Everything a leader does almost always trickles down to affect the rest of the team or company. While excellent customer experience is about teamwork, it is more important to know how to lead effectively. If you have solid leadership skills and set priorities, you can effectively lead a team to success.
In my Fast Leader Show podcast episode with Dr. David Arrington, titled Why Leadership Is Important In Creating Wonderful Customer Experience, we discuss a few ways you can help your team achieve an excellent customer experience.
In my decades in the contact center and customer experience world, I have come to learn this fact. The single most important aspect when it comes to the customer experience is effective leadership.
For more than four decades, the contact center industry has had turnover and morale problems – but not all of them. And the contact centers that do not experience these problems have more effective leaders. Period.
Leadership is a make or break situation. This is why I developed Call Center Coach Leadership academy. Becoming a more effective leader in this industry’s (and it is your) most significant opportunity.
Leading Foretells Your CX Outcomes
According to Gartner, over 70% of customer experience leaders struggle to design projects that increase customer loyalty and achieve results. This may be due to the lack of foundational skills that a leader needs to lead effectively in customer experience.
A leader sets the bar and the tone of the work culture that the subordinates have to follow. Leadership is critical to ensure that everything beyond that leader and everyone with who that leader functionally works is doing what’s best for the brand and the customer.
Set The Bar High
Setting the bar high creates a stronger team. What you expect out of your team should be a representation of your standard as a leader. Clarifying what you expect out of them is also helping them to understand their personal strengths and weakness.
After helping your team discover their weaknesses and strengths, provide an environment where they can harness these weaknesses and strengths to benefit the team. Most importantly, making sure that their meetings worked more effectively as most people discount meetings’ value.
Successful leaders set high standards for performance and have accountability in place. The key to setting the bar is balancing high enough standards for team members to reach successfully.
Leaders with low or no set standards most likely result in teams with low morale and low success rates. Allowing employees to dictate policies such as time off and work pace usually moves toward the spectrum’s non-productive and negative end.
Lead Effectively By Holding Meetings
This is where you as a leader discover ways to lead your team more effectively and demonstrate leadership. Bringing everyone else on board and allowing people to experience accountability will help the team start hitting their targets. The other importance of meetings is to point out the things that need to be addressed, with the supporting evidence.
I often meet with my team members once or twice a week to brainstorm ideas and hear what they have in mind. This has allowed my team and me to connect and share ideas and help each other see things from a different perspective. I teach them, and they teach me.
Meetings help people feel included, trusted, and important. Team members contribute to your customer experience’s success.
According to a leadership lesson presented by the Association of American Medical Colleges, “Effective meetings allow for open conversation that draws upon each members’ knowledge, skills, and perspectives to solve problems and to support one another in achieving the collective goals.”
Break The Cycle Of Unnecessary Meetings To Lead Effectively
Most leaders reproduce the dysfunction experience in other meetings. This also implies stopping treating meetings as an afterthought. One other thing is to cut the amount of time spent in meetings, thus avoiding workers’ resentment from being kept away from their real work.
Time is a precious resource. Leaders who spend more time in meetings pushing to the whole day are not developing their people. In a report on the impact of Doodle’s meetings, most managers spend 60 to 70% of their workweek having meetings, 71% of professionals waste time every week due to unnecessary or canceled meetings, 31 hours are spent on unproductive meetings monthly.
That is time wasted and the opportunity costs of being in those meetings.
Use Positive Reinforcement To Be An Effective Leader
The importance of a positive philosophy to choose to focus on the good. We all struggle with negative self-talk, but once ignored, the world opens up, and there are more opportunities than obstacles. Free agency is the idea that one has portable skills that can add value to an organization.
When positive reinforcement is used, you focus less on what people are doing wrong and more on what they’re doing right. By rewarding and praising your team every time they do a good job, you’ll be able to condition them into doing well all the time.
My team and I have had our fair share of struggles ever since the pandemic began in early 2020. Leaving in different parts of the world also meant that our struggles were different. However, as a leader, I often have to remain positive even when things are tough for me too. Simple things like letting them know that I appreciate them go a long way.
When you use positive reinforcement, be specific about what exactly the individual did to please you. Avoid general statements like, “You’re such a hard worker,” and focus on the specifics like, “Thank you for doing a great job on that assignment and getting it in on time.”
Ensure That There is Accountability Feedback
Feedback is often underused, and things are let go until they reach a breaking point. The feedback mostly needs to be positive. It is important to balance the good and the bad hence blending the two. Feedback is not hierarchical in a perfect world but should be peer-based.
We limit our organizations’ success because we are not open to sharing insight positively and helpfully. It should be more frequent, more positive than negative, and show people where they can improve versus the mistakes made.
Your role as a leader is fundamentally to give direction and then give slight correction along the way. It helps if you believe that you are qualified and have competent individuals on your team.
When everyone from top to bottom follows through on promises, doesn’t blame others for mistakes, and supports others in achieving goals, it creates a healthy and positive work culture. As a result, this breeds trust and enhances productivity.
Effective customer experience leaders help their teams explore conflict areas between short-term and long-term goals and between customer and company objectives, providing more explicit direction and clearer priorities to help employees make better day-to-day decisions.
I have realized that leadership effectiveness is something that develops with time. I have also learned through experience that being an effective leader includes allowing your team to lead as well. A team made of effective leaders in respective areas is more effective because everyone gets an opportunity to showcase their best skills and talents.
Customer experience leaders mustn’t be victims of bad culture, organizational silos, or leadership attitudes to lead effectively. Creating a culture that accommodates everyone and allows everyone to lead will help enhance your customer experience.
Watch My Interview With Dr. David Arrington
- What leadership aspects do you think affect customer experience?
- What is most important to lead effectively in customer experience?
- How often do you think a leader should meet with their team?
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.