Leaders, THE Threat to Superior Customer Experience
by Kate Nasser |
A recent CBS Sunday Morning Show featured behind the scenes details of derogatory names companies have for their customers.
Some Wall Street firms refer to their investors as “muppets”.
Airlines nickname their infrequent passengers “hillbillies or Clampetts” referring to the old TV show The Beverly Hillbillies.
They dub very frequent customers as “Platinum Trash”.
Credit card companies nail the tag “deadbeats” to their customers who pay their balance in full every month.
As a customer service/experience pro, I listened with some outrage, sadness, and then wonderment.
The leaders of these companies don’t get it Even if they don’t use these words themselves, they have not done enough to establish a positive culture of valuing the customer.
THE Threat to Superior Customer Experience
Loving Everything But the Customer
Misapplied Thinking That Fuels This Threat
- Freedom of speech. Freedom of speech does not justify hating the customers. If you cannot respect customers, then perhaps it’s best not to build your livelihood on serving them.
- Bluntness relieves stress. There are days when individual workers may find working with customers frustrating. They may blow off some steam privately and offline to relieve the stress.
Yet the leadership is there to correct that course to ensure it doesn’t become a culture of disrespecting the customers. Leadership is there to teach and remind everyone what it feels like to be a customer and what the customer means to the business.
- Treat the employees well and they will treat customers well. Not necessarily. If leadership and employees treat each other well and collectively disrespect the customers, it will not produce superior customer experience. You cannot hide loathing.
I travel a great deal and can always spot flight attendants and hotel staff who think positively about the customers and those who don’t.
I’m not psychic. It’s in every gesture and word they say. It’s in their proactive help or their indifferent delay.
When company leaders tolerate thinking that degrades customers – even behind the scenes — they are agreeing to it. From thinking comes attitudes and daily behavior with long term strategy not far behind.
Picture flight attendants thinking, “I wonder how many platinum trash I will grovel around today?” Can you imagine flight crews dreading the boarding process with so many hillbillies?
Will these crews come across as personable and caring or resentful, impatient, and patronizing?
Do the employees of credit card companies know the value of a customer who pays their balance in full every month? It would be much more valuable to have each employee know that than to foster or tolerate corporate disgust of customers. If there is no business value, why keep them as customers?
As for Wall Street, the world has witnessed the outcome of runaway disregard for customers and their money. From the epithet of investors as “muppets”, we can see the thinking that produced the second greatest economic crisis in modern history.
There are many companies who have established a customer valued culture that inspires the thoughts and the actions of all employees.
There are airlines now helping the customers as they traverse airport concourses as well as on the flights. They are using kool technology, like Ipads, yet realize that the care comes from the heart.
As other airlines redesign planes to have more economy plus seats with extra leg room in coach class and fully reclining seats in business first, hopefully they will redesign the culture to value everyone who buys and flies. Why improve anything for people you view as trash?
As companies like Ritz-Carlton, Nordstroms, and Zappos, and outstanding hospitals like St. Jude’s Childrens’ Hospital and magnet nursing centers continue to shine their customer care for all to see, we can encourage leaders in other companies to see the true benefit of a customer valued culture.
Call to Action
CEOs and their leadership teams of confused corporations would do well to look at how companies have embraced customer value.
Delivering superior customer service experience doesn’t come from fancy technology, or marketing, or metrics, or branding. It starts at the heart of how a company thinks about customers and brings that thinking to life in its strategy, policies, and interactions.
Thoughts breed actions and many companies ask customers for feedback on their actions. What are your customers saying about your thoughts and culture? That’s worth exploring.
I am honored and thrilled to be working with many companies and professional practices that want to move beyond surveys and go all the way to a customer valued culture.
April is customer loyalty month. Let’s get started!
From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™
Related Post: Simply Great Choices for Super Customer Experience
Special thanks to CXJourney on Twitter for sending me the URL link for the airline story.
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on customer service & experience, employee engagement, teamwork, and leading change. Kate turns interaction obstacles into business success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.