyone, I just don't answer. But people can be incredibly mean on the phone, no less. I'm curious your thoughts on just the whole culture, you and call centers and how people treat people in call centers.
Nick: Yeah. Well, you're not alone.
Jillian: Oh yeah, I'm sure.
Nick: The tough part about the customer service is nobody's going to call into a customer service department and say, "Hey, Jillian, I just want to let you know, I love your product, I love your service, I love your company. And things are going real. I like the price. Exactly. And I hope you have a great day, air high five." It's, "I'm on fire and I just listened to the Rocky soundtrack and I'm going to do everything possible to make your life miserable." So when it comes to that, and you understand that with when it comes to your customers, how can you be the best part of their day? And it's not necessarily agreeing with them, it's hearing them out and understanding where they're at today and why they're calling, and what's making them frustrated.
And even Chris Voss, if I go back to him for a minute, he's like, "It's about tactical empathy." He's like, "Just hearing them out and it's talking about, 'It sounds like, it seems like, it feels like you're going through this. It seems like we let you down. It seems like we didn't meet your expectations.' And when you relate to them on a different level and you hear them out and you give them that minute to talk and shout and drop any bomb that they want, then you tell them how you're going to solve their problem. But if you do it at the very beginning and just say, 'Hey, man, just stop talking. I already know your issue and I know how to solve it,' that doesn't solve it for the person." They don't feel complete because another guy on my podcast, he says, "Unaddressed emotions never die."
Jillian: Will you say that again?
Nick: Unaddressed emotions never die.
Jillian: I wanted to write it down.
Nick: Yeah. And it's great, but customer service is tough. When it comes to that customer service representative, how are you making it as easy as possible for that representative to solve the problem and the least amount of effort for that customer. And on average, that contact center, a representative has to deal with 12 to 14 applications at one time per interaction. And so it's also frustrating for the employee because not only is he getting yelled at or he or she is getting yelled at, but still, they have to look at these applications, have some type of empathy interaction, and try to solve the problem while sporadically going and putting themselves on mute.
Jillian: Right. And it's often so beyond, I know for me, people would be whatever their problem was, I didn't always have the ability to fix it. So there was a lot of people that had to get involved and they want it fixed now or at least verbal promise. And that's not always the case. So if you're listening, the next time you're talking to someone on the phone and that person is doing their job, just give them a break, they're human. But I wanted to relay this into broader community because this is something that comes up a lot in communities and something I've been helping a lot of people who have started communities deal with in conflict resolution, because the fact of the matter is, a community, and kind of a busy community, the more successful you are, the more likely this may happen.
There's going to be an argument or there's going to be an issue, whether it's a billing issue or members doing things that create an issue. And this concept of tactical empathy is absolutely the same strategy I use when someone in your community is mad about something or frustrated. And that's like, hear them out, give them, whether they're right or wrong, per the situation, let them vent and say all the things, and have their moment. And then once they've taken a breath, then start getting into the problem solving or the expectation management or whatever it is. So I really love that because I think that's something, like many things, that just really aligns when you're considering customer versus community member. Because again, there is some overlap there.
Nick: Yeah. I can't imagine going through and building that community, and as they continue to rise, you continue to have to keep that same experience as the organization grows, as the community grows. And so there's going to be some rifts along the way. And how are you going to address those? Because like I said at the beginning, and it's Derek Gaunt, I just remembered, the “unaddressed emotions never die.” And if they don't die inside that community or inside that comment or inside that small chat sidebar, they're going to continue to build and frustrate more people. And the last thing you want somebody to do is send a nasty gram to somebody else saying, "This is why you shouldn't join that community."
Jillian: Oh, absolutely.
Tony: I'm furiously taking notes. I'm actually, for those listening, pulling up the interview that you had with Derek Gaunt, which is in your govds.com website and your podcast episode 14. Yeah, amazing stuff.
And I want to say, just from the language perspective, I've studied nonviolent communication, which I'm sure, Nick, you're familiar with. And one of the techniques that they use is this idea of getting the person to say yes. So it's a nice practice. And the idea is that you're getting yourself aligned. So if a person comes in hot and they're saying, "Oh, this is wrong and that's broken and this is wrong." Then if you can not get defensive, not let your own emotions come in and just say, "Okay, so it sounds like what you're saying is that you found this to be wrong and this to be broken and this to be wrong?"
And the person's like, "Yes." "And then that made you mad because this?" And they say, "Yes." And then the more common ground you establish, the more likely it is that you're going to have a healthy outcome. Is that the kind of stuff that you try to help people to understand?
