Darrell Hardidge (pictured below) is a customer experience strategy expert and CEO of customer research company Saguity. He’s also the author of The Client Revolution and The 10 Commandments of Client Appreciation. In this guest post, Hardidge says even if you’ve taken your foot off the CX pedal, it’s never too late to reapply it…
Every business needs to clearly define it’s intention, both internally and externally. So often the message given to the market is completely misaligned with the culture and the team dynamics. It won’t work by just talking about it or making a press release, it must be a true commitment from the leadership all the way down to the front line. It must be a true commitment to excellence.
Leadership is the big topic in business right now and it’s interesting as to why it’s a focus. Shouldn’t it always be front and centre and a part of the company DNA? Part of the issue is the lack of quality leadership and this is also linked to experience. Consider how often you experience excellent service from a business and especially where its consistent, you’ll find its about 15 per cent of all your transactions as a consumer. This is where the challenge starts, average service is what we have come to expect and above and beyond is a luxury.
W Edward Deming, the innovator of the quality manufacturing systems of Japan had a very unique and powerful distinction of leadership. It’s one that challenges leadership right at its core. Deming defined leadership with three key principles; Theory + Experience + Prediction = Profound Results. Consider today’s leaders in their respective fields, whether its corporate or government, the great ones are becoming rare.
You have plenty of people with a Theory (a degree or MBA), they have varying degrees of Experience (sometimes 10 years is just 10 x 1 of average performance), however very few have the courage to make a Prediction (where they stake their reputation and future). This is one of the key reasons why so many teams are disengaged with their leaders. They do a lot of talk and very little of the walk and people are totally over all their fluff.
The recent Hayne Royal Commission identified a massive issue with trust that started all the way from the top. The focus of selfish intention has created an environment of what’s in it for me and forget about anyone else, especially the customer. This intention completely destroys the passion and commitment a company needs from its leadership team to ensure an environment that’s predictable and safe for the team to thrive in, rather than just stay there to survive.
In order to re-engage your team to deliver excellence it needs to start with Deming’s key principles. First of all, make sure the communication to your team is clear and honest. Ensure they understand the Theory behind what you want them to believe in and be committed to follow, if they don’t believe in the Theory its already doomed. Secondly demonstrate you have the Experience or at least have partnered with people who do and can demonstrate they can walk the talk. Your team need to know there is a sound foundation behind the execution to the plan. Thirdly have the courage to make a Prediction and do your best endeavours to deliver on it. If you can’t, then open up the communication and get the support to test the Theory and Experience are correct to ensure the Prediction is achievable.
We all make mistakes, and when we see people with the courage to own it and take responsibility to solve it, we are far more likely to have confidence in them and especially dig in and help out. Most importantly when this occurs it’s the golden opportunity to engage the team in the solution and then celebrate any wins that are created from collaboration. Your team just want authentic leadership where ownership, accountability and responsibility is the foundation of integrity. Your team need to be able to trust their leadership and to be encouraged to have the confidence to take a chance to improve themselves and their own teams. If you show them the principles that also define a quality set of life values, they will then achieve far greater results and especially in their personal lives. This creates a unique synergy of work/life balance, where quality leadership is not just for work, its for all of life’s value systems and this massively impacts a company’s culture.
No team can ever rise above the constraints of their leaders. They either stay and deliver average or the great ones move on. People don’t leave the company they leave their leadership. When you can demonstrate and deliver excellence in leadership, it will inspire and cause your team to commit to excellence in customer service. Great leaders make themselves redundant to ensure evolution and opportunity. Great leaders are never concerned about what’s next as the door to opportunity is always open. They show by example that full engagement creates opportunity for everyone and its safe to have a red hot go at it.
Different isn’t always better, but, better is always different.