Episode 107 : The Art of Listening and Taking Action in order to Build and Sustain a Strong Reputation

Jason Grier is the Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Officer at Reputation.com. He leads Reputation.com’s customer loyalty and growth initiatives as Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Officer. He’s the former Senior Vice President of Global Support Operations and Chief Customer Officer at McAfee, where he spent more than 10 years.

While at McAfee, Jason built a reputation as an industry leader in customer support and operations. His teams were honored with a number of awards, including the Intel Quality Award, a prestigious honor for outstanding quality and a personification of Intel’s values and the highest team honor given at Intel. His teams also won two TSIA Star Awards, two Service & Support Professionals Association Awards, and a Stevie Award for innovation in action.

Before his time at McAfee, Jason held executive-level positions at Sutherland Global Services and Covad communications.

Questions

  • Can you share with us a little bit about your journey, how it is that are able to get into these different roles? And of course, more importantly, what led you to the role that you are currently in today?
  • Could you share with us a little bit about your organization? It says you’re the Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Officer at Reputation.com. What does Reputation.com do?
  • In terms of customer experience and reputation, how can an organization ensured that if they had a good reputation, a good brand image in the eyes of their customer pre COVID, how can they sustain that and even surpass COVID with those customers maintaining their reputation?
  • Could you share with us maybe two to three things that you think an organization or characteristics that an organization needs to embody in order to really have a reputation that is strong, where customer experience is concerned?
  • Could you share with us how do you stay motivated every day?
  • What’s the one online resource, tool, website, or app that you absolutely can’t live without in your business?
  • Could you share with us maybe one or two books that have had the biggest impact on you? It could have been a book that you read many, many years ago, but it still has an impact on you or maybe a book that you read recently.
  • A lot of our listeners are business owners and managers who feel they have great products and services, but they lack the constantly motivated human capital – if you are sitting across the table from that person, what’s the one piece of advice that you would give them to have a successful business?
  • What’s one thing that’s going on in your life right now that you’re really excited about – either something you’re working on to develop yourself or your people?
  • Where can listeners find you online?
  • Do you have a quote or a saying that during times of adversity or any form of obstacle or challenge that you’re being faced by you’ll revert to this quote because it kind of helps put you back on track and just get you refocused. Do you have one of those?

Highlights

Jason’s Journey

Jason stated that it’s a great question and anybody that’s being honest when they talk about their career, has to say that a lot of it is luck and a lot of it is timing and a lot of it is hard work. But he was coming around at a time when the call center world was really beginning to migrate to offshoring in India. And he found himself right in the middle of all this transformation.

And so, if you think about what companies were doing back in the very early two thousands, it was all about how could we be more efficient? How can we be more productive? How can we reduce our costs? How can we keep our customers loyal, back then it was how do you improve customer satisfaction?

He found himself doing a lot of travel back and forth to India, found himself in the middle of all types of big change with lots of big companies. And so, he was very fortunate in the sense, unfortunate a sense that he was doing a ton of travel, but very fortunate in the sense that he was right in the middle of it all with some of the world’s biggest brands in the middle of their operational transformation. And it was just a very natural progression into the career that he ended up having at McAfee and the operations world and as the world of CX really kind of became to get more formalized.

Again, happened to be the person that had the most experience doing this. And as a result was selected to lead those efforts. So, the world of formal CX in and of itself is still relatively new, it hasn’t been around as a formal practice for that long. And plenty of people are still trying to figure out the really tough aspects of it, which are how you operationalize this. So that’s a very brief story of how he got to where he is.

What Does Reputation.com do?

Jason shared that in terms of the world of CX, if you think about how the traditional survey world has evolved and all the listening posts that the CX practitioners are beginning to collect and listened to and take action on; it’s not just surveys anymore, it’s social media, it’s reviews, it’s business listening data. And so, what they’ve been able to do is build a platform and an algorithm that really allows their customers to get found, get chosen and get better through not only all of the point products that he just named, but really the amalgamation of all that into one platform, using one algorithm to really spit out and generate actionable data that allows them to hear what their customers are saying and take action on what they hear.

So they’re smack dab in the middle of what some would call the CX space and what others would call the online reputation management space. And so, they’ve actually created their own category, which they now call RXM for Reputation Experience Management.

Me: So, when I do customer service training, one of the things that we ask the participants is what makes them choose one business over another? And usually, you’ll have different options, you have price, you have quality of product, quality of service, convenience, reputation is always one of the options there. What’s are your views, we’re in this space now where there’s a lot happening globally. Some companies are exercising a lot of hibernation, they’re not extending much spend because they’re very unsure of what the future holds. And because of that, they’re really trying to stay afloat. And then you have other organizations that this economy actually is making them thrive and they are spending abundantly.

Keeping a Good Reputation, A Good Brand Image in the Eyes of Customers

Jason shared that one of the reasons that he really likes the name of their company so much is because, reputation. Brands are built on reputations and reputations are built on trust. And what’s really interesting about today’s world, the COVID world is the implications for how people are going to want to do business moving forward.

