Welcome to the Adventure, Grasshopper!
Sept. 18, 2022

πŸ“ Epic Engagement Adventure: Importance of Good Customer Service with Michele Marshall

My friend Michele Marshall is a multi-talented businesswoman who has excelled in the private and public sectors.  

Throughout her experience in various industries, Michele noticed two primary skill sets every entrepreneur, business leader, worker, or aspiring professional requires to succeed - communication and customer service. These skill sets are built upon one key principle. When you treat people with kindness and respect you can change lives.  

Her desire to create a space where people can strengthen their communication and customer service skill set led her to create and become co-founder of Authentic Voice, LLC. Authentic Voice is a communications training firm that guides its clients to become confident, polished speakers. In addition to speaker training, Authentic Voice offers customer service training to business owners, managers, and representatives.  

Michele’s mission is to impact lives by cultivating opportunities for communication, self-expression, and connection that result in a win-win for everyone involved.

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Interview with Michelle Marshall

RJ Redden: Greetings, grasshoppers. We are live with the Epic Engagement Adventure. Of course, you probably know me. My name is RJ Redden, also known as the woman in the cape. I create epic adventures, and my guests are the most awesome, beautiful, wonderful people in the world today. No exception, in fact, today proves the rule.

Today I am interviewing my friend Michelle Marshall. We're gonna talk about how service impacts engagement. I am so excited about this because this is one of those things that I believe so passionately that good service, excellent service really creates more clout for us as individuals, as coaches and marketing-wise, then paid for ads could ever possibly do.

I mean, that's my own opinion, but let us do this. Let us listen to the expert. Michelle, how are you doing today? Tell me.

Michelle Marshall: I am so well. How are you? This, I'm so happy to be here today. This is, I've been looking forward to this fall day.

RJ Redden: Beautiful. Well, tell me who you are, what you do, all of the things we need to know.

Michelle Marshall: Well, you as you gracefully acknowledged my name is Michelle Marshall. I consider myself just a bat pajama across the board. I I wear a few hats. In order to keep myself surviving. I hail from New York City, so in order to survive in New York City, you have to have a lot of jobs because living here ain't cheap, it's really, but with that in mind, I have a, I had a full-time job.

I am in IT. I work for a city agency as well as I am an author and I have a public speaking or communication training company. I dove into that line of work for creating the public training or public speaking company because in speaking with a lot of people in regular communications at work, at the grocery store socially, really noticing the aggregation of communication.

And for a time even, I've participated in Toastmasters. I ran a Toastmasters club for five years, a Manhattan Toastmasters Club, which was one of the top 10 clubs in the area while I was in running the club. And that's where I realized that people are hungry for learning how to communicate better, especially now that everything's down to text and people are just even afraid to say their name.

What's the what started off as a joke that Jerry Seinfeld said that, oh, people feared public speaking more than death. That was, that's not an actual fact. It's, it was a joke that became known as fact. But it was because of that, that I started Authentic Voice and I co-founded it with my business partner, Celeste Camps.

And then where I've been able to progress well in business or in my career, the standard nine to five, if you would was customer service. I'm in the IT field. And what set me apart? When I first started as just a desktop support clerk, when I was in SunTrust Bank, what separated me from the rest? A, I was a woman.

One, so breaking into a male-dominated industry, but it was also the level of care that I showed my users in IT customers are considered, are called users. Yeah. But just being understanding with them, not speaking to them in jargon, ease that they, and also the key, but which what people would constantly say to my supervision at the time was, she doesn't talk down to me and doesn't make me feel bad for asking questions.

These are things and so that's not just an it, that's with anything. Whatever we do, we're so, we get caught up in jargony, as I call it, so that we can sound epic, but sometimes doing that separates us. Yeah. So, and which is what I love about your program the epic engagement is that you show your audience how you can still be epic without talking down to people.

