Creating Superfans Podcast Episode 205: Charles Ryan Minton

Creating Superfans Podcast Episode 205: Imrpoving CX from the Inside Out with Charles Ryan Minton

In this week’s episode of the Creating Superfans podcast, I’m joined by Charles Ryan Minton, a customer and employee experience expert, keynote speaker, and best-selling author. Ryan has worked with high profile brands such as Hilton Hotels Worldwide, Marriott International, and InterContinental Hotels Group.

As a Hotel Executive, Ryan created environments where employees felt valued and empowered, leading to record-breaking revenues, profits, and some of the highest recognition in hospitality.

In our conversation, you’ll learn about:

  • how employee enablement affects morale and retention
  • why employees should act like they’re “on stage” while working
  • the heartfelt story behind the title of Ryan’s book, “Thanks for Coming in Today”
  • what led both Brittany & Ryan to walk out of businesses recently¬†

Even if you’re not in hospitality, the tips and insights you’ll hear can be applied to any industry for fostering a positive workplace, maximizing your customers’ first impressions, and improving the customer experience from the inside out.

listen to the Episode

show notes

[00:01:45] Brittany shares how she first met Ryan and discovered his book, “Thanks for Coming in Today.”

[00:04:05] What led Brittany to walk out of her Acupuncture appointment

[00:05:16] Why customers shouldn’t see your behind-the-scenes operations and how Ryan obsesses over these first impressions

[00:08:05] How Ryan transformed underperforming hotels through employee enablement

[00:10:10] The most important aspect of any leader’s job

[00:11:56] Ryan’s small gestures that significantly improved the employee experience

[00:14:27] Why employee enablement is so crucial for morale and retention

[00:16:31] The first thing Ryan looks to improve at any company

[00:18:31] A pet peeve of Ryan that many organizations make and why it’s a poor reflection on your employee experience

[00:21:42] Everything speaks – even the welcome mats, signage, and the status of your bathrooms.

[00:24:30] Brittany’s great experience at her dog ophthalmology appointment

[00:28:46] The story behind the title of Ryan’s book, “Thanks for Coming in Today.”

[0035:21] Ryan and Brittany have a major disagreement about Costco and both share their respective experiences


Brittany Hodak [00:00:02]:

Hello, and welcome to the Creating Superfans podcast, where you learn how to turn your customers and employee into Superfans. I’m your host, Brittany Hodak, and I’m a speaker, author, and entrepreneur obsessed with all things customer experience. Here’s the thing. We’re living in an experienced economy right now, and regardless of the size or age of your company or even the products or services you’re selling, one thing’s for sure if your customers aren’t telling their friends about you, you’re in trouble. If you want to create Superfans, being great is no longer good enough. You’ve got to be super. This is the show that teaches you how. My guest today is Ryan Mitten. He’s a customer and employee experience expert, speaker, and author of the best selling book, thanks for Coming In Today. Over his career, Ryan has worked with high profile brands, including Hilton Hotels Worldwide, marriott International, and Intercontinental Hotels Group. He is going to talk about how, as a hotel executive, he has built dynamic teams to create environments where employees feel valued and empowered, and they’re also there to help generate revenue, build profits, and lead to higher recognition. Now, whether you work in the hospitality industry or any other industry, the tips that Ryan shares in today’s episodes are going to help you create more engaged teams that work better together. It’s a really fun episode, so let’s jump right in. Ryan, thank you so much for coming on the podcast.

Ryan Minton [00:01:40]:

Hey, Brittany. Like my book says, thanks for coming in today.

Brittany Hodak [00:01:45]:

Well, I want to talk about your book because, full disclosure, when you go to industry events, especially if it’s a speaker industry event like the one where you and I met earlier this year, there are a lot of people handing you books saying, Here, read my book. Here, read my book. And that’s how you and I met. You said, hey, I like you. I like your book. Read my book. And when you take someone’s book, you don’t always know how good it’s going to be, right? And so I flipped her book open a couple of days later when I was flying home, and I couldn’t put it down. Like, I read it the whole flight, cover to cover. I was like, this book is so great. This is amazing. I love everything Ryan is saying. I co sign on all of this. So thank you for writing. Thanks for coming in today, and thanks.

Ryan Minton [00:02:34]:

For agreeing to talk about and honestly, I mean, it means the world to me for you to say that, because I really do look up to you in our space. So that means a lot to me coming from you. So. Thank you, Britt.

