and New York Times bestselling author Shep Hyken, who interviews leading business
professionals and other customer experience professionals. Each guest shares insights
and tips on how to succeed and create amazing customer experiences.
The bright business minds featured on Amazing Business Radio come from all over
the world. They include viral video stars, corporate CEOs, bestselling authors, thought
leaders, and many other inspiring personalities. The show brings a variety of topics
related to customer service and customer experience to provide the answers that
C-Suite listeners will want to know to take their success to the next level.
Chris McCann, CEO of 1-800-Flowers, Shares How to Gain the Competitive Advantage
Can listening to your customers’ needs and wants actually provide a new strategic direction for your business?
Shep Hyken interviews Chris McCann, the President and CEO of 1-800-Flowers, who talks about how they built their business to more than a billion dollars in revenue based on customer feedback.
Shep Hyken’s opening comments focus on 1-800-Flowers’ competitive strengths, which all companies should be focusing on to provide outstanding customer service:
- Provide amazing response times.
- Think outside the box (or, in the case of 1-800-Flowers.com, thinking “outside the vase”).
- Make doing business easy and seamless.
- Exceed customers’ expectations, especially when responding to customer’s questions, problems, and complaints.
Shep begins his interview with Chris McCann, president and CEO of 1-800-Flowers, by asking what has given his company a unique advantage over other florists or other floral networks. Chris said that from the beginning, they tried to stay in touch with their customers to understand why they were doing business with them, and what customers expected and wanted. By listening to customers, they expanded their product line to include gourmet foods (rather than only floral arrangements) which has become more than half of their business.
They found that as they added these products, the customers didn’t buy less flowers, they only bought more often. The company constantly works to figure out, how to enhance the value that they bring to their customers? As a result, 1-800-Flowers went from being a retailer selling a product to becoming a value-added service solving customers’ gift-giving needs.
- Getting thousands of independent business owners to join a network – When 1-800-Flowers started out, they weren’t trying to build a network of thousands of florists. Instead, they started working with people who knew the industry, who had design capabilities, and were hired for their commitment to customer service. Once they mastered that strategy, they expanded their network into thousands of independent business owners that represent their brand.
- Response times – 1-800-Flowers has a service level target of handling 80 percent of phone calls within 20 seconds (3 rings). They respond to an email within two hours. Customer expectations on social media are very different. The company’s initial response target is 5 minutes. As Chris McCann says, “We’re in the business of delivering smiles. A smile for some emotional reason. People can’t sit and wait, wondering what is going to happen when they try to tell a loved one ‘I love you’.”
- Gifts When You Need (GWYN) – 1-800-Flowers worked with IBMs’ Watson platform to create GWYN, an early-stage artificial intelligence (AI) product. GWYN gives customers the ability to interact with her via text in a conversational manner to find the right gift for the right person at the right time. Further, the amount of learning they are getting from GWYN allows them to constantly tweak their questions based on the responses they are getting from their customers.
Chris McCann has been 1-800Flowers’ President since September 2000 and Chief Executive Officer since June 2016. Mr. McCann is a member of the Board of Trustees of Marist College.
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