Author Jason Gelios: 5 Things a Business Should Do to Create a Wow Customer Experience

An Interview With Orlando Zayas

Orlando Zayas, CEO of Katapult
Authority Magazine

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A business that shows they care while focusing on the customer first will outlast another business that doesn’t. It takes very little effort to really care about the customer or client, yet many businesses fail here. They simply don’t take the time to listen to a customer or client, or they don’t hear them because they don’t have a process in place to gain customer reviews or feedback. Being proactive and showing empathy for those that are buying your product or service is crucial.

As part of our series about the five things a business should do to create a Wow! customer experience, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jason Gelios.

Jason Gelios is an Award Winning Top Producing REALTOR® in Southeast Michigan, Author of the real estate book Think Like a REALTOR®, Expert Media Contributor to major media outlets and the Creator of The AskJasonGelios Real Estate Show where he educates home buyers and sellers the in’s and out’s of the process with real-world expertise.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Thanks for having me! My journey started to take shape in my early 20’s when I was working odd jobs and not really focused on a specific career path. I always had a strong work ethic but felt that I was not really motivated by the jobs I held. I was working for the weekend so to speak. You could say I was a ship without a sail. It wasn’t until I met my wife that I really got inspired to improve my situation and to become more than I was. I watched as she worked diligently toward earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. Seeing her rewarded for her hard work and ambition really inspired me to change my life and pursue a career that I could really be proud of. Something that would get me excited to wake up every day and achieve great things.

As I researched different career paths, a family member told me that I should be in sales because of my personality. This comment opened up the possibility of that path. After looking at the different types of sales positions and industries, I decided to go into the mortgage field. This was the start of my journey towards becoming a REALTOR and growing a successful brand and business from the ground up. By implementing my hard work ethic and developing a ‘Client For Life’ philosophy, I had and continued to see successes that contribute to my clients becoming raving fans.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

I will never forget when I was showing a client this older home in the country located on multiple acres of land. The home was dimly lit and it was difficult to move throughout the home. I was instructed to be sure we don’t let the cats out of the upstairs room. As we were walking through the home, my client opened the door leading to the upstairs bungalow area. In a matter of seconds, about half a dozen cats came running past us in a mad rush to get out of that area. It about scared us half to death! After the mishap and notifying the listing agent that we had let the cats out by accident, we had a nice laugh about it.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

The challenges of making a major shift in my life and to take that leap towards a new path requires a strong support system that propels you forward. My wife played a huge role in me achieving my goals and going after what I want in life. The key takeaway is always having something or someone in your life that encourages you to always move forward. One of the biggest lessons I took from her in the early days was that it takes time to achieve your goals. Nothing happens overnight and you must be patient with the process. To this day, I remind myself daily that my larger goals will take more time and it’s important to stay the course because the reward of achieving that goal will be worth it. I was also blessed with being taught the value of hard work from both my parents. They stressed the importance of earning what you have and not expecting handouts. This has proven to be a factor in my past and current success.

Thank you for that. Let’s now pivot to the main focus of our interview. This might be intuitive, but I think it’s helpful to specifically articulate it. In your words, can you share a few reasons why great customer service and a great customer experience is essential for success in business?

It’s more important than ever in this competitive environment to provide the best service or product experience possible. In my real estate career, real estate agents are a dime a dozen-which meant I had to stand out and differentiate myself. I can provide the best service and experience possible, ensure that I win over the client and be the best that I can be to uphold that standard. This does take the mindset to do so and be accountable for every action I take.

We all know of at least one business that has not provided a great experience or even delivered a horrible buying experience. They may have failed to be accountable leaving the customer or client to believe that they don’t care. If a business or professional takes the time to own the experience the client or customer has, it shows that they are really involved in whether or not that customer will be happy or not. Taking ownership of what a customer or client will experience should be top of mind and the main focus of any brand.

