11 TED Talks to Inspire Better Customer Support


You’ve read all the classic books on customer serviceDelivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, and more.

But now you don’t need to spend hours reading another book, unless you’d like that. Thanks to the rise of TED talks, there are troves of great videos on YouTube where you can learn tips in just 15 minutes.

Get inspired to create a customer-centric business and improve your customer interactions by watching these popular motivational customer service videos on YouTube.

I have selected these videos because each one has influenced our customer relationships and deepened our understanding of how to provide better customer support. I hope to pass that knowledge onto you.

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Videos to motivate a customer-centric business

1. What if customers become friends?

“People are becoming fickle and disloyal to specific brands” say some marketing experts who also advise businesses to focus on chasing new clients.
“But you don’t have to accept that,” says author and consultant Steven van Belleghem, in this talk What If Customers Became Friends?.

He stays close to home to give an example. His dad’s best friend started as a client, before their friendship eventually blossomed. Instead of implementing a “loyalty” program that has nothing to do with loyalty (and everything to do with discounts), Van Belleghem says think instead about how you would treat your best friend if he or she became a client.

Chances are, you would try harder because your personal reputation would be at stake.

Van Belleghem says the secret to loyalty is conducting business from the heart, helping people, and always doing the right thing.

Then, your customers will come back again and again—like a friend.

2. Employees first, customers second

Vineet Nayer’s riveting talk—one of the best TED videos about customer service — outlines his “employees first, customers second” way of thinking.

Nayar, former CEO of HCL Technologies, an IT services company, begins by asking the audience why employees feel good about voluntarily going to church on a Sunday, but dread going to work on next Monday.

His answer?

Churches have a vision and purpose for their members. Companies more than often don’t.

When companies hire employees who truly share the company’s vision—and then inspire and support them as they strive to meet this vision—magic happens.

Nayar sees employees as your unique value proposition, so managers’  should be enthusing, encouraging and enabling employees.

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“Employee-first is the leap of faith that every employee deserves from every single manager in the world,” says Nayar.

3. Creating guest evangelists through customer service

In Creating Guest Evangelists through Customer Service, hospitality industry expert and speaker Tom Costello shares a few of his models for standout service.

The first is a pyramid with your company’s core values at the base, going up to your ability to engage with guests and fellow employees, solve problems, and deliver great customer service.

TED customer service videos

The point of this pyramid, he says is that if you live your core values and if everyone makes decisions based on them, you’ll create both a great work environment and company for your customers.

Costello also discusses how meeting unrecognized needs creates brand evangelists, meeting desires creates commitment, and meeting expectations creates satisfaction.

4. Customer loyalty programmes…why bother!

A deep understanding of customer needs and consistently delivering on those needs is the key,  says loyalty expert Lance Walker.

The CEO of Loyalty NZ, the company that runs Fly Buys, New Zealand’s largest loyalty program, Walker says loyalty programs encourage repeat purchases and provide a way for companies to track data on customers’ spending habits.

In his talk, Customer loyalty programmes…why bother! Walker predicts that in the near future, loyalty programs will need to go mobile, provide real-time experiences and incentives, and become gamified.

But most important, says Walker is making sure your customers love your products. This will drive loyalty more than rewards programs.

5. Why we need to treat our employees as thoughtfully as our customers

Companies spend trillions of dollars to understand, track, and influence customers in their product journeys, says Diana Dosik.

In Why We Need to Treat Our Employees as Thoughtfully as Our Customers, the BCG Henderson Institute principal says companies spend far less on understanding the journey of their employees.

Asked what needs their customers have, marketers and business owners can answer immediately. But they can’t pinpoint what their employees need and want, and don’t understand what drives their workers’ behaviors.

Dosik encourages companies to identify pain points in employees’ journeys.

Are too many sets of approvals slowing down the development of new products? Fixing pain points might require some uncomfortable conversations about workplaces and inefficiencies, but they’re worth the payoff in increased productivity and employee satisfaction.

6. Closing the loop on feedback

Many companies are missing the mark with their feedback, says M. Daniel Suwyn, partner at WorkplaceDynamics.

