Customer Experience Starts in the Boardroom, Not the Frontlines

Creating a customer experience that leaves guests feeling wowed and appreciated takes unwavering dedication and commitment. Many believe the customer experience starts on the front lines. Although this logic makes sense, the customer experience really begins in the boardroom, starting with buy in and support from the top down. It doesn’t matter how stellar your front line employees are- if you have don’t have full backing from the top, your efforts won’t last and your words will eventually fall flat.


I believe the reason why so many organizations offer mediocre (at best) customer service is because the difference between average and extraordinary is costly. Many leaders are more concerned about the bottom line than they are about investing in their greatest asset- the customer. What they fail to acknowledge, however, is that if they dedicate a little extra money, time, and resources to their experience offering they will see the difference in the bottom line.


I recently assisted a customer who was very upset over the way her problem had been handled (or lack thereof). She was unnecessarily given the runaround with everyone shirking off responsibility, leaving her helpless and frustrated. Although the issue wasn’t directly with our company, I wanted to do right by her and speak with the involved parties to reach a resolution. Unfortunately, you can’t win them all and the solution I was able to provide wasn’t good enough.


Rather than tell the customer to take it or leave it (which would have been the easiest thing to do), I ended the call determined to try and delight the customer. Here’s where the story gets awesome. I spoke with our VP of Customer Acquisition & Experience who has a ginormous heart and truly understands the bigger picture of customer experience. Something she continually demonstrates is that putting the customer first isn’t typically the cheapest route, nor is it always easiest. However, she understands that delighting customers will pay back great dividends in customer loyalty and brand reputation.


So how did she ultimately handle this situation? She stayed late and picked up the phone to speak with the customer directly. She listened patiently, apologized when necessary, and informed the customer that we were going to fulfill her requests. Although we had every right to stand behind the initial solution offered, we decided it would be more costly to lose this customer due to disappointment than it would be to eat the difference and stoke her out.


Why am I sharing this story? Because creating a company culture that celebrates customer experience takes true commitment from the top down, even if that means having your VP roll up her sleeves, pick up the phone, and listen to an angry customer vent. Companies that put their money where their mouths are are the ones make history and outlast the crowds.


As a leader, how do you help create a culture the embraces customer experience? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Leave me a comment or send me a tweet!


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