Speaker 1: Hey there, Product lovers. Welcome to the Product Love podcast. Hosted by Eric Boduch, co- founder and chief evangelist of Pendo and super fan of All Things Product. Product Love is the place for real insights into the world of crafting products as Eric interviews founders, product leaders, venture capitalists, authors, and more. So let's dive in now with today's Product Love podcast.
Eric Boduch: Well, welcome lovers of Product. Today I'm here with Chip Bell, who's an author, a keynote speaker, and a consultant to some really impressive organizations. So Chip why don't you kick it off by giving us a little overview of your background?
Chip Bell: Great. I'd be delighted to. I've been in this business for a long time which I've been very fortunate to have worked with companies renowned for great customer service. My whole focus and interest in areas around innovative service, what I call value unique service, which differentiates from value added and how do you bring to the customer experiences that reflect on ingenuity, creativity, something that creates a story they're eager to share?
Eric Boduch: Well, tell us more about that. Tell us more about value unique, because we always hear crosstalk
Chip Bell: I think every planet, every company on the planet knows they're supposed to add value. I mean inaudible. And so traditionally we think about value added. It means had to take what the customer expects and adding more, particularly when you want to affirm the customer for being a loyal customer. For example, you've been such a great loyal customer to our hotel. We'd like to upgrade you to the fancy floor, the inaudible level. That's an example of value added. You've been coming to this restaurant for a long time, so your desserts on the house. It's a linear approach. And the challenge with... and it's great. I mean, generosity is always good, but the problem is that sometimes the expectations of the customer go up with that. And so obviously you're going to run out of room pretty soon. So that's not a very good thing. So my focus is around what I call value unique, and that is instead of value added, taking it and adding more, it's an experience that's different, unexpected. It's sort of the, if service were cracker jacks, it'd be the free prize inside. You know you're going to get a free prize. I mean, it says right there on the box, but you don't really know what you're going to get. So it's that kind of element of surprise and since inaudible is around customer loyalty, we know that the pinnacle of customer loyalty is advocacy reflected as a story, not advocacy reflected in a recommendation. It's not when customer say I would recommend you go there, it's when they say you ain't going to believe what happened to me and they tell you the story. And so all of a sudden we've done a lot of research on that. That changes the power of customer's advocacy when it's a story. So the question becomes, what can we do as an organization to create an experience, a customer can't wait to tell somebody about? And that's the playpen in which I play.
Eric Boduch: Yeah. I love that. I mean, humans love stories, right? We relate to stories.
Chip Bell: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Eric Boduch: Give us some examples of that value unique.
Chip Bell: Oh good. My wife has a new car. She traded in her old car, got a new car. And a week after she had her new car, she turned on the radio for the first time and discovered they have programmed in her radio stations from her trading. Now, what do you think she talks about the car and the radio? crosstalk
Eric Boduch: They did that?
Chip Bell: Yeah. It wasn't hard, weren't complicated. You just set that up as something that we're going to do in the service department. Just programming, and don't tell them, just let them discover it. A variation of that. My wife and I drive the same brand of car and we take it in for service. It's about an hour and a half away, so we used the way. So on the customer profile, they include what your favorite flavor coffee is. I happen to like hazelnuts, so they make sure when I come in to get my car serviced and I'm on a wait for it, because it's an hour and a half away, they always make sure in the inaudible machine, there is a K- cup that's hazelnut just for me. Or my wife takes hers in inaudible so when I go sometimes, they will not just put that traditional bottle of cold water in the cup holder, they might lay a flower on the passenger side for me to take home to my spouse. It's thinking like that. It's saying, what can we do that's sort of unusual, different. And the area that I'm particularly interested in now, and I'm spending a lot of energy focusing on maybe a new book, is a particularly the area of anticipatory innovation. That is when you identify a sort of glitch along the way that may happen, a hiccup that the customer may encounter, how do you find a creative way to deal with that? Here's a funny example. My wife and I were staying at the Hampton Inn. Now, if you haven't traveled with your significant other and you both fix your coffee the same way in your room, at most hotels, now they have a coffee maker, and a couple of Piper cups. How many times do you run into those situations that, " Is this mine or yours?" So what Hampton Inn did is on one cup, they put a lips like somebody kissed it and on the other one, they put a mustache. So there's a kind of fun whimsical, cranny way to deal with is this my cup or yours because we fix our coffee the same way. It's a kind of a hiccup waiting to happen that they deal with in a playful way, fun way. I mean, they can make one blue and one pink, but that's kind of boring. So it's looking for those kind of creative approaches, innovative approaches to deal with creating experiences that I'll tell stories that. So I know crosstalk this, Eric.