Nick: Yeah, you're totally right. But if you think of the person who is frustrated with that interaction before they even call or interact in some type of channel, how does that make them feel? It makes them feel known and valued when Tony takes that time to listen to them and ask that clarifying question, "It seems like you're going through this. It sounds like we didn't meet expectations. Here's what we're going to do for you today." And I immediately feel known and valued and I will tell others of out about that community.
Jillian: It seems like active listening is a huge part of it. You have to hear what they're saying and then almost repeat it back to them so that they can very obviously know, this person understands me because they were able to say it back.
Nick: Yeah, it's interesting. I swear this isn't a Chris Voss episode, but he talks about mirroring, which is the last three to five words of somebody's sentence. The last three or four words of somebody's sentence. And then that gets them to continue that conversation. And I think Tony understands what I'm talking about with his training that he's gone through.
Tony: That he's gone through. And I'm wondering, Nick, to get a little bit into bigger picture societal insights. We talk a lot about loneliness and the need people have to find anywhere where there's somebody who will listen to them and understand them. And I know sometimes there are people who call all the time about everything and it ends up being, you start to wonder whether the person really needs to be calling or whether they're just trying to pick up the phone to talk to anybody.
Jillian: I found a reason.
Tony: Have you got any insight into that? Do you get a sense that there are people who are just calling because they need someone to talk to? And how do you deal with that?
Nick: Yeah. There was an example of a very large insurance company of a 86 year old woman who would continue to call every single day about a quote unquote issue and saying, "Hey, can I talk to Tony because he really and solve my problem?" And then it goes back to Tony again and he is like, "Hey Julie, how's it going?" And she just chats with them for a quick minute because she was lonely and she was bored and she knew that Tony was going to pick the phone up. And in that case, if they are not a client, that's a whole nother issue, but if they are a client, then just give them a little love as long as you're not going to sit on a phone call for 30 minutes. Zappos, if you think of their experience, which is phenomenal, they have literally inside their call centers, call us about anything.
Somebody can be in California and say, "Where can I get pizza in San Francisco? Who has the best deep dish or who has the best sausage pizza." And that contact center will search for it on their behalf, no questions asked, and give them a response. And people start going and testing this out. And I think the more that you're not just a contact center, you're a customer engagement center. It's finding ways to engage with your customers and adding value to them. And it may not be hitting your customer experience or customer service metric, your average channel time, or your customer satisfaction scores is definitely higher, but what's important to the organization and how much effort is it going to take to answer that lady's question, the ladies comment, "Hey, I just want to let you know that everything's going well, that I made a ham sandwich today," whatever that 86 year old lady was saying. She was probably not making a ham sandwich every day.
Jillian: Hey, you never know.
Nick: Never know. But it goes back to the Zappos experience. How do you continue to add value? And eventually they might or may not buy shoes from you.
Jillian: I really want to just like call them right now. If I knew how to do that and record it, I think that would be really fun. So this plays into a lot of things because there's a lot of pressure if you work in a customer experience role, especially in these classic call center, help desk type roles. There's a time, there's an expectation of you can solve the problem in X amount of steps or this amount of time. You're expected to make this many sales. All these things that measure your value as an employee. And you also focus on employee experience. So I'm interested in your thoughts about how that works from the company side, like as you mentioned, Zappos has a great way that they go about it. And it's not so impersonal, I guess, is a good way, like many customer service heavy organizations have with the metrics. But I wonder if you want to talk a little bit more about the flip side of that, the employee experience it and how we can help the companies we work for maybe be more human.
Nick: Yeah. I love that you touched on that because the employee experience, the way that you treat your employees is a direct correlation of how your employees will treat your customers. And so what are you going to do to drive their organization forward? What's their growth pattern for their professional roadmap? What do they care? What do they value? How are you providing surveys, maybe pulse surveys for these employees? Just giving them the ability to have a voice as well. And not necessarily, just because they want to be heard. Doesn't mean you're going to implement everything that they're going to say, because that would be a hot mess, but it's truly understanding what that employee experience is and driving ways to improve the efficiencies. It's the people, process, and technology.
It's not always technology. Sometimes it's people, sometimes it's integration, sometimes it's just creating and reducing friction. But I a hundred percent agree that if you're not a hundred percent focused on the employee first, and I would say too many organizations are focused on that customer experience, and I call it the pixie dust and fairy tales. Everybody talks about customer experience, not enough organizations actually lean to it and measure it. But you shouldn't just talk about it. You should actually lean into the employee experience as well.