RJ Redden: Yeah. It's so important. It's so important in service. We are not serving so that we can look good and have all the answers. We are serving so that you understand whatever your background is, whatever your academics are, wherever you're at in the world. It's about helping that other person understand.

I mean, if we can look in the process. Yes. Okay. That's bonus points. Yeah. But, and you wrote a whole book about this. Please talk to me about your book.

Michelle Marshall: Oh my gosh. This book, happy to help the Law Star Customer service. This is, this was a book that I actually didn't think was necessary because I presumed incorrectly that my knowledge of customer service was status quo.

What everybody's doing with this, everybody knows to do it. They just chose not to, and then I was out. I was vetting the topic and talk, and again, paying attention to what's going on around me and realizing, oh wait, it's not known anymore. That's why I put the subtitle of the book, the Lost Art of Customer Service, because this was a staple once upon a time.

Yeah. And it went away through varying generations and the cause of it going away, that's, I'm gonna leave that for scholars and stuff to figure out and theologians who wanna put that together. But from what I experienced, I realized, okay, we do need to get reintroduced to the concept of providing our clients a patient understanding, respectful experience.

RJ Redden: Let's just say that again. Patient. Understandable. What was the last one?

Michelle Marshall: Yeah, patient understanding, respectful experience.

RJ Redden: Holy moly. Holy moly. Listen folks, when was the last time you were treated that way online? Either through a customer service experience or through a marketing experience, or through any experience?

When were you last treated that way online. And how much do you think that adopting this philosophy would help you get clients who are hungry for connection? Know what I mean? Like, and so, you know, I mean, I'm fascinated you you gave me a copy of that, a Kindle copy, and I haven't been able to get to it yet, which I totally regret now.

But you know, when you wrote that book and you released it upon the world, what kind did you get any feedback?

Michelle Marshall: I did get feedback. I got example when you were just took that moment to absorb the concept of a patient, understanding, respectful experience. People who have read it and responded, yes, that's exactly what's missing.

I, and people were telling me various stories of how they were just treated like garbage and they would just not go back to the business. They wouldn't give a review. And some folks, they won't even give them the courtesy of a bad review. They were just, Yeah, and this is something that I know that businesses don't understand and now that more and more people are creating their own businesses, the feedback that you get from your customers has to be taken into account and you have to pay attention to that feedback, whether it is actual feedback verbally that they give you, if they type a review in Yelp or in social media, or if they actually say nothing, they're saying something, and it's up to every business owner to take responsibility in translating what does this feedback mean. And what do I need to do to course correct? Or what services do I need to add or remove to make my customers know that we care about them.

RJ Redden: Exactly. Well, and I as you know, I have the opposite story. A couple of months ago I was on vacation. My Facebook got hacked. , I have spent thousands of dollars with those people.

I have spent probably thousands of hours on that platform since I got on in, I think it was 2010 or something. 2009 maybe. I have spent time and money and energy and love on that platform for 30 days. I fought to get my account back. I never, not one time spoke to, wrote to a single human being. I was never able to in all of that time. What does that tell me? It tells me that those people don't care about you. Do I wanna spend my time there anymore? I am sorry, no, I am done. And those are the kinds of service things that we are bombarded with those nowadays. Yeah. I know like once we get an actual person, it's like,

Michelle Marshall: it's amazing. Even where I am now, and we are, we're busy, so we, I have a small crew to answer calls, so when somebody gets through and to an operator, like, oh, thank God, , you know, it's as if you've given them water. And they were standing in the desert exactly. That shouldn't be the reaction of the customer who's calling in.

It's like, oh, thank God somebody's there. Really? Why are we setting the bar so low?