Customers and clients understand that people have a bad day, but it’s how the business reacts and handles the issue that can really make them stand out. Customers and clients will come back to a brand if they do the right thing and respond with empathy. Take Chick-fil-A for example. Here is a fast food restaurant that people flock to with many customers waiting in a line for over an hour. Do you see people raving about other fast food chains? This is because Chick-fil-A owns the whole experience and implements a process that not only creates a great time for customers, but also employs the right people who provide the best service possible. This is something that any business small or large can emulate and project in their own business.

We have all had times either in a store, or online, when we’ve had a very poor experience as a customer or user. If the importance of a good customer experience is so intuitive, and apparent, where is the disconnect? How is it that so many companies do not make this a priority?

Great question. I feel that when a larger company doesn’t address customer service issues it’s due to having a poor process or no process at all. A business should have open communication from upper management down to the customer. This should be a simplified process that allows the customer to have a voice and to feel that they are heard. Other things that might contribute to the disconnect could be poor management, too much focus on the bottom line or other factors that could boil down to not hiring the right people.

I have seen companies that have highly engaged employees that are excited to greet customers and be an advocate for the brand. Think Apple stores. I have also seen brands have poorly engaged employees that could care less if a customer purchases something or not. Oftentimes this leads to customers having a lackluster experience with the business. We also see this with service companies where they do average work without really going above and beyond. This never leads to raving fans spreading positivity about the brand.

I had a recent experience with a company that exemplified proactive service. I had purchased an item for my son on a major website and learned that the shipping was delayed due to the delivery company. While I didn’t mention any frustration with the delay, I received an apology from the seller and a refund on the shipping cost and partial tax. Even though the product I purchased arrived late, I still left a great review because of how they handled the delay and were empathetic about the situation.

This is a great example of providing a ‘WOW’ experience to a customer! Any business, big or small, can implement a process like this or something similar that shows they care about the customer’s experience with their company.

Do you think that more competition helps force companies to improve the customer experience they offer? Are there other external pressures that can force a company to improve the customer experience?

Having more competition in my field of real estate definitely fuels me to provide the best experience possible because I know that the client has more options to choose from. I simply don’t rest on my laurels. I don’t feel that all professionals or companies take this same approach. Some companies run stagnant and run their business the way they always have without any regard to the customers experience or the changing business environment. I would even go further to state that I feel smaller businesses and professionals tend to focus more on the customer or client experience because they have more to lose should the buyer or client choose another option.

I feel that in the grand scheme of things, having more competition is better than not because it keeps businesses and professionals on their toes. A good analogy of this is a track runner. If a runner is on the track alone, they may not run as fast as they could. Now add more runners and make it a competition and the runners have motivation to do better.

Can you share with us a story from your experience about a customer who was “Wowed” by the experience you provided?

I have had the pleasure of meeting many great people in my real estate career. One of the things that I like to do is to share my expertise on the home buying process with a home buying class through a local college. By the end of the class, I usually have a few people follow me into the hallway and ask if they can hire me to represent them. They express that the agent they were working with didn’t take the time to explain things the way I did or even offer great communication to them. One of the reasons for this is because I am providing that positive interaction when I present my knowledge. The class attendees feel that they can trust me and communicate with me to have a great experience with their next home purchase. By being proactive in my career, I provide the best ‘WOW’ experience possible. If I don’t feel that working with someone would be a great fit, I usually recognize that and refer them to somebody who may be better suited. This allows me to make sure that I can have a solid experience with someone and create a raving fan.

Did that Wow! experience have any long term ripple effects? Can you share the story?

That Wow! Experience I mentioned has a ripple effect because it becomes a normal part of what I do. In real estate, the bar seems to be very low, if not on the ground, for great service. By simply focusing on how the client’s experience is, you create long lasting relationships and referrals for years to come. Anybody can apply this type of mindset to their business or offering by simply thinking of the client or customer first. I have had one positive interaction with a new client turn into multiple clients just by providing a great experience.

Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a business leader should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience. Please share a story or an example for each.

