I made a quick trip into a well-known retailer this week and was appalled at what transpired immediately when I entered.
One manager, walking towards me, looked right at me and kept walking. A second manager, just past this first, looked at me as I made eye contact with him, stared at me for about 2 seconds, then promptly turned and walked away.
No greeting. No “Hello, Welcome to…”. No focus on the customer experience at all.
If one of their competitors, small business or large, decided to up their game and greet their customers at the door and ensure even a small level of engagement throughout the store, they would put this established location out of business.
Customers want to feel acknowledged. It’s the basic tenet in many studies of behavior. Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs addresses this in both the Belonging and Esteem levels. Hyrum Smith, of Franklin Planner fame, expresses this in the Needs Wheel of The Reality Model.
And yet many many leaders fail to model this basic behavior.
That’s why even a little focus on the customer experience will enable an organization to crush it and create raving fans.
When the focus is on either the bottom line, getting the job done, or surviving through the day, your customers feel it and are likewise impacted. Even elderly people with dementia or diminished senses in a nursing home sense when they are treated poorly or ignored.
Making your customers and those you cater to feel engaged always makes the difference.
If you want your leadership and your organization to stand out, and to crush it in a day where customer experience is largely lacking, then make them feel special and create even the smallest of differences in their experience.
Because that’s what you want when you are a customer. It’s one of our basic needs.
Companies are striving to develop and market their story as a way to connect with their customers and boost differentiation in the marketplace.
While that is a terrific strategy to grow, a word of caution should be in order – if your business is not-so-terrific, it may be wise to get your house in order first.
Over the years I’ve observed:
- Growing tech companies that crush it in sales yet cannot service customers once they’re onboarded like they used to
- Restaurant chains who strut their brand with a pomp that does not connect with their customers or their employees
- Healthcare organizations that talk of great patient care yet hide unethical business and regulatory practices
- Leaders that oversell their company to customers and shareholders and under deliver on making the internal workings of the organization efficient or lessening workplace stress
A few years ago I talked with the executive team of a respected and growing organization. They had a well established brand and were looking to get their story known throughout their markets.
As I talked with them, I discovered that they were too focused on building their story and neglected the core fundamentals of their operation, sound business practices, and poor leadership and team development. It seemed the more I implored them to see the trajectory, the more that they were clueless to where they were headed. Sure enough, 6 years later, their market share is declining. And what are they doing to combat their sales slide? They are doubling down on their tradition and their story even more.
Your story is like the exterior of our house – if the foundation is crumbling, then no amount of paint or external work can salvage it. Businesses are the same way – the external story accounts for nothing if the company cannot function efficiently, service its customers properly, or grow and develop people.
Your company’s story only matters if there is real evidence of it to everyone in public. Overstating your achievements, or just promoting what you can do when customers and staff members know otherwise leads to disengagement, declining sales, and loss of confidence in the marketplace.
You should only focus on your story when your structure is solid and all the mechanisms are in working order. Things don’t have to be perfect, but working well enough to have an honest assessment within and without the organization, in order that your story will augment and bring people – employees and customers alike – into your brand to improve and build it alongside you.
Start with the Why. Then perfect the How. When those are solid, then you can focus on the “About”.
Our post today is from author and thought leader Dr. Sunnie Giles. Dr. Giles’ latest book, The New Science of Radical Innovation, provides a clear process for radical innovation that produces 10x improvements and has been endorsed prominent industry leaders such as Jonathan Rosenberg, Daniel Pink, Marshall Goldsmith and Sean Covey.
“As we have seen, harnessing the collective intelligence of people from diverse backgrounds can solve seemingly insurmountable feats, impossible to solve by one super expert. To curate various interdisciplinary functions within an organization, or even across diverse organizations, and produce extraordinary results, leaders must be open to divergent views and flexible enough to seriously consider the merits of opposing views. Valuing diverse opinions requires asking questions more than issuing orders. Collective error is equal to the average of individual errors minus diversity (variance) of the group.
“Scott Page also mathematically explains that collective error is almost always smaller than individual errors, because collective error is equal to the average of individual errors minus diversity (variance) of the group. From this equation, we can surmise that there are two ways to decrease collective error: reduce the average individual error, by hiring smart people; or increase the diversity of thoughts from many people. It also highlights a potential risk: if we adopt other people’s opinions or mental models too much, we might reduce individual errors, but the diversity (variance) of the group goes down, resulting in higher collective error. This is a mathematical explanation for what happens in groupthink; people make irrational or dysfunctional decisions in an effort to conform to each other (as was the case in the space shuttle Challenger disaster). Everyone on your team must be valued and given credence to minimize collective error. This, in turn, raises collective complexity.
“The reason diversity lowers collective errors is that people bring different heuristics and perspectives shaped by their unique life experiences. Those who grow up in the Siberian tundra have a much richer vocabulary and perspective on cold weather, ice, vodka, and caribou, and see the world through those lenses. Those who grow up in a thatch-roofed house built on Rio Dulce in Guatemala have a completely different perspective on rivers, boats, fish, swimming, and tropics, and see the world through those lenses. Life experiences from different environments provide different heuristics, or simple rules, to handle daily challenges in life. When two engineers from these two completely different environments are put together on a team to solve a problem about how to design space meals optimal for weight and reuse, the resulting output will be much richer than if the two engineers had both grown up in Titusville, Florida. For challenging problems, we need a team, ideally made up of people from diverse backgrounds and with diverse heuristics.”
About Dr. Sunnie Giles:
Dr. Sunnie Giles is a new generation expert who catalyzes organizations to produce radical innovation by harnessing volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA).
Her research reveals that applying concepts from neuroscience, complex systems approach, and quantum mechanics can produce radical innovation consistently. Her expertise is based on years as an executive with Accenture, IBM and Samsung. Her profound, science-backed insight is encapsulated in her leadership development program, Quantum Leadership.
An advisor to the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, she also is a sought-after speaker and expert source, having been quoted in Harvard Business Review, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Forbes, and Inc.