Jillian: It's huge. And I think churn rates will reflect how well you're doing that.
Nick: Well, it's that, but in addition to that, it's, somebody's going to pay you 50 cents more per hour, and they're going to give you a better experience and they give you the ability to work from home. Now, instead of going in downtown, work in the office, wear a shirt and tie, and pay for parking. Yeah, I'm going to take that 25 cent bump or 50 cent bump to work from home, no problem.
Jillian: Absolutely. I'm curious your thoughts, because it does seem like, especially call centers, and in this bread pandemic that we're in. I was thinking Panera, that's why I mentioned bread and now I can't stop thinking about bread because it's my soulmate. So the pandemic has really accelerated, as a society, just the ability to work from home and shown that it can be done. And our company, SPI media, we are fully remote anyways, so it's just another day for us, which is fantastic. And I'm a huge advocate of remote work. But call centers in particular, this is an industry, this is a type of work that absolutely can be done from home with pretty minimal tech requirements. Are you seeing that shift move towards the more flexible remote work lifestyle?
Nick: Yeah. I would say it's a couple things. There's so much legacy technology where it was on premise where you actually had to work in the office. And then this bread pan hit and then you needed to push everybody home and connect to a VPN. And if the VPN didn't connect, then you were hosed on that experience. So everybody was rushing to improve technology so that you gave the ability to work from home and not have to connect to the VPN. In addition to that, people are now saying, "Hey, I've been working from home for the last year and a half and this is all right. I don't have to drive in 45 minutes a day. I get to make my kids soccer game. And yeah, I get to still jump in on later and maybe do some cleanup on the reporting or something else. But I now have flexibility. And if you're going to make me go back into that environment in another six months, I'm going to find an organization that will push me into that."
And I think the reason why organizations didn't like the work from home is because they think that they lost control. Well, what happens if they're going to put their dog for a walk or going to a cooking class or taking yoga on their other computer? Yeah, I think that's true. But if anything, inside the contact center, you have more metrics and measurements than you know what to do with, more than any other organization or any other department that is working for you. And so if your sales team is working from home, how do you know that they're being just as productive and efficient with their time?
Tony: Which, I feel like it's a mindset shift. And some people have to be willing to do it or not. The ones who are willing or were proactive about it are going to have the advantage. And I think we're now dealing, the phrase great resignation and the fact that that phrase is becoming a thing, right at the same time as a lot of people are being nudged backed into offices, I don't think is a complete coincidence, but it does speak to that larger issue of thinking about the experience of the employee and the humanity of the employee, which I feel like we don't talk enough about. I know I've spent a lot of time in offices where I really needed to not be there, maybe just because I was tired or because I had other stuff I had do. And being there probably made me less productive because I couldn't take care of my needs. So I imagine there's still a lot of ground to cover there.
Nick: Yeah. I think the one thing that organizations fail to do, or even people just in general, sometimes when they just think that they're shouting at a social media platform, instead of another human, they will have more nasty grams towards them. And I think the same is true when you interact with somebody on a channel with an organization. If you don't realize that you're a human doing business with other humans and interacting with another human and they have emotions and they have frustrations as well, that you will treat them different. Maybe there should just be a picture of that other person on the other side of the line so that you just have a different perspective of that. I would a hundred percent agree with that, Tony.
Tony: One of the things I do to help humanize folks when we are doing large online video gathering, is to have them show their pets, or their loved little like kids or anything, but usually they're pets are dogs and cats and it's amazing how quickly it humanizes people. So maybe we could have like, "Good afternoon, this is Nick and my pet's name is Fluffy. And she's a four year old black Calico cat," whatever it is. Just some little extra bit of trivia about the person to be like, "Oh you're a human too. That's great."
Jillian: Oh my gosh, you're human. What?
Nick: You're not a robot. What?
Tony: So coming back to actually the experience of somebody who deals with people and a call center person is probably one of the maximum examples of this, but this happens throughout business and especially community builders, community builders, bear the brunt of the emotional labor of their organization. How can people be taught to set the boundaries that they need so that, regardless of what they encounter throughout the day, they can manage it as well as they can, but then they can be done at the end of the day and really be able to get it out of their system and be happy to come back to work the next day?
Nick: I think that's the hardest part of working remotely is, I've been working from home for the last four years now, so pre pandemic. And at that to the day I'll go up and I'll just have this handy dandy phone next to me, that just happens to have my email on it and my social media on it, and I'm just going to check one quick thing. But if you actually set boundaries and you put your phone in your bedroom for two hours and you put it to bed, then you have ability to cut off, don't have your watch connected to your phone, or take your watch off, there's got to be clear boundaries. And there has to be the ability to release. If you can't take that time to release and if it's going for a walk or hanging out with the fam or playing a sport or doing something that you would enjoy, you are going to be constantly connected to it and it's going to be hard to let go.
