Shep Hyken … Interview with the Customer Service Author and Expert

What is the best way you have found to maximize your learning on a topic? Perhaps it is reading, web research, or a combination of ways. Today we will have an interview with Shep Hyken, a customer service expert, professional speaker and bestselling author for better than 35 years. This is another great way to learn by examining others’ experiences.

Check out our thoughts on team leverage.

Before we continue, let me ask you a question. 

What works best for customer service design  in your business? We would love to hear what it was. Would you do us a favor and post it in the comments section below? Be the one who starts a conversation.


With the advent of the Internet, the number of marketing options available to both budding and experienced entrepreneurs has become staggering.


Shep works with companies and organizations who want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. He has  published a new book: Amaze Every Customer, Every Time.  I like to follow Shep because he shares so many great personal experiences. Such experiences are the best way I’ve found to learn.


His articles have been read in hundreds of publications, and he is the author of Moments of Magic, The Loyal Customer and the Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestsellers, The Cult of the Customer and The Amazement Revolution, which was also recognized as a New York Times bestseller. He is also the creator of The Customer Focus program which helps clients develop a customer service culture and loyalty mindset.


Let’s dive into this interesting subject:


Mike’s question:  Shep, how did you get started in this career?


Shep Hyken: Back in 1983 I was less than a year out of college and didn’t have a job.  I saw a couple of motivational speakers, and thought, “I could do that.” In high school and college I worked doing comedy and magic in clubs and felt comfortable getting up in front of an audience.  I did some research and landed on the topic of customer service, which is something I always believed in.  My parents instilled the values in me to do the right thing by other people. So, my dive into this business started with some motivational speaking with the theme of creating Moments of Magic for our customers.


Mike’s comment: A great example of finding your first job. I like to coach on this topic, and have done so many times over my career. It is amazing how many young people need help in this area.


Mike’s question: You give lots of great advice. If a businessman could only remember 3 things about customer service, what should they be?


customer loyalty
Customer loyalty is the goal.


  1. Customer service is not a department. It’s a philosophy to be embraced by everyone.


  1. Everyone has a customer, be it an internal customer (who you work with) or an external customer (someone who buys your goods or services). And, in some cases, they have both.


  1. Everyone is a leader when it comes to customer service. Everyone can step up and be the role model that others admire and want to emulate. My friend Mark Sanborn says, “You don’t need a title to be a leader.” That is especially true in the world of customer  service/experience.


Mike’s comment: If I could pick my most critical things to remember about customer service, it would be taking leadership, initiative, and realizing everyone has a role.


Mike’s question: What are the biggest changes in customer service you have seen in the last decade?


Shep: First and foremost, the customer’s expectations have changed. We (businesses) work very hard to promise great customer service. Companies tout their great customer service and that they have won awards (JD Powers and others). We brag to the customers how good we are, and then we have to prove it. The ones that do set the bar higher for everyone else (thankfully).


Another big change has been in technology. Used to be that you would call for tech support.  Now there are multiple channels and companies must be on these channels. Great customer relationship management (CRM) programs help giving anyone with access to the program the customer’s profile.


Social media is changing the customer experience for the better. It has given the customer a voice, bigger than ever before. Happy customers evangelize for you on social media. The opposite is also true.  No company wants bad reviews, which ups the game for the company to deliver the best experience they can. Customers also benefit from this.


Mike’s comment: These would certainly be at the top of my list. Lots of change still in the future, don’t you think?


customer relationships
Customer relationships are the end game, yes?

Mike’s question: What are your favorite examples of the best customer experience designs?


Shep: Amazon has an amazing online design. Once you set up your account, they remember you when you come back, make suggestions and more. It’s like a personal shopper is with you 24/7.


So many other companies come to mind; Nordstrom, Ritz-Carlton, Zappos, Four Seasons, Amazon, Ace Hardware and more. They get the customer experience and are continuously working to improve it.


Mike’s comment: Can’t miss learning from these guys.


Mike’s question: What type of personality is best suited as a public speaker?


Shep: One of the most important personality traits of a speaker is passion. That doesn’t mean you enthusiastically jump up and down on stage. It means you have a strong, yearning desire to share a message.  Once a person has that passion, they can work to hone their speaking skills.


Also, the business of professional speaking is really a people business. You talk to people from the stage. You talk with people to prepare for the presentation. And, you talk with people after your programs. You must be gracious and show appreciation of others.


Mike’s comment: Passion will make you a winner in every profession.


Mike’s question:  Business collaboration definitely seems to be on the rise. Will business collaboration in customer service (with customers as well as other businesses) help or hinder customer service and why?


Shep: Collaboration turns into partnership, which is loyalty on steroids. Look at yourself as a solutions provider, rather than just a vendor. The perception from your customer will be vastly different. What can you do to help your customers be more successful? You want them to come to you for answers. That’s a sign of trust, and trust leads to confidence, which turns into customer loyalty.


Mike’s comment: Love the point that partnership is loyalty on steroids, don’t you?


Mike’s question:  Who in your mind are the best of the best in customer service of late and what sets them apart?


Shep Hyken: There are many great companies out there. The one’s you most expect are companies like Amazon, Lexus, Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, Ace Hardware, Zappos, Nordstrom, Apple and many others who are recognized for stellar service. Each year the University of Michigan publishes a list of the top customer focused companies (American Customer Satisfaction Index). There’s a list, segmented by industry, size, etc.


What sets these companies apart? They have engaged employees. That starts with hiring right. They train their employees. That’s more than onboarding – it’s ongoing. And, more than anything, each and every employee understands their role when it comes to delivering amazing customer service, either to the outside customer or an internal customer (someone they work with).


Mike’s comment: Can’t put too much emphasis on hiring. Do they have a positive attitude and like to work with people?


Mike’s question:  What are your techniques of continuous learning in the world of customer service? How do you keep your edge?


Shep: I believe in continuous learning. For example, I just mentioned ongoing training. A major training program (a day – or several days) can give you a good base. But, you must continue to reinforce it with ongoing training and reinforcement. For me personally, I continue with reading materials. I read two to three books a month and dozens of articles. Thanks to Google Alerts, I can have relevant content delivered to me via email daily. Reading almost 20 articles each day is what helps keep my edge.


Mike’s comment: Out all the different ways to learn, books remain my favorite way to absorb knowledge.


So, what do you think? Have any comments or questions to ask of Mike or Shep? We would love to hear your thoughts.


I would certainly like to thank Shep for taking his time to participate in this interview. I would certainly encourage the readers to try his awesome books.



Need some help in capturing more improvements for your staff’s leadership, teamwork and collaboration? Creative ideas in running or facilitating a team or leadership workshop?


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Call Mike at 607-725-8240.


All you get is what you bring to the fight. And that fight gets better every day you learn and apply new ideas.


When things are not what you want them to be, what’s most important is your next step. Call today.


Test. Learn. Improve. Repeat.


Are you devoting enough energy continually improving your continuous learning?


Do you have a lesson about making your learning better you can share with this community? Have any questions or comments to add in the section below?


Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he blogs on topics that relate to improving the performance of your business. Find them on G+Twitter, and LinkedIn.  


Digital Spark Marketing will stretch your thinking and your ability to adapt to change.  We also provide some fun and inspiration along the way. Call us for a free quote today. You will be amazed how reasonable we will be.


More reading on continuous learning from Digital Spark Marketing’s Library:

10 Next Generation Customer Service Practices

Handling Customer Complaints … 8 Mistakes to Avoid

Customer Service Tips … How to Take Charge with Basics

7 Ways to Create a Customer Service Evangelist Business



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Shep Hyken … Interview with the Customer Service Author and Expert