Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Raising the Customer Experience Leaders of Tomorrow

What should we be teaching our kids today to make them the customer experience leaders and superstars of the future? I'll boil it down to four very simple things:

1. Be polite
2. Appreciate
3. Listen
4. Apologize

I started out wanting to make this post about writing thank you notes (I'll still share my thoughts on that another day), but the bigger picture is about teaching kids some of the fundamentals of "being nice." We always talk about "hire for attitude and train for skills," but the attitude comes from somewhere. It's never too early to instill those manners in our kids.

Being polite probably encompasses all of it, but I'm referring specifically to saying "please," being kind and courteous, helping others (either proactively or reactively), asking others how they are doing, being honest, and looking the other person in the eye when talking to them.

"The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife." - David Ogilvy

Appreciating what you have or get can be summed up as "attitude of gratitude." Saying "thank you" is the most basic form of this. Beyond that, regardless of the circumstance, you can always find something to be grateful for.

In the CX world, the first and foremost example of the latter is: "A complaint is a gift."

Listening is a tough concept to teach kids; they don't know it at the time, but it pays off in spades in the future. You can learn so much when listening to others: about them, about yourself, and about the world around you. Not only that, but it's respectful.

"You have two ears, two eyes and one mouth. Use them in that proportion."

Apologizing when you make a mistake or hurt someone is a lesson many companies have had to utilize lately. Be genuine and sincere. To prove you are sincere, don't repeat what you did. Don't make excuses. Take ownership. Be accountable for your actions.

"Apology is a lovely perfume; it can transform the clumsiest moment into a gracious gift."
- Margaret Lee Runbeck

 "Never ruin an apology with an excuse." - Kimberly Johnson

I'm not preaching; I've just been doing a lot of thinking about what we need to do to turn this customer experience thing around.  We talk about it a lot, and various initiatives and efforts are implemented, but we still see statistics like, "Two out of three consumers switched providers during 2011 as a result of poor customer service, even though they were more satisfied with those companies than in the year before." These initiatives are failing. Then there's this statistic: "86% of respondents said they'd pay a premium for better service." Well, that's great, but first companies and the people who work in these companies (remember, people buy from people) need to understand the source of a better customer experience.

Anyway, if better customer service and better customer experiences are not going to happen in our lifetime, let's at least pass along the right tools to our kids so that they can reap the benefits of our hard work today!


"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." - Gandhi

4 comments:

  1. Annette,

    Love it. I try to live your rules everyday. I'd also add "show empathy" but that attempt would be more nuanced. Actually, just following your rules may reflect empathy in the eyes of the recipient.

    Bob Hayes

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    1. Thanks, Bob! Good point. I think they are all interwoven to some degree, but that's a good add.

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  2. I have four kids and I am going to pass this article on to them and then discuss as a family. Of course, I have taught them these character traits all along the way, but it will be nice for them to get it from someone besides myself, and see how it works in the business world, too.

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    1. Hi Blair. Thanks for reading and for commenting. Let me know how your kids receive it!

      Annette :-)

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