Convenient Customer Feedback in Real Time Featuring Adam Alfia Transcript


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Welcome to amazing business radio with Best Selling Author and customer service and business expert Shep Hyken, shuffles off with some of the smartest thinkers in business to help make you more successful in your professional and personal life. This is amazing business radio with Shep Hyken. Hello, everybody. It’s Shep Hyken. We’re back on amazing business ready we have another great guest today Adam, excuse me, let me say that again. Adam Alfia. He is the founder with his brother Kfir Alfia of Real Time Feedback. So we’re going to be talking about feedback. We’re talking about customer service experience, and the importance of it all. That’s what we do on amazing business radio. Before we get into the interview, a couple of quick announcements and that is if you’ve got an amazing story, please jump onto the social channels and share it with us. And if you’ve got a question, use the hashtag #AskChef pretty much everywhere Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, you name it, I’m there. If you leave the question, I’ll either answer it there on my blog, or on my TV show, which is be amazing or go home. And you can find those episodes on Amazon Prime, Roku, Apple TV, and you can go to be amazing that TV as well. All right, we’re jumping into it. Let’s get into it. This is going to be good today because we’ve got somebody that has a hospitality background. And if you’ve heard me over the years, you know that I love the hospitality mentality. Adam, Alfia is the co-founder of a restaurant chain shell shack, he owns nightclubs. He has a pizza chain, or did have a pizza chain. But right now we’re talking about one of his companies, which is Real Time Feedback. And Adam, welcome to amazing business radio. Thanks, Jeff, I appreciate it. So we have a lot to talk about short period of time, and you’ve got a lot to say. Real Time Feedback is exactly what it means it’s the ability for customers to leave feedback in real time. And we’ll talk more about that later on. But one of the comments you made in the talking points that you provided me was there is a slow death of customer service. I’d love to hear what you mean by that?

Well, if you’ve been to brick and mortar places in the last, you know, 10 years, maybe even 15 years, you notice that, you know, the old Neiman Marcus is of the day and you know here in Dallas is there’s an auto group called Sewell Auto Group. There’s Yeah, so Carl Zulu wrote the book, you know, customer for life. And with the not only the economy, but the environment, the workplace environment the way it is, you know, the generation and it’s really my kids generation, they really don’t come out of high school or college really with an idea of what they want to do for the rest of their lives. They’re kind of like a wind, you know, a leaf blowing in the wind jumping from job to job. So they really don’t have a vested interest, a lot of times in the jobs that they work to really go above and beyond and build a really strong relationship with the customer base that they that they work with, you know, I used to I came from the automotive industry, I had a chain of auto repair facilities here in Dallas. And even to this day, you know, it’s been shoot 20 years since I sold the chain, I still see customers that I see out here in Dallas, Dallas is a very small bubble. And they’ll say, hey, that’s Adam, this guy used to take care of my cars for years, and you just don’t see a lot of that anymore. When you walk into whether it’s restaurants, or into you know, retail stores or even dealerships. There’s such a huge turnover of employees that relationships are so you know, I hate to say the word obsolete, but a lot of times you just don’t have that relationship like they used to. And when you do, it’s usually an older person that’s been there forever. You don’t see that the younger generation really building those relationships like they used to, and then customer service, you know it, it’s a byproduct of that, because I’m not really putting the vested interest to really take care of my customer. Like the employees of yesteryear used to write and I think part of that is knowing that your employees are going to leave you in a short period of time. There’s that cycle, how much do you want to invest in that employee that you know is not going to be there, which is flawed thinking because anytime you put somebody that’s not prepared on the front line, that person regardless of how long they’ve been there or how short it’s the that’s the face of your brand at that moment. So I call that the awesome responsibility. Hey, you said a lot that I want to unpack there. First of all, you’re right, our parents, and you know, you mentioned you’ve been in business for over 20 years. So we’re assuming you’re probably at least in your 40s. Maybe you’re smiling, so maybe a little bit older. But the point is, our parents, if they got a job, many times, it was a career, they got out of college, they went to work for somebody, unless they were entrepreneurial, and own their own company, they often stayed that the company until it was time to retire. Today, it’s expected that your employees are going to churn for whatever reason, it could be, it’s their path to where they want to be. And recognizing, oh, this is my first job, I realized I probably have to work for three or four companies. The problem with that is if we can’t keep good people, it’s impossible to often create consistency, unless we have a good training program. That’s there. And I think that’s important. To your point about kids coming out of school. Man, wouldn’t it be nice if in high school, there was a course on how to deliver good service. In any industry, it doesn’t matter if you’re in retail, hospitality, or even a b2b industry. Wouldn’t it be nice if the kids took that course, we were working, we have a training system. It’s on demand virtual video based training system. And we were working with inner city groups to try to provide this training at no charge to students that are seniors in high school getting ready to interview for jobs, or perhaps are in college getting ready to interview for a summer job or a full time job, put them through the program, they get a certificate of completion, at least they can show on their resume that they’ve gone through a program and they can bring their workbook as a way to prove it. What a great resume booster that is. So any thoughts on that kind of idea? And yeah, that resonate with you?

