Happy employees fuel happy customers. This statement may sound strange but it is true and dependent on great leadership. They go hand in hand. When employees feel included, valued, and appreciated, they often go above and beyond to deliver excellence.
A common question is how can leaders create a customer-centric culture with engaged, motivated employees?
I find the answer is through authentic leaders who apply a “crawl, walk, run” approach.
The Meaning Of ‘Crawl, Walk, Run’
Life is a journey. You cannot go from 0% to 100% goal attainment automatically or overnight. Success comes from setting mini goals and appreciating each milestone conquered. This applies not only to elevating a company culture but also to starting a new business, switching careers, relocating homes, and other big shifts that take time to evolve. I’ve seen people fail because they run at full speed before learning and implementing the basics first.
My mentor, and someone I’m grateful to call my friend, Dan Lynn, is the one who taught me about the “crawl, walk, run” approach and to never give up — even when I’ve nearly reached my goal and had to take many steps back in order to move forward again.
So, here are some best practices I’ve learned to make this approach most effective and, through it, create an authentic, customer-centric culture for my team.
10 Leadership Best Practices To Follow
1. Strive for quality over speed. Set realistic timelines and establish small goals as they collectively have big impacts.
2. Expect the unexpected. Obstacles will occur and are unavoidable. Don’t let them stop you from being a change agent and moving mountains. When there’s a will, there’s a way.
3. Surround yourself with passionate, authentic people. Hire and retain them. Attitude is contagious.
4. Celebrate small wins. Don’t wait for the end results. Enjoy the journey, not just the destination.
5. Stay creative and open-minded as ideas come at unanticipated times and from unexpected places. Some of my best ideas were written on the back of napkins during meals at restaurants.
6. Prioritize and hold yourself accountable. Not every idea or project can be number one. Break down tasks and categorize each activity by “now,” “soon” and “later.” This can help you to stay focussed and minimize stress.
7. Be OK with starting over or with what feels like going backward. Sometimes you’ll start walking or running, but then you might have to revert to the crawling stage because of unpredictable circumstances. Trust the process. A setback often pivots us in a better direction. We just don’t understand why at the moment.
8. Focus on relationships and strengthen your network. Lean on your allies. It often takes a village for change to happen. Make every day count and show appreciation to everyone who helps deliver your mission.
9. Take the leap. “Just do it,” as Nike says. But do it in a methodical way. I’m a fan of testing concepts and implementing pilot programs. Once you’ve proven success, then continue at a faster rate and scale what works.
10. Ignore the naysayers and live your passion while remembering to pace yourself (crawl before walking, and walk before running). Don’t accelerate too fast, or you’ll miss important steps that are essential to achieving long-term goals.
Change is not easy, even when it is your own choice. It takes resilience, patience, endurance, and trust in the journey, and that journey can be a slow process. Remember not to get ahead of yourself and that small actions often have huge impacts.
Get more leadership tips in my other article about “The Four Agreements.” I write about a famous book explaining how being impeccable with your words, avoiding assumptions, not taking anything personally and doing your best ultimately contribute to better leadership, especially in CX. You will attract the right people and relationships, which may include profitable customers, too
What makes customers and employees loyal to brands? Why do some companies thrive during challenging times while others go out of business? There are many answers to this question, but one that is common across all industries relates to company culture. How brands make people feel directly impacts short and long-term success.
Creating a customer-centric culture does not happen automatically or overnight. It requires an engaged workforce and an executive champion at the top who reinforces the importance of customer experiences. They must motivate employees and hold them accountable to put customers first.
Celebrate CX Day To Enhance Your Company Culture
CX Day, spearheaded by the CXPA organization is a real day. I didn’t make it up. CX Day, typically celebrated in October each year, is a terrific way to drive awareness about the importance of customer experience and thank employees for their dedication to delighting customers. It is also an excellent time to publicize to customers about the actions you are taking to deliver best-in-class experiences all year long.
20 Actionable Tips To Celebrate CX Day & Keep The Momentum Going:
- Measure customer satisfaction and related metrics like Net Promoter (NPS) and celebrate positive scores. Send cake and balloons to top-performing sales offices and those with Y/Y improvements.
- Recognize employees when customers mention their names in surveys, social media, and other sources of feedback.
- Distribute a CEO video email message thanking employees for creating passionate promoters.
- Send customer thank you notes and token gifts of appreciation.
- Conduct fireside chats (informal yet structured discussion between a moderator and a guest.) It’s an excellent way to engage customers, and CX experts and provide relevant content that keeps people interested in your brand.
- Enable people to recognize each other. Gamify experiences. Tie prizes to customer value.
- Buy lunch for people resolving customer issues daily, i.e., call center reps.
- Offer a bonus or day off to those who routinely demonstrate customer excellence.
- Offer CX swag, like banners, balloons, stickers, buttons, shirts.
- Provide training – empathy, customer listening, closing the loop, design-thinking, journey mapping, and more. Certification is also valuable. (Learn more about my University experience & get a discount >here too)
- Post photos of activities on the intranet & social media channels for the world to see.
- Host “thank you” events for your customers. Showing appreciation goes a long way.
- Create a room in your office to share CX projects and progress, so everyone stays informed. For remote teams, leverage platforms for collaboration and knowledge sharing.
- Highlight CX examples at meetings and have employees talk about best practices. Employees want to hear from their peers more than Headquarters staff.