Brittany Hodak [00:02:47]:

Oh, keep going.

Ryan Minton [00:02:49]:

Oh, stop. No, keep going.

Brittany Hodak [00:02:52]:

All right. So thanks for coming in. Today is all about how to, as you say, create a culture where employees care, stay and deliver consistently remarkable customer experiences. And I think one thing that a lot of people miss about CX or customer experience is that your customer experience is never, ever going to be better than your employee experience. Because until you’re Disney or Nike or Amazon or some other huge brand where people feel an emotional connection just by looking at your logo, your people are your brand, not your logo.

Ryan Minton [00:03:28]:

Right. Spot on. And I think more and more people are starting to latch on this. But to your point, a lot of people miss it, which is a little mind blowing, but it is. So, you know, the thing about it, I think sometimes people get hung up on thinking it has to be perfect. And I’ve heard some great people from Disney say, not everything’s perfect behind the curtain, but you have to be intentional about it. You have to have a focus on this. It doesn’t just happen without some level of attention to it.

Brittany Hodak [00:04:05]:

Yeah. And I love in your book, you talk about the idea of being on stage when you’re at work. And I was thinking about that a couple of weeks ago because I went in for an Acupuncture appointment and it was my first time going to the place, and I was, like, a little bit nervous because I had found them online. And I was sitting in the waiting room waiting, and I was looking around like, is anybody here? Is there a receptionist? And after, like five minutes, the receptionist came in and she was, like, very frazzled, frantic, didn’t look at me, didn’t acknowledge that I was there. And I could hear her talking to who I assume was the practitioner, just like, very frantically back and forth about like, well, why are there people scheduled today? And there was a mix up when I was coming in for like a solid five minutes and I just got up and left because I was thinking, well, A, I never like it when people are talking about the behind the scenes stuff in an environment where customers can see it, but B, they both seem very frazzled right now. I don’t want these people sticking needles in me, so I just bolted.

Ryan Minton [00:05:16]:

So this was really impressed to me at a super young age, and one of my first jobs was working at a theme park in Cincinnati, Ohio, kings island. It’s the largest theme park in the Midwest. And I worked in the food and beverage areas. And there was a manager there, his name was Chuck Perkins. And I remember him saying all the time, don’t let the business see our side of the business, or don’t let the customer see our side of the business. And I remember him saying it specifically to my manager because she was making the schedule outside on the patio of this food stand that we operated. And he went into this whole thing about how the customer should not see that the customer should not see the inner workings and the things that we do behind the scenes to produce the guest experience at the theme park. And I just thought that was so like, wow. Yeah, absolutely. And I having now a 20 year career in the hotel industry, find this to be so important. And we stress this so much in the hotel business because you think about it kind of using your example at the doctor’s office, same thing at the front desk of a hotel. I don’t want to check into a hotel and hear the front desk agent over one computer over talking about an issue another guest had or something operationally that’s going wrong. We are creating experiences and you can’t detract from that experience by letting people hear the inner workings and things that are happening behind the scenes.

Brittany Hodak [00:06:56]:

Well, that’s a great segue into your book and you can give us a little bit about your background and your history. But in the book, you talk about some of the very simple things that anyone running a business can do and some of the things that you have done again and again and seen success in taking various hotels from among the lowest NPS scores in a company to the highest among the lowest guest satisfaction to the highest. Without spending a lot of money, without retooling things from the ground up, without introducing expensive or fancy amenities. But really just an inside out change to the culture. So I want you to talk a little bit about that. Talk a little bit about your background because I think a lot of the tips that you share in the book are things that are universally relevant. So whether you listening to this podcast, have one employee or a hundred thousand, the things that Ryan is about to share will help you improve the experience of your employee, which in turn will improve the experience of your, you know.