Eric Boduch: I see the common thread here is like, you want to create stories for customers to tell, right?
Chip Bell: Correct. Correct. You want to create stories that the customer is eager to share and out of that particular experience. And obviously there are a number of dimensions to that. One is I got to know my customer pretty well, intimately for example, and second, I've got to have a kind of culture and that's what I work a lot in is I kind of have a culture where people on the frontline feel the trust to be able to do those kinds of things and are licensed to do that and not feel like, oh, I'm going to say the wrong thing or do the wrong thing. Because there's a certain, the essence of innovation is new and I'm asking people to do things with the customer that are new. And so it doesn't follow the script and it can't follow the script. It's got to be willing to be impromptu sometime or improv if you will.
Eric Boduch: Yeah. And thoughtful too.
Chip Bell: And thoughtful, but yet reflective of what I know the customer wants. I have a second home on a river. I do a lot of fly fishing and we just... It inaudible in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and so we're in a mount. So we have had lousy internet and I've had DISH because... But every now and then we get a storm or whatever and you just don't have very good reception. Well, we just recently got high speed fiber optic underground internet. So now I can stream, instead of depending on that satellite. So I called up DISH to cancel and they've been great. I've had nothing but good things to say about DISH network, but I called up to have them disconnect my service because now I'm going to stream everything and I'm going to use YouTube TV. Well, and the woman I got, she answered her phone and she said, " Greetings. This is Elsa from the great state of Texas." Now you could tell in her voice, she was wired for sound. And so I said, oh, that wonderful accent. I really miss Texas. I used to live there for 14 years. And so she knew, queued from me this is a customer willing to play a little bit. And so when I told her what I wanted, she said, " Oh, Chip, you're breaking my heart." So, and then I continued on and then switched to what I needed to do and she gave a great sales pitch about why I needed to stay with DISH network. And I said, " You've done a great job, a great sales job, but I still want to disconnect." And she said, and here you go, this is the funny part. She said, " Now, you know Chip, as soon as you disconnect our DISH, that YouTube TV is going to go crash." What great response. That YouTube TV is going to crash. And then you're going to be wishing you had gone with done with what I told you. And so it's a playful and she laughed and was fun. And I wrote the CEO and told her, don't lose this woman. Then I hung up the phone and I thought, now, what kind of culture is she working in as a call center operator that would allow her to have that kind of fun ingenuity. And again, she ran it all by listening to that customer. And I'm sure there are some customers that called up, she wouldn't go down that path in saying, your YouTube is going to crash as soon as you disconnect from DISH network. They wouldn't have done that. But she could tell I was willing to play. And so it's understand the customer and it's also having that trust. So that's what I work a lot with organizations to have create.
Eric Boduch: Yeah. And now you've written a lot of books too. So I inaudible if I don't go back to a potential new book, but let's start with one of your existing books. Tell us about Inside Your Customer's Imagination: 5 Secrets for Creating Breakthrough Products, Services, and Solutions.