But if you're not going to set clear boundaries and you can put your phone, set alerts where you put your phone on sleep mode where you're not going to get alerts on that. And I do that as well. I do my best to put it away from at least five ish to when the kids go to bed because I'm like, "I have literally an hour and a half to spend with them per day of the 24 hours." It's not easy. It sounds simple. Doesn't make it easy.
Tony: And I get the sense there has to be institutional buy-in as well. What you're saying is true and right, and also it's a lot easier to do if you see that your fellow employees are also doing it, they're not messaging after hours or something where you feel a social pressure to do the same. And certainly from leadership as well. It's one of the things that I see SPI do really well is that our leadership never messages us after hours. They never even post silly links in the fun channel. People do a really good job of setting boundaries and leading by example. I have to imagine that that's one of the things you try to share with leaders as well. Are people receptive to that? Do people get the importance of that?
Nick: Yeah, I think now more than ever. As mental health starts becoming an issue of improving the organization from the inside out, I think you have to. There was a guy who was a regional president of a pretty large organization I had lunch with the other day and he's like, "Yeah, I am a night owl. And I also like working on the weekends, real early in the weekends." He's like, "But I send an email, I send it with a timer that says it's going to send it to Jillian at 8:00 AM on Monday so that it doesn't look like I'm sending an email at two o'clock in the morning on a Saturday because," he's like, "I want to respect people's time. And just because I'm sending an email at this time, I don't want them to feel like they have to do the same."
Jillian: That's amazing. I could also see how people who work too much could use that as a way to work too much and be like, "No, I sent it on a Monday. It's fine, I wasn't working on the weekend,” when it's like stop. But I get that person's intention. That's sweet. I know I struggle with our company Slack because we're all genuinely friends, we like each other as humans, whether we're at work or not. So if something funny happens or whatever, we'll often post things on the weekend or off hours and we cross many time zones. So an appropriate time for me to post may not be an appropriate time for Tony to get tagged. I think we're good about not tagging each other off hours. And we're good about having the notifications. I'm basically just justifying when I do things in Slack at, at weird times. Forgive me, Tony. Some jokes can't wait.
Tony: Well, no, and it's totally okay because part of it is, if you set the example, then the occasional message after hours or whatever, it doesn't matter because we've already set a clear cultural expectation. It's very, very different from, "My boss is messaging me at 9:00 PM asking me about urgent things that they need for the meeting at 9:00 AM the next morning."
Nick: Yeah, the one thing I would say on top of that too, is if you don't feel comfortable with sending that email on the weekend and you want your leadership to respect you as well, tell them in the most respectful way possible, say, "When do you expect this back? Is this a … that I should respond today? Or would it be okay if I could respond Monday at 10:00 AM?" And setting those clear boundaries and then explaining the why.
Tony: Yeah, and meaning it. Yeah.
Jillian: And I think it's almost generational, when I think of like Dick Van Dyke Show era and stuff, and there was this real like, "Oh, the boss is coming for dinner, it has to be perfect and whatever." And it was a very clear hierarchy. And I think we're moving into roles that are a little more collaborative in general and this isn't every industry. I know at our company, it's very much this way and I think that's why we love it. But it is that, people should feel comfortable asking clarifying questions to their boss and even pushing back if appropriate. So if the boss comes in and is like, "Yeah, I'm going to go ahead and need you to come in on Saturday and Sunday too." And to be like, "Well, I have plans because those are our days off."
That's a really bad, extreme example, but you know what I mean? Just be like, "Realistically, I can get this to you at this date, but whatever the original deadline was like, I'm going to have to drop the ball on something else. So what do you want me to do?" And just being able to just go back and forth and find something that works for both people. Because again, human not robot.
Nick: I love that you just gave an Office Space example.
Jillian: I did, but I couldn't get the quote perfect.
Nick: So amazing.
Jillian: I want to shift gears real quick just to talk about, because again, this is a very common in community as well as customer experience, but I want to touch on something I know a lot of newer communing community builders, especially have a hard time with, which is back to the fighting and specifically deescalation. So I know if you're helping doing consulting work and whatnot with call centers, I know you know all about this. So we did talk about the tactical empathy, but I'm curious if you could to maybe go into just some broad level, best practices, tips? If you were training a group of employees who are going to have to deal with fighting people and just the best guidance you have for in those situations, how to deescalate things quickly?