RJ Redden: I think that, I mean, you know, my answer to that question is that many of the major companies artificially set that low for us. You probably remember the IVR systems, you know? Yes. And when I say ivr for those of you who are not tech nerds that's when you call into some major company and press one for slamming your left hand in a car door. Press two to speak Portuguese. I mean, you know, like, like all of those, they give you all of those options. , none of them really are pertaining to what you wanna do. I end up hitting zero every time, but that is what an IV R system is. It's, you know, they put those systems in place that were supposed to be automated and friendly and they absolutely are not. And you, not anymore. Yeah. Oh, it's so frustrating. And then that's even lower than that is where Google and Facebook, now Google does now have some live chat help. If you've got like certain products or whatever, they actually do have chat help.

But for the longest time they had no chat help. And Facebook has nothing at all. If you're able to get ahold of somebody that is a miracle. Yeah. One which I was not able to make happen. So the major people have set that bar so low for online customer service. There's almost nowhere to go but up.

Michelle Marshall: Very true. And since these larger corporations have done that, then what has the smaller businesses done? They follow the follower. Yes. And then they're wondering, well, how come we're not growing? Or how come we're not, how come this one customer who did a big order, we're not getting another order from them and the customer ghosted you?

I'll tell you right now, if they experienced something in their last order that they are just wrapped, they would rather not deal with you anymore. And they won't tell you that directly to their face. Even if you were to ask them and say, I will pay you a hundred dollars to tell me what happened, they'll just take the a hundred dollars and say everything was fine.

But it's just so, it's disheartening of how low it's become, but I know that the more people who read the book and it's an it's less of a novel per se. I mean, there's some fun stories in there I use I, I'm a big Star Wars nerd, and I drew Star Wars references in there just to keep it fun because one of the things that's also kind of fallen into the wayside is the habit of reading.

I don't know why, but it's gone. Of course, it's it's too annoying. There's, it's in those nuggets where you can just read through a section in there and apply it. Yep. And then, okay, what's another section here? Read through that and apply it. So there it's nugget, it's nice bite sized chunks that you could take on and apply.

Beautiful. And let me tell you the difference that excellent customer service can make on a business is amazing. One of the stories that I have in the book, which was one of the stories I, that I remembered, which then prompted me to actually write this book, I used to work for Citibank and this was decades ago and I worked in the call center there and during my time there is, this new Spangled version of the ATM was put up, put put out in the market.

It's a touchscreen. So Citibank was the first to do it. And the, because the office where we were was the, also had the main branch downstairs. So the, so that was the first site to get the ATM as the crew in the call center crew. So we're the customer service reps. And when we heard it got installed, we're all noticing, oh, let's look at it and see what it's about.

And we played around that ATM to the point that we figured out all these different things that we didn't realize cuz it wasn't told to us, but we realized that it had a ability for someone who's deaf or site impaired to use the touchscreen. It was so cool and we were just present and hear, no. Okay.

When you press the screen on this section, it gives a bulk and the other one gives that little ting. So you know you're doing it right. When people call and we put a phone because it was the pilot, there was a phone right next to the ATM, so as soon as you picked it up, it was calling customer service to say, Hey, I'm I, what is this? I don't know how to use it. The people who called us, because we took the time as agents to get to know the product, and this is important. You could have the product that is as hot as the a, a hot biscuit and the butter just melts on it. But if no one knows how to pick up a biscuit to eat it, you've done nothing.

RJ Redden: Yes. For a fabulous analogy.

Michelle Marshall: So people would pick up the phone and then we're, and we're talking people through it, and we freaked people out because they're saying, are you seeing me? How do you know? Cause we were here. Oh no, you pressed too, a little too far away from that bar. Just bring your finger in a little bit and press again and say, oh, you hear that tone?

That's the right. And people were just floored. And now we as agents, we were just having fun. We, because we wanted to, we were proud of what we were doing. We wanted to be able to have all the answers at our fingertips and be able to. help out. What we didn't realize was in our app, in our apps, we keep keeping fun and make sure that we knew the product that was there. There was a substantial increase in new accounts because people were telling their friends, oh my gosh, hey there was a new food Bendle atm. But if before you pick up the phone, they're there. They can tell you exactly how to do it. It's great. And people were telling their friends and people were going to the branch to open up New York Health cuz they heard it was so great.

