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Retaining Customers Through the Proactive Customer Experience

When I attended C2 in May, one thing stuck out beyond the incredible creativity of the conference. Many of us commented on the fact that the staffing was so pro-active. What does that mean? I’ll give you an example. It was a large space, sometimes confusing and challenging to figure out where different activities were taking place. A staff member approached me as I was looking… well, confused… and asked, “do you need assistance? You look lost.” At other times if I was staring at my phone, which had the C2 app on it listing multiple activations, a staff person would be at my side asking if they could help me find something? At mealtimes with various places to get food, I might hear “if you are looking for the food trucks …etc.”  It happened for three days, and all of us experienced it. We didn’t have to wait to ask even though there was a friendly information desk; staff anticipated what we might need and came to us rather than us looking for them.

Shep has addressed this in a specific way, and it’s not only a good read; it’s a good lesson in customer service.


Just last week I wrote about the concept of predictive customer support. Now, we take a slightly different angle with the concept of proactive customer support. The concept is simple. The company reaches out to the customer before the customer has a chance to reach out to the company. More often than not, the customer may not even know they have a problem.

As an example, when does a typical customer find out their cable TV is out? Usually when they turn the TV on. Then there’s frustration and even anger. Typically, the customer will pick up the phone to report the problem and hope the customer service agent can help them restore their cable TV. However, before the customer can even ask about the problem, the support agent must ask the standard questions to confirm the customer is who they say they are. All the customer wants to find out is when they can start watching TV again. That’s an example of friction – the antithesis of convenience.

I was working with a client in the cable TV business. When they know the cable and Internet is out in a certain area, they proactively reach out to the customer. They use every communication channel available to them. They know the customer’s cell number, email address, Facebook handle, and more. They broadcast an announcement to their customers across every channel, hoping customers will see that they are aware of the problem and actively trying to fix it. They also provide updates so the customer doesn’t feel compelled to repeatedly call and ask when the service will be restored. That’s a waste of time – for both the customer and the customer support rep.

When a company knows about a problem before the customer does, it can let the customer know before they call the company. Another way to be proactive is to take care of a problem before it’s even a problem.

If we know a light bulb has a life expectancy of 1,000 hours, and there’s a way to track how many hours the bulb has been on, be proactive and just replace it once it hits 1,000 hours. The option to wait until it burns out (which would probably happen at an inopportune moment, forcing you to stop what you’re doing to replace the bulb) is not worth the extra few hours of light.

My favorite example sums up this idea perfectly. A server at a restaurant is carrying the water pitcher, looking not for empty glasses to fill, but for almost empty glasses to fill. In other words, get to the customer before the customer realizes they need you. That’s what proactive customer support is all about.


Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker, and New York Times bestselling business author. For information, contact 314-692-2200 or www.hyken.com. For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs, go to www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken

Andrea Michaels is the founder and president of Extraordinary Events, and the author of Reflections of a Successful Wallflower: Lessons in Business; Lessons in Life. She may be reached via amichaels@extraordinaryevents.com.

You Were Saying?

This wonderful piece made me think about the many sales pitches I have attended AND given. Often I was so bored that I wanted to run out of the room even if I was the one speaking. Why? They just went on and on and… you get the picture. So put yourself in the mindset of the audience and evaluate:

– Relevance
– Context not just content
– Is it fascinating?
– If it had to all be said in three minutes what would you edit out?
– What is the ending because you had better start there

My friend recently told me about cleaning out her closet and being advised only to keep the things that brought her joy. I applied that thought to pitches and proposals. Please read the following article and share if you can make the same application.

Eloqui Tip of the Week: YOU WERE SAYING?

A recent Wall Street Journal article: No one listening? Maybe you’re the problem cited a common communication failure. If you’ve ever said “I can’t make myself heard in meetings or conversations” the WSJ article suggests self-examination. Do you ramble on, without purpose and unaware of your listener’s interest? Do you fail to recognize cues that others would like to join the conversation? Are you truly paying attention, without being distracted by various devices or screens?

We tend to blame inattention on our fast-paced society, short attention spans or lack of intellectual curiosity. Whatever the reason, we’re less effective today at Homo Sapiens’ greatest attribute, the exchange of ideas through dialogue.