 And the best predictor of the future is always the past. And so, if you go back and you look at something as impactful and change full as 9/11 was for the United States. What did that ultimately change? Well, it actually changed the way that we travel. If you kind of look at how you traveled before and how you travel after it’s completely different.

And he could go through all kinds of different scenarios that have happened between then and now, but this one’s different because it impacts everybody the same. Nobody is immune, every business, every person is immune. And what is top of mind for every customer and literally across the world is safety. And so, if you’re thinking about your brand and you’re thinking about your reputation and how others are going to perceive you, he would say that the answer to your question is, if you’re not focused on making sure that your customers not just only have a great experience in doing business with you, but if they have a safe experience, that they feel safe, that they feel like you’re on top of it on their behalf. Those are the companies, at least in the short term are going to come ahead and come out on top.

And quite frankly, those who don’t will get punished. You’re going to see anytime you see folks not taking the measures, at least the minimum guidelines to ensure their customer safety, they’re going to get punished and they’re going to get punished online especially with social media and reviews today. So it’s a great question and it’s a really interesting situation that we’re in today.

Me: So one of the things that I heard you saying just now, very big buzzword in customer experience now is safety. Even if it wasn’t something that organizations had as a priority on their list of delivering a quality experience, it definitely is now seeing that that’s something that you have to incorporate into your business, especially if you are predominantly a face to face type of operation.

So, how do you see organizations really using or capitalizing on this safety thing because apart from sanitizing and ensuring that there are social distance markers on the ground, but people need to know that at the end of the day, you have their best interests at heart and the best interest of your employees, because they can basically pick up if you are just doing it because the government says you are to do it, or you just don’t care. You’re all about the bottom line.

Jason stated that that’s a great question. And frankly, that’s exactly where we’re seeing the explosion is on the employee side. Companies are coming to them in mass and wanting to know, “Hey, how can you help us understand what our employees think? How can you help us understand how we’re doing towards keeping their trust and earning and keeping their trust in these times?”

They’re really concerned about, “Hey, we’re spending all this money on real estate and nobody’s using it. And so, how do we make our employees feel comfortable with our policies and allow them, without risk to them and without losing their trust to come back to the office, or at least have some type of hybrid model.

Going back to the 9/11 example about how it changed the way we travel, this is changing the way that we interact and the way that we work. And the good news is that the entire world has learned that you can work via Zoom or Google. So, they’re interesting dynamics going on for sure.

Characteristics an Organization Needs to Embody to Have a Good Reputation

Jason shared that the number one thing is you’ve got to really create a culture of listening and then a culture of action. And quite frankly, in his opinion at least, it’s the hardest thing to do when you’re talking about operationalization of customer feedback or CX, however you want to characterize it. The absolute hardest thing to do is be a great listener, number one. And then number two, actually take action on what your customers have to say. What he finds to be most interesting is how well-intended so many people are when they’re listening to customer feedback.

And oftentimes what happens is someone will take lots of customer feedback and they’ll turn it into an idea that they, the employee thinks is a good idea to implement on the customer.

Jason Grier

When in reality, it’s just a good idea, but it’s not really what the customers want.

And so, he thinks that making sure that you have that rigor and that discipline to not just listen to customers, but actually take action on what you hear, he thinks is the number one thing to do. And then, number two, you’ve got to permeate that into your entire culture and make it a thread of every employee in the company and so that they feel that they have a vested interest in doing what’s right by your customers.

How Jason Stays Motivated

When asked how he stays motivated, Jason shared that he has a lot of employees that are really, really focused on doing right by their customers and creating successful outcomes for them. And one of the funny things is his employees, they laugh at him about it but, they do all hands-on on a regular basis. And one of the things that he actually do on his Zoom, he has a zoom TV. And so, what he actually do is he go through and he’ll look at all their faces and he sees the commitment that they have to their customers and the commitment that they have to their company. And it really drives him to help put them in the best possible position to win, number one. So, because he thinks happy employees make happy customers.

And he thinks the second thing that really keeps them all is that this notion that we are still so young and early in the business and he happens to have the good fortune of also being in the same position in the world of security with McAfee. And he saw how that grew and changed and really impacted businesses and people’s lives. And he thinks this is no different, you’re just at the earlier stages of something that’s going to continue to swell and become just a bigger and more important component of everybody’s business world.

App, Website or Tool that Jason Absolutely Can’t Live Without in His Business

Jason stated that what’s so funny about Yanique asking him this question, he actually got off of all social media about a month ago, and he has to be honest, he doesn’t miss it one bit. Now, the answer to the question is he does go to Google News every day. And so, he does read the headlines every day, and then there’s some stories he’ll dig into but the amount of time that he spends online has diminished rapidly and the amount of time that he has actually been able to pour into thought leadership has increased exponentially. And so, he has to be honest, it’s been great.

He has the good fortune. He has some family members who are pretty famous online and as a result, he thinks a lot of their fans follow him or used to follow him and so it becomes a distraction. And it was very healthy for him to just put it all down and focus on things that matter. And it’s been great.

