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An Interview with the Customer Service Guru, Shep Hyken

Shep Hyken HS


It is not every day that I get to interview one of the great experts in customer service. However, a short time ago, I got the opportunity to speak with Shep Hyken, author, speaker, and customer service guru. He shared a lot of valuable information about how companies today can leverage customer support to deliver better customer experiences.

Keep in mind, a lot of his responses are in bullet form or paraphrased* as I wanted to take his most important points and share them with you in a clear and concise way. My commentary follows.

*This is not an official transcript of our conversation. We had a very organic interview, and I wanted to ensure I shared all of the great advice he gave to me during our call.


Question 1

Alessandra: What, in your opinion, constitutes excellent customer service?


  • A frictionless experience
  • Easy, positive, and not over the top
  • A little better than your expectations

My commentary: I think as consumers we can all agree with that! I like how he specifies, “do a little better than your expectations.” Be real, be honest, and do a great job. No, you do not need to go above & beyond each time, but you must, at least in some capacity, exceed what is expected…this makes the difference between good and excellent service. Am I right?


Question 2

Alessandra: Where should companies focus their customer service efforts, or should they take an omnichannel approach?


  • Omnichannel, always.

Hyken says that the telephone was the most popular customer support method, however, times are changing. The telephone is being used less and less, and sometimes, as the very last resort. He advocates for an omnichannel approach to customer service, utilizing platforms like Twitter, WhatsApp, and Facebook, as well as less intrusive tactics like FAQs, review sites, etc. However, that being said, he reinforces understanding where your audience seeks support, and if you are employing an omnichannel strategy, Shep says, the most important aspect when it comes to delivering great customer service is timeliness. Never let a support inquiry go unanswered for over an hour.

My commentary: For example, we get loads of support questions on Facebook and Twitter. It is really important for us to actively monitor these two channels for support issues and sales inquiries and to ensure not one inquiry goes unaddressed. He mentions to use each channel or customer service tactic as an opportunity, and we think he’s spot on. Every interaction you have with your leads and/or clients is an opportunity for a business to not only deepen the relationship, but also showcase its dedication to the customer. This resonates well, both with current customers and potential leads.


Question 3

Alessandra: In your experience, what do you think is the most effective method for delivering a good customer service/experience?


  • #1 respond quickly
  • Acknowledge the issue
  • Apologize for the inconvenience
  • Discuss the solution
  • Do it with the right attitude
  • Do it with urgency

My commentary: Treat it like it’s an opportunity, not a problem. Need we say more?


Question 4

Alessandra: Where does good customer service stem from?


  • Customer-service focused culture
  • Starts with a vision from the top
  • Hire/train people to deliver that vision
  • Demonstrate and model it in day-to-day interactions with employees
  • Celebrate success when it works

To put it simply:

  • Define
  • Communicate
  • Train
  • Demonstrate
  • Keep it in alignment
  • Celebrate it

My commentary: Culture defines much of how a company is run. This is not specific to just customer service. The more something is a part of the overall vision, the more important it becomes within an organization. I feel very lucky to be a part of a company with a strong leader who practices what he preaches day in and day out. This is great for employee morale and most importantly, for our customers. 


Question 5

Alessandra: How does technology change the customer service game?

Hyken Says:

Technology has given businesses the tools to make giving great customer support so much easier. Companies are now using technology to create more personalized experiences, this includes customer service. The data you obtain about your customers, their demographics and behaviors, should be made available across all departments and utilized to enhance the overall customer experience.

My commentary: I am a data person. I think it helps all departments within an organization do their jobs better. The more we know, the better we can serve. As a technlogy company that offers a customer support module, tech and good customer service go hand-in-hand. Technology makes it a lot easier to give great support. Why? Because you have all of the information about that contact right infront of you, a 360-degree view of the customer. 


Question 6

Alessandra: What are some good and bad examples of technology for customer service?


When on our call, Shep shared a customer service success story about a taxi driver taking the experience to a whole new level.

You can view the entire story here. It’s a good one, so I wouldn’t miss it.

Hyken explains that this taxi driver set himself apart and was able obtain loyal clients by providing a superior customer experience. Unlike your typical cab, this man provided newspapers, candy, sodas, and kept his car spic and span. Instead of waiting outside of the airport to pick up his clients, he waits inside. This man wins because of his good attitude and consistently great customer experience.


Question 7

Alessandra: Is there such a thing as ‘over the top’ customer service? How much is too much?


  • Virtually impossible to achieve consistent over the top service
  • It typically happens when there is a huge problem
  • Hard to achieve, especially with larger volume
  • Need knowledgeable people answering questions
  • Requires a can do attitude from your team

To sum up, over the top customer service is typically a sign of recovery mode – it’s meant to restore confidence.

My commentary: It is not often that any of us experience this over the top customer service, and he is right that it tends to come when you are trying to recover from a larger support issue. While that is definitely the time to provide over the top service, I do not think that it is always necessary. What I do find critical is what Hyken mentions in his first response; always make your service “a little better than their expectations.” You can’t always provide over the top service, but you can certainly always make the experience just a little better than what the customer expected.


Question 8

Alessandra: If you could give two pieces of advice for organizations looking to improve their customer service, what would they be?


  • Customer service is not a department, it’s a philosophy
  • It is for the entire company, not just the support team

His best advice? The Employee Golden Rule. Shep says, “Treat employees like you want the customer treated – maybe even better.”

My commentary: Everything Shep says I agree with. If every business followed his advice, we would all be experiencing great service all of the time…and what a wonderful world that would be. I love his Employee Golden Rule, and it makes a lot of sense. Your customers are only as happy and satisfied as your employees, especially when it comes to customer service.


As competition continues to push companies to deliver better customer experiences, support and customer service is going to be the first on the docket for positive change. For those businesses looking for actionable ways to improve their customer service game, visit He is full of great advice and resources for your team.


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