Exactly one of the things that I always, you know, especially now that the generation that grew up, grew up behind, you know, their cell phones, we call them keyboard warriors, you know, they’ll go out on social media, and they’ll have a lot to say, but if you get them in a face to face environment, and you ask them, hey, what do you think about my service, or give me your feedback, they freeze, they don’t know how to have that communication, where they’re making a complaint, face to face to somebody. And one of the greatest things that I always taught all my employees is reading body language, is reading the situation. Now, if you’re a waiter, for example, and you walk up to a table, and somebody says that they’re done, but half their plate is still full, or more, ask that customer question, Hey, did you not enjoy your food, can I get you something else, make that make that observation and turn it into an interaction, where you’re reading the customer, the customer is, is maybe not trying to tell you something, but something’s going on. If somebody orders a plate of food and doesn’t finish it, it’s for a reason. So a lot of times when you see when you’re looking at a customer that’s obviously unhappy, or when you’re looking at a customer, and the customer is looking around, like they’re looking for a waiter, or they’re looking, you know, like they’re there, they’re looking for something, approach that customer because obviously, that customers wanting something, and they’re afraid to raise their hand are called Get up and get a manager, be that point of, you know, I’m here to help you even if it’s not your table, there is a few restaurants here in Dallas. And as I’m sure in every city that really stand out above, you know, as far as customer service and customer experience. And those are the restaurants where they all work as a team. There are not my table your table. If you’re walking by and you see somebody’s glasses is almost empty with water, stop, get a pitcher of water and fill it up for them. It’s very simple. But a lot of organizations and customer and employees, they just don’t have that mentality that we’re all working for the good of how do I make that customer happy? Because they will come back. And it’ll enrich my pocket by knowing that a customer’s coming back to the business where I work. Yep. Great line, here from one of your colleagues, Mike Terrell, who says give them help. Before they Yelp.

There you go. That’s actually that’s when we first started the company. That was a big mantra here at the office. Because, you know, one of the things that we did in our restaurants was, you know, it drives me crazy. I’m a big you know, I want to I want customers to have a great experience. And when I see negative reviews online about a brand that I’m you know, 100% involved in, it hurts me personally that somebody had a bad experience. So we started we instituted a policy that a manager had to touch every table before that customer left. And even still, when a manager walks by, introduces himself or herself as a manager and say, Hey, I’m the manager here. How’s everything is everything okay? Customers would even then still avoid the confrontation? And oftentimes would not say, Yeah, I’m having an issue with this or having an issue that because people get anxiety especially the younger generation 35 and under have a lot of anxiety of how Having that face to face confrontation, especially, you know, all of a sudden somebody walks up to your table and asks you. So a lot of times they won’t say anything, and they still leave, they leave the restaurant and leave a negative review. And it would drive me crazy. So my brother and I would ponder about this for hours, how do we get that customer to engage us and tell us the truth. And we finally came up with you know, let’s, let’s build a feedback loop, where customers don’t have to engage a manager face to face, it’s QR code based, and an anytime they can scan a code. And it was we really built a program really for internal consumption for us, because we, we have another technology company, we put our developers on it. And we found that customers were much more willing to give you their feedback digitally than they are in person. So the feedback platform was really, really successful at our restaurants. We took that and we said, hey, I think we have a business model here. And it’s been three years. And now we have, you know, over 50 arenas around the country that are using the platform sports arenas, we have countless restaurants, grocery store chains, we have a bunch of retailers that have these, actually at their registers that say, let us know how our cashiers are doing. Because you find if you go to a cashier nowadays, half of them on their cell phones, while they’re checking you out, they’re completely disengaged, they don’t ask you how your day was, how’s your experience? So now when you have a QR code, and that employee knows that I can scan the QR code at any time and be in touch directly with your manager and say, Hey, I’m not you know, the cashier wasn’t that friendly today. If they really take notice, and they do a better job knowing you have that direct line.

