When I think about leadership, John C Maxwell’s quote “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way” comes to mind. I mean that’s what leaders should do. A leader is someone who should be knowledgeable and experienced. A leader should have a clear vision of where they are going. They should be able to connect well with others. Leadership is about influencing others not intimating others to do what needs to be done. A leader is someone who knows how to be in the trenches with you but also someone who understands that they need to avoid getting bogged down in the day to day because they need to stay focused on the bigger picture. They understand they will be times when they will need to pitch in and help but they also know they must stay focused on the big picture and achieving company goals.
In his book the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John C Maxwell shares the story of Don Stephenson, the chairman of Global Hospitality Resources, Inc. of San Diego. While today his company an international hospitality advisory and consulting firm primarily does consulting, back in the day they took over management of hotels and resorts that weren’t doing financially well. According to Mr. Stephenson, whenever his people went into an organization to take it over, they also started by doing 2 things. They trained all staff to improve their level of service to customers and second, they fired the leader. The thought behind firing the leader was simple. If they’d been a good leader the organization wouldn’t be in the mess it was in.
When it comes to the customer experience, the leader sets the tone for how their employees handle customers. Leaders who place emphasis on creating the type of culture that keeps employees happy about contributing to the success of the organization will have a greater measure of success then those who are mostly focused on the bottom line. Don’t believe me? Check out Google and Facebook; both of these companies provide some serious employee perks and offer cultures that foster creativity and allow employees to function in areas of their strength. Goggle & Facebook aren’t the only companies that understand the value of people. Progressive, Apple, and Nike are also named as companies with the best corporate cultures. As a matter of fact, Chik-Fil-A & Twitter top the leader board for companies with best cultures. The leaders in these organizations know the way, go the way and show the way. The results – customers feel appreciated, valued and respected. What does this mean for your business? LOYAL CUSTOMERS!
Employees who are trained, recognized, rewarded, empowered and valued willingly contribute more to the success of the organization which has a direct impact on the customer experience. In reality most people want to feel like they contribute; a good job is more than a salary. They want an environment that incorporates fun not all stressful and demanding. This is LEADER LED. Leaders determine how the culture develops and the culture impacts the customer experience.
When you consider how much your leaders impact the customer experience, you must also consider the fact that it doesn’t stop at them. They lead people who touch customers directly. Poor leadership is one of the major reasons for lack luster and substandard customer service. According to a Gallup survey www.gallup.com/businessjournal/106912/turning-around-your-turnover-problem.aspx, “At least 75% of the reasons for voluntary turnover can be influenced by manager”. Now that is a huge impact. Employees who are led by poor managers become disgruntled and unhappy. Unhappy employees equal unhappy customers. Unhappy customers result in loss of customers. We all know it is much more costly to find new customers than it is to retain a current one.
As so yes, having highly visible leaders setting the pace and creating a culture where employees want to contribute should be your goal. This will drastically improve the Customer Experience of your organization. Leadership will make or break your organization and will have a tremendous impact on your customer experience ratings directly and indirectly.