A calendar opened up on a picnic table

How to be a Leader Every Day for your Customers

I recently did a motivational customer service workshop for Quilchena Hotel and Douglas Lake Ranch where the focus was all about employee empowerment and being a leader. It was a great day, being surrounded by a great group of people.

It’s unbelievably important for employees to know how powerful they are in shaping the customer experience. For good and for bad, actions (and inactions) have consequences. After all, customer service is an emotional experience, whether it’s making you feel like the most valued person in the room or the most insignificant annoyance of the day.

Drew, You’re UP

Everyday leadership is a great way to understand that casual impact. Watch Drew Dudley tell his leader story in this TED Talk…

In a nutshell, the customer experience is largely dependent on how much your employees feel and act like leaders. As told by Drew, you can have the most profound positive effect on someone just by making a charming remark, a generous gesture or a little passing consideration. As I said, the customer experience is an emotional experience, and by embracing everyday leadership you can have an impact that’ll matter to your customers and to your brand, possibly for a life time.

Being an Everyday Leader

However, being an everyday leader might not be intuitive, or easy to identify, for everyone. Maybe you don’t think there’s the right opportunity, it doesn’t feel natural or you are not sure how to engage. Here’s a few reminders inspired by Drew’s own list on how to foster everyday leadership to improve your customer experience.

  1. Never Say You’re “Just” Anything – it’s important to not assume with your customer. Their experience (good or bad) might be important to them so words like “just” or “maybe” diminishes what they need. I”ll “just” fix this for you is weak language and implies that what your customer wants is no big deal. It might be to them.
  2. Respond, Don’t React – as Drew mentions in his article, the difference between responding and reacting is an important one. That difference: thinking. Take a moment to address your customers with thoughtfulness and consideration. They’ll appreciate it.
  3. Plan to Matter, Every Day – when you start your day at work, no matter what you do or what level in the hierarchy you are, you should treat everyday leadership for your customers and employees with purpose. Drew suggests asking yourself some great questions to be better prepared:
    • What have I done today to be helpful? (Drew’s Note: define ‘helpful’ not as helping someone do something, but helping someone feel something)
    • What have I done today to make it more likely I will learn something?
    • What have I done today to make it more likely someone else will learn something?
    • Have I said something positive about someone to their face today?
  4. Consider That Maybe Customers Don’t Want Things, They Want the Experience They Bring – whether it’s true or not that they want the thing, it’s important to consider that the experience is of equal value to them. They want to feel valued. They want to be educated. They want it to be effortless. What can you do as an everyday leader to give these feelings to them?
  5. Stop Treating Simplicity as if It’s a Vice – things don’t need to be complicated. We spend so much time as organizations trying to “the extra mile” but it’s the smallest, simple gestures done with care and effort that can blow your customers away. Don’t only aim for a mile when you have an “inch” opportunity.
  6. Stop Saying “It’s Complicated” When it Usually Isn’t – your customers don’t care if it’s complicated. That’s a you problem, not a them problem. As a business or organization, our role is to make it easy for our clients and customers. Removing barriers and fixing problems. It usually isn’t complicated. And if it truly is, as a business you need to rethink that process to better serve your customers.
  7. Pop Champagne – have goals. Period. Make them S.M.A.R.T. too. Another period. But along the way, celebrate your successes and your learning because tooting your own horn about your accomplishments is unbelievably motivating to continue that everyday leadership.
  8. Heal – “Only hurt people hurt others.” It’s a powerful quote from Drew’s article. To improve your customer’s experience, you have to understand your personal situation and if you’re going through any pain. If you’re not able to let go of it and the people that caused it, even for those hours you’re at work, you’re in danger of making it worse for yourself, your co-workers and your customers. Prioritize self-awareness. Take a breath. And heal.

Please share an example of everyday leadership you’ve seen or been a part of in your life.

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