It’s a little bit of the watchdog effect, knowing that you’re being watched as a result of having this available for customers to rate or at least comment about the service, you know, something you said, I love it. It’s you know, we need to there’s two points before we go to break. Number one is you need to be observant. It’s harder to be observant on a digital experience, where if somebody’s even an online type of company, you know, how did we do? You can’t look at body language. But like you said the restaurant if server walks up notices that the guest is finished, but half of the food is not eaten. I think it warrants the question. Were you happy? Was there something wrong? Find out why Oh, no, I’d love to take this home. I just don’t eat a lot. Well, that’s fine. But by the way, that word fine. Oh my gosh. That’s the default that people are going to have when they don’t want to make a comment. How was everything? It was fine. What is fine mean? Our listeners know when I say something like fine that is the F bomb of customer experience for letters starts with F and it means we don’t know if it’s good or bad. Unless they put an adjective before it. How’s that haircut? Or how do you like your haircut? Oh, mighty fine. Well, then it’s okay. But if they go, it’s fine. What’s fine, really sharp. If I may jump in?

Oh, we’ve got somebody from the outside jumping in that is Kfir. Adams looks like his younger brother. Hey, I’ll take that as a compliment. Thank you. So what I wanted to touch on the Yelp factor, I’m going to tell you what we’re going to do. We’re going to take a short break. And when we come back, we’re going to talk about that line, which is give them help before they Yelp. And then we’ll hear from both Kfir and Adam Alfia. About what that means. So we’ll be right back on amazing business radio. Don’t go away. Hi, Shep Hyken, your customer service and experience expert. And I’m excited to tell you about my new book. I’ll be back how to get customers to come back again. And again. This book is packed with idea after idea on how to just as the title implies, get your customers to come back. In the book, you’ll learn that repeat customers aren’t always loyal customers. Now both are great. But there’s a big difference. You also learn about 10 reasons a customer may stop doing business with you and three reasons you would stop doing business with them. And one of my favorite lessons is a six step process for creating. I’ll be back strategy. Of course, there’s much much more, you’ll start getting more of your customers to say, I’ll be back almost immediately. Just go to www dot I’ll be back Again, that’s www dot. I’ll be back

You’re listening to amazing business radio with Best Selling Author and customer service and business expert Shep Hyken.

We’re back on amazing business radio. We’re talking with Adam Alfia. But now we’ve added to the guest list. His brother Kfir Am I saying that correctly? You’re saying it exactly correctly. Perfect. I want to make sure isn’t that a shame if you go to try to pronounce somebody’s name, and it’s wrong? And I think there’s no shame in saying I want to make sure I pronounce it’s just part of customer service, isn’t it?

Exactly. No, I appreciate that. So you had a comment about Yelp you wanted to make, right, yeah.

So, you know, there’s an antagonistic relationship that Yelp has created between businesses and customers, unfortunately. And, you know, a lot of times customers go to Yelp as kind of a revenge, you know, like, I had a bad experience. And now I’m going to make you look bad in front of everybody. And there’s actually a very certain type of person that would do that, you know, most people are not Yelpers, you know, you go on Yelp, you’ll see that there’s actually a vocal minority of people that are actually going on Yelp. Most people, you know, they have a bad experience a, they’re, they just go home, or they tell their friends, but they don’t go online, they have no axe to grind. And that is actually the majority of your customers are going to have a dissatisfactory experience. And, you know, one of the reasons why we created this product is so that we can serve that, you know, silent majority, as we call it, a people, they just needed a simple and easy channel. So that to make it easy for them to communicate their issue, you know, because most of the people, like I said, are silently suffering. And if you just make it really easy for them to let management know what’s going on, they’ll do it.

