Lee Cockerell was a guest a previous episode of the Art of Value Show. At the end of that show, Lee suggested we do another interview to discuss the rules of customer services from his book The Customer Rules. While we will not cover all 39 rules, we will cover a dozen or so during this episode.
Lee is a former Senior Vice President of Operations at Walt Disney World Resort. He is the author of three books, with a fourth due in late 2016. He is a teacher at Thrive15 and Sports Mind Institute. His website is LeeCockerell.com.
Acting Like a Professional
What is the most important thing you can share about pricing?
Is the customer getting good value for the price? When a customer questions Lee's speaking fee, he reminds them: Price is what you pay, value is what you get. Value can be expensive and is worth it. Lee recently experienced great customer service from a flooring contractor at his home.
In The Customer Rules, Lee says he is a student of customer service wherever he goes. He learned the art of great customer service by working at Hilton Hotels, Marriott Hotels and Disney World. Lee shared a story of receiving outstanding service while applying for the SAM program to do business with the federal government.
What did your grandchildren say is the most important rule in customer service?
Lee's 12-year-old granddaughter said, “Be nice.” And his 10-year-old grandson said, “When you serve, you are always the giving one.” Sometimes the simplest answers come from children.
How could the political parties in the United States apply The Customer Rules?
Focus on having integrity by not denigrating the character of others. Your reputation is defined by who you are and what you say. Are you helping people? Are you making a difference? Set an example of high integrity.
What is the significance of Rule #8: Always act like a professional?
At Disney World, Lee told his team, “You don't have to be happy to work at Disney. You have to act happy for 8 hours.” Professionals stay professional. Never raise your voice to a customer or employee. The US military is an outstanding example of being a professional on the job. Being professional is not a title. It is a behavior. Everyone can act professionally.
What is the meaning of Rule #4: Don't get bored with the basics?
The basics are manners, courtesy, honesty, trustworthiness, being a gentleman or a lady. Walt Disney said, “Keep it clean and friendly, and everything will be fine.” No matter how good someone is, how good are they?
What is the significance of Rule #7: Look sharp?
Even though times have changed, there are certain things about your appearance that will either enhance or hurt your income. Human Resources will not tell you, but you will not get promoted. First impressions are everything. If you do not look sharp, you are taking a chance. Your image affects how people perceive your judgment.
Serving Like a Professional
What is the story behind Rule #15: Be like a bee?
A young girl at Disney World once asked Mr. Disney, what do you do? His response was, “I am like a bee. I buzz around the whole company looking for good ideas. When I find one, I share it with another department. I am the pollen and the pollinator. I make sure the best ideas are pollinated around the company.”
What is the significance of Rule #17: Listen up?
Due to our mobile devices, we have lost the ability to concentrate on the current task. Therefore, when we are with people, we have trouble looking them in the eye and paying attention. To listen actively, you must figure out what the customer is not saying. What is the hidden meaning? It is very annoying to the customer when they can tell you are not listening.
What is the meaning of Rule #20: Be a wordsmith?
Think about the words you use. No one likes to be called a subordinate, the girl at the office or my employee. Use “Yes sir,” “Yes ma'am,” “Mister” and “Misses” when appropriate. Avoid profanity in the workplace because it also affects how people perceive your judgment.
What is the story behind Rule #23: If they say they want a horse, give them a motorcar?
Henry Ford said, “If I ask the customer what he wants, he would say a faster horse.” The customer does not always know what the possibilities are. No one knew they wanted an iPhone until Apple created it. No one knew they wanted free transportation from the airport until Disney offered it. In other words, what are you not doing for the customer that you could be doing?
What is the significance of Rule #28: Know the difference between needs and wants?
One person says, “I need a car,” and he wants a Volkswagen. Another person says, “I need a car,” and she wants a Mercedes Ask questions to understand the “why” behind the need/want. The first person wants economical, reliable transportation. The second person wants to portray a successful image.
The restroom is probably the best indicator of the quality of customer service. In fact, when Lee's family goes to a restaurant, his grandson first checks out the restroom and gives it a rating on a scale of 1-10. Bill Marriott, the founder of Marriott Hotels, would first check out the kitchen at a restaurant before agreeing to eat there.
Timing Like a Professional
What is the meaning of Rule #26: Server to WIN?
WIN stands for What's Important Now. You win in life by doing what is important now. If a customer walks in your store, what is important is serving them immediately. Make the customer feel special.
What is the significance of Rule #27: Make ASAP your standard deadline?
Of course, ASAP means As Soon As Possible. In the age of real-time communication–texting, tweeting, chatting–the guest expects a response quickly. Lees says, “You need to get better faster and get faster faster.” Starbucks allows you to order and pay for your coffee from a mobile app. It is ready when you walk in the door. 30 seconds is a long time when you are the customer.
What is one of your favorite rules from The Customer Rules?
Professionalism and personal appearance. Can you image if Cinderella was not dressed properly? What if a policeman showed up at your house with his shirttail out and his hat missing? How you look is part of who you are. If you question their self-judgement, how can you trust them to have good judgment with your customers?
What is one of your best stories about creating value for a customer?
When Lee quotes a speaking fee for an event, it is for the day, not just the speech? He wants to deliver as much value to his customer as possible. He will have lunch with your sponsors or host a break group for VIPs as part of the same fee. He also shows up to the event early to learn about the audience and atmosphere.