Dr. Chip Bell is a renowned keynote speaker and the author of several national best-selling books. His newest book is the just-released “Kaleidoscope: Delivering Innovative Service That Sparkles,” which is the third in a series on innovative service following “The 9 ½ Principles of Innovative Service” and “Sprinkles: Creating Awesome Experiences Through Innovative Service.” Bell has served as consultant or trainer to many well-known organizations including Marriott International, Southwest Airlines, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Lockheed Martin and more.
Bell has helped many companies improve their marketplace reputations and bottom lines through innovative customer-centric strategies. Customer service is his passion, and he has devoted his professional life to helping companies improve their relationships with those they serve.
YOUR NEWEST BOOK, ‘KALEIDOSCOPE,’ IS THE THIRD IN A SERIES. WHAT IS THE OVERALL THEME OF THE BOOKS?
Everyone knows they are supposed to exceed the customer’s expectations, and the way many companies do that is through something called “value adding,” which means to take what the customer expects and add more. The problem with value adding is if you give the customer something extra every time, you will eventually run out of new things to give. My focus and theme of these books is not on value adding but “value unique.” Value unique is doing something that is totally unexpected to the customer; it is simple but ends up being a surprise. This approach is an innovative way to get people to talk about you in a way that brings in their friends and family and trumps the value-adding approach.
WHAT IS YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH CUSTOMER LOYALTY AND SERVICE INNOVATION?
I’ve been in customer service my whole adult life. I started my company in 1980, and we’ve been in the customer loyalty business from the beginning. The only thing that has changed is reflected in how the customers have changed. There was a time when good customer service was unique, but now, customers typically get good service wherever they go. My work is centered on helping organizations create a culture that drives the kind of experience — not the outcome — that is great and, more importantly, innovative.
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU IN YOUR WORK?
I love the work that I do. I love working with customers and companies, and I love the topic that I do. I would rather work than play golf or fish. Work, to me, is my hobby. I don’t consider myself a workaholic because I love what I do and enjoy it immensely. My younger brother, who already retired, always asks me, “When are you going to retire?” and I always ask, “When are you going to quit hunting?” He does it every day because he enjoys it. If you are doing what you love and your health is good, why would you quit?
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN KEYNOTE SPEAKING?
I’m always amazed that I get paid for what used to send me to the principal’s office as a kid. I enjoy the opportunity to share with people in a public scenario. I think it makes a difference when you’re in the audience and you have a speaker that is getting a kick out of what they are doing. You need to be prepared, though. If you know what you’re talking about, then you don’t have to focus on remembering things — you just focus your attention on the audience. The preparation and the practice are both important, but when you’re in front of the audience, it’s all about having fun and being free with them.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART ABOUT DELIVERING KEYNOTE SPEECHES?
My favorite part is telling stories. Somebody once came up to me after a speech and said, “How many times do you think you have told that story?” and I said “at least a thousand.” It never feels like I’ve told it that many times, though. I never mechanically tell the story; each time I tell it is like experiencing it for the first time again. It’s like when you go to a party and people are standing around telling stories and you get to chime in with your own. You might be telling a story that you’ve told many times before, but it’s still fun to share.
WHO DO YOU THINK WOULD BENEFIT MOST FROM YOUR BOOKS AND SPEECHES?
I think anyone who cares about delivering a great experience to those they serve would benefit the most. Notice I said “those they serve” not “customer.” Not all of us have customers, but we all have people we serve. I’ve also had people say that my books are helpful in personal relationships. Sometimes when I start my speeches, I’ll say that one of my goals is to make everyone in the audience a better lover. They always laugh, but it’s true because the principles you use to deliver a great experience to those you serve in a business could also translate over to relationships with your significant other or your best friend.
CAROLINE REDMOND is a fourth-year telecommunications student at the University of Florida. In her spare time, Caroline enjoys reading, spending time outdoors and yelling at contestants on Chopped who try to make last-minute vinaigrettes. She also considers herself an amateur cat photographer — her muse is her cat, Snoop Dogg.