6 D’s of Customer Service: Interview with Shep Hyken

I’m travelling in Europe at the moment, so I hope you’ll enjoy this replay episode of my interview with Shep Hyken. We’ll have fresh episodes of the Frank Reactions podcast starting in July.


Customer service & customer experience expert, Shep Hyken, tells a story in today’s interview of walking into a hotel. Instead of having a square of chocolate waiting for him on his pillow, this hotel gave him a full chocolate bar and bottle of water when he checked in.

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Nice little customer service touch, you think. But the thing is, at the prices they were charging for the rooms, this would have cost them about 6% of the room rate. (Who knew that big name speakers don’t always get to stay at five star hotels?) That’s a pretty big hit to the bottom line.

Was it worth the cost?

In our social media era, absolutely. Why?

  1. It made the hotel visit memorable. You wouldn’t think a little thing like that would make such a difference, but I had a similar reaction the first time I walked into a hotel that had fresh baked cookies at reception. I still remember the name of that hotel (Adara, in Whistler) and tell others about it. A chocolate square on the pillow used to work, but now it has become so common that, even though we like it, that won’t be enough to wow us anymore.  Think about what you can do that would add a little touch to make a big difference.
  2. Shep Hyken speaks to thousands of people a year. The experience impressed him so much that he talks about that hotel. (Unfortunately for them, he didn’t mention the name of it in this interview, but he probably has at other times, and he has definitely recommended the hotel to colleagues who will be travelling in the area.)
  3. It leverages the principle of reciprocity. When people do something nice for you, you are more likely to do something nice for them. This special touch makes visitors much more likely to take time to do a positive hotel review on Trip Advisor, Yelp, or Booking.com.
  4. If it gets even one person to book a night who wouldn’t have otherwise, it has paid for itself many times over. It doesn’t take a lot of word of mouth for those chocolate bars to help keep the hotel’s rooms booked.

Other Customer Experience Thoughts from Shep Hyken

Customer service expert, Shep Hyken

Customer service expert, Shep Hyken

In the interview we talked about the challenges of getting buy-in across the organization. “If it doesn’t start at the top,” he warns, “it’s not going to work.

Hyken’s 6 Ds of Great Customer Service

This 6-step process is key to having a good customer service/experience culture, says Hyken.

  1. Define it. What does customer experience mean in this company? Develop a common terminology so everyone understands and discusses it the same way.
  2. Disseminate it. Get the desired experience communicated effectively throughout the company.
  3. Deploy it. Do a lot of training, and keep on doing it. “Customer service & experience training isn’t something that you did, it’s something that you do,” says Hyken.
  4. Demonstrate it. The CEO and other senior leaders must show, through their actions, that they are committed to the organization’s customer experience goals.
  5. Defend it. Be on the lookout for opportunities to recognize and reward those who are doing it right, and to teach and correct those who are not living up to the customer service standards.
  6. Delight in it. Celebrate your service successes. Have fun with making improvements.

Be Consistently Customer-Friendly

Another point that came out in the interview is the importance of consistency. As the size of your organization grows, that gets harder and harder to maintain. It requires ongoing training and reminders. It’s essential though, as your brand can quickly and easily be destroyed by one bad customer experience that gets shared on social media. As Shep Hyken puts it:

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