Stephanie Calahan is the Business Vision Catalyst who is known for the fast transformation that she facilitates with her clients through working at the intersection of heart and head. She works with busy, purpose-driven entrepreneurs to own their brilliance, leverage their business and get their message out with power, ease and joy so they can make a powerfully positive difference in the world, exponentially up their level profits, shift their mindsets towards possibility and take a no-excuses approach to boldly creating a highly successful and meaningful business built around who they are. With her unique combination of right brained and left brained thinking, intuitive incite, passion, results based coaching, powerful questioning and strategic systemizing magic. In record time, her clients dance with joy as their visions become reality in their business. After risking personal health and happiness as a high achieving executive and former jet-lagged consultant in corporate America, Stephanie vowed not only to create a life of real freedom for herself and her family but also to teach fellow entrepreneurs how to do the same.
- Tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey
- How do you feel about customer service as a business owner on a global level and do you think there’s room for improvement?
- What are some everyday solutions that you believe can help improve customer experience?
- How do you stay motivated everyday?
- What are some important considerations for an entrepreneur or an online business owner would need to take into account in order to be successful?
- What is one online resource, website, tool or app you cannot live without in your business?
- What are some of the books that have had the biggest impact on you?
- 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 lack the consistently motivated human capital, what advice would you give that person to have a successful business?
- What is one thing that is going on in your life right now that you are really excited about – something that you are either working on to develop yourself or your people?
- Where can our listeners find you online?
- What is one quote or saying that you live by or that inspires you in times of adversity?
- Stephanie started by stating that she worked a little over a decade consulting for Fortune Fifty/ Fortune One Hundred clients and leading a team of 250 to 300 people. She stated that there was a lot of activity and stress involved with that world of work. When she started working there, she thought she was going to retire from where she started as she was a true blue employee that really believed in the work that she was doing and was going to continue that until her retirement. Into her experience with that career, the company went from a privately held LLC to a publicly traded company, and when they made that shift in corporate organization, there was a drastic shift in the corporate culture, there was a drastic shift in the treatment of their clients, there was a drastic shift in the treatment of their employees and that no longer matched who she was. The company moved from being people-focused to being bottom-line focused. A lot of the things they did in support of their clients as well as a lot of things that they had done culturally in support of their own associates were disappearing. She was being asked a lot of times to do different things on many occasions that was right on her ethical borders so much so that there were days late into that experience where she was getting physically ill at work because the people that Stephanie reported to were just asking her to do things that were not right for a myriad of reasons, they weren’t illegal but they were just not right. Fortunately, her husband who is very supportive had a conversation and they decided that it was time for her to walk away, it took her about 2 years to be brave enough to talk to her husband but she was nervous because that meant she was walking away from a high 6 figure income and they decided that it was the absolute right choice and she did that and decided to start Calahan Solutions rather than getting another job. When she went to decide what she was going to do within Calahan Solutions, she looked at the work that she did that she wanted to bring with her, the parts of that corporate experience she wanted to bring with her that were positive, the things that she enjoyed doing, the things that she was good at doing. She looked at her peer reviews and reviews from the leadership team that she reported to and looked at the things she did really well and just combined all of that into a business. Her business has morphed and changed quite a bit over the years because one of the things that she didn’t let go of was over working, she was a workaholic and almost worked herself to death. In 2009 she was told she would not see 2010 because she was so ill and so in the course of getting well, she had to rethink her business and that rethinking of her business and how she wanted to deliver services allowed her to become fully her and not hold back because there was this workaholic part of her and there was a part of her that thinks that people are not interested in that aspect of her and so she blocked a lot of who she was too. While that health experience was a scary one, she was actually really grateful because it brought her to where she is today. It has also allowed her to recognize that life is really short and if it’s going to be short, if we aren’t guaranteed tomorrow, then she needs to be the best she can be everyday and so it has given her motivation to really go for those things in her business that are important rather than letting fear hold her back.
- Stephanie shared that Customer Service/Client Service is one of the most integral parts of what she does. The work that she does, all the way from the conversations that she is having now, the blog post that she writes, the interactions that she has with her clients, the interactions that she has with her prospects are all about service. The work that she does is transformational and if people don’t feel well cared for, they can’t take part in that transformation in a really significant way and then the work that they do is the same thing. The more you can think about the experiences that you are providing whether it is through the conversations that you are having, whether it is through the on-boarding processes that you have when you have new clients but even if you have products that you sell in a store, products that you sell online, think all the way through that experience to make sure that it’s something that’s going to be really positive and enjoyable for the people that are doing business with you.