Chip Bell: Thank you. Every organization knows they're supposed to innovate or they die. And what they do when they are willing and eager to create a new product or service or solution is they tend to go with their R& D or best practices or whatever, innovation centers they create. And I'm a customer service guy. And so I go, why don't you talk to the customer? Why don't you get customer involved? And so the book is about how do you get inside your customer's imagination where there is a huge treasure of great, half- baked, crazy, off the wall, unique ideas and perspectives that we lack when we are a part of the organization. We know it too well. We're too close to it. And so the books about how to do that. How do you go inside the customer's imagination? I like to think of it as obviously your customer's imagination is on the inside and I like to think of it as a door opened only from the inside. So how do I create a relationship where that customer is wanting to open that door and share their creative ideas and ingenious ideas? And so the book is built around five components, secrets. I call them secrets because it's kind of fun. But where I got them was I look at those organizations we all know that are renowned for great innovation. And you would ask anybody who are the most innovative companies you know. They're going to probably tell you, Amazon, Google, Apple, Pixar, we all know their names. And so I looked at those companies and said, okay, what is it about their culture? What are the features of their culture that tend to foster an environment where innovation occurs? And what I found was they are all intensely curious at foster an atmosphere of curiosity. They're all highly focused, I call it grounding. They all are about risk- taking. They're willing to take risks. They're willing to drive fear out of the workplace so people will take risks, I call it discovery. They foster a learning environment so people are always taking risks to learn. They're all about trust. How do I build an environment that is laced with trust? Again, takes fear out of the way. I'm willing to try new things. And finally they're very passionate that, energizes the people around them. So then I began to think that those are the five common features of innovation cultures. And there are a lot of books about that, about those inaudible culture. What would that look like if you applied it to a relationship in this case, a relationship with a customer? And so that's the kind of origin for the structure of the book, those five secrets. Curiosity, grounding, discovery, trust and passion.
Eric Boduch: Yeah. It's very interesting. Now you mentioned a new book too. What are you thinking about writing?
Chip Bell: Oh, I'm still working on it. It hadn't shown up yet. Yeah. The one that new book that I'm sort of noodling with. And this is how books do for me is I get an idea of then I go, " Oh, it could be an article." And I did write an article for Forbes on it. But I wonder nobody's written much about anticipatory innovation. Nobody's written anything about getting out in front of the customers, trail and trying to find a creative solution of things they might encounter. So I don't know if there's enough there for a book.
Eric Boduch: Is that like your glitch in the system that's building on that kind of a thread?
Chip Bell: Yeah. Like for example, the Tampa Airport has the rental car where you get your car after you've rented it in the parking lot. Okay. So you get in your rental car and the first thing you do is you want to set your destination for where you're going. You may have the GPS in the car, you may be doing it on your phone or whatever. But you got to set your destination. There's only one problem. Inside Tampa Airport parking lot, there's no cell service. I mean, there's none. So you can't program anything. And now you're getting to start your car and leave without any GPS. So what they've done is, as soon as your car comes out of that structure, the parking lot structure, there turnoffs. You can pull in a turnoff that gets WiFi and set your GPS on your car or whatever and then you're on your way. But they thought about what if we provided a GPS inaudible at the edge of the parking lot, right before you leave. So that's a kind of dealing with it ahead of the game. So-
Eric Boduch: Yeah. I like thinking through kind of the hiccups in the process that might be unique to a specific situation. Like this might not happen in every airport, but it happens with Tampa.
Chip Bell: Yeah. Yeah. A while back when I was flying, I flew into the San Francisco Airport. I had a headache and I rarely get a headache and its really unusual. So I went to the little newsstand to get some Tylenol. But they didn't have Tylenol, but they had Advil. And it was one of those little tiny packages that had two pills in it for you to take for a headache. And so... Okay. And I opened it up to take it out and fold it up, in the back of the packaging was a little foldout cup, just enough for about two large swallows of water. And so I was able to go to a water fountain and have a little cup that would came with the packaging to take those two Advil. Now I'd never seen that. I never seen a little small package like that, that contained a folded up cup that you get to use. But that's a kind of thing. And it's a unique area, it's a fun area, but the really intent for me is are there ways in which you solve that problem back to Hampton Inn. Are there ways that you solve that problem in a way that's whimsical. Not just functional, not just meets the needs like the airport parking, but is fun, unique, unusual, different. Because if I were in charge of those pull offs, I'd probably find a way to make them more than just a functional pull off. If I was in charge of that cup, it wouldn't just be a white functional cup. It might have something else going along with it that would make the experience more memorable. So it comes into service, it comes into experience, but it also comes into product design. And so it's that area. So I don't know whether there'll be a new book or not. We will see.
Eric Boduch: Well, it sounds like it could be really interesting. I like the idea of thinking about that. Thinking about friction in the system and how not only can you help eliminate it, but make it a unique experience that people tell stories about.