But give yourself a break. In our partnership, if David likes someone, he can talk the paint off a barn. If Deborah is excited about a recent project, details flow abundantly. Even though verbositycan come from a good place, you still need to measure your word count and self-edit. Most of all, be present. Beware of delivering an “internal monologue.” Hone your observational skills, and ask questions so you can steer the conversation into a meaningful area. “Be Here Now” has never been more important.

About Eloqui

We effectively train new hires to seasoned executives; startups and small businesses to established firms and non-profits. We’ve partnered with thousands of celebrities and business professionals, from CEOs to salespeople, attorneys, financial advisors and CPAs to gain confidence and build their businesses through memorable, targeted and eloquent speaking.

T: 818-642-6632
Deborah can be reached atdshames@eloqui.biz
David can be reached atdbooth@eloqui.biz

Andrea Michaels is the founder and president of Extraordinary Events, and the author of Reflections of a Successful Wallflower: Lessons in Business; Lessons in Life. She may be reached via amichaels@extraordinaryevents.com.

Business Obesity – Edit Your Content, Social Media, and Conversations

A few nights ago, I had an MRI. And while I was enclosed in my tube listening to loud noises, they began to have a cadence, and that cadence lulled me into some deep thought as I began to construct this blog. One thing has bothered me for a long time, and I’d like to share it with you.

Business (and maybe even personal) binging rarely reaps positive results. It’s like mindless overeating…when you are doing it for the sake of doing it, but it doesn’t mean a damn thing except for weight gain. The result of business social media binging, if you’re the one receiving it instead of doing it, is annoying and in my opinion pointless.

You may be wondering if while locked into that tube I lost my mind. No, I didn’t, so I’m going to share what bugs me and I hope that you’ll also share your thoughts with me.

Every day I check in on all the various social media channels.  Videos and Instagram Stories/Moments seem to be today’s “thing.” OK. I get it, but they must have meaning or tell a story. For instance, I saw an IG moment/video from one DMC, and I read it. Interesting, sort of. I clicked to forward to the next one. Same DMC. Another topic, a bit interesting. Click. Same DMC. OVER TEN TIMES! By the third one, I had already lost interest. Overkill!

That happens multiple times from multiple companies as well as numerous individuals and what the poster (the person who posts) doesn’t realize is that after you see the same thing over and over again, you lose interest. Why not do one a day? Maybe two but spaced out. And each one impactful?

Moving on but continuing, on social media why do people post photos of themselves narcissistically smiling and flirting with the camera and talking about nothing, including things like “what do I do with this pimple?” (yes, for real) on what is also their business site?

Business obesity. Is what you are filming and saying contributing to you and your business being taking seriously or are you hoping that by posting multiple posts (even if they say nothing) that you’ll be winning new friends? Who aren’t really friends anyway, are they? In any case, do they enhance your image or are you in the end just perceived as annoying?

It takes thought to make your posts and messages brand reflective. Does your post support the core pillar of your company or culture (or you as an individual)? Does it add or detract from your credibility? Social media, after all, is supposed to be brand storytelling. If it doesn’t tell a positive story, then it’s just flabby extra cellulite. And remember, individuals, are brands too. Images are taken from an inch away from your face with you giggling of how shit faced you are getting may not be the message you want to send out to the world. Or maybe it is. In that case, keep on posting.

That took me to other forms of communication, like maybe proposals. Long and drawn out explanations lose the audience quickly. The same applies to RFP’s that contain tons of photos and examples in them which can cause the reader to quickly loses interest.  It is overkill. A good story is a good story, but once it’s made its point, it is over. I was listening to a political press conference this morning (no names), and I heard the same thing repeated over and over again. I realize that repetition is good (twice maybe to get the point across) but more than four times and said, in the same way, is ineffective.

So, what’s my locked-in-an-MRI tube revelation? Don’t business gorge (overeat) be more respectful of the recipient of your social media, your proposal, your speech, your conversation – your audience. In the end, it will show the world that you are more respectful of yourself.


Andrea Michaels is the founder/president of Extraordinary Events, a Los Angeles-based, multi-award-winning event agency. She is the author of Reflections of a Successful Wallflower – Lessons in Business; Lessons in Life and a contributor to numerous other business books. She may be reached via amichaels@extraordinaryevents.com.