- Stephanie shared that one solution she thinks can apply to a lot of people listening is to think through the experience your customers are having when they are interacting with you online and that can be a lot of different things. Stephanie shared an experience that she had (a bad customer experience), that she also wrote a blog post about it. She stated that there was someone she was following online that she really respected and she decided to purchase a product online from this person, she made the purchase on a Friday night and all of a sudden she got 7 different receipts for that same purchase and the purchase was not a low price purchase. Her credit card got impacted by over US $4,000.00 from that one purchase because it wasn’t a US $4,000.00 purchase; it was 7 different purchases of the exact same product. She then franticly started making phone calls to the company trying to get a hold of anybody because that wasn’t her intent to spend that amount of money and she didn’t want to buy 7 versions of the digital product. After 4 hours of calling different numbers, she eventually got someone who had absolutely nothing to do with her purchase, she told the person that she needed their help to escalate the problem, she needed the money to be put back on her card immediately. With all said and done, everything got resolved but it was 4 hours of her time in panic, stress and also unnecessary because if when they had put the product up on their shopping cart they had ensured someone to test it and actually pretend to make a purchase, they would have seen what happens from the customers’ perspective. Stephanie Calahan further stated just because you have stuff set up correctly in the first place for product A doesn’t mean that product B is going to be set up correctly. Test every single one of them, look at the landing pages you’re going to have, look at the thank you pages you’re going to have, look at the emails going out, look at the impact it has on a credit card and what the credit card receipts have because the more smooth you can make that process, the happier a customer you are going to have.
Stephanie advised in her own business – she has a few family members that are not that technically inclined that she would ask to run through the process for her and she will refund it right away. Just for them to go through it and let her know if there is anything confusing or if the process was clunky in any way and give her that feedback. She stated that there are a lot of big corporations; the amazons of the world who have teams of people that they call usability testing but smaller businesses don’t have teams of people to do usability testing but you can do something really simple like that which doesn’t take a lot of time that can really save your reputation and relationships by investing in time to do that.
- In reference to the question of recommendations that Stephanie has for a company that has a physical storefront with items for sale (brick and mortar). The solution she suggests is to be present. In our world of ever changing attention spans where we could have an iPad going, the cash register going, our phone ringing and someone at the counter, just pay attention. Whoever you are interacting with whether it’s on the phone or at the counter, give them your full attention for the time frame that you’re having an interaction with them and let them know they are important to you because they are, they are your customers. Give them the respect that they deserve as they are doing an exchange with you, whether it’s asking a question or making a purchase. Some people look at customer service only from the perspective as people that are giving you money and that they become the customer when they have made a purchase from you. However, the truth is they are your customer the minute they’re in your sphere of influence because the conversations and relationships that you build with people even before they have made a purchase influence how they feel about you.
- After asking Stephanie Calahan how she stays motivated everyday – she believes in having a big Why? Simon Sinek has a TED talk video on YouTube Start With Why. It’s about getting that piece that’s deep inside of you that you tap into that allows you to do all the things that you absolutely adore about your business and to also do the things that you are less excited about. She stated that her “Why” ties back to her personal experiences. She mentioned that in 2009 she was really ill almost lost her life and the reason she is here today is because a really good friend introduced her to a holistic health coach that helped her figure out the complex mess that she was in and helped her so that she could be here today. She realized that after she got well and learned more about his business, that there is no way she would have found him if she hadn’t been personally introduced to him by a friend and there are so many different world changers that are out there and he would not consider himself a world changer but he changed her world because she’s here today because of the work she did with him. She stated that there are so many world changers like him that are so amazing like him but people don’t know they exist. So her “Why” is to help change the world in a very positive way by helping those world changers get found and be aligned with clients and do what they do best.