Nick: I think it helps to ask open ended questions. If you can help understand more about... Because sometimes what they're saying isn't necessarily what they mean or what they really mean. And that doesn't make a whole lot of sense. But what I mean by that is when they have emotion first and they don't actually have all of their stuff in order, it helps to understand the entire story, the holistic journey of where they're coming from. And I'm going to totally botch of who actually said this, but it's acknowledging them, it's understanding them, and then it's resolving their problem. And if you can do those three things and actually ask those clarifying questions for them, it helps alleviate some of that pain.
And to be honest, there's going to be some people that throw up these, that are in your face and they want everything now and they want it for free and you're just not going to please them. And that's okay. But if you have to try and you have to hear them out because maybe eventually they'll come back, but they're going to talk about the way that you made feel, even though you didn't agree with them.
Tony: And they're almost certainly used to being treated as people that people usually just want to rush off the phone as quickly as possible. So if you give them a different experience, even if they never tell you that they're happy about their experience, you're going to stand in contrast to what their usual experience is.
Nick: Yeah. And I think one thing as an employee, as a customer service rep, Tony, you mentioned mindset. And Jillian, you mentioned not answering the call when you're in the call center. How do you change that mindset, where instead of saying, "I have to take that call," say, "I get to. I get to help solve that problem for that customer today. And at the end of the day, I want to be the best part of their day. I want to be the conversation that they tell at the dinner table with the fam because of the experience that I gave them and I didn't necessarily solve their problem."
Jillian: There's certainly something to say about a mind shift, a mind frame shift. There we go. And the dread versus the opportunity. So especially, going further with the call center examples and analogy, but anybody listening, if you're like, "Well, I don't work in a call center and I don't plan to," I think a lot of this is just very practical help for just situations with other humans, which we all are in every day. But especially if you get off, you have an experience, a situation that sucks, like someone's screaming at you, you can't fix anything.
You can just try to reframe how you're looking at things. I know I've done this with all sorts of silly things. I have generalized anxiety disorder and something that used to really stress me out, I would lose sleep at night was this one intersection where I live, because it's really hard to turn left and people are really mean if you do it wrong, I or just get the timing off or whatever. And then there's pedestrians, it's just this whole thing. That seriously gave me so much dread. And I know that's silly. It's part of the reason why it's a diagnosed thing. But I changed how I thought about it to be like, "Ooh, I can't wait to see what happens today." More like an observer instead of a participant. And it changed, along with medication, it changed everything. It's not that big of a deal anymore. So that's a non call center example of how you can put that into your every day at that scary intersection that needs a light.
Nick: Well, I think all of us have a scary intersection story.
Nick: Regardless of what that is, if it's literally an intersection or if it's a figurative intersection of, "I got to figure out where I want to go and am I going to turn left or am I going to turn right? And I have a big decision in front of me and sometimes even the smallest things of where I'm going to eat to where's my next job going to be, because I have multiple opportunities now, to how do I increase my community because I'm struggling?" Everybody's going to have that intersection of making that decision. And it is all up to that mindset.
Jillian: Totally. I like that we just coined the scary intersection. Press two to tell Nick your scary intersection story.
Nick: I should just have a voicemail of pressing two.
Jillian: That would be funny. I would maybe prank all that all the time. Yes hello.
Nick: This is not Jillian this time. I'm making a ham sandwich.
Tony: Have you ever played with Twilio or any of those phone tree services? You could have a lot of fun doing exactly what we're talking about.
Jillian: Oh my gosh.
Nick: That would be pretty advanced. I see a new future in industry for SPI.
Tony: Oh yeah.
Jillian: The SPI phone line. Get lost in the branches. Nick, so let's flip it. So I hate calling into call centers because I know it's a painful role, and especially, you call in you usually with a problem and so you're like, "Oh, what's going to happen. I was triple charged for something," or whatever it is. So let's flip the script and give a couple examples of how to be effective when calling into a call center. What do you wish everyone knew when they call into, or just not even a call center, but just customer service?
Jillian: Let's help our customer service friends out here.
Nick: If you are a consumer of a product or service, hear them out. Explain to them that you understand that it's not their problem, that you know that they didn't create the product. You know that they didn't sell them that service, but you just happen to be the person that they're interacting with today. And so give them that time, share that, explain to them, "Hey, I understand I'm frustrated, but it's not toward you." Talk to them in a typical, how you would normally talk in your tone, and explain to them the situation. And then just ask them for help. Or say, "How do you suppose we should solve this?" And make it collaborative? And sometimes it's going to work and sometimes it's not going to work, but at least flipping the script, how do you make your conversation with that representative the best part of their day?
