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Wedding Business Solutions Podcast with Alan Berg CSP - Bonus Episode with Ron Ruth Part IIRon Ruth – Customer Service or Customer Experience? Part II – New Bonus Dialogue Episode

We had such a spirited discussion that I invited my good friend Ron Ruth to join me again, to continue our talk about the customer experience. Through Ron’s speaking and training, and his lifelong addiction to all things Disney, Ron has some great perspective on how you can create a better experience for your couples and customers, right from the start. If you didn’t hear Part I, you can find it here. Enjoy!

With over 15 years experience in corporate management and 30 years as a small business owner in the wedding industry, Ron Ruth is celebrated as a fun and inventive Customer Experience Design speaker and business coach. Ron teaches entrepreneurs How to Speak Fluent “WOW!,” the language of the high-spending, loyal, raving customers they want most…a language that translates into never competing on price, again.

Ron Ruth, Keynote Speaker | Customer Experience Design
Workshop & Brainstorming Facilitator

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Below is a full transcript. If you have any questions about anything in this, or any of my podcasts, or have a suggestion for a topic or guest, please reach out directly to me at [email protected] or contact me via textuse the short form on this page, or call 732.422.6362

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– So, I was talking to my friend Ron Ruth on the podcast and he said, I actually stumped him because I asked him on the spot, what are some companies that just you’ve had an amazing experience? And of course, he couldn’t think about them until after I stopped the recording. So, listen to this episode and we’re going to give you some real experiences that you can use maybe in your business. Okay, so I’m back here with my good friend, Ron Ruth. We did a great podcast episode about the difference between customer experience and customer satisfaction. And I put him on the spot because I asked him what are some companies where you’ve personally had a great experience because he goes to Disney a lot and that’s an easy one to talk about, but what are some other companies? So, this is a followup episode, but we want to talk about not only what were the experiences you had, but what made it so great so that people listening could maybe take some of these things in using their own business. What did you think of afterwards?

– Well I think you stumped me because for you say, well, other than Disney and all of that, I feel like you take Disney out of my equation it stops me. It’s funny because we oftentimes hear about big businesses, Zappos, Southwest Airlines, Ritz Carlton Hotel, Disney. I mean, the list goes on and on about these companies everybody knows about, but we don’t really talk about the little businesses that nobody’s ever heard of. And so this past Christmas, true story, this past Christmas, I ordered for my wife for Christmas, a personalized face mask now because we’re Disney freaks, It had that it was the head grouch or not a grouch, grumpy, she’d kill me if she heard me say that. It had a grumpy insignia on it. That’s her character, she loves grumpy. So, anyway, I found a provider through Etsy that could make this mask. And her name was Gillian spelled with a G. And I reached out to Gillian and I ordered the mask and she sent me the tracking info. And it was about two weeks before Christmas. And I was tracking this. What I found was this face mask, made it to a post office in Florida, that’s where she was located, and it sat there and sat there, and grumpy was getting grumpier because it was just sitting in this post office, wasn’t moving at all. So, eventually it got to be about, I don’t know, a week, maybe five days before Christmas, she reached out to me and she said, “I’m really sorry I don’t have a clue as “to why your mask has gotten hung up in this post office.” She goes, “but I know this is an important gift.” And by the way, whoever thought they’d be ordering face mask as a Christmas gift?

– Right.

– That’s another story. So, nearly five days out she’s saying, “I don’t know what happened here. “So, here’s what I’m going to do rather than taking a chance. “‘Cause I know this is an important gift for your wife. “Here’s what, I’m going to go ahead. “I’m going to make you another one. “I’m going to overnight it by FedEx. “You should have it tomorrow. “By the way, if you get this other mask, “if it eventually makes it to you, “please keep it with my compliments.” I got the masks, the one that she sent overnight, I did get it the next day with a nice little note from her. And then sure enough, I got the one from the post office the day after Christmas.

– After Christmas, okay.

– Yeah. Now I could have very easily told my wife, showed her a picture and say she would have been happy. I mean, we’re not kids anymore. But the point is is that this is a business that not only was the extra mile to kind of keep an eye on what was going on. They took responsibility for something that wasn’t even their fault.

– Right.

– And they said, you know what? This is going to cost me a couple extra bucks to do this, but I am going to go ahead and we are going to make sure that this order gets fulfilled so that you’re not disappointed on Christmas.

– Okay.