Be as Easy as Ordering a Pizza

Shep’s simplicities and analogies always engage and educate me. Here, in the simplest of forms, we learn how pizza has changed through technology and how younger generations have impacted that. (I do have to wonder how the kids being born today are going to communicate…will they just think something and have it become a reality with no device necessary?). This of course made me ask myself (and you of course) how are we changing our businesses and our services to adapt? Would love your thoughts, so please read on.

Be as Easy as Ordering a Pizza

Back in my college days, I remember how easy it was at 11:00 at night, while studying for a test the next day, to order a pizza from Domino’s. I just picked up the phone and in less than thirty minutes, it was delivered. Today I do the same thing. I pick up the phone and order a pizza – but I don’t have to… pick up the phone.

Technology has taken us to a new level of pizza ordering. Picking up a phone to order a pizza is an option, but it’s so old school. You can order online or use an app on your smartphone or tablet. Or, you can just use a voice command and order with Alexa or Google Home. And, once you order your pizza, you can track the order. You know when your pizza is being prepped when it comes out of the oven and when it’s on its way. Domino’s has made it easy – as in convenient.

And, if you’ve been following my work, you know about my fascination with convenience. I wrote the book, The Convenience Revolution, and identified six “Principles of Convenience,” one of them being delivery. I included Domino’s as a case study in the book, but guess what? I didn’t include them in the chapter on delivery. I included them in the chapter on technology.

In 2008 Domino’s was struggling and their brilliant leadership turned the company around. They recognized their pizza wasn’t as good as it could be, and publicly stated it needed improvement. So, they improved. They also revolutionized their process and started building technology into the customer experience. The Domino’s ANYWARE concept allows their customers to not only order the pizza with the toppings they desire but to connect with their neighborhood Domino’s by more than ten ways, with more to come. They include:

Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Slack, Facebook Messenger, Zero Clicks, Text, Twitter, Ford Sync, Smart TV, Voice and Smart Watch. And, of course, you can still order using the traditional “land-line” phone.

Consider that while some people still use the phone, a younger generation experienced these new apps as they were being released and have decided they don’t want to use the phone anymore. And an even younger generation has never ordered a pizza with a phone, and they simply won’t.

The point is that even a pizza company recognizes the necessity to reinvent its processes to keep up with the times. Beyond being a better pizza, they wanted to make it easier on their customers, and that’s what every company must do. Study what Domino’s has done. What are they doing that you can do in your business? What can you do to be more convenient for your customers?

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker, and New York Times bestselling business author. For information, contact 314-692-2200 or www.hyken.com. For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs, go to www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken

Andrea Michaels is the founder and president of Extraordinary Events, and the author of Reflections of a Successful Wallflower: Lessons in Business; Lessons in Life. She may be reached via amichaels@extraordinaryevents.com.

Sports And Business – How To Succeed At Both

My friend and mentor John Klymshyn shared with me this quote by legendary football coach Lou Holtz as he addressed his wide receivers and running backs (those most likely to get to the end zone and score)… “When you get to the end zone… act as though you’ve been there before.” The discussion was about pricing and how easily we give up naming the price we know we’re worth.

That made me think about coaches and athletes and what goes through their mind to psych themselves up to win a game. So I want to share some of these quotes with you and see if they inspire you in the same way they inspire me.

Let me start with the man who I think had the drive and determination you could see every time he played. Fearless is the word that comes to mind and that man is Michael Jordan who said, Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” Michael, with seconds to go in a game, with the score working against you, you made the shot and won. I saw you do it. And I never forgot that moment of composure and confidence and the willingness to risk.

Vince Lombardi said, Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all-time thing. You don’t win once in a while, you don’t do things right once in a while, you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.” Coach Lombardi, thank you. We all need to embrace those words.

Bear Bryant… Never quit. It is the easiest cop-out in the world. Set a goal and don’t quit until you attain it. When you do attain it, set another goal, and don’t quit until you reach it. Never quit.” 

And this one really resonates: Another quote from Vince Lombardi, Let me tell you what winning means… you’re willing to go longer, work harder, give more than anyone else.” Nothing in the world that I’ve ever encountered came easily. It took long hard hours, commitment and sacrifice.