Tony: It's amazing sometimes how easy it is to make somebody's day.
Jillian: So easy.
Tony: I really have tried to practice this. I actually try to practice this when I'm in a bad mood, because I just find that I can tap into bad mood, energy to be extra nice. And I know that if I'm dealing with somebody, this CVS pharmacy people, they deal with endless barrages of miserable people all day. And maybe the best thing I could do is just do my thing, complete the transaction and get the heck out of there as quickly as possible. But just to be like, "Hey, I'm going to actually catch the name on your name tag and use your name to tell you, 'Hey, Nick, have a great day.'" And just to drop a little teensy bit of humanity into their experience. Just little bits can go far.
Nick: I love that. And I think what you should do too, is if somebody actually went above and beyond and helped you out more than what you expected, tell their supervisor, give them a kudos so that the supervisor has the ability to share it with others internally. Then they feel like they're going to be the hero anytime that a consumer does that and they get this kudos or they get to pick from the candy jar, or whatever that the thing is. But it makes them feel really good for a period of time. So continue to do that.
Jillian: It's so easy to forget too, that we can do that. Unless they ask, often there's a survey on your receipt or whatever, but you forget about it. I know I try anytime I use a chat bot, or I guess it's not a bot, but the chat feature on a website where it's a human on the other end, they'll always be like, "How was this?" And I always try to say something nice in those, because yeah, when you're faced with a hundred people every day, just even that one positive feedback makes such an impact. And it's so easy for me to do for that person.
Nick: Yeah. When it comes to giving a view, it's either somebody's going to give a really good review or a really bad review. The two to four stars doesn't happen a whole lot.
Jillian: Mm-hmm (affirmative). That's so true. All right. Well, Nick, we should transition to our very hard rapid fire questioning. Tony, did you want to do it? You want me to do it? You do it.
Jillian: I like it when you do it.
Nick: Knock, knock, who's there? Tony, you do it.
Tony: Okay. So what we're going to do is the rapid fire. We're going to ask you some quick questions. Just go ahead and just give us the answer that just pops into your head. You won't be judged on your answers. Maybe you will. Sorry. Okay. So starting off with, when you were a little Nick, little young Nick, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Nick: Man, I wanted to be a professional hockey player. I wanted to be Wayne Gretsky.
Nick: He was a legend.
Jillian: Wait, what's your favorite hockey team?
Nick: The Red Wings. Detroit Red Wings.
Jillian: Oh God.
Nick: I know, we can be fans. We can be friends, still.
Jillian: I just vomited in my mouth.
Nick: Did we just become frenememies?
Jillian: Just don't throw an octopus at me. That's just a gross tradition.
Nick: I'm never taping one of those to my belly.
Jillian: Ugh. Yeah. Sorry, continue Tony. I'll mute myself.
Tony: Did you play hockey? Did you get to at least work?
Nick: Yeah. I played from age four till I was about 15, 16. And then I started playing adult hockey for four or five years as well.
Tony: Cool, that's amazing. Okay, so talking about community for a second, how do you define community?
Nick: Community is, how do I build a group of people who have a single focused goal who are not like-minded, but you're building and adding value to raise all boats?
Tony: I like that. I like that. I feel like we get a lot of similar responses to this, but the nuance of what you just said, I think is important. The singular shared focus. Turning to the bucket list. What is something on your bucket list that you have done, it's been crossed off?
Nick: Yeah, one thing that I have done just recently is wrote two books. One is called Reasons Not To Focus On Customer Experience. And then the other one is Reasons Not To Focus On Employee Experience. So those are the two amazing titles. And then they're going to have tables of contents, like customer experience, customer service, digital transformation, customer lifetime value, executive buy-in. And then it's going to say chapter one, customer experience. And it's going to have a few questions to think about, but then the rest of the book, after every single chapter title is going to be empty with lined paper, because there are no reasons not to focus on the customer and or the employee.
Tony: Love it. Appreciate you sharing a punchline. I'm excited to see it in real life. I feel like that's going to make a good impression. What about on your bucket list, something still on the bucket list? Something you have not yet done?
Nick: One thing I haven't done is, well, I haven't been a professional hockey player, so I think that's going to be out of...
Tony: Still on the list? That's good.
