Episode 038 : Investing in the Future of Your Customer’s Experience with Jospeh Michelli

Joseph Michelli is an Internationally sought after Speaker, Author and Organizational Consultant who transfers his knowledge of exceptional business practices in ways that develop joyful and productive workplaces with a focus on the total customer experience. His insights encourage leaders and front line workers to grow and invest passionately in all aspects of their lives. Dr. Michelli is a Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, Neilsen Book Scan and New York Times number 1 bestselling author. His latest book is Driven to Delight: Delivering World- Class Customer Experience the Mercedes-Benz Way, some of his other titles include Leading the Starbucks Way: 5 Principles for Connecting with Your Customers, Your Products and Your PeopleThe Zappos Experience: 5 Principles to Inspire, Engage, and WOWPrescription for Excellence: Leadership Lessons for Creating a World Class Customer Experience from UCLA Health SystemThe Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary and The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, as well as When Fish Fly: Lessons for Creating a Vital and Energized Workplace from the World Famous Pike Place Fish Market. Joseph holds a certified speaking professional designation from The National Speakers Association and is a member of The Authors Guild; he received his Masters and Doctorate from the University of Southern California and he has won the Asian Brand Excellence Award as an Editorial Board Member for The Beryl Institute Patient Experience Journal (PXJ) and is on the Founder’s Council of Customer Experience One, he is also named one of the top 10 Thought Leaders in Customer Service by global gurus.



  • Tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey
  • Could you share with us from one of your favorite books, what are these 5 principles that seem to be a constant in most of the books that you’ve authored?
  • What are some of the limitations that leaders may face? Do you think they are more internal or external? Why is it that leadership seems to be a big challenge for a lot of organizations, why are they not getting it right?
  • How do you think a business owner or a leader should approach service recovery?
  • What are some important considerations that you would recommend to a business owner they take into account moving into the online space in order to be successful?
  • How do you stay motivated every day?
  • What is the one online resource, website, tool or app that you absolutely cannot live without in your business?
  • What are some of the books that have had the biggest impact on you?
  • What is one thing in your life right now that you are really excited about – something that you are working on to develop yourself or people?
  • If you were sitting across the table from another business owner and they said to you that they feel they have great products and services but they lack the constantly motivated human capital, what’s the one piece of advice would you give them to have a successful business?
  • Where can our listeners find your information online?
  • What is one quote or saying that you live by or that inspires you in times of adversity?



  • Joseph Michelli shared that he has been in this business of customer service which has transformed into customer experience enhancement for so long that he has had many great mentors and guides along the way and if anything, he has been excited to see how many people have started to appreciate that it’s not just the products they have that makes a difference in the market place but it’s really the way those products to marketing, he thinks that changes in the global economy have cost us all to realize that you can get a lot of very similar products very easily today but the service dimension is something that very few have mastered and it is a differentiator.
  • Joseph stated that it starts with leadership, entrepreneur, a small business owner, a large company, having a leader who has the vision to realize that people are the most important aspect of business, that all business are personal, that you have to understand the wants, needs and desires of people in order to create, innovate and to deliver in ways to meet their wants, needs and desires. It’s an overarching commitment to utilizing both technology and the human capital within your organization to create memorable or crave able experience that people will talk about on social media. He thinks that there are dimensions of driving culture, a culture of service excellence as well as operational excellence, getting it right and making it right and obsessing about that and most of these brands are on a journey to decrease the amount of effort that customers have involved in getting their needs met, currently there are all these making sure and understanding that this is a long game, that this is about lasting significance not just short term sales or profitability for the next quarter, it’s really about understanding relationships and multi generations of consumers who are going to support your brand.
  • Joseph shared that he thinks they see excellence within silos, they build organizations that have silos and they are not looking at the journey of the customer across the organization, so instead of looking down from the top of an organization and seeing your marketing silo and your sales silo and seeing your after sale silo, your customers look from a horizontal vantage point and they see the brand and they see it when they encounter it inconsideration of a product, they see it when they walk into a store or when they attempt to purchase something from the online store front, they see it when they make a return, they are seeing the same brand in a horizontal walk. Unfortunately, a lot of organizations reward people for success in each of the verticals silos as they look down on it from the top, so a lot of this gets to helping organizations create opportunities of handing the customer from one point of the journey to the next part of the journey seamlessly instead of just celebrating success within a silo.