Ryan Minton [00:08:05]:

Look, I think our mutual friend, Shep Hyken, says this a lot. Customer service is not rocket science, but there’s some things you really need to make sure in play and you have set up. And when I say an inside out approach as a hotel general manager, I found that I was being given hotels that were considered underperforming, specifically with customer service scores and guest satisfaction scores. In fact, a couple hotels that I have taken over were literally dead last in customer service rankings within their respective brand and typically within nine to 16 months. I can turn that around and I don’t think what I do is really that difficult. And I think it’s easily replicated in any business. And the first step to it really is an internal approach of taking a look at the employees and simple things. Do they have the tools they need to do their job? I find that to be one of the biggest detractors for employee in terms of enjoying their job, that they don’t have the tools, they don’t have a working printer, or they don’t have a phone that works or just simple things to do the basic job that you’re asking them to do. So take a strong look at that. And then also, the biggest thing I talk a lot about and the theme through my book is just this genuine appreciation for your team. Do people feel like they matter? Do the people feel that work for you? Do they really truly believe that you care about them? And I say so many times to our leadership team, we have a million different jobs, especially now. But I really believe the most important responsibility we have is to create an environment where people want to come to work. Like, they wake up in the morning and they say, I’m really excited to go to work today because I get to work with Brittany. I get to work for Brittany. So I really think know, if you’re going to be serious about a customer experience, a great customer experience, you got to get this employee experience piece right, especially when you think about most interactions with a brand are happening on a front line, some type of frontline employee. These are folks that are making very minimum wage salaries, and they are the ones that we’re entrusting our brand reputation to. They’re the folks that we’re literally giving the keys to our brand. Doesn’t it make sense that they would enjoy coming to work? I say that all the time. Doesn’t it make sense that they should genuinely enjoy coming to work? Because if they don’t, that’s going to show in their experience with the customer, hands down.

Brittany Hodak [00:11:12]:

Yeah. If your employees clearly don’t want to be there, your customers aren’t going to want to be there either, which means they aren’t going to come back. So let’s unpack the gift thing or the tool thing there for a minute. Talking about the tools that your employees need to succeed and looking at it not as a gift or not as something they’re earning, but the bare minimum that they need to feel like they are able to do a good job. In your book, you said that there had been multiple times where you had bought new vacuum cleaners for the cleaning staff and had them cry tears of joy because how much easier their jobs just got because they now had an adequate vacuum cleaner.

Ryan Minton [00:11:56]:

Yeah. And isn’t that kind of messed up just hearing you say that? And I’ve seen it so many times. The folks that are just doing the hardest work are genuinely excited about some of the smallest things that they of course, if you’re paying someone to clean a room and one of the main tools they have is the vacuum cleaner and you’re not giving them a functioning vacuum cleaner, that, to me, just blows my mind. So when I’ve gone into these hotels and I’ve given people a new vacuum cleaner, and it’s not look, it’s not me. It’s just us purchasing it for them, it’s like, oh, my gosh, I haven’t had a new vacuum cleaner in a couple of years, and the cord is taped together, and it’s just crazy to me. I mentioned this story in the book, and I tell it a lot when I’m speaking, because I love it. I think it really drives this point home. But there is a story in the hotel industry about a hotel that was really the employees were so frustrated, they were so disengaged, that they started to leave the company. But these were employee that had been with the company for a long time, like 1520 year associates. And it was happening so quickly and so much that it did get the attention of the corporate office. So they sent a couple of people in to try to figure out what was going on. And they found out when they went in the hotel that the employees had become so frustrated that they didn’t have basic things they needed to do their job, that they were just fed up and they were leaving. And one of the specific stories that came out of this was the public space attendant, the woman who cleans the public restrooms and the lobby floors and things like that. She had asked for a mop from her supervisor, and for several months, the supervisor, the housekeeping supervisor, told her she could not have a new mop because it wasn’t in the budget. Now, first of all, who wants to be mopping a floor? Or who wants their hotel mopped with a stinky mop? Because mops get pretty gross pretty quick. But secondly, I don’t know. Brittany, how much do you think a mop cost?

Brittany Hodak [00:14:24]:

About $8 if I had to.

Ryan Minton [00:14:27]:

Yeah, you probably pay $8 for your mop. But in the hotel industry, we can get mops for a few bucks. Like, we buy a lot of mops, and this happens a lot. And I found it in my own career is that there’s someone way at the top. The owner, someone, an executive, that sends the message down through the ranks that we have to cut expenses this month, because whatever reason and so that filters down, and by the time it gets to the frontline, supervisors, the folks that are ordering the supplies and that type of thing, all they hear is, we can’t buy anything. So then they don’t. But you still have to buy the basic tools people need to do their job, because I’ve seen it, and I believe it. If you don’t provide the tools people need to do their job, they’re going to leave. They’re going to go down the street for an extra dollar an hour or an extra $0.50. Because as much as leaders, we want to think that people get excited to come work for our brand, whatever’s on the front of the building. Marriott, for example. I’m so excited to go work for Marriott today. While there may be some level of that, at the end of the day, if you’ve hired the right people, they’re coming to work because they have some pride about what they do. When you take tools away from people or you don’t provide the tools they need, you’re really messing with their own personal reputation. I mean, who wants to interact with a customer if you don’t have the right things to do it with? That makes you look bad. So people will leave. People will go to someone will find somewhere else that are going to provide them with these basic things.

