Episode 074 : How To Achieve Fiercely Loyal Customers with Sandy Rogers

Sandy Rogers is one of the most prolific minds on the topic of customer and employee loyalty. He will change the very way your organization views the topic and will help orient your company towards winning loyal customers and employees for life. Sandy Rogers is a leader of FranklinCovey’s Loyalty Practice, a FranklinCovey offering which helps organizations increase customer and employee loyalty. He was previously the senior vice president at Enterprise Rent-A-Car and during his 14 years there, Sandy managed the turnaround of the London, England, operation and led the teams that developed Enterprise’s marketing and fleet-services strategies, the advertising campaign “Pick Enterprise. We’ll Pick You Up,”and the system for measuring and improving customer service across all branches.

Before Enterprise, he worked in marketing at Apple and brand management at P&G. He has a bachelor’s degree from Duke and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.

Questions

  • Tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey?
  • Could you tell us a little bit about this loyal to practice? What does it entail? If a company wanted to take on this venture in their organization, what are some of the things that would have to happen?
  • I want you to talk to us about why it’s so important to have a healthy internal customer service culture.
  • Could you share with us, you’ve been in the customer experience realm for quite a bit of time, how do you feel about customer experience on a global level and where do you see it 5 or 10 years from today?
  • What are some important considerations person who operates in the online space should consider to improve on their customer experience, especially seeing that they’re lacking that human element?
  • Could you share maybeone online resource tool, website or app that you couldn’t absolutely live without in your business?
  • Could you share with us some books that have had the biggest impact on you?
  • What’s one thing that’s going on in your life right now that you’re really excited about – either something that you’re working on to develop yourself or people?
  • Could you tell our listeners where they can find you online?
  • What’s one quote or saying that during times of adversity or challenge in your life, you tend to revert to that quote or saying to help you to refocus?

Highlights

  • Sandy shared that he spent most of his career with Enterprise Rent-A-Car and he joined the company and one of his first challenges was to figure out how to help grow the business faster, in the position of leading marketing and they figured the best way to do that was to provide an experience that would get everybody to tell your friends about Enterprise, so they would come back and help the business grow. And they had no measure of customer service, they thought they were pretty good, across the 3000 branches, they had back then, but they had no metric and so they early on measured it, figured out that they’re good overall, but there was huge variation across the chain. And over the next 10 years he and his team, the whole group in Enterprise figured out how to dramatically improve customer service and as a result of what they did, Fred Reichheld at Bain wrote up a book and introduced this whole idea of the Net Promoter Score. And so, at Enterprise he had a lot of different jobs, but when he retired about 10 years ago, Franklin Covey, he got in touch with him about launching a loyalty practice under their umbrella to help other companies build a culture like they had at Enterprise that was really focused on delighting customers to help the business grow faster.
  • Sandy shared that they do two things. They first help organizations measure the loyalty of their customers today and learn specifically not only what they need to do to improve, but equally important, who on their team needs to improve. They have a real passion for the importance of people in taking an ordinary experience and making it extraordinary. So, you got to know who on your team is terrific and should be studied for best practices and who needs coaching. So, beyond the metrics, the second part of what they do in the Franklin Covey Loyalty Practice is provide training and a method that enabled teams to get better at earning the loyalty of their customers faster.

Yanique asked, if you could share with us what you think that difference is between satisfaction and loyalty and why is it so important?

Sandy shared that just thinking about our own experiences as consumers, we may be satisfied and said, “How was everything?” “Oh, it was fine. Yeah I was satisfied.” But the difference between that and the loyalty that every organization wants from its customers and its employees is huge. With loyalty, not only are customers giving you all of their business, but in addition, they are enthusiastically talking you up, singing your praises, recommending you to all their friends. You have the double impact of their business plus the business of all the people they talked to.

Yanique stated, so loyalty is something that all organizations should aim for?

Sandy stated that he thinks almost every organization that is serious wants loyalty, they want loyalty from their customers. And they’ve learned over the last 25 years working with hundreds of different organizations that the key to increasing customer loyalty begins with improving employee loyalty.

Yanique shared that she’s happy he touched on that. As a Customer Service Trainer, because that’s how I got into having this podcast in the first place. Companies hire me to come in and train their staff in customer service, leadership development employee and team building. And I have found over the years and I’ve had it reinforced by so many guests that we’ve interviewed on the podcast that at the end of the day when your service is poor, it’s usually a symptom of something that’s deeper within the organization and it stems from the employees and of course leadership.