Here’s one from the legendary Bobby Knight, The key is not the will to win. Everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important.”

I had a lot of fun looking these up, and there are hundreds more. I looked for what would resonate in a career driven person. How does coaching and “playing” relate to our day to day lives where we work as leaders, as followers, as team members? The next time you hear from me, I’ll be talking about coaches as leaders and what we specifically can learn from them. This time I hope I shared some food for thought that moved me personally. I invite you to share your thoughts, and even to share quotes that inspire you.

So thank you, John Klymshyn, for giving me this platform to think about my business life and how to improve it through the eyes of sports.


Andrea Michaels is the founder/president of Extraordinary Events, a Los Angeles-based, multi-award-winning event agency. She is the author of Reflections of a Successful Wallflower – Lessons in Business; Lessons in Life and a contributor to numerous other business books. She may be reached via amichaels@extraordinaryevents.com.

Risk Doing What You Can’t – A Lesson In Business And Life

“Do what you can’t”….somewhere on social media I saw this saying (or is it a slogan?) and it seemed to wrap up my career. Maybe yours as well? It also impacted my approach to life.

Jump off a building held only by a carabiner? Be the first to slide down a glass slide on the outside of a building hundreds of feet in the air? Yep. I thought I couldn’t, but I jumped and I slid, and other than getting a lot of messages about hammocks over canyons, and roller coasters that defy gravity, I have no bad repercussions. I told myself “you can’t” and then just did it all anyway.

So what does “do what you can’t” mean? Those of you familiar with my story know that when I entered the events industry many years ago (yes, MANY years ago) there was no industry as we know it now. And I heard a lot of “no, you can’t do THAT” when I would suggest things beyond a bud base and a piano player. It was in the day when “party planner” defined our industry and other than some bare corporate meetings (overhead slides and a house microphone) little else was required other than shrimp.

Well, as in my younger years, “no” wasn’t a word I accepted easily and so I tried to figure out how to create experiences out of those parties. “Experiences?” you might ask. Experiences have only been around for a few years, right? WRONG! Every element of a gathering, whether it be a meeting or a party or something in between, is an experience and if there is no experience, then there is no point in doing it.

Who knows where the event industry is going next. Some of it is indeed same old-same old. And some of it is high tech. LEDs. Projection mapping. VR, AR, saturation of imagery, sound, and even scent. By the time you read this there will be something even newer. So you know some people are taking real big chances on the events they conceptualize because each time it is a first you don’t really know if it will work. And as all of you in the events industry know well, we do opening night every time we produce an event. With no night two. If it doesn’t work the first time, there are no second chances. But then again there are no second chances to do something for the first time if you don’t do it. It remains only a “what if?”

Which brings me back to “do what you can’t”. Do not be limited to what you have done before. Try new things, dream new dreams and just take some leaps of faith that what you dream can become a reality. Life is nothing but one big event, made up of a series of smaller events and what’s the fun in just living the same day over and over again? Like “Groundhog Day” but with no change at the end. Yes, it’s safe. But at the end of the day, if you are always holding yourself back, all the things you wish for can never happen.

I’d love for you to share some of your “firsts” when you did what you thought you couldn’t. Tag, you’re “it”.


Andrea Michaels is the founder/president of Extraordinary Events, a Los Angeles-based, multi-award-winning event agency. She is the author of Reflections of a Successful Wallflower – Lessons in Business; Lessons in Life and a contributor to numerous other business books. She may be reached via amichaels@extraordinaryevents.com.

Personalization + Customization + Get To Know Your Customer = SUCCESS AND LOYALTY

I always admire Shep and his unique perspective on customer service. This latest blog of his resonated in many ways, mostly it made me think about what my company does to enhance the customer experience. Most of us rely on what happens during a pitch (custom placemats, a piece of chocolate with their logo, maybe food if we are doing the pitch in person). Or, after the project…a nicely written thank you note, or a gift basket ordered from your favorite gift basket place. Now, with Shep’s experience in mind, I would ask you to ask yourself (and your teams) how you could adapt this marvelous example to your efforts.