Nick: Yeah, it's still there. I don't know if I'm going to get these amazing quads that I can implant, but I don't think that's going to happen. I'd like to sky dive. I think I'm going to put that on my personal list. Maybe do it in Hawaii or something. That would be really cool. I would like to get my private pilot's license.
Tony: Ooh, that's killer. That's fun. You have to learn all kinds of crazy stuff for that. I was reading up on it a bit and learning different kinds of clouds and atmospheric conditions and all kinds of fun things. So yeah, that's a good one to keep on the list.
Nick: Yeah. I think it has a higher probability of happening than being a professional hockey player.
Tony: You never know. You never know. All right. Let's talk about books. Is there a book in particular that you are just absolutely loving, that you would like everyone to know about?
Nick: Yeah. So Julian touched on it a little bit, Never Split The Difference is a really good one. Highly recommend that one since we were geeking out about it all day. Another one, a lady I interviewed here recently, Kindra Hall, she wrote a book called Stories That Stick. She's all about storytelling. And everybody's got a story, regardless if you're building a community or you just assume that you don't have a story, but some people will listen to your story for hours and hours because you are a certified plumber, but you have the story of all of these things that you've accomplished and how you've trained others and how others have trained you. You just have to find ways to craft it and to explain the best way to go about it. And I think that book really helped me. It's all about how storytelling can captivate customers, influence audiences, and transform your business. And I would highly recommend that.
Tony: Yeah, I feel like I need to check that one out literally right now, because I feel like I've got good stories but sometimes I just need to figure out how to frame it properly. So that's great. Okay. In terms of living situation, if you could live somewhere other than where you do live, where would you live?
Nick: I would say I would like to live in Norway. I think that would be really cool. My family is originally from Norway and I've always wanted to go back and do a cruise out there. But if I had to live somewhere else, that would be pretty intense.
Tony: Sounds awesome.
Nick: I wouldn't live in tents, but I would maybe live on a ship and I'd be a viking or something.
Jillian: That would be cold in a tent. That would be intense tent.
Nick: It would be an intense tent.
Tony: A professional viking hockey player.
Jillian: That works.
Tony: If you're you're on the international waters in your own vessel, then you could create your own professional hockey league for your vessel and could work.
Jillian: And some cruise ships even have ice rinks in.
Nick: There it is.
Jillian: I don't think it's real ice but details.
Nick: Minor details.
Tony: I think we can hack this. All right. One last thing, Nick, aside from being the world's most fondly remembered professional hockey viking, how do you want to be remembered?
Nick: Yeah, I think I touched on it a little bit when it comes to the podcast, I want people to say, "Man, this guy added a ton of value and he had fun serving others."
Tony: What more could you ask? Had fun serving others.
Jillian: That's amazing.
Tony: Thank you for that, Nick. And where do we find you? Where do we find your organization on the internet? On the socials?
Jillian: And where do we purchase your books?
Nick: Yeah, you can purchase my book, just go to Amazon. You can go to my website, Press1forNick.com. You can go to, I got the YouTube page. You can go find me on search for press one for Nick. I'm on Twitter, I'm on LinkedIn. You just go and find where this internet thing is and you just type and press one for Nick, and you'll find me.
Jillian: You'll come right up.
Tony: I just pictured your website. Obviously, this is not realistic, but I pictured your website and it's just like a dial pad. And if you press any of the other numbers, it sends you to random meme websites. You have to press one.
Nick: That's it. That is actually exactly what it is. I don't know how you had any idea that was it.
Jillian: I think of a rotary phone, even though that's not a press.
Tony: You have to like click...
Nick: Rotary one for Nick.
Jillian: Yeah, it's one or nine, I think it's nine, that's the longest.
Nick: It is. It's the longest one.
Tony: Nick, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate having you. Keep up the great work. Keep making people's lives easier on both sides of the phone and otherwise.
Nick: Thanks so much. It's been a pleasure to be on your guy's show.
Tony: All right, thanks so much, Nick. And please hold for a brief survey after the podcast recording is over.
Nick: Please hang up and try to call again.
Jillian: Tony, would you be press one for Tony? What would your call tree, what would be the thing?
Tony: That is a question that I would probably spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about. So I'll just say I feel like press one for Nick is a really cool brand and I would get in way too many tangents playing with phone trees and unnecessarily complicated ways of reaching me.
Jillian: That was so much fun.
Tony: Yeah, absolutely. Well, there's so many different angles to talk about when you're talking about dealing with customers and support.