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In Closing the Loop on Feedback, Suwyn says most feedback (90 percent) has no impact an employees’ performance because our brains are hardwired to prioritize positive feedback over negative feedback.

But conventional wisdom says that employees need performance reviews and critiques to improve.

Millennials, in particular, thrive on positive feedback (which drives Boomers crazy). So it’s time for companies to rethink how they approach feedback.

Instead of annual reviews where managers tell employees they need to do their jobs better, they should be asking employees what they think they should improve. And feedback shouldn’t happen once a year. It should be constant.

7. Applied happiness

“We’re hardwired to find happiness in life, but why are we so bad at it?” asks Jenn Lim, CEO and chief happiness officer of Delivering Happiness (a company co-founded with Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh).

In her video, Lim describes the three types of happiness: pleasure, passion and higher purpose and meaning.

Zappos made delivering happiness its higher purpose—both in its company culture and in its dealings with customers. Every customer support member is encouraged to spend as much time as he or she needs talking to customers to establish a relationship with them.

Inspiring interactions and better customer conversations

8. Meaningful micro-engagements

If you only take away one thing from consultant Jeannie Walters’ TED talk, “Meaningful Micro-engagements,” it’s to think about how your company can be more human and personal in all of its interactions.

This is especially true in customer support.

Walters talks about encountering an ATM machine with an error message that read, “We are dealing with your request.” While this message was probably written without malicious intent, someone reading it could react negatively to its passive-aggressive tone.

Poor error messages and unhelpful self-service documents alienate potential brand advocates because they create frustration and don’t help customers find solutions.

“If we don’t think about these micro-interactions and moments in technology and engagements, these things can happen,” she says. “The little things add up.”

9. The customer revolution in customer service

David Bequette, chief financial officer of FruitsMax, a dietary supplement company, gave this TED talk The Customer Revolution in Customer Service, in Armenia, where the company exports its products.

He begins by discussing how in non-Western countries, like Armenia, service jobs are looked down upon, before describing how entrepreneurs like Chase Manhattan banker Charles Agemian and futures trader Richard Davoud Donchian started their careers in service.

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Bequette then calls on businesses and entrepreneurs to think of the “waiter rule”. If someone would go out to dinner and talk down to the waiter, he clearly believes someone in the service industry is below him.

When applied to businesses, it means treating your service staff—customer support members, HR, and so on—with mutual respect. If you acknowledge your service-focused employees as part of your income generation strategy and support them, they will in turn treat your customers with respect.

10. 10 ways to have a better conversation

In the age of smart phones and emails, many people have lost the ability to carry on a good conversation. Conversations require a balance of talking and listening, but today, many people don’t have a balance between the two when they talk to someone. In this talk, broadcaster and radio host Celeste Headlee gives 10 tips for having a better conversation: e:

  • Don’t multitask. Be present.
  • Set aside your personal opinion.
  • Use open-ended questions like, “what was that like,” or “how did that feel?”
  • Let thoughts go out of your mind.
  • If you don’t know, say that you don’t know.
  • Don’t equate your experience with theirs or self-promote.
  • Don’t repeat yourself.
  • Forget the details and focus on the big picture.
  • Listen.
  • Be brief.

11. The most important language you will ever learn

“Everything we do is a portal to another language,” says motivational speaker, actor, rapper and writer Poet Ali, “And the more languages we speak, the more we can learn.”

In this TED talk, The Most Important Language You Will EVER Learn, Ali starts by asking the audience if they recognize different languages, as he talks to them in English, Farsi, modern-day SMS text messages and more.

But, according to Ali, the most profound and important language we speak is that of experience.

Shared experiences—everything from music to vacations—and feelings help us relate to each other.

So, in professional and personal interactions in, Ali says we should be asking:

  • What experiences do we share?
  • And if we don’t share any, what could we share?
  • And if you couldn’t share any, what could you learn from that person?

Coming at interactions with this in mind will make them more meaningful.

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Tune into any of these TED talks and we’re certain you’ll find something valuable for you or your company. But remember, the real work is not in the viewing, it’s in the application and the execution!

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