The 9 ½ Principles of Innovative Customer Service – Interview with Chip Bell

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Today’s interview is with Chip Bell, a renowned consultant, trainer and speaker to many of the most innovative brands in the world. He is also the author of 20 different books and joins us today to talk about his new book: The 9 ½ Principles of Innovative Service.

This interview follows on from my recent interview: Customer Relationship Management CRM systems can be more human – Interview with Nikolaus Kimla, CEO of pipelinersales.com – and is number seventy two in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things and helping businesses innovate, become more social and deliver better service.

Here’s the highlights from the interview I did with Chip:

  • Chip Bell is a customer loyalty consultant working with companies all over the world
  • Chip has recently published his 20th book: The 9 ½ Principles of Innovative Service
  • The book focuses on what it takes to create ‘Value Unique Service’ by focusing on what are the simple, imaginative, inexpensive and inventive ways that we can create a unique experience for our customers.
  • The book is split into principles and uses stories and case studies to illustrate their points. The principles are:
    • The Cracker Jack Principle
    • The “Big Boy” Event Principle
    • The Purpling Principle
    • The Speed Limit 24 MPH Principle
    • The Circus Principle
    • The Campfire Story Principle
    • The Fly-Fishing Principle
    • The Easy Button Principle
    • The Panning for Gold Principle; and
    • a final surprise principle (the 1/2) that you’ll have to buy the book to find out more about.
  • Chip explained a couple of the principles to illustrate to help me understand their applicability.
  • With respect to the The Cracker Jack Principle, which is all about doing simple things that surprise the customer, he uses a story that refers to his wife when she bought her new car. She found that the garage had taken all of her preset and favourite radio stations from her old car and had programmed them into the radio of her new car. The result: all she talks about is how they took the time and effort to do that……instant advocate for the garage.
  • Then he talks about The Speed Limit 24 MPH Principle, which is all about doing something different that makes you stand out in a unique way. Chips uses the example of Hotel Monaco, a boutique hotel chain in the US, where they ask you if you would like a goldfish to stay with you in your room. The only condition is that you have to give it a name!
  • Chip says that, as customers, we assume quality these days and, therefore, judge how good something is based on the customer experience.
  • To stay ahead in this we need to empower the frontline employees as they are on the cutting edge when it comes to customer intelligence ie. what matters to customers.
  • We should rely on them as information gatherers as well as idea generators for improving and delivering on improving the customer experience.
  • This should be reliant on people and not just systems.
  • We forget that the R in CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems stands for relationships.
  • To make this work we have to move away from the command and control style of leadership, where employees roles are not about obedience but about ownership of the customer experience.
  • To do this we need to revisit what we mean by ‘empowerment’
  • Chip believes that employees already have all the power they need and it is the job of leaders to help them release and harness that power. They need to focus on removing the obstacles that exist that impede the employees delivering on a great customer experience.
  • A classic example of that is Ritz Carlton Hotels that give their employees up of $2,000 to make sure that their customer leaves happy.
  • To get started on this, Chip says that leaders should, first, thank employees for their contribution and then ask for their help in identifying areas or things that they see that could be done to improve the customer experience with the proviso that you cannot break the bank or give business away.
  • He goes onto articulate more things that can be done in the interview.
  • I shared a story about my parents’ experience flying with Virgin Atlantic and Chip pointed out that one of the key things that Virgin realise is that a customers trip does not begin at the ticket counter. It begins way before that.
  • Chip’s book is written to be both instructional and inspirational and should be read by those people on the frontlines.
  • It’s only around 100 pages long, is a fun read and is full of illustrations, cartoons and stories. I think he’s done a great job.
  • You can pick up a copy of the book via simpletruths.com

About Chip (taken adapted from various bios)

Chip Bell 9 1/2 Principles of Innovative Service

A renowned, highly sought-after keynote speaker, Chip is the author of 20 books, including Wired and Dangerous (co-authored with John Patterson), Take Their Breath Away (also with John Patterson) and Managing Knock Your Socks Off Service (with Ron Zemke).

Chip Bell is the founder of The Chip Bell Group and manages their office near Atlanta.He serves as a consultant, trainer and speaker to many of the most innovative brands in the world, many of them Fortune 500 companies, including Ritz-Carlton Hotels, Harley-Davidson, USAA, Cadillac, Chubb, Verizon Wireless, Hertz, Pfizer, Microsoft, GE, IBM, Accenture, Lockheed-Martin and Universal Orlando.

Prior to starting the firm in early ‘80s, he was a highly decorated infantry unit commander in Vietnam with the elite 82nd Airborne.

Following that, he was Director of Management and Organization Development for NCNB, now Bank of America. Dr. Bell holds graduate degrees in organizational psychology and human resource development from Vanderbilt University and the George Washington University.

He has appeared live on CNBC, CNN, Fox Business Network, NPR and ABC. His work has been featured in Fortune, Business Week, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine and Fast Company.

You can connect with Chip via Twitter, his website ChipBell.com and LinkedIn

Finally, don’t forget to check out the book (The 9½ Principles of Innovative Service) and grab a copy via simpletruths.com

Photo Credit: zilver pics via Compfight cc

Comments

  1. Thanks for the interview. I’m looking forward to reading the book. Love all of the great examples.

    Annette :-)

  2. Adrian,

    Enjoyed the article. Though I think the aster of the crackerjack principle is Stan Phelps, who you did a great interview with. http://www.adrianswinscoe.com/blog/employee-engagement-is-a-commitment-not-a-campaign-interview-with-stan-phelps/

    I like the way Stan applies it to both customers and employees.

    For those not in the know, try his web site http://www.9inchmarketing.com/

    • Hi James,
      Thanks for that. As for the origin of the crackerjack principle I’m note sure but I do know that it’s a useful principle that can be applied equally well, as Stan points out, to both customers and employees.

      Adrian

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