Jillian: I could talk to Nick for hours. I'm actually going to be on his podcast in a couple weeks to talk about similar stuff, so I get to keep going. But as we talked about, there's so much overlap when you think about community and you think about customers. And same with employee experience, it's all very similar. And the bottom line or the TLDRs, I like to say all the time, we're human, treat each other kindly. It's just a radical concept.
Tony: Yeah. And I think recognizing the humanity of the people that we're dealing with in support is one piece of it and approaching it with an attitude of compassion is a good start. And then balancing that with the humanity and the needs of the people who are dealing with those people in your organization and creating ample opportunity for those people's needs to be accounted for when they might spend a lot of their day dealing with people and the emotional draining nature of that, and what goes with that. So those two pieces I think are just super important.
Jillian: Yeah. And I think there's such a pressure, be it, if it's your job or just in everyday life, because you're probably interacting with someone at their job at some point, but to resolve things quickly and move on. And talking to Nick, I kind of think maybe we should challenge that. Obviously, we don't want to hold anyone up or vice versa, but just acknowledging like, "Hey, you're a human at work. I appreciate you." So patience and compassion and just treating each other like human beings. I can't get over it.
Tony: It's become, in a strict kind of business sense, the call center is thought of as a cost center of the more time that a customer spends on the phone with a human, the more it costs us. And I understand the sentiment behind that, but if we reimagine that a bit and just play with the assumptions and say, "Well, first of all, let's at least have the reps not think of it that way. To not think, 'Oh, every person that calls is someone that is draining our energy and the quicker I get them off the better.'"
And I think that that attitude shift, well, it's one of the ways that we can do business differently and we can build community differently. And I want to say, part of building business and part of building community is about deciding where we want to reinforce existing cultural norms and where we want to start creating new ones.
Jillian: Yeah. And the pandemic has really brought the opportunity, between the great resignation and people saying, "It's not worth it to me to work in these jobs that are exhausting." Because they're customer facing, whatnot, people are leaving in droves and then it's creating, the people who stay now have to deal with that plus because they're short staffed. Everywhere where I live has a help wanted design. And it's a great opportunity for companies to say, "This very capitalist mindset that people are numbers and time is money, it doesn't work." Maybe it does in your industry, whatever. But point being, let's challenge it. The world's falling apart, why not?
Tony: Well yeah, not to get too much into the capital side of things, but there's other forms of capital. And so you don't need to change the idea of trying to build something that's profitable. But just to think about the social capital that you're building up by being an organization that people really care about, and that clearly cares about the people that call it. Social capital leads to financial capital and vice versa. There's a lot of ways that you can transpose those capitals. Capitas.
Jillian: And a great example of that is Zappos. It works for them. And guess what? Amazon bought them for over a billion dollars. Them taking calls about anything, it works. It's not like it's a this or that.
So I wanted to just touch on something we talked about that I thought was just so important. When we were talking about deescalation and conflict and just all of those things, the common thing we kept coming back to was listening, the concept of tactical empathy, which is amazing and just the importance of people feeling heard, whatever your strategy is. And I say strategy, but I mean that in a very, it should become mean from a place of wanting to help, but it's that active listening, it's the open-ended questions, it's repeating back to make sure you do understand and getting clarification until you truly understand the thing.
Tony: I think that it's a great just big takeaway to come away with is, for your customers, for members of your community, members of your team, if they feel heard, then you're going to get good outcomes.
Jillian: Yeah. Absolutely. And I think being willing to work with someone to a resolution, even if you don't get to maybe their first ask of that resolution, that might not be possible, but if they know you're trying and you can't make it all the way, but you can find some sort of version of that, they're going to be happy. And that's hopefully your ultimate goal.
Tony: Get them saying, yes.
Jillian: Get them saying yes. Say those last three words.
Tony: Let us know how you end up doing if you practice your communications differently or how you direct other people to do so. We'd love to hear it. We're @TeamSPI on Twitter. And we'd love to just hear what you think about this episode. And if you want to practice your communication, heck, practice your communication skills tweeting at us. That's cool. We can work it. And otherwise, we'll catch you on the next episode of The Community Experience.
This has been the Community Experience. For more information on this episode, including links and shown notes, head over to SmartPassiveIncome.com/listen.
Jillian: All right, you can find nick at Press1forNick.com. And like he said, if you just look for Press 1 For Nick on YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, all the places, he will come right up. Also, his books, definitely go check them out either on his website or on Amazon. So go give Nick a follow and we'll see you next week.
Tony: Our executive producer is Matt Gartland. Our series producers are David Grabowski and senior producer, Sara Jane Hess. Editing and sound designed by Duncan Brown. Music by David Grabowski.
Jillian: See you next time.