Chip Bell: Right, right, right. And for it to be a book it's got to be for me, for it to be a book, it's not just all the stories, but there have to be an organizing principle that says, okay, then you do this, then you do this. Or here are the principles that have to guide your action or here are the techniques you need to follow. It needs to be a book that is not just a theory or a concept philosophy, but lace with a lot of pragmatics that people can use as a recipe.
Eric Boduch: Yeah. A framework, actionable framework. Yeah absolutely.
Chip Bell: So, I'm one of these people that I don't come up with the principles and then go find the stories. I do the opposite. I find the stories and deduce the principles from it. They're inside the story. I just got to find them. So-
Eric Boduch: Yeah. That's an interesting approach and probably a good one crosstalk
Chip Bell: Deductive reasoning. And so it's just people approach problem solving a different way.
Eric Boduch: Yeah. No, absolutely. And it's a good way for product teams when they're building software to think about some of their problems too.
Chip Bell: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I always remind that great example is a kind of a gross story, but nevertheless, I'm a big fan of Edward DeBono and his creative work and lateral thinking. But he talks about how this is the kind of thinking I'm talking about. He was watching a horse defecate and realized he was watching a fundamental principle of that could be used for a pneumatic jack, to Jack up a car. And you've seen those jacks where the middle comes up first, then the next section, and the next section, as the jack elevates and builds more foundation behind it. But he saw a story so to speak and go, inaudible. There's more to it than just what I'm seeing. This could be a inaudible principle. inaudible that discovered buoyancy and all came from watching the water come up in the tub when he was in the thing and jumped up and ran down the street, naked hollering, " Eureka, Eureka, I found it. I found it." But that's a kind of approach to problem solving that you start with the story and deduce the principles from it.
Eric Boduch: And it takes a lot of passion to jump out of the tub and run around naked through the streets.
Chip Bell: inaudible
Eric Boduch: crosstalk. It's in one of your secrets though,].
Chip Bell: Yeah.
Eric Boduch: Going back to some of the stories you were telling early, a lot of it has to do with having data. Understanding how to personalize an experience when you're interviewing. So data plays a big role in unlocking customer imagination and putting together some of these unique experiences. Can you talk more about that?
Chip Bell: I'd be glad to. And it's a particular kind of inaudible. Most of the time when we approach trying to find or solve a problem for a customer or whatever, or come up with a new service or a new product, we approach it from the vantage point of the customer's needs and expectations. And the innovative route is through their hopes and aspirations. It's a different route. It's a different way of approaching customer data. And so I'll give you an example of that kind of data, it's not the typical factual market research kind of data. I was working with a major pizza delivery company. One we all know, brand new, everybody knows. And we were asked to do focus groups and our expectations or that when we interviewed tons and tons and tons of customers, that they would be talking about three things, price, product, process. Your pizza doesn't taste good, it costs too dang much and it takes too long to get it to me. Price, product, process, those kinds of issues. And we frankly were after doing a number of them, we were hearing the same things over and over and over and we said, " This is boring. Why don't we ask some dreamer questions?" So now we're moving out of needs and expectations into hopes and aspirations. But if we ask a dream of questions? For example, we'd say, " What's something no pizza companies doing that would be really cool?" And we began to hear a whole different kind of answers. Customers would say things like, "What about the box?" "You say the box?" " Yeah, yeah. I mean I order a pizza, you deliver the pizza, I eat the pizza and then I got this box I'm throwing away. Why don't you do something with a box?" And we go like, " What?" " Well, it could be like a coloring book on the inside of the lid. It could be a puzzle, it could be a mask you cut out. There's all kinds of things you could do with it." And sure enough, several years later, I'm working with a major, huge packaging company that made boxes for this pizza delivery company. And sure enough, on the inside of the lid, there were all kinds of puzzles and drawing things that you got and they had put... instead they put a piece of wax paper between the inside of the lid and the pizza so it doesn't get inaudible. But there's a way to begin to ask customers to think in a different way about where you're approaching. And I think how you do that is through treasure hunting. In other words, it's a line of inquiry with your customer where you don't know where it's going. So many times when I work with organizations, the way in which they interact with customers to get data is almost from the assumption of, we know what they're going to say and we're just looking for confirmation. But what if you went about it in a way that you had no clue where this could go? That's the treasure hunting side that does several things. One, it puts you on the same plane a customer, therefore, a partnership. Two, it opens up the door for a loss of unexpected serendipity, which is part of what innovation is all about. And three, the customer comes out of those experiences, feeling very valued, not just understood. And because of that kind of experience of, I feel really valued, then now I'm willing to not only tell you more, but I'm also willing to experiment more with you. I'm willing to try ideas that are I know aren't going to work, but may lead to something. We try techniques sometimes where we get a group of customers and pair them with a third grader. And what happens is we know like working on a particular product and how we approach it and all that. You get the customer, but you've got a third grader in there when paired with a customer, the kid doesn't know anything, doesn't know anything about that product, but the kind of questions they ask caused you to go, well, that's crazy, but I could see how you can extend that a little bit further and, or a variation on the theme might look like this and so it's a catalyst. It's a participant in a inquiry that is designed to be a pure catalyst to the experience and the pursuit of deeper intelligence and a different kind of intelligence.
