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Ep. 107 – Dan Gingiss is an author, speaker, and expert of customer experience who built his personal brand while still working full time in executive positions.


Dan Gingiss Show Notes

Dan’s 20 year career has consistently focused on delighting customers, spanning multiple disciplines including customer experience, marketing, social media, and customer service. He has held leadership positions at three Fortune 300 companies – Discover, Humana, and McDonald’s.

He is an international keynote speaker who believes that a remarkable customer experience can be your best marketing.

Dan is the author of the book, Winning at Social Customer Care: How Top Brands Create Engaging Experiences on Social Media, a host of the Experience This! Show podcast, and a regular contributor to Forbes. Brand24 recently named him one of the “Top 100 Digital Marketers 2019”.


Most passionate about

  • I’m just launching my solo speaking career. So, I’m excited about growing that because I do think that I have a good message and one of the things that I’ve found attending conferences is that events often bring on speakers because they work for big companies.
  • But the result is that they often don’t have good speakers because they’re so focused on bringing in a professional corporate person, who is not a good speaker and I pride myself in being both. I come to the table with an extensive professional background and I’d also like to think I’m a pretty good speaker.

Dan’s best advice about customer focus, marketing, and sales

  • The issue with marketers is that most marketers believe that they know what their customers want. And then we over index on the content that we want to provide our customers instead of the opposite, which is listening to your customers, hearing them tell you what they want, and over indexing on that content.
  • What I love about social media is it’s the first and only marketing channel where people can talk back to you. You can’t talk back to a TV commercial, and if you remember the early days of social media, marketers looked at it as another broadcast channel. ‘Let’s put our TV commercials on Facebook! People will love that!’ Of course, no one wanted to see TV commercials on Facebook. Companies were forced to listen to what customers wanted, marketers had to adjust to all channels in that way, like they’ve had to in social media, which is listening to your customers and then delivering the content that they’re asking you for instead of acting like, ‘We know, as marketers, better what our customers want.’

Dan’s best advice for entrepreneurs

  • I would say to follow your passion. When I interview for jobs, I always tell people that what I’m looking for in a job is, I’m not a morning person, so I’m looking for a job where I don’t hit the snooze button in the morning because I judge job satisfaction by how many times I hit snooze. If I don’t want to get out of bed, that’s usually a bad sign.
  • What I’ve found is by following my passion, by doing what I love, I’m jumping out of bed in the morning! I’m excited to go to work because I’m doing something that is meaningful for me.

Biggest failure with a customer

  • I think failure is important in life because it teaches you. My first job out of college, I worked for a collectables company. I had a product line that I was responsible for, and I was responsible for everything, not just the marketing, but also the packaging and shipping, making sure we had the right inventory, and all that.
  • I got a phone call from a distraught woman who had bought one of our products for her granddaughter, this case, it was a Christmas present, and she called on December 23rd, if I recall, and we had dropped the ball. She’d ordered the product and I don’t know if it got lost in the mail, or we didn’t ship, or what have you. She was angry and said we were ruining Christmas, and her granddaughter was going to be so upset and I’m just a guy, fresh out of college, and I didn’t know what to do. I’d never worked in customer service. So, I thought about it for a minute while I was on the phone with this woman and said what came naturally to me. I said to her, ‘Ma’am, Christmas is not going to be ruined on my account. I’m going to go find this product for you, I’m going to take it off the shelf of our warehouse, I’m going to bring it over to Fed-ex myself, and I’m going to make sure it gets to you tomorrow.’ When I hung up with her, that’s exactly what I did.
  • I didn’t have access to the customer service system. I didn’t even know if I was allowed to do this, but it seemed like the right thing to do for this person. So, I did. What I learned from that is you can screw up with a customer, and you can take an angry customer and turn them into a happy customer just by how you respond.

Biggest success due to the right customer approach

  • The biggest success was winning the JD Power Award at Discover. We had a survey mechanism that was on every page of the website so customers on any page, could click a button and give us feedback. When that survey popped up, it was three questions and it was based off the Forrester customer experience index.
  • One of the questions was: how easy is it to do business with Discover today? I thought that was a really interesting question, so I asked for a report ranked by the lowest scoring pages of that question. So in other words, the pages that people were saying were the most difficult. I wanted to see those at the top of the list because I wanted to understand why they were the most difficult.
  • The number one paged turned out to be a really important page, the ‘refer a friend’ page, which is where you can refer someone else to get a Discover card and you get a reward. We looked at the feedback, the actual words customers used in their feedback for that page and we learned in certain web browsers, the submit button was not displaying. People were entering their friend’s info but couldn’t submit it because there was no submit button! We didn’t have enough complaints about that page for the issue to show up on the big report, which was the essentially the complaints report. As soon as we fixed that, the very next day, that page went from being one of the most difficult rated to one of the easiest. We completely changed customer satisfaction.
  • So, after seeing that work, I went down, literally, the next hundred pages, and said, let’s fix ALL of them! Let’s figure out what’s wrong with every one of these pages, because every time we put a barrier up in front of a customer, and we frustrate them and we cost them more time, it lowers their satisfaction and it negatively changes their opinion about our brand. So, we went down the top hundred pages, and we fixed all of the issues that were causing problems for customers. That turned out to be one of the key reasons why we won JD Power, because the JD Power Award was about 40% website based, and not only did we win the overall award, but there were 6 different website categories, and for the first time ever, we won all 6 of them.

Dan’s most recommended tool

  • I would say any tool that allows you to listen. There are a lot of them out there. There’s a lot of companies, whether it’s Hootsuite or Buffer, or Lately, or any of these that allow you to sort out your messages and actually listen, because when you listen to what people are saying about you, about a certain topic, first of all, it makes you smarter because you get varying opinions, but also it allows you to filter out that feedback we’ve talked about. I’ve spent a lot of time listening and trying to get feedback about me, about other speakers, about what’s going on in our industry because I think that it makes me smarter and helps me to communicate from the stage or from a consultant perspective.

Dan’s key success factor

  • I think it’s having a good mentor or mentors. I have been lucky over my career to have found a few people who have really been great mentors for me and because I believe in paying it forward, I’ve really tried to be a mentor to those that are younger than I am in the industry in their career. I think that without having that person, or people, in your life, it’s very difficult to make the hard decision, the big decisions in your life to take a chance.

Dan’s Book

The best way to connect with Dan:

More resources for Entrepreneurs

  1. Don’t Miss – Customer Focus Strategy & Execution: Market Analysis for Fundraising
  2. Hayut Yogev’s Latest postIt has never been easier to build a brand! As entrepreneur your biggest marketing asset today is you.
  3. Former interview: Before leaving his 18 year career in Intel, Dr. Kevin Gazzara’s research found 5 things any entrepreneur needs to become successful



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