Be the best you can be. Strive to be the best at whatever you do every day. Have goals to reach while always evolving, growing, and learning. Every person that comes across your path is there for a reason to teach you something. Even the difficult ones teach you never to give up, patience and that life have peaks and valleys. Those valleys make us stronger and more knowledgeable. How could anyone always make everyone happy? It is impossible. It is how we deal with conflict that helps us improve ourselves and our business.
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 Tammi Pickle. Tammi is the VP and Partner of Elite Connections, a high-end family owned matchmaking agency that has been in business for the last 26 years. She has grown up in the business and has been a full-time matchmaker and relationship expert for the last 20 years. She has made hundreds of successful matches, helping her clients throughout the dating process. She also runs a non profit which gives back to needy and homeless youth and teens in LA.
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 have been a matchmaker for Elite Connections for the last 20 years. Our family owned and operated company has been in business for 27 years. My mom, Sherri Murphy, created her matchmaking agency and we have been making quality, successful matches for the last 27 years. I have a background in Psychology, and I meet and screen, interview and make successful matches for my clients every single day.
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?
When I first started meeting clients personally, I was meeting a potential client at their home and I got very nervous. I do not know who this person is or if he is a murderer. I sent the address to my mom and told her, “If you do not hear from me in an hour, send the cops.” Everything was fine obviously, because I lived to tell the tale. After that I was much more cautious about where I meet people. I have them come to my office, a restaurant or coffee shop. Better to be safe than sorry.
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?
I am grateful to my mom for starting this wonderful business where her and I can work together to help people find love every single day. I grew up in the business, but I realized it was my passion when I started meeting and matching my clients. It is beyond rewarding to help people meet “the one.” I knew this was what I wanted to do with my life and career when I made my first successful match 20 years ago. I got a call, and he was so grateful, joyful and thankful that I found him the person he had been searching for so long.
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?
Great customer service and customer experience is everything in our business. If you do not have satisfied customers, then you have nothing. Our success and reputation in this great big world is all we have. If we do not strive for perfection, then we will not succeed or rise to the top. Excellent customer service all depends on how you handle an unhappy customer and make things right. Listen to them and figure out how you can make things better. You cannot make everyone happy but you can do your very best at trying. Making clients happy is essential, which leads to referrals to spread the word of your good work by word of mouth. It will all come back to you and help you succeed in your business. It is not easy to get that complaint or that call when someone is unhappy. It is how you handle it and make it right at all costs. It will be worth it for your reputation and your business in the long run.
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?
Sometimes it is the people that are helping you run your company that do not strive for perfection the way that you would. You need that feedback on how all matters are handled to let your staff know what they may be doing wrong when dealing with customers and complaints. People do not want to be wrong or change their views. We all get stuck in our own ways and it is hard to deviate from your normal routine. If something is brought to your attention, then take a good hard look at it and make adjustments because most of the time it will help the company grow into a bigger, better, stronger brand.
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?
I do believe if there is more competition you have to be the best to thrive and come out on top. The best will win and the others will not last. You need to have a team that works for you that believes in what you do, loves and feels a part of the company. We are very close with our matchmakers at Elite Connections and we have a strong bond like family. It is very important to have open communication and good relationships with your team, so they feel safe, protected, appreciated and needed because your team is your business.
Can you share with us a story from your experience about a customer who was “Wowed” by the experience you provided?
Making my clients matches is very personal. My clients need to trust me. I try to have a very hands on approach with my clients. I get to know them well and they get to know me as well. There is a trust and a friendship that we form together. I have had many success stories with my clients. One of them being helping two of my clients find each other and they were so grateful that they told the world (friends, family, colleagues, Yelp) that I was able to help them. I am grateful for that; being appreciated and acknowledged makes anyone feel great.
Did that Wow! experience have any long term ripple effects? Can you share the story?
My clients were so happy with my work that of course their excitement, word of mouth and reviews helped my business, and I got many new clients from the happy couple.
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.
- Listen to your clients. With every client, take the time to listen to them. Pick up the phone and let them voice their concerns. Give them your time, energy, undivided attention and let them know you are listening, that you understand and reassure them a change will be made on their behalf.
- Understand where someone is coming from. Instead of always being right, listen and take their critique to heart. We are not always right. To grow and learn is to become bigger and better. If we never evolve, learn or grow, we would never be more than what we are. We want to learn and look at the positive side of becoming better in the face of trials.
- Evolve into something new and better. We are always learning from our experiences. Take into account every client’s feedback, especially the negative, and learn from it. It will help you evolve into a stellar company that will knock out the competition.
- Hire the right team. Customer service-based businesses need people that are friendly, outgoing, knowledgeable, easy to talk to, non-confrontational, people pleasers and passionate about what they do. We have had matchmakers that are abrupt, forceful, aggressive and this type of person will never work successfully for a customer service-based business. Learning what is right for your business is crucial to success.
- Be the best you can be. Strive to be the best at whatever you do every day. Have goals to reach while always evolving, growing, and learning. Every person that comes across your path is there for a reason to teach you something. Even the difficult ones teach you never to give up, patience and that life have peaks and valleys. Those valleys make us stronger and more knowledgeable. How could anyone always make everyone happy? It is impossible. It is how we deal with conflict that helps us improve ourselves and our business.
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?
If anyone has a Wow! experience, you should share it. Most people only voice their concerns when there is a bad experience. Let’s start a positive movement by bringing people up. Supporting small businesses, being encouraging, and sharing the positivity from people that have been good to you.
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. 🙂
As well as matching professionals we also have a non-profit called Party with A Purpose. We raise money and donate to homeless and less-fortunate teens and youth through Safe Place for Youth in Venice, CA. If interested, get more detail on our website https://www.eliteconnections.com/events
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Website is www.eliteconnections.com IG @EliteConnections_ @TammiPickle Facebook TammiPickleMatchmaker EliteConnections
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!