RJ Redden: See, there it is. There it is. So much of the time we wanna pour all of our energy and money into, okay how can I get known by more and more people? Sometimes the answer is very simple. Provide excellent service, you know? Gosh. Okay. We're gonna, we're gonna take a small, not really a commercial break because I don't have those, but I would like to take a moment and just talk onto my peeps about something.

Gosh, we put on the first Power Networking yesterday. I just wanna report. and update you, that it was a blazing success. It was insane. We had, it was a two hour deal. Jane Powers and I did it together. It was amazing. We had people that were experiencing breakthroughs on the call meeting excellent partners, and just generally blowing our minds for two hours.

So this is what you need to know. We're putting it on another one, October. I believe it's 12th. It's about six weeks away. We, today, we decided to put up a company page and I'm gonna be inviting y'all from all of that, but just know there's gonna be another one. And we're gonna be sending out snippets of coolness throughout the month here just so people can kind of see it and experience, even if they weren't there.

Stay tuned for all of that. Right here. Some of it'll be coming right here on this broadcast. That's it for Power Networking. Hope y'all come next time. It's a free networking event and it is fabulous. And now I would love to ask you the question that my folks are always dying to know. How do you create the greatest engagement with your profession?

How do you create the greatest engagement?

Michelle Marshall: I love that question. I create engagement by actually listening to people. There's been this need as of late of where there's not true listening happening. It's more hearing for the point where I can say something

RJ Redden: Keep going. I love this so much.

Michelle Marshall: What is so vital is making sure that you're listening and also making sure that the person you're talking to knows you are actually listening. One of the things that is commonplace being on the other end of receiving calls from people calling in and saying, I have this issue.

And I'm hearing, I noticed that people were repeating themselves almost on this hand wheel saying, I tried this and it didn't work, but it still doesn't work. It still doesn't work. Still doesn't work. They're saying the same thing over and over again and I'm waiting for the pause to interject, but they're not pausing.

And then I realized they don't think I hear that. So I actually, unfortunately, I have to kind of just interject saying like, okay, Robin, so what I'm hearing from you, And then all of a sudden it was just this, you could hear the sigh of, oh yes they I have somebody who's listening. Then from there, that's like a golden ticket because then the rambling that would usually come to play that people don't wanna be involved with suddenly stops.

Then I can ask probing questions. These are the fact gatherings who, what, when, where, how, and why, because that's gonna be important in getting a clear understanding as to what they're, what someone needs, and how I can be of service to them and add value to them. My objective is to add value. If I cannot add value, I will find somebody who can.

So in the effort of gaining, it is definitely listening, being empathetic and non-judgmental. Even though yes, people will be peopling and there's gonna be a, there will be people who are coming in ready to fight. They picked up the phone just to fight and they wanted to get a human being so they can fight.

I understand that. I even say to, to the folks on my team you can give a person 90 seconds to vent and now we have to get back to work. Yeah, because, and everyone does need that allowance to express, but at the same time, okay, this is, you didn't call just to express. You have an issue, or you have a question.

I'm here to help you with that. Letting, starting off the conversation, listening, making the person aware that you're listening and then say, okay, I can help with that. There's gonna be some more questions. And it's a guided conversation and making sure that it's a guided conversation and making sure the person's actually in for that type of ride because sometimes people just wants to vent and that was the end of it, and they can move on.

Okay. Great. Enjoy the rest of your day and for me as a recipient, not to take it personally. But beyond that, everyone appreciates being part of the ride. As long as we allow them to be part of the ride. So it's listening, it's being empathetic, being kind, being patient, and engaging them so that they are part, making them part of the ride and being transparent helps.