Yanique shared that she found that the companies that really understand their journey also recognize that things are not going to go smooth all the time so service recovery is so important.

  • Joseph stated that it’s one of the greatest differentiators, everybody do a good job until they get your money, as soon as they get your money, they treat you differently, some take you for granted and never speak to you again or when it’s time for renewal, try to get you constantly to buy something from them. Those who after the sale respond very ably to the consumer, the better, the first formal part of this is understanding that service recovery is an investment in future marketing so rather than seeing it as a lost leader, it is a part of your advertising strategy and saves you money from having to advertise and recover customers who are soiling or contaminating the market place with their negative reactions to your poor recovery. It’s a mind shift on what recovery is, it’s a fundamental opportunity to decrease future marketing costs and actually leverage that which is so valuable the customer you’ve already acquired in having them be a repeat purchaser, it is so much easier to get them to buy a second time than to get somebody to buy the first time and the cost associated with retaining a customer is so much less even if you have to invest money in a recovery moment than it would be to try to require a replacement customer.

Joseph stated that it is simple as Starbucks has a promise that, “If you don’t like your drink, we will replace it for you no questions asked.” Joseph gave an example, he stated that there was a prankster, a person who pranks corporate America, so he bought a Starbucks drink, he brought it home, it was a milk based drink, he put it in his garage, he left it there for a week and a half, he brought it back extremely rancid inside of a plastic bag and he brought it into a Starbucks and handed it to the Barista and saying, “Look, this drink does not meet my satisfaction.” They have been trained so well by this brand simply said, “Let me take this take this to our back dumpster and in the mean time, what drink might I prepare for you that you might like today?” It was that simple, many people would say, “come on, obviously this is not a freshly made drink that we are in any obligation to replace” In truth, this prankster went on to write a blog about the fact that he had hoped that they would fail their recovery promise and they did not do so and he was the one who got pranked and that advertising and that promotion and the fact that he’s telling the story today has far more value to the brand than the $4.00 they would have saved had they argued with the customer in suggesting that he was not entitled to the recovery.

Yanique stated that she lives in Jamaica and most of the stores already have a sign on the door that says, “No exchanges, no refunds” so you as a customer, once you enter or start to browse that store, you know, “If I purchase this, clearly it’s a final purchase, if I have an issue with it, I can’t take it back.” It’s truly amazing to know that the promise is that they are going to replace it for you no questions asked, that takes real guts, real courage.

Joseph stated that there will be those who abuse it and this would have been a case of abuse, clearly it went well beyond the perimeters but most people will not. There is a speaker in the USA who at the beginning of every presentation hands out a bowl of quarters and he says, “Please take all the quarters” and no one has taken all the quarters in any audience that he has ever put that out to and the message largely is, most people will self regulate, most people are business owners, most people have a sense of fairness, there will be those who abuse it but assuming the entire population is out to get you creates an animosity between yourself and the customer that’s hard to recover from and as a world traveler, he has been to countries in the Caribbean that are open and warm and he has been to ones that are locked down and he knows which ones he doesn’t want to go back to.

  • Joseph stated that online is a very self service oriented deliverable, it’s a lot about speed, and it’s a lot about convenience so you clearly should maximize those dimensions. The more speedy and more automated this becomes, the more you need people around in case something goes wrong because he become lulled into the sense that everything is perfect and so if you’re going to have online, you also need to have some level of Call Centre or human response that can deal with any break downs that happens in the automated space and so you have to be very mindful that you’re going to move in and out of brick and mortar, in and out of call centre, in and out of online app deliverable and so it really is a multi channel mindset that you have to start thinking about and the customer can start in one spot, jump to the next and needs to be able to jump back to the next. If you go purely online and it’s difficult to get people to solve a problem or answer a question that you can’t get answered on a frequently answered questions page online then you end up with a lesser experience and you may end up churning customers so doing online development means you also have some talented human capital that bolts into this multi channel journey.