Brittany Hodak [00:16:17]:

Well, one of the things that you talk about in your book is that every time you are tasked with a turnaround job, you pretty quickly spend money revamping the break room for employee.

Ryan Minton [00:16:31]:

Yeah, because I think one of the things that I do this for two reasons. One, typically the break room I find is just unacceptable that’s just been forgotten about. It’s in disarray. And that’s the one place where employees have to go and recharge and refuel and retreat. So it should be in great condition. It should be clean. I talk a lot about, when I work with businesses, how the back of the house should be just as great as the front of the house. There’s really no reason it shouldn’t be. But the reason I do it first is because even if it’s throwing up a fresh coat of paint or buying a TV or putting in a coffee machine, whatever it is, I think it’s very symbolic to the employees that your first act, your first investment, is into them and not the business or the customer. I think it speaks volumes, and I think it starts to immediately have them give you some level of buy into what you’re about to do.

Brittany Hodak [00:17:36]:

I agree. And for anybody listening, this is not something that has to be a first day move at any point. You can take the team that you’re currently in charge of and give them the gift of an upgraded break room. And like Ryan said, yes, there are simple things that you can do. You can change the paint, you can make it look nicer, but even things like stocking it with better snacks or healthier snacks or drinks or whatever it is that’s going to help your team relax and recharge so that they can be the best versions of themselves when they go back out on stage to serve the customer.

Ryan Minton [00:18:11]:

Yes, exactly.

Brittany Hodak [00:18:13]:

So speaking of little things that send a big signal, you recently wrote a blog post about something that has irked me and been a pet peeve of mine for a while. So I wanted to let you talk about it, and that is having designated parking spots for managers. Give me your take.

Ryan Minton [00:18:31]:

Oh, my gosh. Makes my skin crawl. Yeah. So I think in that particular blog, I put a photo of what I was at. I won’t say the name, but it was a casino and it was actually a casino that I had been invited to speak at. Yeah. And so as you’re walking towards the entrance, there was this row of parking spaces for the executive team. And I just think that that is such a just whether you intended or not. I mean, I don’t think people intended and they do this, but what it does is it’s communicating already an us versus them mentality to the employees. It’s kind of in the spirit of the I talk about this too in my book. I hate using the word my team. I think it’s just kind of possessive. I mean, I’m probably taking this to an extreme, but I like to use the word our team. Let’s talk about how we’re all together, not me as the manager or the general manager and the leadership team and then the employees. It’s no, we’re all collectively together. And honestly, why this probably is so ingrained in me is I remember one of my very first general managers in the hotel business. He used to park his car at the very back of the parking lot, and he would walk from the back of the parking lot into the hotel. And I remember him saying he did that one because he wanted the customers to have the closest parking spaces and his employees to have better parking spaces, but also give an opportunity to walk the property to see what the guests see. I mean, if you’re all the way at the back of the parking lot, you got to walk past everything that the customer potentially is going to see. That’s huge. So, yeah, not a fan of parking spots near the front of the building for the executive team.

Brittany Hodak [00:20:34]:

I 100% agree. And I also think the decisions that your business makes about reserved parking say something about your values and the things that matter, whether it’s employee of the month parking, whether it’s expectant or new mother parking, whether it’s first time visitor parking or law enforcement or veteran parking. There are so many things that you can do if you choose to have designated parking spots. But I think having them for your executive team is the absolute worst message that you can send to both employee and customers.

Ryan Minton [00:21:11]:

I love we’re on the same page for that.

Brittany Hodak [00:21:13]:

So let’s talk about some of the other small things that might be something that somebody listening is like, oh, I’ve never thought about the parking spaces because I didn’t know it matters. And one of the things that I think we’re very much in alignment about is that everything is experience. Everything matters. All of the small things are in fact, much bigger things than they are often given credit for. So let’s talk about some of those other little things, both on the ex and CX side that people can be on the lookout for to improve their own.