Eric Boduch: Yeah, that's really interesting. Because one of the struggles and especially in software people have is like how they organize and get feedback. And I think some of these approaches are interesting. Do you have a framework for how you teach people to capture customer feedback and stories?
Chip Bell: Well, I just gave you one. The more you involve kids, the better off you are. And again, that's part of aimed at... It's not what we ask, it's how we approach it, how we think about it and how we ask it, our mindset when we're asking it. I'll give you an example and how we're willing to push beyond. A good friend of mine wrote about it in the book. I have a friend of mine who used to be, he's now an association executive, but he used to be general manager of a huge hotel in Dallas. And every week he would hold inaudible stupid meetings and purpose with his staff. And it was an hour long, Friday morning, and he would always invite a customer, a guest to be in that group and he had always invited vendor to be in that group. And so right there he is creating a mix of people, not normally mixed together. You create an opportunity for different angles to come out. And when they would identify what stupid particular is your problem that needed solving, and they would then work on generating the solutions that tagline always there's two more, there's two more. And so it was a belief that if we push it a little further, we will find an even better, there's two more. And so that became a part of the way in which they went about solving problems aim. It's like the why techniques and quality. Keep asking why, why, why, why, why like a little kid, it pretty soon upsets the way in which you normally look at things to look at things in a variously different way. So I think it's using approaches like that, that give us a different kind of feedback from the customer. Empathy walks with customers are very, very powerful. Journey mapping people talk about all the time, it's a technique I created a bunch of years ago, that is designed to help you live the life with the customer. In the book, I talk about be the customer, be the customer. And it's comes from Little League. Little kids at bat, pitcher's releasing the ball, the coach is on the sideline saying, be the ball, which is all that tool designed to get that kid at bat to keep their eye on the ball so they could hit it. Well, the concept applied to customer service is what if you live the life of the customer in their world. My wife's hairdresser, Johnny Adair gets a permanent sometimes. And I go, " Johnny," he does my hair too, " So why do you do that?" He said, " Well, I realized that when a woman gets a permanent, it can be one of the most awkward, uncomfortable embarrassing situations they go through and if I went through it and I got the same thing they got through, I would see it through their eyes and it would allow me to make changes in the experience that would make it a more comfortable experience." That's literally being the customer. But what do we do to come as close as we can to that so that we feel the world of the customer the way they feel it. And so to me, that line, that's the way in which we pursue feedback, is the way in which we pursue intelligence about the customer that informs what we do.
Eric Boduch: Yeah. It's interesting. I'm just thinking about how to manage to speed back when you get it. Well, hey, I'm thinking about how you get all this data from customers. And maybe you can talk about that. Talk about some of the processes you put in place, or you would help companies put in place to capture this data, to be able to personalize some of this innovation. And then how do you organize and manage it?
