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CX Spotlight is a series where we meet with Customer Experience (CX) professionals and practitioners to find out about their ideologies, inspirations, and more.
Today, we’ve got Dan Gingiss with us. Dan is an internationally renowned keynote speaker and customer experience coach who has over 20 years of experience working with brands such as McDonald’s, Discover, and Humana.
Someone who firmly believes that great customer experience is the best kind of marketing, Dan’s expertise lies in empowering brands to create experiences that their customers go on to share with their friends and family. Having previously led marketing teams and worked in various customer service leadership roles, Dan uses real-life experiences and examples to recommend actionable solutions that drive ROI.
He is also the author of the book – “Winning at Social Customer Care” – and the host of two podcasts – “Focus on Customer Service Podcast” and “The Experience This! Show”.
We met up with Dan to find out more about his passion for CX, how he built a career in this niche field, and the fundamentals of providing great experiences, amongst other things.
1. What made you passionate about Customer Experience?
In my first job right after college, I received a phone call that was actually meant for the customer service department. It was a customer who was worried about her granddaughter’s gift not arriving on time for Christmas. I had no access to her account information, nor did I understand all of our policies and procedures.
So I did what came naturally to me: I took down all the necessary information from her, went to my company’s warehouse, pulled the product from the shelf, packed it in a box, and took it directly to the nearest FedEx station. Her Christmas was not going to be ruined on my account! It was then that I realized that customer experience would be an important part of everything I do here onwards.
2. What do you think is the most important soft skill in CX?
The ability to empathize. This is something that is very hard to teach, but when customers talk with a service agent who truly ‘listens’ to them and wants to solve their problem, it can make all the difference.
3. How important is organization-wide buy-in for the success of a CX program?
Organization-wide commitment is critically important for your customer experience program. But it often won’t happen on ‘Day 1’ and that’s completely fine. The key is to have at least one executive sponsor who buys in from the beginning and helps establish the authority of the CX team. And as the team builds momentum and hits one goal after another, others in the organization will join in.
4. AI Customer Support vs Human Customer Support. And why?
AI will not, and should not, replace human-to-human interactions in customer support. Customers crave human interaction — especially now — and so, we have to be able to provide them with human agents, in cases where one is needed.
That said, AI can be helpful with repetitive questions or in certain “hand-holding” processes like placing an order on an e-commerce site. I believe the biggest advantage of AI will be helping human agents perform their jobs better. Imagine an agent who (with the help of technology) has the answer to every possible customer question right at their fingertips; they can then worry less about the actual solution and spend more time on the ‘human’ aspect of the interaction – talking to the customer and building a relationship.
5. One book you’d recommend everyone to read
‘They Ask, You Answer’ by Marcus Sheridan. Although it’s a content marketing book at heart, it capitalizes on so many customer experience themes such as listening to your customers, being a resource for them, and simplifying their buying journey.
6. What’s your go-to productivity hack?
I have a pad of paper that a business coach gave me, split vertically into two halves. One side is titled “Do It Now” and the other is titled “Do It Later”. There are also checkboxes next to each line item (it’s extremely satisfying when I get to check them). This pad keeps my entire To-Do list organized in one place, even though it’s about as analog as one can get.
7. 3 brands that come to mind when you think great CX
Chewy, Starbucks, and of course, Amazon!
8. Who has been the biggest inspiration in your professional life?
I’d say my father. He spent a large chunk of his career as a business owner. And although ‘customer experience’ and ‘employee experience’ weren’t even common terms back then, he seemed to always ‘get it’ and take special care of his customers and employees.
I’ve tried to incorporate a lot of the little things he did into my business — like saying ‘hello’ to everyone in the office when you arrive in the morning, or talking to the hourly front-line worker to really get a sense of how things are going for them. He valued his employees and always tried to do right by his customers.
9. What do you usually do on weekends?
I’m a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan. So, when I’m not working, I’m mostly watching them play. Being a licensed bartender, I love making my own cocktails. I’m also interested in stock trading, pinball, and gardening.
10. What advice would you give someone who is starting their career in CX?
Think like a customer with everything you do. Most of it is common sense because, let’s face it, we’re all consumers in our lives. Always ask how a business decision will affect the customer and strive for solutions which are mutually beneficial for both the business and the customer. Also, follow and learn from the many customer experience influencers out there — don’t be hesitant to contact them directly and ask for advice!