Yeah, all the stats and facts going back to the late 1970s, when the test technical assistant research program, which was commissioned by the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, did a study, and everybody still quotes that 4% of your customers who have a complaint, make the complaint and the rest of them don’t. And that means you’ve got 96% of people out there. Social media has given people a microphone, and a megaphone. Really, even so, and to your point. Now, I’ll argue that there are some companies that encourage you to go to Yelp. And those are the ones that are so confident in what they’re doing that they want you to go to Yelp and leave the feedback because they know it’s going to be positive, Yelp, TripAdvisor. And by the way, if you’re in a business that is more b2b focused, that doesn’t have a Yelp or TripAdvisor type of social channel, there are still forums, that many of your customers are going to, to talk about you without going directly to you. So to your point, we need to make feedback easy. And I know that’s what your technology does it real time feedback. And so let’s I don’t know if you agree or disagree with that comment. But I know my son is in a frontline business. He’s a musician, but he also runs a tour company down in Nashville, Tennessee, and he loves getting Yelp reviews and TripAdvisor reviews, basically, because he knows that he’s not going to be bad. But to your point, if somebody decides to seek revenge, I love that you use that word. That’s where they go social media, oftentimes, it’s because you didn’t give them what they wanted, when they asked the first time could have been in person could have been an email, a phone call the customer support. I know we hit the break, he talked about the customer effort score. Well, I think that’s a good idea to get into. But if you make it hard to leave a comment, guess what they do, they go to the second place. And that’s usually social, so they can broadcast it to everybody and hope to get a response.

Well, it’s not just it’s not just leaving a comment, it’s also getting a response from the business so that we make it very easy, as businesses should to make it where if a customer has an issue, I don’t want to call most customers now don’t want to call a toll free number, they don’t want to send you an email, I want to tell you what I have to say right now in the moment. And I want you to respond to me and hopefully fix the issue. So for example, one of our verticals that we’re going after his grocery stores, and as you know, across all industries are having a hard time you know, getting people to to manage, you know, the store like they did before because you know the big the big quit going on right now. So we actually develop QR codes that they can put for example, in the dairy department, or in there the produce department that asks the customers for help. It asks the customers if you see any items or near expiration, let our dairy manager know. So now they can scan a QR code in the dairy department, they can then take a picture of the Yoplait that’s about to expire, the manager gets that and they can respond to the customer. Thanks for helping us out. I’ll make sure we’ll get a fresh stock of you’ll play in the dairy department. So now you’re using customers as your eyes and ears because customers love helping businesses that they patronize when I go into a grocery store chain that I go to and there’s carts in a in the in the parking lot or if they have a dirty restroom I’ll go find a manager go hey, your bathroom needs cleaning or hey you have parking you have carts in the parking lot. But if you give customers most customers won’t do that. But if you put a QR code in the bathroom say hey let us know if this if this bathroom needs cleaning, or let us know if our carts need cleaning in the parking lot. Customers will tell you know if you make it easy for them scan a QR code. Put exactly what you want to say and submit managers get in real time and they can respond within seconds to the customer. It’s The beautiful thing when it works.

All right, you’ve given me a second article idea. And that is customer service is a team sport, you, the customer, and us the company. So let’s work together to give you the best experience. Use our technology, which in your case, your real time, feedback technology allows somebody to share a comment in the middle of their experience. And I think in the perfect world, somebody’s going to be alerted to a problem and ideally cover it before and take care of it before the customer ever makes it in a grocery store, to the checkout lane. Definitely before they get out of the store. I think that it’s brilliant. Just so I want to throw something out there. There’s some companies that I’ve worked with that create feedback kiosks, if you will, like the happy or not type of of cast. For those that aren’t familiar, you are familiar with, you just don’t know the terminology, you probably been in an airport at some place that had a little display that had a smiley sign a neutral, not smile, not frown, and then a frown, you get a choice? Am I happy? Or not? Or am I average in the middle fine. And you just hit that button on the way out. But wouldn’t it be nice to have that setup, have feet of feedback mechanism like yours that you’re talking about in the middle of the experience? So you don’t get me on the way out. But you get me while it’s happening. Hence, real time feedback, and real time fixes, as opposed to letting the customer walk out of the store and then getting back.

Exactly. I mean, that’s one of the things the problem with the with the smiley faces is it tells you is customer sentiment, but really doesn’t pinpoint what the issue is. It could be that they’re hanging out of hand towels, but you will know that it could be overflowing toilet, we actually work with a couple of airports right now to implement the feedback platform. Because the smiley faces a with a pandemic, nobody wants to touch anything. So now the QR code. And now if A and B, I can actually tell you what’s the problem with the issue that I’m having and attach a picture or a video if I want to. So if you have an overflowing toilet, I can take a picture of the or video of the toilet, send it in and expect a response within seconds from somebody maintenance.