- Stephanie stated one of the most important things that entrepreneurs and businesses should take in account is to build a business that is in alignment with who you really are. There are a lot of people that build businesses based off of what one guru or another says and it’s like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole and it doesn’t work and then they’re always pushing rather than letting the beauty of life and the beauty of their ideal clients find them and just flow. She shared that the first thing she would suggest a business owner do is look at what they have going on in their life right now and identify those spots that are really feeling off and get honest about it and adjust. The more you can build a business aligned around who you are then the more comfortable you are and not comfortable in a bad way as she is a believer in stepping out of your comfort zone, “comfortable” meaning it matches who you are from an energy level, from a spiritual level, from a business strategy level and from a learning and personality values level. The more your business is in alignment with who you are and the less you’re pushing, the more energy you have to be focused on somebody else namely your customers or your clients. When you have a business model that is always making you stressed, you don’t have the mental capacity to be thinking of other people in the same way as you do when you are truly joyous about the work you do.
Stephanie also stated that one of her programs is called “Money, Mindset and Magnetism”, the clients that align and sign up to be a part of that program are typically having challenges with their sales in one way or another and what she finds is the case with every single private client that comes into that program is that initially they are more focused on themselves, they are not selfish people but they are more focused on themselves than on the people that they are meant to serve, so their sales conversations just implode. They don’t work as well as they could and there’s so many things when we are solid within who we are and our mindset is clean and confident then we are in a different mental space to be able to truly think about the person on the other side of the counter, on the other side of the phone, over Skype, over Google Hangout, whichever way you connect with your ideal customer or client that it allows you to think from their perspective and get much more creative with how you can make their experience a positive one. When customers | clients | patients have a more positive experience, they’re more likely to continue to want to work with you.
- When asked what is the one app, website, resource or tool that she absolutely cannot live without in her business – Stephanie shared that she adores Infusionsoft (https://www.infusionsoft.com) which is an all in one marketing tool that allows you to make your customer experience very personalized and build relationships with the people you are interacting with rather than it being transaction based. There are different components and there is one component called “Customer Relationship Management Section”and that’s where you can gather all kinds of information about your clients and customers and give yourself good information in order to interact with them. If you do online sales or brick and mortar sales then this tool will allow you to identify who signed up for what giveaway you have, who purchases a product and it allows you to have a more intelligent conversation with them. If you are in a business where it is more one on one interaction, it allows you to note the important things you learned about those people that you are working with. She calls it her memory in a box, she can go back to that person’s record anytime and know what they talked about, what they are interested in and it helps her refresh her memory so that she can treat the people that she is working with, with great respect and honor. She further stated it is more than a CRM as there is also an Auto Responder portion where you can do newsletters, you can do automated communication based off of the types of interactions the customers and clients are having with you or your site. There’s a Shopping Cart portion, there’s a number of different elements that can be used to allow you to know what your customer is interested in and then be able to serve them with that.
Stephanie mentioned that the tool – Infusionsoft (https://www.infusionsoft.com) was built specifically for small businesses and they have customers that are in service coaching industries but they have people that run all kinds of different brick and mortar stores whether it’s retail stores and they have customers all over the globe doing all different types of businesses but it specifically for the small business.
Stephanie mentioned that she has been doing business with them (Infusionsoft) for a number of years and like a lot of businesses, they have some growing pains, at one point they were getting customers so fast that their customer service wasn’t so good for a while but they addressed that. They recognized where their growing pains were starting to cause them problems and they made adjustments. So Stephanie suggests as another tip – as your business grows, the way that you interact with your customers will need to change and so be open for that and look at those spots where maybe things are falling through the cracks that didn’t use to fall through the cracks and those are customer improvement opportunities too.
- Stephanie shared that when she thinks about Customer Service, one book that is really fantastic is “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t” by Jim Collins. You can be a good company and make a lot of money or you can be a great company that makes a lot of money and makes an impact too. In Jim’s book, he did a study of a number of different organizations just understanding why were some companies merely really good and others great and what did the great ones have in common? And one of those things that all the great ones have in common was really good customer service.
Stephanie mentioned that when she framed her business, she had to decide if she wanted to be mass numbers or did she want to be high touch and by high touch, she means how well did she know the people she was working with and how involved did she get with them in relation to the work they are doing together. Stephanie Calahan decided that high touch was really where she wanted to sit in that coaching space and so she has a unique rule that she wants to be able to love her customers unconditionally in order to work with them because when you can accept your customers and clients unconditionally in the coaching space, then you have the ability to really help empower them to make fantastic changes in the direction they want to go in their business so customer service is one of the ways that she is able to do that.