- Lead a contest that involves both customers and employees.
- Encourage employees to join webinars. Create your own or give them a list of online events as there are many offered, especially in October on CX Day.
- Hang posters throughout company locations and employee offices. The more people see reminders about delighting customers, the higher likelihood they are to take action.
- Plan activities with different departments in your organization—leverage CX Day as a way to strengthen internal relationships and break traditional silos.
- Use the day for branding opportunities. Partner with your marketing / PR team to design assets highlighting admiration for customers.
- Use hashtag #CXDay on social media to help everyone find and amplify your involvement. Post before, during, and after CX Day.
The Power Of Intention
I brought the idea of celebrating CX Day to my workplace, Schindler Elevator Corp, in 2019. It turned out to be bigger than I ever imagined, which we’re be doing even more in 2020 and beyond. My point of sharing is that YOU can create anything you put your mind to. If you want a customer-centric culture, you can make it happen with the right team. It takes a village yet when you have the right support, magic happens!
Check out the below video produced by my co-workers that captures how we celebrated and engaged employees across the organization across five continents. Turn on your volume to hear the song as it says so much!
Final Words about CX Day & Leadership
- Small acts of kindness go a long way. “People may forget what you said or did, but never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou
- Employees are your heroes. If they don’t feel important, your customers will feel it.
- Don’t wait for formal end of year reviews. If you do not appreciate employees throughout the year, your competitors will. They’re searching for exceptional talent.
- Don’t overthink it. Thank employees everywhere, i.e., meetings, cafeteria, parking lot.
- Be sincere. “96% of employees believe showing empathy is an important way of improving employee retention.” (Forbes)
Remember: Happy Employees = Happy Customers.
Consider the facts:
“Engaged teams generate 21% more profit than their disengaged counterparts. (Gallop))
“Employers who increase their workers’ engagement by just 10% can boost profits by $2,400 per employee every year.” (Recruit Loop)
When people are satisfied with their job, have good communication with their superiors, and their colleagues, and set clear goals, they are motivated to achieve great results. And they often do. According to Gallup’s engagement statistics, teams that work in companies that nurture a high-engagement culture reward those companies with higher productivity, better customer engagement, better employee retention, and a 21% increase in profitability.” (Gallop)
If you only take away one point, it would be this:
Everyone owns the customer experience, not just an individual or department. CX starts with YOU!
Have you heard about “Be Customer Led” hosted by Bill Staikos? The show explores the symbiotic relationship between customer and employee experience, and how companies are creating leaders and cultures maniacal about the customer. Stacy had the honor of being a guest on the show.
What You’ll Hear On “Be Customer Led”
During the episode, Stacy and Bill talk about a ton of different and important topics, including what ignited Stacy’s career in the CX field, and how two “wow” moments transformed her professional career from Marketing into CX; the key attributes that can differentiate CX leaders, CX measurement, where the CX function should sit in the org, and more to elevate your customer experience skills.
They also talk about their shared love of Shep Hyken. The audio cut out for a min at 48:18, but Stacy shared a personal story about her interaction with Shep.
Listen to the Customer Experience podcast below.
Please let us know what you think and what resonates most.
Today is my milestone 25th wedding anniversary. Having come from divorced parents, it’s a big deal for me. I tell you this because there are many relationship lessons I’ve learned over the years and want to inspire you to enrich connections with your partner, friends, colleagues, and customers too. You may be wondering what does marriage have to do with business? My answer is a lot!There are many correlations because when employees feel satisfied, included, and cared for (like a happy spouse), they pay it forward. Their actions impact customer experiences and ultimately brand loyalty.
10 WAYS TO ENHANCE YOUR RELATIONSHIPS
- Show appreciation in big and small ways. People naturally do more for others when they feel valued. Say thank you often. Tell people how much they matter. Gratitude goes a long way.
- Listen intentionally. Concentrate on what people are verbally expressing as well as what they are NOT saying. Read between the lines and react appropriately.
- Pick your battles. Focus on your end game. Ask yourself: do I want a relationship or to be right? The answer will drive your actions.
- Practice radical acceptance. People will behave in ways that do not always make sense. Accept others for whom they are versus who you want them to be.
- Throw away perfection. It takes a lot of energy and often results in diminishing returns. Keep doing your best and accept flaws.
- Be forgiving. Mistakes will happen. Avoid fighting in public and whenever conflict happens, review lessons together to avoid issues happening again.
- Communicate. Let me stress this again. Communicate a lot! Pick up the phone more than emailing and texting as they often lead to misunderstandings.
- Celebrate not just Hallmark designated holidays. Create unexpected memorable Wow moments throughout the year.
- Don’t take things personally. As I’ve learned in the Four Agreements, people misinterpret stories and believe they are involved when that is not the case. Be mindful and avoid this habit.
- Present a united front. If you have kids, for example, show them what a good partnership looks like. The same is true with customers. Do not let different department goals get in the way of how the team shows up. Alignment is essential.
It’s easy to walk away and harder to stay when times are tough. Nothing forces us to keep a relationship alive and thriving. It must be purposeful and intentional, which means waking up each morning and being clear how you want to EXPERIENCE THE DAY with people you care about. What you do today affects all your tomorrows!
I’m interested to know your views about creating and sustaining a long term relationship.
If you like this article, please read my other one about the Four Agreements. It’s a life-changing book, which I have summarized for you.