He’s right. You can find out everything you need to know about your client through all social media and Wikipedia. So why are we not customizing our reach-outs with those learnings in the forefront. If nothing else, it gives you things to talk about. I will surmise that this research takes time, and we all run out of time, don’t we? Yet we’ll follow our friends on Facebook and Instagram for more time per day than it would take to learn about our clients’ hobbies, favorite activities, food and more.

I have a lot of thinking to do. Give a read to Shep’s blog and think along with me.

How to Create a Very Personalized Customer Experience

I just stayed at the Crowne Plaza in Lansing, Michigan. I’ve stayed at many Crowne Plazas in the past, and they are nice hotels, however, the experience at this one was quite unique. It was a personalized experience, and the way they went about it is an excellent lesson we all can learn from.

First, the concept of personalization is to make the customer feel like the experience is somewhat unique to them. If I’ve stayed in a hotel and made a special request, the hotel may note that in my record, and the next time I stay at that hotel, they might remember the request so I don’t have to ask.

What the Crowne Plaza Lansing did was different. Before I go any further, you need to know a little about me. You probably know I travel around the world delivering keynote speeches on customer service and experience. I log about 150,000 miles a year as a “road warrior.” I also have hobbies. I do card tricks and magic. I also play guitar. So, now that you have some background, here’s the story.

When I walked into my room, I noticed a note with a shoe shine kit. It was handwritten and read: This will work wonders on the shoes of a road warrior. Then I noticed some beer. Not just any beer, but a special brand called Double Magician and Staff Magician. I’d never heard of these brands, but apparently, it was a local brand. I also noticed a guitar. A note next to that read: We heard about your hobby. Thought you might enjoy making a little music during your stay! From your friends at the Crowne Plaza. WOW!

And, finally, when I returned to my room that night there was not the customary mint that some hotels leave on the pillow. There was a plastic top hat with a chocolate bunny in it – as in the magician’s rabbit in the hat trick! Holy cow! Actually… Holy chocolate bunny!

So, I had to find out who was responsible for this and say thanks for this unbelievable experience. That person is Robin Goodenough, and she and the Crowne Plaza team are amazing. What did they do? Simple. They Googled my name and found my profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. It was easy for them to see what my interests were. From there, they wowed me with a personalized experience.

Some may find what the Crown Plaza team did to be a little “spooky.” I didn’t. If anyone posts something on a social channel like Facebook or LinkedIn, they should anticipate that others will see it. And, using the information posted for the purposes of creating an amazing and personalized customer experience, well there’s nothing wrong with that.

Thank you to my friends at Crowne Plaza Lansing! You created a truly memorable experience. Can’t wait to come back and visit you again!


Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker, and New York Times bestselling business author. For information, contact 314-692-2200 or www.hyken.com. For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs, go to www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken

Andrea Michaels is the founder and president of Extraordinary Events, and the author of Reflections of a Successful Wallflower: Lessons in Business; Lessons in Life. She may be reached via amichaels@extraordinaryevents.com.

Put On Your CAP, All Clients Are NOT Equal

I’ve been so impressed by Dean Minuto and his thoughts on sales and performance and have learned a great deal about the art of storytelling. Dean shared his thoughts on what I call selecting your clients and they truly resonated. In my blogs, I’ve often shared lessons learned from mistakes and a recent BizBash podcast dealt with how to create a great business marriage. Especially when starting out we tend to grab at low lying fruit…anything to make a buck and “win” over the competition. But is it the best choice?  Here is yet another lesson that Dean has allowed me to share with you. 

