Several weeks ago, I was invited to be on Susan Drumm’s podcast, The Enlightened Executive, which gives entrepreneurs and CEOs the latest techniques to enhance personal and professional development. Drumm is a leadership development coach and the CEO of Meritage Leadership. She’s coached billionaire CEOs, prominent Fortune 100 executive teams, and incredible entrepreneurs who set out to disrupt their marketplace.
I wondered why Drumm would invite a customer service expert to be on her show. It turns out she was curious about the connection between senior team leadership and customer experience—and how leaders can motivate employees by creating an engaged team culture.
After I was interviewed for the podcast, I turned the tables and asked her for some ideas on how to move the needle on customer service by being a better leader. I was hoping to get some nuggets of wisdom to share in this column, and she didn’t let me down. Here are six of them:
1. Create a Vision For Your Customer Experience
Many leaders communicate where they want the company to be in three to five years, but they don’t spend nearly as much time communicating what they want their customers to be experiencing in three to five years. Crafting a detailed vision of what you want your customer experience to look like is crucial for effective leadership. If you can’t communicate the end goal, you’ll never be able to get the rest of your team on board. Drumm said to think about the problems you want to solve, the feelings you want them to walk away with, and the impact you want to have on their lives. These insights should help you build a strong customer service vision that you can passionately share with employees while you share the overall vision for the company.
2. Adopt Two-Way Communication
Information often trickles down from leadership through the company hierarchy. Leaders make decisions at the top, and one by one, the employees beneath them are made “aware.” Drumm’s concern about this communication style is that leaders miss out on the employees closest to the customers: frontline workers. Regularly gathering feedback from these employees is a massive opportunity for growth. They see firsthand what improvements could be made as well as common problems customers have. Drumm suggests setting up a monthly or quarterly meeting to give your frontline employees a forum to share suggestions. This can be where your company’s next big idea comes from.
3. Walk The Talk
Drumm said that when leaders hire coaches for training and development, they are usually for the next level down. But if you require your team to undergo training, you should be doing it as well. Just because you are in the C-Suite doesn’t mean you’re exempt from learning. Personal development is a vital component of any effective leader, and employees will respect the title more when they see you putting in the work too.
4. Treat Your Employees Like Customers
I talk a lot about the connection between the customer experience and the employee experience. What happens inside an organization is felt on the outside by customers. Drumm echoed this sentiment and suggested continually evaluating the team culture and employee happiness. Analyze benefits, perks, hours, and office space to see where you could improve. Drumm said, “You can’t expect employees to create a positive experience for customers if you’re not giving them the same level of treatment.”
5. Clarity of Message
Many leaders assume that employees are crystal clear on the overall vision and mission of the organization. However, if you ask the employees, there’s often a vast gulf between their descriptions and their leaders. Drumm says, “It’s the responsibility of the leader to communicate all efforts and the essential information to employees. Repeat the strategy and vision as much as you can, and don’t fall into the trap of believing that saying it once is enough.”
6. Share A Name, Not A Number
The common language of leadership is numbers. When looking at the big picture, it’s easy to get caught up in the numbers. Profits, revenue, and data are excellent indicators of a company’s growth, but they’re not effective in communicating the employees’ emotional value and impact on the company. Drumm suggests sharing case studies, and stories about how the company positively impacts the customer along with any reviews and feedback customers may share. Putting a face to the customer experience vision serves as a powerful reminder of who your company is serving—and motivates your team to continue to provide excellent service.
This article has been reprinted with permission from Shep Hyken´s Forbes blog.