  • Sandy shared that the customer experience rarely exceeds the employee experience. He actually agrees with Yanique’s thought that we’ve got to, as an organization, treat employees in a way that they will in turn take great care of our customers. And back to his Enterprise experience, Jack Taylor, the founder of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, which is the largest car rental company in North America and perhaps the world now when you combine Alamo and National, which they also own. He said it’s really simple. When people walk out of one of the thousands of Enterprise branches, they should feel like, “Wow, that was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.” And we realized that that’s all about our people and how the people are treating those customers. So, when Jack would go with him to visit some of the branches that he was overseeing in London, England, he would ask the employees, he’d meet, “Are you having fun?”And he (Sandy) would say, “Jack, why are you asking them if they’re having fun? Talk to them about their sales, about their customer service scores.”He called him and many other Sport, he says, “Sport, if they’re not having fun, nothing else really matters.”And so, when we think about how do we create an environment where people are having fun – very simply, we believe it’s putting them in a position to enrich the lives of other people. Not just the customers, but each other, the people they work with every day. And that’s what they talk about in this book through these three core loyalty principles.

Yanique shared that the book focuses on three core loyalty principles and the book is going to be called, as Sandy mentioned prior to the interview, Leading Loyalty: Cracking the Code to Customer Devotion.

The book is going to focus on:

  • How it is that you can infuse empathy, responsibility, and generosity into every interaction. Make those interactions warm and authentic.
  • Ask the right questions
  • Listen to learn
  • Discover the real job to be done
  • Take ownership of the customer’s issue
  • Follow up and strengthen the relationship
  • Share insights openly and kindly
  • Surprise people with unexpected extras and the bonus, Model, Teach and Reinforce these Essential Behaviors Through Weekly Team Huddles.

So, what I’m getting is the book is not only focused on teaching the three principles, but it also is providing the how to as to how you’re going to maintain consistency, because that’s the challenge in customer experience. So, you go a company and you have a great experience today, but you visit them next month when you travel, if we’re to use Enterprise as an example, and the experience you had last month is nothing compared to the one you had this month. And so, how do they maintain being consistent in their behaviors regardless of the location that you’ve gone to, regardless of the employee that you’re dealing with.

Sandy stated that that is such an important observation. Every company in the world has pockets of greatness, where you’ll get good service. The difference between a good organization and a great customer service organization comes down to the consistency of great experiences across, every week and all their different locations and people in call centers, etc. And to drive that consistency, we believe you’ve got to do these two things. One, you’ve got to have good measures that are telling you every month who’s doing a great job and who needs coaching. And second, what they talk about in the book Leading Loyalty is a process to make sure that people understand the principles essential to earning loyalty, to bring those to life each week. So, in the book they talk about having a 15-minute huddle each week with your team and first celebrate the people who are living the principle you talk about last week. Then learn the nuances of how to apply the next one over the following week and then making a commitment to each other to do these things and come back next week and talk about what was successful and what didn’t work as well.

Yanique stated that it’s definitely having more conversations and helping people to grow and develop because the more robust your team is, the more knowledgeable they are of their shortcomings and limitations, then the better they’ll be able to work at improving on those interactions and not repeating the negative behaviors that will create negative experiences.

Sandy agreed and stated that just simply modeling the behavior you want is the first step, but then calling up. We don’t need to wait a week to point out, “Gosh Yanique, I just want to tell you. I just saw how you interacted with that customer. That is absolutely fantastic. We just talked about how important empathy is and that was a perfect example.”So, we’ve got to celebrate every time we see the behaviors that we want to happen more consistently.

Yanique agreed and stated that when you do that, it makes people aware of what it is that is correct and they’ll want to repeat that behavior because people love recognition, it’s not just about the dollar in terms of getting more money, but it’s also about how you made them feel in that experience.

Sandy stated, underline, underscore, it is not just what we measure that drives improvement, it’s what gets celebrated. We want to leave our work each day and feeling like, “Wow, I had a good day. Why was that? Cause I made a difference. I was recognized for doing something great for one of my teammates or one of our customers.” And so, the more celebration the better.

  • Sandy stated that in his own experience as a business and a consumer, sometimes it’s absolutely dreadful and we all have those stories. And occasionally it’s incredible. And when we think about those incredible experiences that each of us have as customers, we’re all customers, it often comes down to the people and how they made us feel. Our behavior delivers the emotional experience essential for earning the fierce loyalty of other people. And so, they really talk about in the book Leading Loyalty that you’ve got to have a loyalty leader mindset. You’ve got to begin with this idea that “I am responsible”regardless of what your job is in the organization. You can be the CEO or you could be the assistant or the frontline person, you can choose to be a loyalty leader and adopt a loyalty leader mindset, which simply says, “I am going to earn the loyalty of everybody I encounter by having empathy for them, taking responsibility for what it is they’re trying to get done and I’m going to be generous with them.”