– Not a big deal, not a hugely expensive item, but the point is she took care of it. So, I think that this is one business I think that, and I left her, we were talking about reviews at one point, I left her a wonderful review for what she had done, but this is a great example of small businesses that go out of the way again, to do those little things that nobody’s really anticipating them to do. That’s part of customer experience. Customer service would have been for her to say, to wait for me to contact her, say my mask is stuck in his post office. Well, your problems with the post office, right. Could have been very easy for her to do it that way.

– Right, so you said, but you articulated it well, just before where you said she took responsibility for something,

– Even though

– That wasn’t her fault

– That she didn’t do. I actually spoke about this on another podcast episode. I don’t know if it’s going to air before or after this, but that same thing about when I was VP of sales at the knot, or when I was publishing my magazines, whatever, if it happened on my watch, it was my responsibility. It wasn’t my fault. There’s a difference between it being your fault and being a responsibility. It was my responsibility and my responsibility to make sure that it got made, right. Whether I could physically do it or whatever and that’s what she did there as a small business.

– Big businesses do that sometimes, a lot of times, but I think it’s important that when you stop and think about the experience because most all of us that are in the wedding industry are small business owners, as a small business, you have an opportunity to do amazing things too. And I like, the way I like to word it is you have an opportunity to make a difference in someone else’s life. And if you grab each one of those opportunities, then the reward is going to come back to you tenfold. Because every little gesture, even the simplest kindest gesture can produce amazing results.

– Right, well, you mentioned on our first episode about keeping in touch with people between whenever you sign them and the wedding, which for some people is months. Some people it’s six months, some it’s eight, 10, whatever. I can’t think of exactly who it is right now, but there’s a company that they have a bunch of swag, right? They have a bunch of their swag and it’s not necessarily expensive swag, but they swag. So, it could be coasters could be other things. And they drip this out to people between when they sign them and the wedding, which is an opportunity to throw in a little note or a little whatever. Now it’s also an opportunity for upsell, but that’s not what it’s all about it’s keeping in front of them. So, you go ahead and you make this swag. And of course the more you make, the cheaper the swag becomes, yes, it costs you some postage, build it into your pricing, right? Add $20 to your price and pay for all this stuff over the time but that experience is, “Ooh, look, we just got coasters from Ron.” Or whether you just got a pen from whatever, we just got to whatever, we got champagne glass, whatever it is, they have different kinds of stuff.

– And the one cautionary note I would make about, because some people may go, “Ooh, this is, “this is a great opportunity for me to say, “have you thought about uplighting?” No, this is not an opportunity. This is not an opportunity to upsell anyone. The moment you try to sell somebody in this moment of reaching out and trying to be helpful, then you turn the whole relationship into a transactional relationship.

– Right, there’s this just–

– Story at any kind of trust you’ve built.

– Right, theirs is just gifting. They’re gifting, gifting, gifting, but you can have a note in there that says, Hey, do you need help with any other part of your wedding?

– Right.

– Contact us, right, stuff like that. And when you’re talking to somebody, yes, it is, it’s always an opportunity to upsell. But like Ron said, if you make it always about the sell, you’re waiting, I’m not going to mention names, I had somebody reach out to me about moving my podcast onto a different platform. It’s another speaker. It got very popular platform is like 400 people that are on there. But every time I get an email, every time I get something I’m waiting for the pitch, I’m waiting for the pitch. And if you’re waiting for the pitch, it’s like, that’s when you want to tune out. All right so what’s another experience you thought of after?

– Well, I, okay, so let’s go to the big-time experience. So, I, and this didn’t happen to me it happened to my son. It was Zappos And again, this is another example of a company that did something even though it may not have been their fault was is that he ordered like $800 worth of merchandise from Zappos. And Zappos has, when you order from Zappos, they make everybody a VIP when you place an order and so you’re automatically upgraded next day delivery. Well, when the order didn’t come next day, or even within a couple of days, they wound up just repackaging the order and sending it out to him and said, “oh, by the way, you, “this is being sent to you at no charge.” And my son’s response was, well, I wasn’t paying shipping anyway. And they said, no, no, no, this order, the entire order is yours at no charge. We’re going to go ahead and refund your credit card. Don’t know, really know what happened here, but it’s yours. If something doesn’t fit, if you don’t like it, please feel free to go ahead and give it to a homeless shelter or give it to a charitable, it’s just another one of those examples of a business that goes out of the way. And I’m sorry, I know you said other than Disney, but this Disney story is so good, I gotta tell it.

