Book Review: Be Amazing or Go Home by Shep Hyken

This article was originally published on the FCR blog on September 21, 2018. Click here to read the original.

When I started blogging about my experiences in customer service several years ago, one of the first people I met was Shep Hyken. It didn’t take long for him to become one of my heroes in this industry.

Not long after that, we were conversing on Twitter and I learned that Shep would be at a conference in my home town of San Diego. I was thrilled to learn that he had an hour or two to spare. When the day came, my friend and colleague Jenny Dempsey and I got there a little early for our meeting only to find that Shep was already there and ready to talk. As I shook his hand, the first thing he said to me was, “I always make it a point to be early!” How’s that for a first impression?

That impression has stuck with me to this day. As I think about his book, Be Amazing or Go Home: Seven Customer Service Habits That Create Confidence With Everyone, I realize that these habits aren’t just a set of ideals we should aspire to — these are principles this man actually lives by. Having read a number of his books, this one feels the most personal — as if we’re getting a glimpse into what has made Shep Hyken a success.

The book features a set of bite-sized principles that, if applied to both our personal and work lives, will make our relationships better. I was also incredibly honored to say something very similar to that on the back cover of the book! In this short review, I’ll highlight five principles/quotes that stood out to me as I read.

Whenever you are in front of a customer or a work colleague, for any  reason and anywhere, assume you are “on stage.”

Have you ever brought less than your very best to work? I know I’ve let personal issues, emotions, lack of sleep, and a whole lot of other things bleed over into my interactions with customers and colleagues. In this section, Hyken unveils for us what he calls “The Burton Standard.” The concept’s namesake, actor Richard Burton who would say, “I want to be so good tonight that I cheat the audience that was here the night before.” It’s important to remember our role as professionals. When we’re working we’re on stage and our customers and colleagues deserve our very best.

We all need feedback on how we can improve and sometimes the feedback that sounds the most negative is the feedback we most need to hear.

I’ve written a lot about what to do with customer feedback — which is important for improving the customer experience. But what are we doing to gather feedback about ourselves? If you’re on the frontlines of a customer service team, chances are that you’re getting regular feedback about your metrics and the quality of your work. If you’ve moved into a leadership role, are you still seeking feedback from your customers, peers, and boss? This is a great reminder from Hyken not to shy away from feedback but to seek it out.

If you make a promise, and you then follow through to the satisfaction of the person or people you made the promise to, that’s your brand.

The term “brand” is so easily applied to electronic devices, boxes of cereal, shoes, and such. Think about it. If you purchase a box of Frosted Flakes you expect that when you open the box  it’s full of corn flakes that are coated in sugar. If you open the box and it’s either empty or full of plain corn flakes, the company broke their brand promise. Have you thought about your personal brand promise? So much of this book contains principles that help us be intentional about the type of people we want to be — to be people who establish our brand promise and keep that promise.

Sincerity creates confidence. And confidence may be the single most important reason that someone decides to do business with you.

This is my favorite quote and concept in the entire book. In contact centers, it’s so easy for us to reply to a customer using a canned response or script for added efficiency. We might even add an empathetic statement like, “I’m so sorry this happened.” The goal, however, is to move beyond merely going through the motions and I’ve had countless conversations with our teams about how we do this. I’ve been searching for the word that describes an authentic connection with the customer and Hyken so wonderfully captures that sentiment with the word, “Sincerely.” When we sign “Sincerely” at the end of our emails, did we enter it there because it was a part of the canned response or because we meant what we said? Let’s mean what we say.

If you touch it, make it better. Make it personal. Make it memorable.

Hyken shares a story about legendary country music guitarist, Chet Atkins, where a friend of his had sent a guitar to him to have it signed. As the story goes, Atkins was sick and near death but still took the time to sign the guitar. But before signing the guitar, he played it a bit. Doesn’t that just make the story so much better? What a cool way to personalize the experience. Regardless of our line of work, have we settled for the humdrum or do we aim to go a step further, and with great pride, make it personal.

I hope you’ll take some of these lessons to heart but also take the time to pick up this book and read it for yourself. If you’ve read it, leave us a comment with your favorite insights. While you’re at it, pre order your copy of Shep Hyken’s latest book, The Convenience Revolution.

Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Experience at FCR, the premiere provider of outsourced call center and business process solutions. He has more than 17 years of experience as a customer service and experience professional. He is co-founder of the Customer Service Life blog and a regular contributor. Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.

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