As part of my series about the five things a business should do to create a Wow! customer experience, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kyle Elliott, MPA, CHES.
Kyle Elliott is the career and life coach behind CaffeinatedKyle.com. His goal is simple — to help people find jobs they love. As a result of working with Kyle, clients have landed jobs at Facebook, LinkedIn, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and nearly every other Fortune 100/500 company you can think of. They have also found happiness.
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?
I started my business on Fiverr. I charged five dollars to edit resumes, write LinkedIn profile summaries, and edit personal statements for students in college to support my Starbucks addiction. I never imagined this college side hustle would transform into a thriving coaching practice where I help some of Silicon Valley’s most prominent executives. While I help people across a range of industries, my expertise is the high tech space and Silicon Valley.
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?
Absolutely. I remember early on in my career spending $1,000 on a magazine ad to try and secure clients. I did not land a single client. My therapist called the mistake the ‘tuition’ of doing business. I quickly learned that my clients are not going to hire me from seeing an advertisement in a magazine. Moving forward, I focused on relationship building, relationship building, relationship building.
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?
Without a doubt, my parents. I am incredibly thankful and humbled to have parents who have supported me throughout my entrepreneurial and life journey. My parents truly believe in me, my abilities, and my fabulousness.
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?
The market is saturated. With COVID-19, there are bound to be even more service-based businesses popping up. You have to focus on customer experience if you want to compete.
Plus, delivering a great customer experience will result in customers who sing your name from the rooftops and refer you to their friends and colleagues.
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?
People are busy. People are tired. I believe a lot of poor experience comes from a lack of energy. People are operating in a scarcity mindset and simply do not have the bandwidth to deliver a truly phenomenal experience to each and every person. Companies do not make this a priority because the ROI of delivering exceptional customer service is not black-and-white. It can be difficult to measure the true ROI of customer service.
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?
Increasing competition has already forced and will continue to force companies to improve the customer experience. Additionally, customers are no longer putting up with poor or even average customer service. Customers vote every day with their wallets and if you are not delivering exceptional customer service, they will find a company that is.
Can you share with us a story from your experience about a customer who was “Wowed” by the experience you provided?
Several years ago, a client emailed me sharing that they landed a last-minute interview with Facebook. I was on vacation and had an out of office email message sent saying to text me with anything urgent. The client texted me sharing the news. From my hotel room, I conducted a video interview coaching session with them. Fast forward a few weeks later and they landed the job! They were incredibly thankful that I took time from my vacation to support them.
Did that Wow! experience have any long term ripple effects? Can you share the story?
Yes, it has been years since I worked with that client and I continue to get referrals. My best source of new clients is happy former clients. Do exceptional work for clients and more business will follow.
Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a founder or CEO should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience. Please share a story or an example for each.
Be intentional with the experience you want to create. I am a big fan of prioritizing the customer any time I propose a change to my business because everything we ultimately do is for our customers.
Ask questions. Too many business owners make the mistake of assuming they know what their customers want. Create a feedback system and solicit input from your customers.
Do not be afraid of apologizing. It is OK to make mistakes. The key is addressing them — quickly — and coming to a resolution in partnership with your customers.
Remember that creating a Wow! customer experience is a journey, not a destination. Always be willing to learn and grow. Seek out mentors who are where you want to be in 3, 5, 10 years. Learn how they got to where they are.
It is 2020. Leverage technology and innovation. Seek out ways to make processes more convenient, both for your customers and yourself. You can ask for help if you are not a subject matter expert in this area.
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?
Do not be afraid to ask for what you want. When clients ask me, “How can I repay you for landing me this amazing job?” I let them know that referrals make my day. I also ask for testimonials.
Remind former clients that you exist. I send my clients birthday and holiday cards via snail mail to keep my brand top of mind. They are simple yet effective. I want them to automatically think, “You should hire Kyle!” any time someone mentions, “I’m looking for a job.”
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. :-)
My vision is lofty — to live in a world where everyone owns their fabulousness. This is why I am relentlessly authentic and share my whole truth with the world. I want to show others that it is OK to be your fabulous self. I believe every single human is fabulous. And, I believe the world deserves to experience your fabulousness.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Readers can find me on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or my website, CaffeinatedKyle.com.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!