She also stated that another great book is “Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions” by Guy Kawasaki which is about relationships and talking about how you engage with your community, with your tribe, and with your audience. She also mentioned “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert Cialdini which is a different form of engagement but understanding how the words that you use impact the people you are working with so to make sure that you’re conscious about that and how you interact with people.
- Yanique asked Stephanie…..we have a lot of listeners who are business owners and managers who feel they have great products and services but they lack the constantly motivated Human Capital. If you were sitting across the table from that person, what’s the one piece of advice that you would give them to have a successful business? Stephanie Calahan shared that one advice that she would give is if you are lacking the human capital, systemize. There are so many different technologies out there that allow you to be fantastic at what you do. She then gave an example, when she first started her business; she was going back and forth in email with people anytime she wanted to schedule anything and she could have a lot of people going back and forth with at any given point trying to schedule a conversation on the phone or face to face and sometimes she dropped the ball because she would miss an email or her phone wouldn’t sync to her computer. That is a relationship gap when you don’t reply when you should and so one way that she automated that piece of it was to set up an online availability calendar that syncs with her calendar that is outlining when she’s available for different types of conversations. Let’s say she meets someone on a Facebook group and goes back and forth on messenger. Now, if she wants to schedule a conversation, she can say go to this URL and pick any time that works for you, you can trust that any time that’s on that calendar that shows available that she is also available and it eliminates that back and forth, it eliminates that unproductive time and allows her to have more time for the important things of the conversation and there is a lot of different things you can do within your business to automate different administrative functions and different operational functions so that you are freeing up more time to do the things that you really love to do.
When you talk about those businesses that don’t have a lot of human capital, there are some things where people interaction is critical and there are some things like scheduling a meeting that is really administrative and the technology is there that makes it so easy and so streamlined that it is a happier customer experience than the aggravation of all the back and forth. So it ultimately ends up being a better customer experience by automating that piece and frees you up to have more time to be able to do those pieces that are more important face to face or voice to voice.
- One thing that is going on in Stephanie’s life right now that she is working on to develop herself and her people – she stated that the thing she has been working on for the last couple of months that she is the most excited about is something that came from a love of wanting to combine the concerns of people who are Podcast hosts, Radio Show hosts and the concerns of people that are guest on these shows. She is writing a book right now that is called “Guest Appearance Gold: Sky Rocket Your Reach, Grow Your Influence and Attract Great Clients by Leveraging Your Guest Appearances and Expert Interviews” and she was hearing from hosts that they have all of these guests on their shows and they don’t do anything to help promote the show, they just come on and do their thing and then they get off and that’s a frustration from the hosts perspective. She was also hearing from the guest expert side of going on these shows that it isn’t really doing a whole lot for their business and that’s largely because there’s this whole piece in the middle that’s missing that wasn’t being leveraged by the guest experts and so she has written that book and it started out as a simple check list and after 60 pages, she said it’s not really a simple check list anymore because she was giving a lot of why’s behind different things that people could do and so her intention when the book is done is to give it away because she would like more people to be able to really get the biggest return on investment and in this case it is a time investment that will benefit hosts of shows as well as benefit the people that are experts on those shows.
Stephanie stated that what is interesting about when you go on shows; it’s a two way customer service experience because the host is the customer of the guest but the guest is also the customer of the host, when you’re really working together then you can get amazing exposure for the conversation you had together which benefits everybody.
- Stephanie says that listeners can find her on:
- Stephanie Calahan Website
- Stephanie Calahan Twitter
- Stephanie Calahan Instagram
- Stephanie Calahan Facebook
- Stephanie Calahan LinkedIn
- Stephanie Calahan Youtube
- Stephanie Calahan Google+
- In reference to one quote or saying that Stephanie has that she reverts to during times of adversity and challenge. Stephanie stated that she has many as she has been collecting quotes since Elementary School but the one that comes to mind is by Alan Cohen “It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.”
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- “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t” by Jim Collins
- “Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions” by Guy Kawasaki
- “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert Cialdini
- Stephanie Calahan Website
- Stephanie Calahan Twitter
- Stephanie Calahan Instagram
- Stephanie Calahan Facebook
- Stephanie Calahan LinkedIn
- Stephanie Calahan Youtube
- Stephanie Calahan Google+
- Simon Sinek TED talk Youtube Video