Customer Experience Series: The Role of Leadership

leaders and a great customer experience

Customer Experience Series: The Role of Leadership

We began the When You Screw Up… post from this series with a lesson from one of Steve’s former bosses. A man with integrity. Someone who made sure the company he owned always kept their word, even when it cost him money. That’s leadership. He set the customer experience tone for the whole company.

As a leader, that’s your job when it comes to the customer experience. You must set the tone for your team if you expect to become a CX juggernaut.

Great customer experiences do not happen by accident, and customer-first companies didn’t earn that title from the bottom-up. As we’ve written before in this series, this is a top-down proposition. That means the role of leadership is critical if you want to enjoy the benefits associated with becoming a CX juggernaut.

We’ve demonstrated how some organizations study the customer service rules, visions, values, etc. of customer-first companies to copy their successes only to do nothing more than issue edicts on how everyone will perform moving forward.

They studied the recipe, yet they failed to produce anything close to the original dish.

Why? Because they were missing one key ingredient: leadership.

In average organizations, there’s often a customer experience disconnect among those sitting in top leadership positions. They desire to create a Disney-like culture or become the Chick-fil-A of their industry because they’ve read about the terrific returns a great customer experience creates. So, they mandate a great customer experience!

They put it in writing: Value every guest! They require everyone to sign off on it: The customer is our highest priority! (And they’re really, really, really serious this time!)

“But we have these core values, and we recite them at every meeting!”

We’ve seen this movie so many times, we like to mouth the dialog as it unfolds.

It’s Not What You Say

As a leader, it’s not what you say that matters. It’s what you do; it’s how you make others feel. We began the How You Treat Your Employees Dictates How They Will Treat Your Customers excerpt with the axiom “crap rolls downhill all the way to the customer.” Demanding a customer-first approach without living it with your internal customers – your team – ensures you’ll never become a CX juggernaut.

There may be managers or owners reading this who want to argue that they treat their employees well, and they’ve provided the customer-experience blueprints, trained the team, and saw initial positive results that waned over time. What more can they do?

As we introduced in the Your Customers’ Eyes post, there’s good news and great news about leading people. The good news is that if employees always did what was best, we never would’ve invented your job. The great news is this means you only need to train and reinforce best practices every single day for the rest of your working life.

Creating rules and processes intended to drive a better customer experience is a good first step. However, it’s not the last step. There is no last step, because you’re going to be training and reinforcing best practices every single day for the rest of your working life if you want these initiatives to show success.

Regardless of the rules or processes you deploy; good employees need accountability and great employees want direction. Though neither wants the kind of accountability and direction that comes from creating these, enforcing them for a couple of days, capitulating for a few weeks, then exploding because no one respects the new rules or processes. You’re all over the map. What was forbidden today is celebrated tomorrow and punished next week.

Your employees want consistency. They want leadership.

Write some good business rules, develop some solid processes, decide on a few important measurements. And then – and this is the hard part – constantly and consistently train, measure, and reinforce these.

Once you’ve got some good business rules and solid processes that you’re constantly and consistently measuring and reinforcing, all you need to do next is treat your employees like volunteers – because they are volunteers. They’re volunteering their hearts and minds.

That paycheck they receive buys their time, it doesn’t buy their hearts or minds.

This post is part of a series of excerpts from Ridiculously Simple Customer Experience, a book written for everyone in any organization that has customers. That is, it was written for those in both the public and private sector; and for everyone in these organizations. From the frontline, customer-facing employees to the CEO and board of directors.

Each chapter in Ridiculously Simple Customer Experience concludes with Key Learnings and Chapter Exercises to make certain you and your team take the efficient path to becoming Customer-First. As you’ll learn in this ridiculously short book, building and maintaining a CX juggernaut isn’t hard… in fact, it’s ridiculously simple. Buy it now on Amazon!