Trust the Front Line to Extend Grace and Honor Your Customers

In my Daily Dose video series, I explore the topics that chief customer officers must grapple with on a daily basis. Join me as I discuss what I’ve learned over the course of my 35-year career, so that you can more effectively do the work that needs to be done.

Today’s video is an excerpt from my online course, inspired by my book, Would You Do That To Your Mother? Click here to learn more about the course and enroll. 

The following is a lightly edited transcript of the video below.

Would you turn down your mom’s warranty claim three days out of warranty? No. Of course not, you would want to hear her story. You’d want to know her customer history and if you’re on the front line, you’d want to be given the chance to make an informed decision. You’d want the company to honor your decision because you had gathered more facts to guide its outcome than could be covered by the standard blanket policy. You’d want your decision honored because it was based on the values, empathy, and ability to make a good decision, which you were hired for.

When we are validated and even the slightest concession is made to accommodate us as customers, it makes a difference and that difference adds up in how we stack up the companies we will go back to and talk about.

This is not a plea to throw company profits out the door by loosening every rule willy-nilly, it’s about preparing employees. It is about trust for your front line, proven to lead to business growth. It’s about enabling employees to act in situations where valued customers are at risk. It’s about them letting them make the call to let a few hours slide off a car rental because they have a high value customer in front of them, or honoring that warranty claim for your mom three days out of warranty because well, because it’s the right thing to do.

How the Golden Rule Will Impact Your Bottom Line

Why not let policy and the golden rule collide? As we become increasingly self-sufficient in almost every part of our lives as customers, it becomes even more urgent that when someone connects with the humans of your company, that the contact is meaningful.

The authenticity of these connections, people’s ability to really help and the front line’s respect for the customer because they themselves are respected are more critical now than ever. Doing human interactions well in an increasing self-service world will set you apart.


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Companies that are putting in the work to enable this are reaping the rewards. For example, Mercedes Benz USA began taking this approach in their customer assistance centers where they enable call center reps to balance standard operating procedures with information about the customer they have in front of them. In many cases, the informed exceptions that they make lead to increased advocacy and a more profitable customer.

A study of 20,000 customers by C Space measuring the “CQ” or customer quotient score validates the importance of outreach that is worth customer’s time and that honors their need especially when they choose to stray from that self-service path.

What do customers want? And what can your front line do about it?

Customers want openness, relevance, empathy, experience, and emotion. These are all experiences front line folks want to deliver but need permission and the ability to extend. What we know and you know as a customer is that most of us don’t want to take a company for anything. We want to be treated fairly. We want to be known. We want to be honored when inevitably Murphy’s Law kicks in and that warranty expires the day before our computer wipes out its motherboard, or the brakes go skittish on our car, or that vacuum cleaner we bought goes on the fritz.

Often at these times, we encounter someone who sheepishly has to tell us the bad news and stand by it, and whatever limits their ability to help, even though the thought of it makes them squeamish, and that message is sorry, I can’t do anything for you. What if the front line was trusted, to have some wiggle room, to make a judgment, to do the right thing? What if they were prepared to act in these moments? Both customer and employee experiences would improve. Easier said than done.

Moving from talk to action here requires knowing which you’re kidding customer experiences can be planned ahead of time to give employees that wiggle room. It requires giving employees customer information so they know the value of the person asking for the exception and training and support, and most important, trust. To let good people think on their feet and make that right call.

What if the front line was trusted, to have some wiggle room, to make a judgment, to do the right thing? What if they were prepared to act in these moments? Both customer and employee experiences would improve. #MakeMomProud Click To Tweet


How do we cut through the rigmarole of business to give customers the treatment they desire, and employees the ability to deliver it?

In her latest book, customer experience expert Jeanne Bliss recommends making business personal to get the traction you need by focusing on one deceptively simple question: “Would you do that to your mother?”

Learn more

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