Chip Bell: Well, maybe a start, Eric would be, who are you talking to? There's a customer, but then there are other sources of customer information that may be helpful in giving you deeper insight. It's the right with the driver and what do they hear? Talk to the driver. What do they see? Talk to the security guard. What do they see? What are they hear? Receptionist at the front door. Those kinds of things. But part of it is creating situations in which you get the customer to reveal things that they might otherwise not reveal and then learn about it indirectly. Let me give an example. Back to my good friend John Longstreet, who was the general manager of the hotel. Every quarter, John would hold a focus group with a taxi drivers who frequented his property. This was back before Lyft and Uber. And he would buy him breakfast every quarter and pick their brain about what they'd hear on the way to DFW Airport from his guests. Because he knew when they checked out and you got the familiar, how was your stay, you would get the same answer, fine, and you wouldn't learn anything. Well, what he discovered was that not only did that approach from the cab drivers, not only give him a deeper understanding, but he got insights. For example, he learned that when the customer complained about their towels smelled a little scorched, like they'd been the dryer too long in housekeeping, what they really were worried about was a fire started in house keep. Or when they noticed a security inaudible lie out in the parking lot, what they really were concerned about was security in their hallway. Or when they saw dust bowls under their bed, what they really were worried about was not dust in their room, but bugs in their room. So by going from the information to understanding to insight, all of a sudden, he's got a much more anthropological view of the customer's experience. Now he's looking more at it like an anthropologist where I'm putting together all kinds of dimensions like a Margaret Mead would look at the use of time and space, day and inaudible and all of that stuff that makes up the context with the customer and say, " Okay, what is that telling me? What does that teaching me?" And I think it's a much more richer perspective that informs you in terms of what you do. You're asked twice now, how do you organize all of that? I don't know how you organize it. It's like... I remember there was a great cartoon that had this guy go and had this great formula on a blackboard that went all the way around the room and then it gets to the end and then a miracle occurs. It just written out there on the board crosstalk miracle occurs. Well, in much the same way, I think if we approach customer information and customer feedback like we're looking for an answer rather than looking and for a new insight or discovery, we realize that we're dealing with emotion. If your wife's angry with you, how do you that?
Eric Boduch: inaudible right?
Chip Bell: Well, yeah. But if she doesn't say anything and she's mad at you, how do you know? You don't have rational, logical, analytical data that you can put that will say, therefore she is mad at me. You put together a lot of cues that are squishy and not a specific and gutsy intuition and much the... out of which is underscoring the challenge the fact that customer experience is emotional. And we can have all kinds of big data and we miss the magic, the magic of what's going on. And I think when we're open to that magic, then we're increasing the likelihood that we get discoveries from that data that's going to be much deeper and much more valuable in terms of our work. But the tools that we use to connect and the tools that we use to innovate, to analyze and understand it aren't the same.
Eric Boduch: Yeah. I worry sometimes a lot. I mean, working in software, it's a little bit easier to capture this data and make sure at least is captured somewhere, but I always worry a lot about great personalization, great data getting lost. Right?
Chip Bell: Yeah.
Eric Boduch: The reception that knows you have hazelnut coffee, right?
Chip Bell: Yeah.
Eric Boduch: How do we make sure we don't lose that?
Chip Bell: That's inaudible
Eric Boduch: Just something to think about as we're innovating this, how do you empower people to think about the business that way. And then how do you make sure that knowledge becomes institutionalized so that the receptionist that comes after this one knows that you like hazelnut coffee.
Chip Bell: Right, right. Exactly. And here again, when I'm worked with software people and I've worked with a number of software companies, there is a comfort with a world of the technology and the scientific method in terms of their going about doing their work, people who did real well in the math classes. And I go, wait a minute, but you're talking about don't forget, service is a performing art. You've got to think about it in a different... We've got a different approach. It's not right or wrong. It's like, don't try to drive a nail with a inaudible. Nothing wrong with inaudible, but when you're looking at carpentry, it's probably not a good tool. inaudible are used more of time. But in much the same way, sometimes when we look at data collection like a tool we're looking for that hammer, when it may be a beef lamp that we need, cause it's a different language and a different medium. And that's not always easy because it's hard to prove. If you think your gut tells you, your wife's upset, it might be hard to prove. And you just got to go with what your gut tells you. It's an intuitive process. So we've got inaudible customer the experience of the customer in the same way. We can't create it mechanically and is that's what customers rail about. They rail about I feel like I'm treated like a number of treated like statistic. I'm treated like I'm not a real person with a heart and soul. And when we find those experiences where there is a reflection of that soul of service as Leonard Berry would write about that, all of a sudden, or the nobility because of experience as Bill Marriott would write about, all of a sudden, it connects with us in a way we go, " Oh, that I can't explain why, but that feels authentic and real and genuine and I can trust it."
