We are living in a world where customers have the megaphone. That’s actually been one of the most wonderful forcing functions: when finally it wasn’t about who we said we were; it’s about what employees and customers say we are.
And these employees and customers talk about three things: Did you do what you said you were going to do? Did you improve my life? And how did you make me feel as a result of doing that? That’s really forcing us to focus as leaders on experience now.
With that in mind, I want to share three lessons that every leader must embrace to transform experience and earn the right to customer-driven growth.
1. Honor your customers’ lives.
I learned about humanity in business by watching my dad in his Buster Brown shoe store in Des Plaines, Illinois. He “shoed” a generation of children and their children’s children. He put the very first pair of shoes on little kids’ feet. He also said to moms when they opened up their pocketbooks and they didn’t have enough, “Get those shoes on your little one’s feet, bring back the rest in when you’re in town.”
Because he had put shoes on a generation of children and their children’s children, he became a part of the story of their life.
And when he retired, a line of people 3 blocks long stood to say goodbye to him — what he didn’t get in financial prosperity, he got back in many, many more important versions of prosperity.
For three actions to take to honor customers’ lives, read this blog post.
2. Plan for heroic acts of kindness.
You have an opportunity to make it easier on employees to deliver value to customers.
What we have now is organizations of exhausted heroic front line employees, but what we need to do is move them from heroics to enabling them to be heroes, getting rid of the goo inside of the organization that they have to work around.
You have an opportunity to make it easier on employees to deliver value to customers. For example, Commerce Bank—now TD Bank—asked their employees: “What’s getting in your way? What stupid rules can we kill?”
I think of it more as really putting people in a position to use their brain and their values that you hired them for. Hire good people, trust them, and put them in a position to make the call.
For more information on hiring people who care, read this blog post.
3. It’s not the ROI that drives people, it’s the integrity, the growth and how they grow.
In my first role as Chief Customer Officer at Lands’ End, founder Gary Comer said to me, “You’re the conscience of the company. Your job is to make sure that we keep going back to our heart and our values and our place as we grow.” That was that. It made my career.
People are going to call “baloney” on you if you say customer is king, but yet you send your frontline on so many customer calls that they don’t have time. Or if you measure them against the amount of calls they made in a week instead of against the quality of the conversations and if they really diagnosed a customers’ problems.
This is an attitude shift. It’s about leaders fearlessly connecting the dots for the organization and asking themselves, “Did we earn the right to grow? Did we bring in more than we lost? And why?”
For more on effectively capturing the power of customer experience ROI, read this blog post.