                                                                     – Andrea Michaels

– By Dean Minuto  
Remember this fact: 
All clients are not created equal. 
There are some clients that you don’t want. 
Put on your Thinking CAP– 
Critical Account Planning 
Sometimes you can get to yes too fast, with the wrong clients. 
There are some yeses that you don’t really want. 
Some clients that you bring on 
that later you wish you hadn’t brought on… 
you know the ones? 
The clients that end up costing you financially 
and emotionally… 
Clients that treat you and your team with disrespect. 
They’re just hard to serve. 
And it’s hard to get rid of them. 
Better to identify them before you go after them. 
The easy ones to identify are the ones that exhibit 
behavior characteristics of bullies. 
(You saw the behavior from them on day one 
and yet you didn’t listen to your gut.. 
because that client was a Shiny Object.) 
Thank you to my dear friend Andy George 
for helping me frame this concept. 
Something about the deal was attractive 
so we went after it. 
The reality is: not all clients are equal 
and some clients are bad fits for us. 
What if you could identify them before you went after them? 
Before all that time, energy, and expense was wasted? 
Let’s use the metaphor of an Apple Tree 
(first shared with me by my first partner and 
master sales expert, Stephen Riddell) 
Think about all the deals out there 
and all the opportunities that you could be picking 
as apples on a huge Apple Tree… 
There are big apples and small apples; 
there are good apples and bad apples. 
Now think of yourself and your team as Apple Pickers. 
Down near the ground, or on the ground 
are the low hanging fruit… 
They look like the easiest apples to grab, right? 
But they’re often the deals that are rotten 
…they are low margin… they are hard… 
Because they don’t value you. 
Leave the Bad Apples on the ground. 
Let your competitors respond to their RFPs. 
(How do you define a Bad Apple in your business?) 
But look way up at the apples at the top of the tree 
beware of the Shiny Objects up there 
the ones you have to work too hard to go after 
and because of how high you have to go off the ground 
they are actually dangerous to try and pick. 
You might get hurt going after them. 
Beware of the lure of the Shiny Object. 
Your life is like an Apple Tree– 
with a virtually unlimited number of Apples 
and the question you need to ask is 
which are the healthiest ones for you? 


Dean Minuto


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Creating Solutions Instead Of Apologies

Every time I read one of Shep’s articles I learn something new or relearn something I never want to forget. This one resonated as a reminder of what true heartfelt customer service is all about.    – Andrea Michaels


– By Shep Hyken
There are many great customer service stories that can serve as a template for how to handle a problem. I always fall back on my five-step service recovery process to handle all complaints and problems. For those that haven’t been following, the five-steps are: 1) Acknowledge the problem and thank the customer for bringing it to your attention. 2) Apologize for the problem. 3) Fix it or discuss the resolution. 4) Have an attitude of ownership. 5) Act with urgency.
If you fix a problem or complaint and use these five steps in the background, you will typically not just fix the problem, but restore the customers confidence in you, sometimes to a level even higher than if the problem had never happened.
That brings us to Sarah Wimer, one of our followers, who sent in a story about one of my favorite companies, Panera Bread. For those that don’t know, before Panera was Panera, it was St. Louis Bread Company, a local St. Louis, MO chain that sold sandwiches and bakery items. Today there are over 2,000 bakery-cafes, more than 100,000 associates and sales are over $5 billion. And, they didn’t get there by disappointing their customers. On the contrary, they are very customer-focused, and this story is a perfect example.
Sarah lives in New York, and had the yearning for Panera’s Green Goddess Salad. It was a cold rainy day, so she drove through the drive-through rather than go inside to place her order. When she got back to the office, she discovered that whoever made the salad, left out the dressing. In Sarah’s words, “If you have ever had a Green Goddess Salad, you know that the dressing is the entire point.” Frustrated, she decided to call Panera and share her thoughts. She braced herself for the worst, but was pleasantly surprised as the experience went from a Moment of Misery™, with the missing salad dressing, to a Moment of Magic®, with flawless recovery.


Moment of Magic #1: Since it was lunch time, Sarah thought she might have to leave a message or wait on hold, but was pleasantly surprised that the manager was available to talk right away.


Moment of Magic #2: The manager acknowledges the mistake and apologizes, and then offers up a solution. In just a few short moments he nailed the first three steps in my service recovery process. He asks where she is located and asks if she wouldn’t mind waiting 15 minutes. He’ll get her the dressing right away. That was steps four and five. The manager didn’t make any excuses, such as it being busy or having a short staff. Instead he just owned the problem, and then promised her she would be getting her dressing in just 15 minutes. (Well done Mr. Panera Manager!)


Moment of Magic #3: He shows up on time with the dressing and a Danish ring for the rest of the office to enjoy. I like that… a little something extra for the inconvenience.
Moment of Magic #4: As if all that wasn’t enough, he wanted to make sure she came back, so he gave her a gift-card for her next visit. He also informed her that the team would be running laps outside after lunch as a reminder of why they don’t mess up an order. He was joking, of course, but the humor was another way to add some personality into the recovery effort.