Books That Have Had the Greatest Impact on Jason

When asked about books that have had the biggest impact, Jason stated he gets asked this question a lot and it has been the same answer forever. But it was the first book that he read in business school is called Theory of Constraints by Eliyahu Goldratt, it’s such a simple, easy read, and it really creates and just kind of reminds you how simple things really should be and just to always kind of keep it that way. And so, he’d go on the business side, he’d go with that one.

On the fiction side, he would say either Shōgun by James Clavell or Pillars of the Earth: A Novel by Ken Follett which are both over a thousand pages, but they’re great. And he says that because you should always take time to exercise your creative side, he thinks that’s really important.

How to Have a Successful Business

When asked about advice to have a successful business, Jason shared that number one is listen. And then number two, he thinks just like anything else and again at McAfee and in other places he has been fortunate to be in a position where they’ve done numerous acquisitions and he could probably easily name 30 that he was actively involved in.

And you start to see some of the same trends emerge when you’re dealing with a massive company like some of the ones that he came from, versus someone, an entrepreneur who has really scraped and worked hard to build their business from scratch and it’s so admirable. And he has such a respect for the folks that do that, but at the same token, there’s the ability to listen and then to delegate and really trust is the thing that he would go back and tell all of those folks, that would have been his observation is who are you putting into these roles, who are into these critical roles that are running your company for you because you can’t do it all, no person is an island. And so, it really is true. And so, it is all about the people.

Me: I liked the fact that you said you think the number one thing they should do is listen. Now, how can you improve on your listening skills? It’s lovely to say in theory, I think you should listen more, but let’s say the person thinks that, “Well, I think I’m a good listener.” What are some things that they could do, like maybe a listening audit, or is there like a new practice they could embody to really ensure that they’re trying to improve on their listening skills?

Jason stated that he almost feel like Yanique was listening in to a meeting of his over the last couple of days, just because someone asked him that same question and he said, ask. And again, keep it simple, some people have a great amount of ability to be self reflective and understand their strengths and weaknesses and others aren’t and, and hopefully, are good at taking feedback. But at the end of the day, the only way to be able to listen more is to ask more and then stop.

And so, the question is that he would say is, what are the different ways in which you’re asking, because you’re asking him questions right now, but you might want to send him questions written, in written form at a different time or you might want to have someone else on your behalf reach out and send him a review. And so, it’s all about making sure that you’ve got different asking posts, different asking posts create different listening posts is probably a better way to say it.

Me: I do agree with you that asking questions will definitely help you to become a better listener, especially, as you said, after you’ve asked the question, you remain silent and actually pay attention to what the person is saying to you. There’s a book that I read at least once per year, How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie. And that’s one of the things that I really have taken from that book that asking questions really helps you to be just more intentional, it helps you to get more information because generally speaking, I find human beings don’t necessarily just volunteer information. So if you really want to know, you have to be asking the right questions.

Jason stated that to make it even more practical, he thinks the real answer is you actually have to be interested. And the test that he gives, and this is part of anybody that works on his staff is going to hear him say this probably more, they probably have nightmares about it, but you got to be a great secondary learner. And what he means by that is, are you paying attention to what others are saying and learning from them regardless of who they are. And so, to do that and to be good at that, it requires you to actually be interested. And he’s got to tell you, if you’re not interested, it’s going to show.

What Jason is Really Excited About Now!

Jason shared that he is in the process of building a whole model on business acumen and directly for his people. He preach a lot to his staff, it’s all about the front lines and empowering them and giving them the tools to be successful. And one of the things that he has seen just across any company that he has worked for. He had the good fortune of going to business school at night and not everybody can do that. And so, he finds that it’s really important when you’re helping to develop your employees and your staff to actually give them tools that are practical and useful that actually help them get better. And so, he tries to do at least one of those a year.

And right now he’s working on one that goes by industry and actually will help them understand what are the key metrics for that industry that will allow you to have more meaningful conversations with people instead of, he doesn’t ever want any of their customer success folks to call someone and “Hey, I’m just checking in to see how you’re doing?”

He wants them to be able to, whether it’s a healthcare company or an automotive company, or a property management company, or a restaurant, or you name the vertical. He wants them to feel prepared, capable, and empowered, to have meaningful business conversations with people about the things that matter to them, not just the things that matter to us (the organization).

And that’s really the essence of being a great listener is showing them the courtesy and the respect that you have taken the time to learn about their business, number one. But number two, he thinks it just makes their people better and he thinks that that makes them more appreciative of them and more loyal to them over time.

Where Can We Find Jason Online

Jason shared listeners can find him at –

LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/jason-grier-825b271

Quote or Saying that During Times of Adversity Jason Uses

Jason shared that “When you’re dealing with adversity, you just put your head down and you go and you keep going and eventually you’ll get through it.” But he can’t tell how many times he has had that conversation with himself. It’s easy to be a great winner, what he thinks the real test of people’s character is how they deal with adversity and really trudged through and methodically chop wood to get through it and come out the other side even better.

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