– Okay.

– My wife and I were trying to get the hardest ticket in the world at Disney. And that is “Lunch with an Imagineer.” They only do it every couple of days and they only allow like 10 people to attend this lunch. And my wife and I just, we wanted this so bad. And we tried and they, of course they booked up like immediately, but Disney has a policy that if you’re not going to make it, they’re going to charge your credit card. So, we waited until the day, the one of the days that they were doing it. And we just took a chance, picked up the phone. Sure enough, somebody canceled because they didn’t want to get their credit card charge. So, we were able to make the reservation while we’re standing at the bus stop waiting to get a bus to take us from our hotel to the park. We have ‘Magic’ bands. We don’t carry credit cards with us because everything is on our ‘Magic’ band. The lady on the other end of the line said, “I need a credit card number to hold your reservation.” I said, I have no credit card because it’s on my magic band. She goes, “well, unfortunately the magic band won’t do it. “You do need a credit card.” So, I said, well, it’s back at the hotel room. She goes, “go back to your room and get it.” I said, do you want to call us back? She goes, “no, because if I close this program right now, “you will lose this reservation I promise. “So, I’ll just stay on the phone with you.” So, my wife ran all the way back to the hotel. I’m just talking with a CSR, this Disney cast member, and we’re having this great conversation and I’m feeling so bad about all of this. My wife, fortunately, is a great runner. So, she ran, she got the credit card, she came back, I don’t know, maybe took eight to 10 minutes for this to happen. and she held that reservation for us. She goes, I’m not closing this because if I do… so this is one of those things where going out of your way to do everything you possibly can to make that experience one that will never be forgotten. And I will tell this story to everyone I know, because I just love, and again, I wrote a nice review for that cast members as well. So, those are just a couple, I mean, I just, like I said, when you said everybody but Disney.

– I know that it takes so much because you go there so often, I actually had two days ago and experienced, I got, I had ordered some books. I print my own books, a print on demand. I use a printer through Amazon called KDP printing, a Kindle Direct Publishing and I ordered books to be sent down to Florida for the cater source conference that’s coming up and they were supposed to be shipped, now I did this well in advance because the conference is July 18th I think. So, I did it now. I have a friend down in Florida, actually, a client who’s letting me ship the books to her house. So, I got plenty of time. I get an email and I had gotten an email saying the books were were shipped, or we’re going to be shipped or whatever and they’ll arrive on such and such a date. So, I let her know, okay, I didn’t follow up after that. I didn’t get another email. I get an email and it says, we’re refunding you. And I got two emails refunding you and because there were two shipments. And it said, the reason is because they shipped late. I was like, I didn’t even notice that they shipped late. Right, I didn’t even notice. And I got fully refunded on these books that I ordered because they shipped a few days late. Now they did that proactively. They didn’t wait for me to say there was a problem. And quite frankly, it was okay if they shipped late. Right, it really was. But what I want, the point of that is the proactivity of it. I don’t want the point to be that they gave me my money back. That’s not what did it. Letting me know that they were shipping late to find out if it was a problem would have been fine. Right, but they just went ahead and they refunded, which again, to me is going way above and beyond, did they know it’s not my first order. I’ve ordered many, many, many times over the years, maybe, I don’t know, but it’s, again, it’s the experience there, so.

– And I think the word here that, and I love this word proactive. I mean, because to me, especially in the wedding industry, proactive as the operative word. Are you proactive in communicating with customers? Are you proactive and communicating with other professionals who are going to be working with, are you proactive the evening of the event, speaking with the people that you need to speak to in order to make things happen the way they’re supposed to happen. If you’re just waiting for people to come to you again, it comes back to the idea that any kind of a relationship that you built with a customer, if you suddenly decide, oh, I’m just going to wait and let them come to me. Every time they have to come to you, every time somebody else has to come to you, you just chip away at whatever trust or relationship you had with them. And that’s not going to pay off in the end.