The five things a business leader should know about providing a Wow! Experience are:

  1. Know what it takes to provide a great experience. Every business leader in charge of a big or small company should put themselves in the customers shoes. Would you shop at your business? Would you hire yourself? What does the customer need to see or feel to have that Wow! experience? Once the business leader learns this, then it’s time to implement the things that will make a fan out of that customer or client. Think Undercover Boss and work from there.
  2. Be proactive; and actually care. A business that shows they care while focusing on the customer first will outlast another business that doesn’t. It takes very little effort to really care about the customer or client, yet many businesses fail here. They simply don’t take the time to listen to a customer or client, or they don’t hear them because they don’t have a process in place to gain customer reviews or feedback. Being proactive and showing empathy for those that are buying your product or service is crucial. This brings me to my next tip.
  3. Have something in place giving the customer or client a voice. Having a process in place where a customer or client can provide feedback is crucial in today’s business environment. After all, how will you know how you are doing if you don’t hear back from those that interact with your brand or business? This could be something as simple as a toll free line that they can call to share their experience. A survey that generates on everyone’s order or receipt with an incentive to share how their experience was. Retail stores already do this. Having something in place to get that feedback from customers or clients can really go a long way. For professionals this could be a testimonial request after the service is completed.
  4. Hire the right people. A positive experience with a brand starts with having the right people on the front lines. Hiring the right people can keep many problems at bay. A smiling employee can be contagious to a customer. Spending more time on the hiring process and implementing things that weed out bad candidates is a great starting point. This process should also apply to those working on the back end of the business too. They are just as important to the positive brand experience.
  5. Be willing to adapt. You must be willing to at least consider that change is a good thing. The business environment changes daily yet many businesses fail to recognize this. We know this to be true with Blockbuster video. When they were faced with an opportunity to offer movie delivery to customers, they failed to adapt to the change, which ultimately led to their demise. Being able to adapt to new trends and ways of doing business that will benefit the customer or client experience should not be overlooked. For professionals, this could be some form of technology that allows greater communication to customers and/or clients. Almost every industry has a need for change that could benefit the buyer.

Are there a few things that can be done so that when a customer or client has a Wow! experience, they inspire others to reach out to you as well?

Many businesses have things in place to help create raving fans and spread word of mouth to gain more business or clients. We see this often in stores that offer loyalty rewards or incentives to tell-a-friend. Businesses should be asking customers or clients to share their experience on social media and on search engines so that others can see a positive review. In business, this is called social proof. When potential customers or clients are researching a business or professional, they want to feel good about making that decision to visit that business or hire that professional because nobody likes a bad experience.

My particular expertise is in retail, so I’d like to ask a question about that. Amazon is going to exert pressure on all of retail for the foreseeable future. New Direct-To-Consumer companies based in China are emerging that offer prices that are much cheaper than US and European brands. What would you advise retail companies and eCommerce companies, for them to be successful in the face of such strong competition?

I would recommend that brick and mortar and ecommerce businesses really focus on sharing their story along with their brand. You will always have a smaller group of people who shop solely on price, but not all do. Most shoppers are looking for a great cause to put their money towards while getting a product that they want. Years ago we saw a company called Tom’s Shoes emerge with great success. This is because they shared an inspirational story of how they donate one pair of shoes for every pair of shoes sold. It also helps that they have a decent product backed with great customer service. Their story and brand created a movement, as well as a loyal amount of customers. To this day, it appears they are still going strong. Of course, not every story has to be as bold as theirs.

For some people, price will always be the dominant factor. For most, it’s excellent service and a feel good experience. One of the ways I have seen an online retailer share their story was by adding something to every order that goes out. Maybe it’s a thank you tag with a reminder that the customer supported a great cause. It might even be a behind the brand tidbit on the stores website. There are multiple ways to stand out to potential and current customers by being authentic.

Business leaders should never focus all their efforts on price alone because it’s never a win-win strategy. We see this with larger retailers that send out corporate spies who check out what the other is doing. When all you compete with is price, you really don’t stand out to a customer.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

There is a saying out there that says a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle. I would encourage people to do what they can to lift others up. By providing the value however they can whether it’s through their work or their personal endeavors. Lifting people up and providing the encouragement they need is always a blessing in someone else’s life.

How can our readers follow you on social media?
I invite them to connect with me on social media by searching Jason Gelios or by visiting my website www.ItsAllAboutTheRealEstate.com.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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