Speed and Convenience for todays customer – Joseph stated that we have to maximize the speed at every turn and we do have to manage customer expectations because there are certain expectations that have gotten ahead of customers and in order to have everything that fast you also give up some tradeoffs on artisanship and quality so it is an educational on tradeoffs that with speed comes some compromises and we are willing to make them in these regards because we know what’s best and in delivery of this particular product you know you need speed, we know you need speed, we are working to maximize that but you also need quality and if you compromise and buy something very hastily crafted in order to meet the speed, it probably won’t last long, so it’s baiting what is value and speed is a part of the value equation but there are other dimensions that you have to education. Sometimes we can do things while they are waiting for those 5 days for a product, we can educate them, and we can stay in relationship with them. The art of Disney if you go to Walt Disney World, you are in massive lines, it is not speedy at all to go through the experience but they often distract you, entertain you, transform you with other things happening while you’re in line and he thinks that’s the art sometimes, how else can they add value, “The product will be there in 5 days but in the mean time I want to give you 5 days of information about how maximize the use of your product as soon as it arrives so there isn’t such a learning curve.” So maybe there is a not speed to delivery but there’s a speed to use because he has done something in that delivery time that adds value.

Beta Brand – company that did not have a product but they provided their prospects with entertaining stories.

  • Joseph stated that that particular journey with the owner was a co authored book with Johnny Yokoyama who created Pike Place Fish Market, he had the good fortune of working with him and he’s inspirational to him. He stated that Yanique and himself shared many of the same journeys, they go in and help leaders create better experiences to drive loyalty and engagement of their people and of their customers and that’s just a life giving journey that he’s on, to deal with the Johnny Yokoyama’s, to deal with the CEO’s of these corporations to help them lead these initiatives, to watch small business owners change the way they treat their people and the way their people treat the customers, it is so life giving that it’s easy to do what he does in life and because of that, it’s easy for him to stay motivated.
  • Joseph shared that he is on the road all the time so most of the airline apps and almost all the hotel apps have incredible value to him. This morning he walked to his local Starbucks and he used his mobile order app, he was able to have enough time to sit down and enjoy his coffee because the coffee was waiting for him. Anything that makes his life easier is something he tends to continues to give real estate to his phone, otherwise he downloads a lot of apps and then they are gone 72 hours because he doesn’t use them, they look good but they don’t’ give his life ease or pleasure.
  • Joseph shared that the book that has had the biggest impact is Man’s Search for Meaning By Viktor E. Frankl, it is the message of a Psychiatrist who survived the concentration camps in World War II, the beauty for him is that he inspires him to realize how great he can be and his classic section is where he’s talking about people who are near starvation, who gave up the food they have, a small portion of that to someone else who are worst and Frankl says, “there are not many people who did that but the fact that we can is inspiring to all of us” and that’s how he looks at the world, we can all serve better, we can all do more to be in service to one another and that’s the kind of books he tends to like to read.
  • Joseph stated that right now they trying to figure out to create product, he thinks he is at a point in his career where he has written enough books, he has done enough consulting and he has been on the road a lot, so he is trying to figure out how to monetize and create a platform of training courses and things that keep him from having to go on planes so in 10 or 15 years he can spend more time with in the islands enjoying life while still creating value as best he can.


  • Joseph stated that it starts with you, we can identify the generation Y and Z and the millennials, reality says, “If you’re not a hundred percent in every single day, why should anyone else in your organization be, you are the owner, you are the leader, you set the standard, what shows up in your business is probably in part a reflection of who you are.” It is harder today to find motivated people so it takes more discipline to select, you should be looking for them everywhere you find them, you should be offering them an opportunity to consider employment with you, stealing the best from the rest but ultimately it is how do you show up every day because that will show up in the life of the customer.


  • Joseph shared listeners can find him at –


Joseph Michelli Twitter

Joseph Michelli Facebook

Joseph Michelli LinkedIn


  • Joseph stated that Peter Drucker once said, “We are not in business to create a profit, we are in business to create a customer, it is through customers that profits come.” So for him, Joseph is less worried about whether or no they are going to be profitable, he’s more worried about customers and if he takes care customers, the profits will follow.



Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl


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