And, this is how it’s supposed to work. And, guess what happens when good companies flawlessly execute, especially in recovery mode? The customer tells other people. In this case Sarah not only told her friends, she also told me. And, I just couldn’t resist sharing the story with others, which means tens of thousands of people are going to find out how well Panera takes care of their customers.

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker, and New York Times bestselling business author. For information, contact 314-692-2200 or www.hyken.com. For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs, go to www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken

Andrea Michaels is the founder and president of Extraordinary Events, and the author of Reflections of a Successful Wallflower: Lessons in Business; Lessons in Life. She may be reached via amichaels@extraordinaryevents.com.

Take a Risk… On People

I’ve written several pieces about “taking a risk,” but one very important aspect is “taking a risk on people.” In better words, “give people a chance” whenever you can do so.

When I look back at a very long career in the event industry, I’m proud of the fact that I’ve done just that. As a result, I’ve launched some careers for people who have become successful and productive members of the events community. They have added creativity and expertise to the industry and gone on to educate others who then follow in their footsteps. I have asked a few of them to remind me of how we started out, and I joyfully share with you what happened when I took a chance on people I didn’t know but about whom I just had a good feeling.

I invite you to pay it forward in your own world and do the same. The results can be remarkable.

Fred Tallaksen, Choreographer
To be totally honest, I was wearing a bad wig and doing a Fred and Ginger dance routine at a corporate event when I first met Andrea. (My Ginger had a bad wig, too.) We had a good laugh but developed an immediate friendship. I had just moved to Los Angeles from Manhattan in 1992, and didn’t know many people. I was still a performer and just starting to think about possibly choreographing the corporate gigs I had been dancing in for years. Not only did Andrea encourage me and give me the confidence to step up and be a choreographer… but she also helped me start my own entertainment company and guided me through my first few years of business all the way up to today… hiring me, teaching me, supporting me, and sharing much of the important inside information about the special events world that takes a lifetime to gather. I still apply all that knowledge to this day, 26 years later. And at the end of the day, we’re still laughing about lots of things and enjoying a close friendship which I cherish more than work or money in the long run!

It’s hard to believe 31 years have passed. Andrea took a chance on us based on our Rose Parade background, and the rest is history. We will always be eternally grateful! Andrea and her team continue to be a champion, inspiration, and vital voice for the events industry.
Andrea and I first met some 30 years ago through a mutual friend, Don Gilmartin. Don and I had been working together for several years, and he wanted to introduce me to a dynamic woman doing amazing, cutting-edge work in our industry. I can still remember the day I met her. She asked piercing questions, and I quickly knew that I had to up my game to keep up with her. I must have said the right things, because she took a chance on a guy just starting out in the industry, with nothing but ideas and hopefully a good vision. She gave me a little show that became two more, and eventually she became one of my best clients, and a true friend.
It’s an age-old conundrum. How can you work if no one knows who you are? And how can anyone know who you are if you don’t get a chance to show them? 

I found myself in the same situation over 22 years ago. The Special Event Show was coming to my town, and I wanted in. I had an idea for a new band that didn’t exist on the East Coast. With the help of some local friends, I found the name of the executive producer of the Gala Night and approached her with my idea. She was an icon in the industry, a soon-to-be Lifetime Achievement Award winner. I wasn’t in her league. But still, she gave me her blessing, and I went to work producing the act. The evening was a smash success, and that was the beginning of a wonderful relationship. It started as mentor/pupil, moved to client/vendor and over the years, it’s grown into so much more. Just a few years ago, I was honored with the same award that my mentor won so many years before. And, she was in the audience when it happened.

I’ve tried to live up to the bar she sets in her business, and I’ve tried to mirror the mentoring and teaching that she does with giving back of my own. That’s what it’s all about. Paying it forward. Looking toward the bigger picture. Growing an industry. I’m glad I met Andrea Michaels. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone could find their own Andrea? What a great industry we would have! 

Andrea Michaels is the founder and president of Extraordinary Events, an award-winning, international event agency based in Los Angeles. She is the author of Reflections of a Wallflower – Lessons in Business; Lessons in Life. Andrea may be reached via amichaels@extraordinaryevents.com.