Ryan Minton [00:21:42]:

You know, it’s this whole idea of everything speaks that Disney talks a lot about in the book, the Disney Institute. Be our guest. Everything speaks. Everyone points to Disney as the master of creating experience. For obvious reasons. You go into a theme park, everything’s perfect. And there are just so many things that I think businesses small, medium, and large do on a daily basis that they don’t even recognize how much it communicates negatively. And one of them specifically that I just recently I think I sent I put a post of is just if something’s out of order, a handwritten sign of this is broken or out of service. Just again, one of those things that makes my skin crawl. Like, if it’s broken, okay, fine. But how about let’s take the two minutes it takes to make it on a computer, make it nice and professionally done, but instead of just saying it’s out of service, what is the alternative? So if the printer is broken in the business center, apologies, this is out of service. Here’s an email to email your document that you need printed, and we’ll print it for you at the front desk. So not just it’s broken, but it’s broken. And here’s the solution. So handwritten signs. One of the things I talk a lot about is floor mats. Floor mats. When you walk into a business, it’s like the first thing I look at. So my employees that I had in the hotel business know I was fanatical about making sure the front mat at the front door was constantly cleaned to the point where I would be vacuuming it myself, because that’s the first thing people see when they walk in the building is your logo typically is on that mat. And if it’s dirty, immediately you’re tripping up the impression. Everything speaks. Every little detail matters. My wife and I yesterday were out running some errands, and we went to a fast food Chinese place, which right there, that was probably the first mistake, but we were in a hurry, and I needed to use the restroom. And I went into the restroom, and it was disgusting, and she was in line to order. I went right up to her and I said, hey, we’re going to go somewhere else. And she already knew, because she knows how I am. She knew the restroom was gross, but the restroom was gross. And to me, I’m thinking, okay, well, if the restroom is gross, what does the kitchen look like? I’m out of here. So everything speaks.

Brittany Hodak [00:24:30]:

Yeah, no, it’s such a good reminder and a really good reason to park at the back of the parking lot and look at everything that the customer sees through their eyes. I had an experience just recently. I was going to a vet ophthalmologist for the first time. Did not know that was a thing that existed, but it is. My dog Bear, had to have something checked out with his eyes. So we were at the vet ophthalmologist, and beautiful location, really nice waiting room. And the first thing that caught my eye when I walked in was they had on the counter, like, a gumball machine type machine, but it was giant, and there were tennis balls inside. And I was like, that’s so great. And on the way out, we had our appointment, and as we were leaving, the receptionist said, oh, did Bear get a tennis ball yet? And I said, oh, no, he didn’t. And she said, well, he’s got to get a tennis ball. So she walked around to the front, and she turned the thing and had the tennis ball come out and gave it to Bear. And he was so excited. And that was such a great touch to where as we were leaving, I wasn’t thinking about the $350 bill or the fact that I was going to have to put eyedrops in my dog’s eye somehow twice a day for the next month. But that bear was, like, wagging his tail, proudly carrying his new tennis ball on the way out to the car.

Ryan Minton [00:26:01]:

Well, first of all, I love that story, and I think everyone’s wondering, like me, is Bear okay?

Brittany Hodak [00:26:08]:

Bear is okay. Bear is almost seven, and he has a condition called panis, which is apparently, like, super common with bigger dogs as they get older. It’s like extra blood vessels in their eye. So he’s totally fine, but we have to now put drops in his eye twice a day forever, because apparently it’s like a steroid drop thing, and apparently if you stop doing it, it can come back with a vengeance, and all those extra blood vessels can make them blind.

Ryan Minton [00:26:40]:

Oh, my goodness.

Brittany Hodak [00:26:42]:

My husband and I were doing it together last night. Now, Bear weighs, like, almost 90 pounds and does not like eyedrops, as most living creatures do not. And my husband was like, how in the world am I going to do this when you’re traveling? And I was like, I’m just trying to figure out how we’re both together. Going to do it now, yes, that is a challenge, but we are definitely not crushing it together at the moment. So, yeah, he’ll be fine.

Ryan Minton [00:27:09]:

Well, I got to give you this idea, and I’m sorry to interrupt you, and I don’t know if it’ll work, but it may be worth a shot. So my dog Sasha, she’s probably 70 pounds. She’s a boxer pit mix, and she is a nightmare when it comes to getting a bath or a shower. So I saw this hack on Instagram, and I take peanut butter, and I just slather it all over the wall, the shower, and she just sits there and licks it while I give her her shower. So maybe could work for the eyedrops. I don’t know.