Eric Boduch: I mean, I've loved the stories from our conversation today. I know you've worked at some really cool companies, McDonald's, DHL, Marriott. Are there successes or stories you can tell from these particular companies? Are others like them? crosstalk
Chip Bell: Yeah, yeah. One of my favorite stories is Starbucks. And a lot of the techniques that Starbucks had, a lot of the things that we had come to inaudible you as Starbucks like creations didn't come from corporate, they came from the customer. Pumpkin spice latte, cake pops, one of my favorites is splash sticks. Starbucks didn't come up with that, the customer came up with that. Having WiFi in all the stores didn't come from corporate. And one of my favorite McDonald's stories was the fact that a customer created the egg McMuffin. And that's not a widely known story, but his name was Herb Peterson. And he happened to be in the world of McDonald's because I've done a lot of work with McDonald's over the years. And you and I would be consumers, their customers are the franchisees. That's who their customers are. And we're customers of the franchise. And so one of franchisees said that we could have this breakfast sandwich later call egg McMuffin. And he actually got a blacksmith to create the little round thing that sit on the grill so that when you put the egg in it, it cooked it perfectly round, just like the Canadian bacon and the muffin and then it inaudible. And he took it to Ray Kroc. And Ray Kroc said, it's wonderful. It's fantastic. And they test marketed it and they became the first fast food restaurant to introduce breakfast through the egg McMuffin. And today it's a$ 5 billion business, just breakfast. But it all started with a customer in this case, a franchisee willing to say, " What if you did this?" I mean, Herb was known as a madman in the kitchen. He was crazy. He's was mad scientist. He was very creative in what he did. But Ray Kroc who you think... We think of Ray Kroc as the founder of McDonald's as being somebody who's highly logical, analytical and he wanted it based on machine logic and production line thinking and this is like a hamburger factory and everything's clock watched and managed. When we work with them, we had a hard time getting them to talk to customers because they had" mystery shoppers." And we go, well, mystery shoppers aren't customers. They're trained actors with a checklist looking for, did you this? But that whole quality control mentality through a mystery shopper checklist watchers like quality control in the factory, it's that kind of thinking. Well, it made him great but you would think when he looked at anybody coming in with some weird idea, like egg McMuffin. But he was a very creative guy and he was good friends and Walt Disney and tried to get Walt to let him put a McDonald's in Disneyland when they first created it. So there's a side to Ray. He's a great piano player. Side to Ray that was very creative and very innovative, not just engineer.
Eric Boduch: That's interesting. I didn't know that. It brings up a question or a thought, how do you reward customers for doing this? I mean, is it like they get egg McMuffins for free for life? How do you pay that back?
Chip Bell: Well, Herb Kelleher used to tell me a great experience is it's all reward. And I thought, well, that's a great point. And he said, " If we give them a fun experience," he said... I got a chance to work with her when he was alive and he was CEO of Southwest Airlines. And I would always think about the fact that they had a value proposition that could not work. I mean, you think about it, they line you up and they heard you own and you got no assigned seats and they feed you peanuts. And the same old planes they've had for years, 737 that they've had for years, well, how could that work? How could that value proposition work? But they realized they can take one more dimension and make it something still memorable and that was the element of fun. And if I can make it fun, obviously they had a price strategy as well, but if they made it fun, then people wouldn't notice the fact that they were in a hard seat with only a choice, no sign seats and only peanuts, no meals and they just got herded on inaudible now they lined themselves up and herd on and all that. But that whole value proposition changed when he added fun. And he used to say, it is not only our incentive for the customer, it's their reward. We gave them a great show while they were on board. And so I think that as I work with organizations around their loyalty programs and affinity programs, sometimes we don't really need to say buy three and you get the fourth one free. If we gave them a really fun experience, what more would you want? We may not have to do any more than that.
Eric Boduch: Yeah. What about the guy who invents the next egg McMuffin from McDonald's or comes up with that concept, that customer. The customer that helped Starbucks figure out that WiFi is going to change their business, whatever it happens to be. Do you find that there's some reward, the customer gets out of it beyond the experience itself and in effecting the company or do you think that it's not that important?