It doesn't have to be, well, you know, it's all happening behind the curtain. Trust me. It'll be okay. Trust that type of blanket. Trust. No. Even the superstar celebrities that you think have it, they really don't. People want to know what is in this soup before I eat it.

RJ Redden: Yeah, they do . Well, and I love what you said there, that you know how you create, engagement is first of all, listening. The Lost Art of Listening is your next book. I've been on a ton of interviews over the years, and there are times when I know that interviewer is simply listening for a pause so that they can go, that's great.

And then ask the next question. They're not like, I could be talking about Mars right now and no one would know listening. Especially when people have problems. It's hard. It's hard. And my audience is coaches. My audience is coaches and trainers and course creators that wanna create more engagement.

I know it's hard, but the listening is often the first and foremost greatest way to serve people. And then taking them on a fact finding mission, like you said, that stuff is awesome. That stuff you know, guiding them and going, Hey, I know you're in a tough place. Grab my hand.

Yes. Laura Donnelley there says, listening is so important. She knows. You gotta know Laura Donnelley. By the way, everybody, I am scrolling something across the bottom of the screen here. And this is how to get in touch with our dear guest here how to get in touch. What is that link to?

Michelle Marshall: Sure. So that link actually goes to my socio tab page that has all of my various points of contact. So on there you'll see a link on how to get the book. You'll see a link to Authentic Voice, which is the communication company that I'm with, and also a couple of other publications that I'm a part of.

And everything that I'm up to, I, that's the best place. Instead of flooding you with a litany of links one to them all.

RJ Redden: One link to rule them all. Yes. Very good. If you want to get in touch with Michelle, it is so very easy. She has provided a ton of ways to do that. Just hit that first link. I am going to throw this in the comments as well.

Hit that up, my friends. Because you just can't go wrong. With providing awesome service, you can't go wrong with it because here's the deal, and my clients know this. When somebody hires me, I never ever say you know, I'm gonna get everything a hundred percent correct. What I say is, I am not gonna get a hundred everything, a hundred percent correct.

What I will tell you is that when things do go wrong, and they sometimes do, I'm gonna be there for you 110%, and then I back it up with the exact methods that Michelle has talked about and has written in her book, follow it up with those exact methods, listening, providing a path for people, guiding them along that path.

Holy moly. So, so to me, this is coaching gold. We're never taught this in coaching school.

Michelle Marshall: No, it's so, and you know why? It's because the focus, and I've been through different course coursework on becoming a coach. I'm a certified professional coach and the focus has been so much on the product focus on, okay, so you're, the coaches, tell people your results and that, you know, 10 out of 10, 10 of your clients have 10 x their income in four months.

That's great for a highlight reel. But the thing is, when someone buys the product, because you've done such a good job in pitching and congratulations, that's exactly what a pitch is supposed to do the mistake that coaches make, and even larger companies, so from coaches to small businesses to larger companies, my product does it all and said, somebody buys it.

There's a mistake that's made that is assumed. We make the assumption that, well, they bought it. They must know what it does? No. They bought it because you pitched it like a star. And that's amazing. Now they've got it and they're like, it's like a puppy finding a branch. Now what do I do with it?

They loved it. You made 'em excited for it, but they really don't know what to do with it. And so the first person they're calling is you, the person who sold it to them. This is why folks who are in network market freak out because they're saying, oh, buy the, I'm representing these products and services buy 'em. But who do you think they're going to call when there's a question? You could give them the main number for the network marketing company and their service line. But tell you what, that main number wasn't the one that sold in the product. It was you. So you do have to know a bit about it and also have the understanding and be prepared to be customer service for them, which is why I think people end up stepping out of it because they weren't ready for that, because no one told them that this is the reality of it all.

RJ Redden: Well, and coaches, if you can get anything out of this, let me let you know. that a lot of us aren't million dollar companies yet, if that's where you wanna go... , A lot of us are, you know, folks who are wearing a lot of hats, doing a lot of things, throwing a lot of spaghetti at the wall and trying to see what sticks.

