Creativity follows commitment. When your number one focus is to create a Wow! Customer Experience, whether that be customer support, servicing an agency client, or interacting with your community at a local event, there needs to be a big level of commitment to making the customer feel better after they leave your presence than when they arrived.
As part of my series about the five things a business should do to create a Wow! customer experience, I had the pleasure of interviewing Michael Mejer.
The culmination of years in publicity, marketing, and sales has led Michael Mejer to connecting leaders within the cannabis space to media and press opportunities. Mejer’s cannabis-focused PR firm, Green Lane Communication connects industry leaders to earned media opportunities that position them to establish credibility and successfully penetrate one of the fastest growing verticals in today’s marketplace. Michael is also a contributor for Green Entrepreneur.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I began my career in book publishing. I was working for a boutique public relations and marketing agency where we helped non-fiction business book authors earn media coverage in an effort to publicize their upcoming books. After discovering the healing properties of cannabis, researching how it interacts with individuals at physiological levels, and seeing cannabis give so many their quality of life back, I knew the cannabis industry was something I needed to be a part of. Fast forward to 2020, I’m the founder of Green Lane Communication, a cannabis-focused public relations firm that connects cannabis leaders and brands to media and press opportunities to amplify brand awareness, build trust, and establish credibility in one of the fastest growing industries today.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
I attended a CBD conference last year where I introduced myself to someone who I had just met for the first time. We sat down, had a conversation about what we do, who we serve, and we even exchanged a few industry-related stories. After about a half hour into a great conversation, the individual realized I wasn’t who they thought I was. They thought I was someone they connected with over the phone a few weeks prior who had a similar name to mine and sounded just like me. Long-story-short, we both began cracking up and laughing hysterically. The takeaway I had from that was, you can’t take life too seriously, and even in business we all make mistakes. As long as you have a good attitude and make a good first impression, a small mistake won’t hurt your chances of building bridges and doing business with new faces.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
The owner of a local hemp-wellness store gave me my first shot at working in the industry, and I’ll always be grateful for her and her amazing team. The owner of 7 Leaf Clover, Jennifer Babaian, took a chance on me to come in and help with some of their PR. She took me under her wing and brought me to industry conferences, product launch events in New York City, and so much more. To this day, I’ll always be grateful for the opportunity her and her incredible team presented me with that helped me get my career in cannabis started.
Thank you for that. Let’s now pivot to the main focus of our interview. This might be intuitive, but I think it’s helpful to specifically articulate it. In your words, can you share a few reasons why great customer service and a great customer experience is essential for success in business?
As business owners and leaders, we all run the risk of our businesses being commoditized. Therefore, we need to do everything in our power to make our businesses stand out, break through industry white noise, establish trust, and build credibility in whatever industry we serve. One of the best ways to achieve and maintain all of the above is through top-notch customer service that creates an experience our customers and clients will not only never forget but want to tell others about. Word-of-mouth marketing can be life-changing for business. So, make sure you do everything so that when people talk to others about your business, they have nothing but good things to say. When a business’s customer experience is irreplaceable, the likelihood of being commoditized diminishes greatly, and the odds of creating and experiencing success are in your favor.
We have all had times either in a store, or online, when we’ve had a very poor experience as a customer or user. If the importance of a good customer experience is so intuitive, and apparent, where is the disconnect? How is it that so many companies do not make this a priority?
I believe it’s binary: either a business will take shortcuts and cut corners because its leadership is only focused on maximizing profits, or a business does the right thing by the customer and makes sure they are 100% taken care of because that’s how you ultimately win in business. Failure is inevitable when you neglect customer service and customer experience. Make your customer feel better than before they crossed paths with you, and you’ll have a fan for life.
Do you think that more competition helps force companies to improve the customer experience they offer? Are there other external pressures that can force a company to improve the customer experience?
Absolutely. I believe companies that dread competition are lazy. Competition is healthy for everyone in the marketplace because it leads to more creativity and innovation which ultimately results in a better customer experience, a better product or service, and more revenue for companies who are willing to move quickly and adapt.
Can you share with us a story from your experience about a customer who was “Wowed” by the experience you provided?
Something I pride my team and I on is that we are professional, have structure, and carry ourselves in a way that respects everyone’s time — something everyone I’ve come into contact with notices and expresses gratitude for.
I’ll give you an example using a situation that happened a few months ago while I was arranging an interview for a client of ours. After corresponding back and forth with both the client and the editor of the magazine, I received separate emails from both of them on the same day. Their messages both expressed gratitude for how organized, structured, and seamless my communication efforts were compared to other PR professionals they’ve dealt with in the past, and even other agencies, vendors, and industry executives. Both messages went on to mention that the structure and organization from my end saved them time and made the interview process a more enjoyable experience.
I believe a big part of this is my personal commitment to being punctual, accessible, and communicative with everyone I engage with. We live in a world where achieving “Inbox Zero” isn’t easy, and so a lot of folks will use excuses like, “So sorry, I didn’t see your email in my flooded inbox” for being lazy and having no commitment to customer service/experience after they’ve locked in a contract with someone.
Did that Wow! experience have any long-term ripple effects? Can you share the story?
What this Wow! Experience gave me was validation that my commitment to being punctual, accessible, and communicative wasn’t as common as I thought it was, and that it was one of the reasons clients enjoyed working with my team and me. From that moment on, I really doubled down on creating a PR firm that would be known for its accessibility and effective communication style with anyone we worked with.
Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a founder or CEO should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience. Please share a story or an example for each.
- Do what you say you’re going to do. If you say you’re going to meet a deadline (no matter who set it), make sure you meet that deadline. Keep your word, and people will keep theirs.
- Creativity follows commitment. When your number one focus is to create a Wow! Customer Experience, whether that be customer support, servicing an agency client, or interacting with your community at a local event, there needs to be a big level of commitment to making the customer feel better after they leave your presence than when they arrived.
- Exude empathy. We’re all humans. We all have our fair share of ups and downs. If you notice that someone may be having a bad day, it doesn’t take much effort to genuinely ask them if there’s anything you can do to help make their day easier and better. You may be pleasantly surprised how people remember you being there for them, especially when you didn’t have to be.
- Respect others’ time. Time is the most precious asset we all have. Each moment, minute, hour, and day that goes by means that we have less and less of it. When you say you only need five minutes of someone’s time, don’t take up thirty minutes of their time unless they say it’s okay. Whenever I foresee a meeting, phone call, or zoom conference going over the allocated time, I kindly make note of it and make sure we have a few extra minutes if need-be to wrap things up without rushing.
- Make people feel good. Make it a commitment to leave people feeling better than when they first came to you that day. Before you know it, you’ll have people lining up at your door.
Are there a few things that can be done so that when a customer or client has a Wow! experience, they inspire others to reach out to you as well?
I always encourage people to spread positivity and to facilitate win-win relationships that benefit everyone involved. With that said, I’ll lead by example and when a customer or client says, mentions, or does something worth sharing with others, I’ll let other people know. This consists of me sharing it on LinkedIn, making an email introduction to someone who would enjoy connecting with them, passing their name along to a colleague, and the list goes on. Not to sound repetitive, but creativity follows commitment. When you commit to kindness, you get creative about how to spread it.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
The world is a pretty crazy place right now. However, if you want to create your own world where good things happen to you and others around you, make an effort to create one win-win situation each day for somebody you know. The more you do this, better you’ll start to see around you and even come back to you.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!