Chip Bell: I just don't think it's that important.
Eric Boduch: Got it. Got it.
Chip Bell: I don't that important. I really don't. I don't think it's that important to get the customer's loyalty. And the overwhelming evidence would say that as a guess.
Eric Boduch: So now we've we chatted about a lot today. If there's a product manager out there he's building a new product, what would be three things you think he should take away, make sure he thinks about?
Chip Bell: One I would say your frontline employees are brilliant, don't miss that genius. When I work with senior leaders all the time I go, " When was the last time you were out there with a customer? When was the last time you were with the frontline? When was the last time you rode with that truck driver when you were sat in the call center?" And just learn what they see, and spend time out there. Bill Marriott, and as I mentioned, worked a lot with Marriott. Bill said, " Leaders don't visit employees to make them feel better, they visit employees to learn. You're out there to learn." And so I think that's the one thing is just, there is a wealth of information that we need to do. I think the second thing I would say with product managers is it is a never ending process and sometimes we forget, we think we're pursuing some destination that once we get there, it's done. And then if we could get the customer to alter their expectations, it'd be a lot greater, a lot easier, but they aren't. They're changing all the time, which is a whole exciting thing for me. Some research says customer expectations are going up 30% every year. And so how do I make sure that I see it as a never ending journey where I'm continually pursuing new and different things. And it's not just a selfish customer, what have you done for me lately? It's the fact that we all like novelty and uniqueness. The other thing I would say is the greatest... I've done a lot of work with Lockheed Martin. And this particular group I work with at Lockheed Martin is Skunk Works. Skunk Works as in Palmdale. And if you ask them, what is it you do at Skunk Works, they'd say, " Did you see Star Wars?" " Yeah, I saw Star...", " Well, that's what we do. We do air defense 30 years from now." They don't go into, if I tell you I have to kill you kind of stuff. They just... and they do. When I worked with them, I said, " What is it that is the most important component of this environment?" And they said, " Humility." Humility, and that is, we're always amazed. We're always never ending learning. We're always surprised. And we create a world in which we can be continually surprised and if we approach everything with a sense of humility and not ego and arrogance, we open ourselves up to the magic that we otherwise will miss. And so I think that's the third thing I would say is foster an environment that's laced with humility and openness and genuineness that creates an atmosphere that allows surprise to occur. It's everywhere.
Eric Boduch: Nice. So let's talk about YouTube for a second. What's your favorite product?
Chip Bell: Not Jack Daniel's whiskey.
Eric Boduch: That's not a bad one.
Chip Bell: Yeah. Well my favorite product, I have a Steinway piano. It's a made by Boston and I'm a musician and I love... That's one product on cherish. I think in terms of a product that's continually more than products, I love experiences. I love newness and things. I love the things that... I'm a big Apple guy, because I love the simplicity and the elegance of the products that they make. So I have an Apple phone and an Apple computer and all of that. But here again, the more that we can bring a sense of elegance to what we do, like it's a work of art and that Steve Jobs, I thought did a great job of having a company that looked upon everything they made as a work of art and not just a functional toy. But those are some, those are some.
Eric Boduch: Yeah. Yeah. So one question, one final question. I ask all my guests. Three words to describe yourself.
Chip Bell: Three words. I am a fun loving dude. I'm a freedom loving dude and I am a romantic and I cherish that aspect. I tear up in movies easily. And when I do, I am deeply grateful that I have that capacity to feel the passion and emotion and I feel. So I am a romantic. That's why I love stories. I grew up in a family of storytellers. And I happened to be fortunate to work in a role in an environment that I can do all of those. I can demonstrate all the freedom I own. I own my company and have for 40 years. Lots of romance around me. I've been married over 50 years to the same gorgeous woman. So I'm a blessed individual and I know that.
Eric Boduch: Well, congratulations on that. It's always amazing hearing those stories of 50 year plus marriages. That's great. Well, thanks Chip. This has been awesome. I've really enjoyed our chat today.
Chip Bell: Well, thank you, Eric. I have too. It's been a lot of fun and I hope your listeners have also found it to be meaningful and helpful and make a difference in their work.