Brittany Hodak [00:27:45]:

Well, thank you. We were trying to figure it out, how to do it with the peanut butter because he has to look up, and I’ve actually seen somebody, like, similar hack wrap cellophane around their forehead so that the dog is, like, licking their forehead. And I don’t want to quite go to that extreme. We tried it with peanut butter and a Kong. We’ll get there, but love that you’ve actually done the peanut butter in the shower hack. Thank you for sharing that.

Ryan Minton [00:28:14]:

Lots of things in life can be.

Brittany Hodak [00:28:15]:

Solved with peanut butter, apparently, unless you have an allergy, and then yeah, good point. Well, before we wrap up, I want you to tell the story of why the book is called thanks for coming in today, because I think it’s an incredible story, and it also really encapsulates everything you’ve talked about, the fact that it’s not my team, it’s our team, and really what it truly means to be a leader and not a manager.

Ryan Minton [00:28:46]:

Sure. So I was very fortunate when I started in the hotel business to be hired at a Marriott in Cincinnati. I think I mentioned that’s where I grew up, or that is where I grew up, and I was the front office manager. And I had an incredible team, a truly army of front desk customer service rock stars. And a lot of people on this team, they really stood out. But there was a young man named Jason who just was, like, in a whole different level with his energy, with how positive he was. He just loved coming to work. And I joke when I talk about Jason and describing how he was. When he would come into work, he would be bouncing off the walls, and I was convinced that he was pounding Red Bulls in the parking lot before he got to work, like, that level of energy. And whenever he would come into work, he would seek me out no matter where I was. And he would come up to me and he’d give me this gripping handshake, and he’d say, ryan, thanks for coming in. You know, I always laughed, always smiled whenever he did it. And he would do this with everyone. He would do it with his coworkers. He would do it with people in different departments, and he did it with our guests, our customers. In our hotels, we had a standard when you checked in, instead of handing the key across the desk, we would actually come from around the front desk, kind of like that Nordstrom approach. And we would actually encourage the guests to follow us all the way to the elevator, and we would give them kind of the overview of the hotel as we were walking them to the elevator. Over here’s, the fitness center. It’s open 24 hours. Show them around just the way you would in your home. True hospitality, right? And when he would get to the elevator to press the button, he’d press the button and he would say, and my name’s Jason. Thanks for coming in today. And as I moved up in my career, Jason did as well. He actually got his degree in hospitality. And I was general manager at a different hotel. And he was at the time, I believe, an executive housekeeper. And I called him up and I said, jason, I really want you to be my front office manager at this, you know, true Jason style. When do I start? Let’s do so. I hired Jason as my front office manager at this hotel. And of course, when he came, like, he made an immediate impact with his energy, how positive he was, our score started to shoot up, and he came in with that same approach, giving you that handshake, hey, thanks for coming in today. And it was always funny he would say it, because obviously I’m his boss, so clearly I should be thanking him, but he would thank me. But about three months after I hired Jason as my front office manager, in the middle of the night it was July 4, I got a call from his fiance that he had been killed in a car accident. And she was letting me know that obviously he wouldn’t be at work the next day. And this has been over 15 years ago now. And I remember that call, like, yesterday, and I remember hanging up and immediately thinking about how much I was going to miss him, saying, thanks for coming in today. And I really started to spend a lot of time on why. And what I arrived at was that even though it was a little silly and even though I was his boss, every time he would say, thanks for coming in today, it made me feel like I mattered. And I think that is so crucial to what we do as leaders and what we do as customer service professionals, making people feel like they matter. And so I made a commitment then. I wanted to kind of honor Jason and thank people for coming in. I have been doing this now for all of my, you know, go up to people and new employees or when I would get a new employee and shake their hand and say, hey, thanks for coming in today, or I see people when I’m walking around, thanks for coming in today. And whenever I would get a new employee, sometimes I would get a kind of a sarcastic response or a weird response of confusion. Why are you thanking me for coming in? You scheduled me to be here, or you pay me to be here. And I like to explain those moments that I really do appreciate you coming in and your audience that’s listening to this, I would imagine most of them are in a similar position if they’re in customer service every day. We are literally one or two people away from either a really good day or a really bad day in terms of our operation. If someone calls off, it impacts the entire day. And so that’s why I think this appreciation piece is so crucial. People have to feel like they’re appreciated. People feel like they’re mattered. They’re going to be more inclined to want to come to work because they’re excited. They’re looking forward to coming to work. So that’s why I called the book. Thanks for coming in today. It was obviously a story I wanted to share with the world and a way to honor Jason, and I just think it’s such a simple act that anyone can do well.