Yeah, I love it. I love it. So what here’s a great quote, the idea of survey fatigue. So this is not about a survey. This is about feedback. But what are your comments about surveys? Look, surveys certainly have their place in a corporate environment. They give corporations big picture things about how they’re doing holistically, but they really, operationally you know, I don’t think I mean, I filled out probably 500 surveys in the last few years just because now I’m in the industry. And I’m trying to learn what people are trying to gauge. I don’t think I’ve ever filled out a survey and a gotten a response from anybody saying, Hey, you filled out a survey, I want to talk to you about it. Number one and two, ever made a change where I went back to the store, whether it’s a gap, or a Krispy Kreme that I filled out surveys for, and put things that are operationally valid, that they need to make a change, and ever walked back in and saying, Oh, wow, they took my advice. So you really don’t see it’s a very one way, it’s very much a one way street, where I’m giving you five or 10 minutes of my time giving you information. And unless you give me a coupon at the end, you’re really not giving anything back. I’m contributing it, but you’re not giving me anything in return.

And it drives me crazy. I just wrote an article titled feedback narcissism, which is all about we get, we want to get the feedback. And I always do a cartoon every week. And I had a person who next to him was a big, like a trash can filled with crumpled up pieces of paper. And the other one, there was a very small stack. And another employee says, What are you doing, he says, I’m going through all the feedback, and I’m throwing away all the bad stuff, because my boss only wants to hear the good things that are happening. But feedback is truly a gift. And by the way, I believe operationalizing feedback, both good and bad is really important. You get bad feedback, get with the customer fix the problem that customers having use it to make sure it doesn’t happen again in the future to that customer, other customers. But what if they give you some great example? Why doesn’t every customer share this example? And if it’s something that, wow, that’s really good. We need to make sure we’re always doing this now you operationalize the good along with trying to mitigate and eliminate the bad.

Exactly. I mean, that’s really if you look, it’s all data. If you’re not using the information that your customers are telling you to operationally make a change and use it to drive change, that it’s all for naught. You’re just going through the motions of, you know, having that illusion that you care by giving out surveys. But if you don’t make any changes, what good is the feedback from your customers, right? It’s a waste of time effort on everybody’s part. Alright, we’re down to running out of time. I always ask the final question. Is there one nugget of information you want to share with our audience before we end our interview today?

Yes, one of the things that we really try to impart to the customers that use our platform is you cannot wait for customers to give you feedback. Whenever we put we launched the store, the number one thing we always tell people is ask your customers to scan the code and give you feedback good or bad, because customers are lazy. Employees are lazy customers are also lazy. You have to ask them, Hey, do me a favor, can you scan that QR code? Let my boss know how I did today. And you wouldn’t believe the change the difference that we see, especially we have a bunch of dealerships between employees that asked for feedback, they’ll get sometimes 10 to 15 times the amount of feedback than an employee that doesn’t say anything. So ask for feedback in the moment while that customer is there, and you’ll learn your customer a lot more than you think.

Right now, two things I want to add to that if it’s okay. Number one is when you ask for the feedback, I love it. That’s great. But no strings attached. In other words, don’t. And you mentioned, dealership, car dealership is what I’m assuming you’re thinking about there. But I know my car dealership asked me to give the feedback. And please rate me high because otherwise they’re going to take away my firstborn child. And I’m going to lose my job. And they give me all these excuses as to why I am guilted into giving good feedback. That’s the first comment. Let’s stay away from that type of behavior. The second is, when you tell your employees to ask for feedback. Again, no strings attached. They’re going to act differently knowing that they’re potentially going to be for lack of a better word graded on the experience. And I use that word watchdog before, it really is helpful to know that hey, somebody’s watching and paying attention to this.

I actually read that article is a great article. Well, thank you. Thank you. I have stole a couple lines out of it if you don’t mind. Like that. Well, hey, guys, you’re awesome. So I’ll wrap it up saying the original interview starting with Adam Alfia. But I want to thank Adam and Kfir for joining us on amazing business radio. Thanks for your insights today.

Of course thank you for having us. All right, everybody wraps up another episode of amazing business radio. We will be back next week with another interview and until that time, This is Shep Hyken reminding you to Always be Amazing.

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