Several weeks ago, I was invited to participate in the Susan Drumm podcast, The illustrated executive, that provides entrepreneurs and CEOs with the latest techniques to enhance personal and professional development. Drumm is a leadership development coach and CEO of Meritage Leadership. He has trained billionaire CEOs, prominent Fortune 100 executive teams, and incredible entrepreneurs who set out to revolutionize their market.
I wondered why Drumm would invite a customer service expert be on your show. Turns out, I 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 being interviewed for the podcast, I turned the tables and asked him for some ideas on how to move the needle in customer service by being a better leader. I was hoping to get some nuggets of wisdom to share in this column, and she did not disappoint. 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 as much time communicating what they want that your customers are experiencing in three to five years. Crafting a detailed view of what you want your customer experience to look like is crucial to effective leadership. If you can’t communicate the end goal, you will never be able to onboard the rest of your team. Drumm said think about the problems you want to solve, the feelings you want them to leave 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 sharing the company’s overview.
2. Adopt two-way communication: Information is often filtered from leadership through the hierarchy of the company. Leaders make decisions at the top, and one by one the employees below them are “aware.” Drumm’s concern about this communication style is that leaders lose the employees closest to the customers: the front-line workers. Regularly collecting feedback from these employees is a great growth opportunity. They see first-hand the improvements that can be made, as well as common problems that customers have. Drumm suggests hosting a monthly or quarterly meeting to give your frontline employees a forum to share suggestions. This is where your next big business idea can come from.
3. Follow the example: Drumm said that when leaders hire coaches for training and development, they are generally for the next level. But if you need your team to train, you should too. Just because you’re 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 it working, too.
4. Treat your employees as customers: I talk a lot about the connection between customer experience and employee experience. Customers feel what happens inside an organization on the outside. Drumm echoed this sentiment and suggested continually evaluating team culture and employee happiness. Look at the benefits, perks, hours, and office space to see where you could improve. Drumm said, “Employees cannot be expected to create a positive experience for customers without the same level of treatment.”
5. Clarity of the message: Many leaders assume that employees are very clear about the overall vision and mission of the organization. However, if you ask employees, there is often a wide gulf between their descriptions and those of their leaders. Says Drumm: “It is the responsibility of the leader to clearly communicate all efforts and 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. Earnings, revenue, and data are excellent indicators of a company’s growth, but they are not effective in communicating the emotional value and impact that employees have on the company. Drumm suggests sharing case studies and stories on how the company positively impacts the customer along with the reviews and comments that customers can share. Putting a face on the customer experience vision serves as a powerful reminder of who your company is truly serving and motivates your team to continue to provide excellent service.