Brittany Hodak [00:34:32]:

Thank you so much for sharing that story both in the book and on the podcast. And I think it is a wonderful tribute to Jason’s memory for everybody listening to this, to look at the people around you on your team, whether they work for you or you work for them, and tell them thanks for coming in today, and make that a part of your vernacular and your culture, because you’re right. When people feel appreciated, it gives them the confidence they need to go out and take on the world and handle any challenge that comes their way.

Ryan Minton [00:35:04]:

Amen to that.

Brittany Hodak [00:35:06]:

Well, thank you for coming on the show. Before I let you go, Ryan, tell me, what is something that you are a super fan of? What is a brand that you think is crushing it on the CX and Ex side and doing a great job right now?

Ryan Minton [00:35:21]:

Oh, that’s an easy one for me, and it’s kind of a problem. Costco. I am a big Costco fan to the point where I’m there every Sunday with my son. He’s two. He has become a Costco fan. He actively looks for the men and women who staff the little snack stations, the samples. I have done a lot of thinking about why I’m obsessed with Costco, and one of the things that I have recognized and identify is that I like to have inventory of things in my house. And I think this stems from a lifetime of being in the hotel industry. I like taking inventory of things. I like having stock. So if I don’t have six tubes of toothpaste and 40 rolls of toilet paper, I’m probably freaking out and I’m going to Costco. So I love Costco not only for that, but their return policy has got to be one of the best. No questions asked. I mean, you just head back. If something isn’t working, they take care of it for you. There’s no anxiety around their process. You don’t feel like if you don’t have the receipt, they’re going to find it for you. So I’m a big Costco fan.

Brittany Hodak [00:36:45]:

Well, Ryan, this is where you and I are going to have to agree to disagree. I actually wrote in my book about why I am not a fan of Costco, and this is one of divisive things, I think, that I have ever gone on the record.

Ryan Minton [00:37:00]:

Oh, I haven’t gotten to this yet. So I’m looking forward to hearing what you’re about to.

Brittany Hodak [00:37:06]:

Well, I, you know, just very quickly, when my husband and I moved from New York to Tennessee, we were like, oh, we should join one or two of the big clubs, because it seems like that’s where everybody gets their gas and buys their bulk. You know, we all of a sudden had a house that was, like, six times the size of our one bedroom apartment in Manhattan that was screaming out, know, the bulk toilet paper and paper towels. And I’d never been in a Costco. We didn’t have them in Oklahoma when I was growing up. We didn’t have them in Manhattan when I lived there, so I just wanted to go and see a Costco. So not long after we moved here, when we were pregnant, we went one Saturday morning. We were like, we’re going to go to Costco, and we’re going to go to Sam’s and join one or both. And I’d been to Sam’s Club a million times because we had plenty of those where I was growing up. So I said, let’s go to Costco. And I got to the door, and I said to the greeter, hey, I want to look around and maybe get a membership. And he said, we don’t allow window shopping. And I was like, no, but I just want to look around so I can join. And he was like, that’s not allowed. And so he told me I had to go get a membership. And at that point, I was like, all right, we’ll give it a try. What is it, like, $50 for a year? Lots of people like you have told me that they love Costco. I was willing to roll the dice. Waited for what felt like forever maximized or compounded by the fact that I was pregnant. Waited for, like, 15 minutes in line. Finally got to the front of the line, said, hey, I want a membership. And the woman immediately started trying to upsell me on whatever the top tier membership was. And I was like, I’ve never even been in a store. I just want to walk around, and maybe I’ll upgrade my membership after I’ve bought something. But at this point, I’m just trying to get in to see things. And it was such a grueling sign up process of all of the prompts on the computer that, again, I don’t know if it was a process problem or a personnel problem. It that moment. And I didn’t care. All I knew was it was very painful. It took a very long time. And she asked me, did I want to apply for the Costco Disney Visa card? Did I want my eyes checked? Did I want to go on the cruise? And I was like, I just want a card so that I can walk in your store. That is what I want. What is the quickest route? And then when it came time to pay, and I got up my credit card, she said, oh, we only take Visa. And I was like, well, that would have been great to know 15 minutes ago when we started this whole process. And I’m looking through my wallet, and thankfully my debit card was a Visa card. And as I was getting my debit card out to give to her, she said, this is really just a sign that you should go ahead and apply for that Costco Visa card. I was like, you know what? I’m out. I’m done. It should not be this hard to give anyone money. Goodbye. And I left the store and we immediately went and got our Sam’s membership. And that has been seven years ago when we have spent, obviously tens of thousands of dollars on probably just diapers alone, not to mention all of the other things. And I will never spend a penny at Costco.