Yanique agreed and stated, I had also asked, apart from how you feel about customer experience, where do you see it 5 to 10 years from today? Do you think it’s going to change very much? There’s so much technology that’s being introduced now, there’s chatbots, there’s so much things that are replacing that human interaction, but I personally believe that at the end of the day, even though these things are there to aid in the client experience, I think still people want to deal with another human being. Do you think that will change much 5 to 10 years from now?

Sandy shared that he thinks increasingly we will see technology used in both positive and negative ways in our experience. If the people designing the technology are doing it with the loyalty principles in mind, if they had empathy for customers, technology is great. We’ve all learned how to do online banking, we’ve learned how to check ourselves in for flights, we’ve learned how to order things from Amazon and when those things are working well, it’s terrific. But there are times when we need a human being. He had a problem one time with the Amazon and he actually got a human being and he was blown away by how well that they handled his problem and it gave him tremendous confidence that “Wow, not only did the people who design all of us have empathy for me, but when I do have a problem, there’s a human being there that will care and will take responsibility for getting it sorted out.”

Sandy thinks it’s going to be both over the next 10 years. It’s going to be increased technology, but there will always be that human component that Yanique alluded to.

  • Sandy shared that every person has a customer, whether they’re inside or outside the organization and all of our work directly impacts their experience. The people behind the online customer experience need to ensure that it’s fully aligned with the core loyalty principles. So, if he uses whatever brilliant app that has been designed as a customer do you walk away and feel like, “Wow, that was so easy. Whoever designed this is like, they’re a genius. This is so great,”and that comes from having empathy for them as the user. Now, if on the other hand, he’s typing in information that the company should already know, then he’s feeling like, “These people have no empathy for me. What’s with that? I’ve been doing business with them for five years.” So that these principles of empathy, responsibility and generosity have to come through regardless of whether it’s a human being interaction or we’re using technology to connect with the organization.
  • Sandy shared that the online tool that he couldn’t live without is Google Maps, that’s how he gets everywhere.

Yanique shared, this is the first time I’ve been doing these podcasts as the first guest I’ve had that said Google Maps.

Sandy stated that in the old days they’d say, “Oh, just go take a left here, drive three blocks, take a right here, take a left there.”  Now, he’ll just put in Google Maps.

Yanique agreed, Google Maps is amazing. And that’s very true. I even use it here in Jamaica if I’m going out of town to somewhere that I’m not very familiar with and I’m just amazed at how well it works. It’s really accurate to the point, “You’ve arrived at your destination on the right,” and when you look over, it’s exactly where you’re going. So, I totally agree.

  • When asked about books that have had the biggest impact, Sandy shared that the book he read back when it first came out, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. That book has just such an enduring value and to just keep revisiting, my children tease me about the seven habits and reminding me, “Oh dad, that doesn’t sound very win-win.”You have to live the advice you’re preaching to your children.

Yanique agreed, and we all need people in our corner, in our tribe to help keep us accountable because we’re human and yes, we read these books and we do our best to try and live these behaviors and attitudes on a daily basis, but sometimes we mess up. That’s the truth. So, if we have people in our corner that know what those things are and they can call us out on it, it makes us even more aware and just keeps us aligned.

Sandy shared that that’s one of the things they teach in Leading Loyalty. There are three core loyalty principles. The third one is generosity. You got to have empathy for people, take responsibility for helping them and then be generous with them. And one of the ways that we’re generous is we share our insights openly. So, if you see something as my coworker or my friend that would really help me, we have a huddle in the book, chapter nine, which describes how do you share insights with and think about millennials and generation z where we’ve got a lot of confidence about how to share feedback online, but we want to have just as much confidence doing it face to face, in person where we let people know, “Hey listen, I think you’re terrific. Can I just share this thought with you?”And we haven’t practiced this one that we’re teaching in the book.

Yanique stated, a lot of what you’ve stated since we started this interview has to do with practice and I just want, know if you could emphasize for our listeners how important it is regardless of the industry that you are in or the profession or the roles that you practice on it. You engage in on a daily basis, but in order for you to really master a particular skill or talent, practice is required, that’s what builds the consistency.

Sandy stated no question, practice what we learn as kids, practice makes perfect. And when people hear things like empathy, responsibility, generosity, they’ll say, “Well, come on. I learned that stuff in kindergarten,” and his response is, “You did. We all did.”And hopefully it’s ingrained in our psyche, but just because empathy, responsibility and generosity or common sense, unfortunately they’re not common practice in so many of my interactions. And so, to practice and to reinforce, they say, have a huddle once a week, bring your team together for just 15 minutes and celebrate the people who are doing these things, teach them in detail and the nuance is “How can I really discover the real job to be done for somebody,”which is our responsible practice, for example. And then challenge everybody to go try it this week and come back and share. And so, they’re creating space within the whirlwind of our busy lives to practice these things so that we get better and better.

