How character development compliments CX strategy is one of the most important aspects we review from numerous and diverse sets of perspectives at CX Global Media and Call Center Coach. Why? Because trust is a foundational element if you want to deliver the customer’s best possible experience. And organizational character, leader character, and contact center agent character are vital in building trust.
According to the 2021 Edeleman Trust Barometer Special Report, leaders of brands and political leaders are faced with not being trusted.
- 57% of surveyed believe our government leaders are purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations
- 56% of surveyed believe business leaders are purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations
Everyone has experienced a fundamental shift in their priorities amid this global pandemic and societal outcry over systemic racism. In our current environment, customers are inherently skeptical and are looking to you to act and advocate for change.
To prevent being distrusted, remember people never forget the way others treat them. Customers want you to treat them with respect, dignity, and honesty – because they seek trust. Not every single customer wants and deserves the treatment that has integrity. But most do so it requires you to deliver it. And integrity only comes from someone with a healthy spiritual character.
The highest level of health is really represented by how you treat other people, integrity, honesty, kindness, compassion, humility, and gratitude. While it is important to pay attention to character development as an agent or a supervisor, it is also vital to understand that many aspects affect character development. It is also important to understand how to develop a good character that is authentic and developed from your own personal beliefs and understanding of life.
I was inspired by my recent interview with Dr. Jim Loerh (watch below) on the Fast Leader Show on the topic of leading with character and the implications on our organization and our personal legacy. Jim proves that leading with character is a good and effective way to build a more customer-centric organization.
Customer experience is all about authenticity, and customers can feel it when dealing with someone who is not genuine. This is why character development is an important part of delivering a pleasant customer experience.
Why Character Development Compliments CX
Good products and good services are great, but a combination of good products or services and good character is world-class. The brand of a business is modeled by what the leaders in the company represent or believe and what is experienced on the frontline. As our recent history reveals, there are many coding errors in the morality system shared by a vast number of leaders.
Most people get their morals and ethics from parents, which are often deeply flawed and passed from generation to generation. You stand by what you believe to be the truth. These beliefs often come from your religion and your culture, which you learn from your parents and peers. However, we all overlook that what we believe may actually be undermining what we desire and long for. It’s true, religion and culture can cause harm. and it can cause harm to people that do not believe or stand for the same things others stand for.
While culture and religion are fundamental aspects of who you are, many times they negatively affect our judgment of what is truly right. Politics is another aspect that interferes with our judgment of what is right. When leaders lead with a flawed system based on these aspects, they lead in a corrupt system.
And the current system in the United States and many other countries is obviously flawed.
This is why you need to revisit the underlying principles that represent you and your company constantly. Are they fair to your subordinates? Are they fair to your customers? How do they affect everyone involved? Understand that your best possible chance at winning is to win with character.
The Foundation of Agent Character Development in Customer Experience
People follow people they can trust. It is easier to trust a leader who represents integrity, speaks the truth, shows care, and shows compassion. Subordinates tend to be more trusting with empathetic leaders. A leader’s sustained high performance is connected to how they interact with others and hold the sacred ground of moral and ethical character.
As a leader, it is important to understand that everyone is a leader in one way or another. Some people are leaders in a family, and some in community groups. Acknowledging this allows you as a leader to respect your agents, knowing that, they too in some way, are leaders in their own way.
To have strong and good character development in your call center, supervisors and other leadership roles have to model what the organization represents. It is important that as a leader, you treat your agents in a way that you would like them to treat your customers.
If you want them to show empathy, kindness, understanding, and patience, you have to represent that in the way that you interact with them. When you say you represent one thing and act the opposite, your culture seems artificial and fake.
That means whoever you interact with, be it the agent, a customer, or the CEO, you must always model the right example one way or another.
How Character Development Compliments CX
People are initially looking for that which gives them fulfillment and satisfaction. They want to find this in things that last and things that are real, like relationships and careers. As social creatures, it is natural for us to want to care and connect with others. Also, sustained performance is key, and it is connected to our moral and ethical character.
People want to be around ethical and moral individuals because that is how human beings are naturally engineered. It’s safe. As a result, customers are drawn to businesses that represent this. When your customer experience lacks ethics and morals, customers lose faith in your products and services. You are a threat.
Creating a Character Development System
So how can you as a leader build the fundamental aspects of good character into your agents?
If you have ever been in a rehabilitation program after breaking a leg or your arm, you will understand that therapists tend to expose stress to that area of the body carefully. This allows recovery to occur. They progressively stress the system, and growth manifests itself. Gradually they increase the stress or pressure, perhaps even more than that part of the body experienced before the accident or injury.
This analogy represents how you can train any part of the body across the spectrum, including the brain. Attributes like kindness, compassion, trustworthiness, integrity, patience, etc., can be trained the same way.
If your agents do not experience stress beyond normal limits, they can not grow. Identify which aspects of their character are crucial to you as a business and train them in the same manner.
For instance, if you want to work on gratitude, you have to put a system in place to train your brain to be grateful. You may encourage agents to create a gratitude journal where they can list a certain number of things they are grateful for, and they repeat the same exercise a certain number of days over a given period.
Also, check out my interview with Nate Regier for an effective way to train agents on the character.
2020 served to teach us what truly matters, and one of those things was a good character. Call centers went through trying times. From being forced to going remote and then dealing with the changes that came with going remote, it was all a true test of what you really represent as a company.
Those tough times were an opportunity to see where your system is flawed and where it needs to be adjusted. It revealed the weakness in your foundation, and 2021 should be the year that those weaknesses are addressed.
The big question is, do you see where character development compliments CX in your organization and how to build on that? I look forward to learning what that is.
Watch my interview with Dr. Jim Loehr
- What are some of the flaws in your system that were brought into the light by 2020?
- How are you as a leader addressing these flaws?
- Do you think character development is a significant part of customer experience?
Jim Rembach is the Editor in Chief of the Customer Service Weekly and it’s Podcast host. He is President of CX Global Media and the creator of the Call Center Coach Virtual Leaders Academy. As the host of the Fast Leader Show Podcast, he has interviewed hundreds of experts, authors, academics, researchers, and practitioners on various angles, viewpoints, and perspectives for improving the customer experience. He has held positions in retail operations, contact centers, customer support, customer success, sales, and measured the customer experience. He is a certified Emotional Intelligence practitioner, Employee Retention Specialist, and recipient of numerous industry awards.