– Now we have people in the industry that are at the event. We have people that are not at the event. The people that are not at the event. I know there are probably some people that don’t follow up because they don’t want to hear the problems, and then there are people that follow up because they want to hear the problem, because then you have a chance to fix it. I was just recently with a customer who’s a tent rental tables, chairs, all that kind of stuff. They also have tool rentals and stuff like that. And he said, one of the things he wanted me to get across to his team, because I’ll always say to the bosses, what are some of the messages that you want me to reinforce? And if I believe it I’ll help you reinforce it. And he said a good customer complains, a bad customer just goes away. Right, a good customer is going to give us a chance. I want to hear that issue because I can fix it then, right? If I never heard that there was a problem, they just went away and never did business with us again, I never had the chance to do anything with that. So, it’s not being afraid to hear that.

– It goes back to your conversation about Chipolte. I mean, most people wouldn’t take the time to complain about that. They just, they may not go back. They may even accept it, I don’t know. But this gives them an opportunity to at least have, make the improvement. The other thing that I think is talking about there’s so many people I talked to, they go, well, you know, I get those five-star reviews. Yeah, I get all those great five-star reviews. So, one thing a five-star review doesn’t tell you is where can you improve? Doesn’t ask the question. Where can we improve? That’s why I’m a proponent of surveying. I know a lot of people that sounds old school, but I’m a proponent of it and here’s the other part of it. One of the things I love talking about is that if for some reason I imagined tomorrow morning, we all wake up and five star reviews have suddenly been elevated to now you have to get a 15 star review. What are you going to do for in these, to accumulate these 10 stars to take you from five to 15? You’re going to have a lot of room, a gap here that you’re going to have to fill an order to make that happen. What changes are you going to make? What additional things are you going to do for your customers that are going to make it possible for you to fill that space? But, so those five star reviews Also, we have a tendency to become very, what’s the word I’m looking for?

– Complacent.

– Complacent.

– Very good. You become complacent because guess what? I got, I got five star reviews. I got five star review.

– That was one thing I’ve spoken about. I’m sure I did a podcast about this is, I don’t want to ever be the best I can ever be. I want to be the best I’ve ever been. So, every time–

– From stage. I’ve heard you say that from the stage. And I remember it.

– The next time is the better one. The next time is the better one. The next time is better. I’ve had people come up to me. I’ve spoken at national speakers association, conference speakers come up to me in the hallway, Alan, Hey, really enjoyed your talk or wedding MBA, Alan really enjoyed your talk. I said, thank you so much. What could I do to make it better for you? That’s my question. What can they do to make it better for you, right? And sometimes people will say, “oh, you know what? “You gave us a lot of things to think about, “but I was hoping to get more of the answers.” Okay, next time I give that speech, let me think about that. I’m writing a book now and I realized that I’m writing a lot of it’s called,” Why Are They Ghosting Me?” It’s the followup to, “Why Don’t They Call Me? ” And I realized, I’m telling a lot of why they’re ghosting you, but I have to make sure I’m also telling you, what can you do about it?

– [Both] Right.

– Because of that conversation, because somebody said to me in a hallway, Hey, you gave me a lot of the questions, but I kind of want some more of the answers. like, okay, good, that’s good feedback. That’s how I can make it better. So, do you have any other stories that come to mind.

– No. I mean, I, again, I think it’s just, don’t be complacent,

– Proactivity.

– The only other thing, I mean, this is really a customer service story, but a customer experience story, but I think speaking of complacency is, how, in order to make this difference between five and 15 means that you’re going to have, you may have to go through some additional training. Don’t just fall back on your laurels of I know enough not to get by. You need coaching. And everybody has a coach. Even Tiger Woods has a coach for crying out loud. The best athletes have coaches to help them improve. Constantly make improvement. Same thing is true here and I’m not saying this as a pitch. I don’t care if I’m not asking you to consult with me. I’m saying that find somebody that can help you improve in your business, not just continue to do the same thing over and over again because if you, if you settle on the status quo, you will become obsolete so fast.

– And another one of my phrases is, how do you make your own business obsolete before somebody does it for you?

– Yeah.

– Ron, thank you so much for this follow-up because our first one was just going so long. I wanted to cut that off and come back here.

– So, if we get off camera and I come up with something else are we going to do another one of these, because I like these little addendums. This is fun.

– We might, because this is just you and I talking, which is what we do anyway. So, thank you so much. if you want to get a hold of Ron, I’ll put it in the show notes again as well. Thank you so much for listening and we will do this again Ron.

– All right, bye bye, now.

I’m Alan Berg. Thanks for listening. If you have any questions about this or if you’d like to suggest other topics for “The Wedding Business Solutions Podcast” please let me know. My email is [email protected]. Look forward to seeing you on the next episode. Thanks.

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