And I get it. And sometimes it doesn't feel like a very powerful position, but do you know, using service to set yourself apart in exactly the ways that Michelle is talking about will make you stand, head and shoulders above the rest. Listen, do you know, I mean, a lot of the huge coaches out there have customer service that is many times left wanting a little bit.

If you're a small company, put it in your mantra now, put it in those things that you wanna do and do super well now and then by the time you get to a larger stage you will have service that supports your clients and that is so valuable. It's so valuable in helping you stand out.

Michelle Marshall: Yes. And the way that I see it is that you treat your customers like royalty you'll gain their loyalty. Period. It doesn't matter if you start off and they are going to be along with you in the ride of your. growth. Because they know that they are in good hands with you. I mean, state Farm cheesy the mantra that they had, you're in good hands. That was based on their customer service.

It wasn't based on the type of insurance they offered. It was purely customer service related. That's why they used that mantra, and that's why people will still go.

RJ Redden: Well, and it's a differentiator from the very, very beginning. And that's what we all wanna be customer centric as Laura says.

Yes, definitely. Well, any, oh, I'm sorry, go ahead.

Michelle Marshall: Oh, no. Uh, I was just one more anecdote. Even within authentic voice, like that's a communication training company that I have, we help people overcome their fear of public speaking and be able to be a confident, polished. When we've had our workshops, part of it was creating that customer experience and making sure that everyone in the room understood that they were safe and listening to what their needs are, and then addressing where they are, feeling their shortcomings, and then providing them the tools to do it, and then letting them practice and making them aware of making them comfortable.

Like we were saying before, taking the take my hand, you are going to be safe with me and I'm going to show you how you can overcome this. And every time when the once that person gets over the fear of saying, okay, sure, help me , then they're like, oh, wow, that makes sense. I know exactly what you're saying.

So, and Celeste and I just enjoy seeing people come with the light bulb goes off and realizing, oh yeah, what you said makes sense. I will definitely apply that. Every business owner can see that with their customers.

RJ Redden: It's the truth. Thank you. Thank you for wrapping up with that one because that. It's the way forward, my friend.

The Lost Art of Customer Service is absolutely the way forward. And I just wanna thank you for coming on today and giving us some real talk about what's happening out there, about how my people can get more engagement through service and just teaching us how our futures can be. I just, I wanna thank you for giving us gold, for about a half an hour, and I hope that you come on again. And audience you know, my deep hope is this is not the last time we heard from our friend Michelle.

Michelle Marshall: So, oh, I would love to come back. I enjoy talking to you. And then we, I mean, we still have to catch up after this anyway, to just really know what's going on.

I wanna hear more about what's going on in your life. So we do, we catchup, but I would love to be back on the Epic Engagement show whenever you want me.

RJ Redden: Yay. All right, my darling, my grasshoppers. It is time. You know, we must close the show every week or else we would get nothing else done.

On the way, of course we will be back with yet another epic guest next week. That's gonna be a thing. And until from now, until then, keep your eyes open out there and I will see you in a bot.

Michelle MarshallProfile Photo

Michelle Marshall

Michele Marshall is a multi-talented businesswoman who has excelled in the private and public sectors.

Throughout her experience in various industries, Michele noticed two primary skill sets every entrepreneur, business leader, worker, or aspiring professional requires to succeed - communication and customer service. These skill sets are built upon one key principle. When you treat people with kindness and respect you can change lives.

Her desire to create a space where people can strengthen their communication and customer service skillset led her to create and become co-founder of Authentic Voice, LLC. Authentic Voice is a communications training firm that guides its clients to become confident, polished speakers. In addition to speaker training, Authentic Voice offers customer service training to business owners, managers, and representatives.

Michele’s mission is to impact lives by cultivating opportunities for communication, self-expression, and connection that result in a win-win for everyone involved.