  • Sandy shared that he is really excited about all the feedback they’re getting from different organizations running these huddles. Ah, I’ll tell you a story. They recommend this huddle process, there’s 11 different huddles, 11 chapters in the book, and they had this group of Auto Repair Shops and when they described the empathy, responsibility and generosity, they looked at him like, “Are you nuts? I mean come on. I mean this is, this, that, lovey, dovey, Covey’s stuff.”These guys, they have been under the hood of cars, you really expect them to get together and talk about this stuff. They ran these huddles for six months and they had their customer service scores because they were providing metrics and both them and Sandy’s team were very pleasantly surprised by how dramatically they were able to improve their customer service. People get stuck in a rut, they want to get better at customer service, but they don’t know how to do it. They get frustrated and for these Auto Repair Shops, they improve their scores by more than 10 points on average. The top three or four shops improved by 20 points. So, he gets excited about working on something that makes a difference.

Yanique stated, and so when the book is released, now people will have a how to process that they can have, a physical, Bible that they can work with that will help them to achieve those kinds of results.

Sandy stated that this is what’s different between this book Leading Loyalty and all the other books on Loyalty, which are great by the way. He loves Fred Reichheld’s work on the Net Promoter Score, “The Ultimate Question,” most of the books up until now, talk about the theory of loyalty, about the economics, about what’s the return on investment is by improving. This book talks about a process, they give you the principles, the practices and a process to actually earn greater loyalty. And it’s not just from your customers and employees that the principles apply to your personal life too, apply these things to your spouse, your kids, your family and friends.

Yanique agreed and stated, as a matter of fact, there is a principal, I think it’s from The Eighth Habit. It’s called the 90/10 principle that Covey speaks of and regardless of the workshop that I’m doing, whether it’s a leadership workshop or it’s an employee workshop, it’s for low level employees versus in a C Suite employees, at the end of the day I always introduce the principal at the beginning of the workshop because I think it’s so important and it ties back to your initial introduction when you spoke to the fact that in order for people to be loyal, there has to be some emotional engagement and connection there. So, if you’re familiar with the principal, Covey says that, “90% of everything that happens to you, it’s based on your response and your reaction and 10% you have no control over.”And I think as customer service, people, leaders, employees, frontline people, regardless of where you are in the company, if you remember that fundamental principle that customer comes in blazing, mad, steam coming through their ears saying things that are just unconscionable, you’re like, “Oh my goodness, why is this customer saying this to me?” If you can think in your mind, just put yourself in a frame of mind where 10% is that customer, I have no control over their own behavior, what I control how I’m going to respond, I control what I’m going to say, I control the thoughts I’m going to have about this customer, it can really transform that whole interaction.

Sandy agreed and stated that that’s taking personal responsibility. You get to choose your response; you carry around weather to use the Stephen Covey phrase. But that’s such an important paradigm or mindset to adopt before that nasty customer comes in the door and yells at you for something that you really had nothing to do it. If we’ve got that mindset, we can say, “You know what, this is not about me.”And I can have empathy. I can say, “Oh my gosh, wow. That is incredibly frustrating, I would be really angry too, tell me more about this.” And just letting people talk about. Enterprise, one of the best ways to create a fiercely loyal customer is to find a problem and then just hear him out. Just say, “Tell me about what happened.” Offer a sincere apology, say, “Oh my gosh. I mean, I totally get that. It was incredibly frustrating,”and then ask in a very sincere way, “What can we do to make this right for you?”And you know, more than 90% of the time the customer will say, “Nothing,I mean wow. I thank you for listening.”A heartfelt apology.

Yanique shared, there are times, as you said, the customer just wants someone to listen, someone to pay attention, someone to not discount or discredit what they’re saying by just moving onto the next thing but actually paying attention to this moment now that I’m sharing this experience with you.

Sandy loves that the Chinese character for listen, it contains the symbols for the ears, the eyes and the heart. So often we just use our ears but if we’re not listening with our eyes, we’re missing the emotion that’s being expressed through that clenched fist. And if we’re not listening to him with our heart, we’re not sensing how upset this person really is. Using all three and so much, it’s interesting the word listen and silent, they’re the same letters.

Yanique also shared that then there’s also the fact that God gave you two ears, but he only gave you one mouth. So, I’m thinking, maybe there is some reason behind that. And it could be that we really need to spend more time listening and less time talking and unfortunately in our society, people do the opposite. There’s lots of talking and less listening.

  • Sandyshared listeners can find him at –

Linkedin – Sandy Rogers

Facebook – @SandyRogersFC

  • Sandy shared that his stepfather told him when he was in high school, “No risk it, no biscuit.” Whenever you’re feeling comfortable in the shallow end of the pool and feel like you’ve got it under control, throw yourself in the deep end of the pool and keep going deeper because that’s the only way that we grow as people.

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