Ryan Minton [00:40:15]:


Brittany Hodak [00:40:16]:

Because they didn’t want my money.

Ryan Minton [00:40:18]:

Oh, my goodness. But you know what? You just made some very valid, valid points, as you know. And I think if Costco is listening, they would benefit from hiring us both. Come in with our shared experiences.

Brittany Hodak [00:40:34]:

We can debate. We could have a real time CX off over Costco.

Ryan Minton [00:40:39]:

Wow. I’m sorry to hear that. But you know what? I heard a lot in there that I actually, now that you’re pointing it out, I’ve never really quite thought about it through that lens. And a big part of what I heard was that first impression with the gentleman at the door really could have set that path a little bit differently for you. Potentially, you still would have encountered some of that other stuff, but just how he would present your option of looking around is probably something they should really look at.

Brittany Hodak [00:41:11]:

Well, and even if the like, I understand a policy, right? If he had said, you’ve got to go get the card, fine. But to the woman who was, I’m sure, doing as she had been instructed by her supervisor to go through all 87 prompts on the computer and remind me again that I should, do I want this, do I want that? Trying to upsell me, trying to get more when I communicated very clearly multiple times I’ve never been here. I don’t know what you’re all about. I’m willing to take a chance, but I don’t care enough to stretch this out for 15 more minutes. And I’m not engaged enough to be like, yes, give me all the things. I’m just trying to walk into your store.

Ryan Minton [00:41:55]:

Don’t blame you at all. Yeah. And I think I’m thinking through why was my first experience different? And I remember actually came by way of Costco visiting my place of employment. So I guess my onboarding was a little different. But wow. I’m sorry for costco. They don’t have you a customer.

Brittany Hodak [00:42:18]:

I can tell that you’re a hospitality guy because you’re genuinely apologizing. You’re emotionally invested in me not having a relationship because you love it so much. I can see your wheels turning of like, what do we do? And I got to tell you, I don’t even tell the story on stage anymore because it is so polarizing. But a good amount of people are like, yeah, I had the same experience. I will never, ever go back to Costco. And then their coworkers are like, what? No, you have to come with me. Or I’ve had people say, I’m going to get you a gift card because you can shop there with a gift card. And I don’t know if this is true or not, but somebody told me the hack is you have to say you’re there to buy liquor because in many states, they can’t embrigate alcohol sales, so you have to say you’re there to buy alcohol. But again, the fact that there exists so many hacks to make it easier for people to shop there tells me that maybe they should take another look at how hard it is for people to give them money.

Ryan Minton [00:43:14]:

Agreed. Definitely agree on that point.

Brittany Hodak [00:43:18]:

Okay, well, I’m glad we were able to wrap it up with something that we can agree on again, which is even if you want to know exclusive in your club, you should still make it easy, ryan, where can people find you, follow you and get more from you?

Ryan Minton [00:43:34]:

Find or connect with me on LinkedIn. I love interacting on LinkedIn.

Brittany Hodak [00:43:42]:

Amazing. Well, thank you again, Ryan, for coming in today, and I will look forward to seeing you soon.

Ryan Minton [00:43:48]:


Brittany Hodak [00:43:51]:

All right, that’s all the time we have for today’s episode of the Creating Superfans podcast. Thank you so much for tuning in. Now, remember, if you’re a super fan of today’s episode, you can help us out in a big way by leaving a review and a rating wherever you get your podcasts. It may seem like a little thing, but it can make a huge difference in helping other theirs discover the show. Now, until next time, remember, Super Fandom is a two way street. Show your love for your customers and your employee, and they’ll love you right back. We’ve got an exciting show lined up for next week, so I hope we’ll see you right back here. Bye.

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