Monday, February 22, 2016

Creating a Great Customer Experience (CX) Doesn’t Start with the Customer

Many organizations operate under the premise that everything revolves around the customer. They preach customer centricity and build endless programs focused on the front line delivering an exceptional customer experience. Well, that may not be the best way to do things.

Now, before your feathers get ruffled, let me explain.

Yes. Your customers are certainly important.
Yes. You should be engaging your front line employees, eventually.
Yes. You should be doing everything you can to create a positive CX, one that leads to customer loyalty.

But building a foundation for a strong CX does not in fact start with the customer.

It starts on the inside, with your managers.

Your managers, one of your biggest assets, are in the trenches. Their role is multi-faceted. They are expected to be effective leaders and also to engage the front line in the exact same way they expect the front line to engage the customer. Managers are, in fact, the choke point or the accelerant to creating a great CX and it all depends on how they treat your front line employees.

By focusing on the customers first, you are ignoring your biggest internal lever of success. The customer experience can never and will never exceed the employee experience, and your managers have full control over the employee experience. It’s kind of like working backwards.

So instead, go to your managers first. Help them understand not only how, but also WHY it’s crucial to engage your employees as if they were customers and provide them with a stellar experience. Provide your managers with the tools, resources and knowledge to bring everything full circle. Employee experience begets customer loyalty.

If you reverse your order and do it this way instead, the power that permeates from your managers will bleed into your workforce and then organically make its way to your customers. It’s a magical cycle that results in an impactful and meaningful customer experience.

Give it a try. You might just have one of those aha moments!

I’d love your thoughts on the topic so tweet me @GaryMagenta using #CreatingaKillerCX

Monday, February 8, 2016

Checking in on Zappos’ Holocracy Movement

Back in May, I wrote a blog about Zappos’ bold move to embrace a no-manager model. While a drastic tactic, I have always been a fan of moving away from the archaic managerial role and more toward one that revolves around coaching and development.

As part of Zappos’ strategy, CEO Tony Hsieh’s offered a severance package to employees who were not sold on the new direction. That’s how strongly he believes in the concept.

So, I was curious to see how things would take shape after some time and this recent Washington Post article providing an update immediately caught my attention.

By May, roughly 14 percent of the staff left and that number increased to 18% to date (that’s 260 people).

Chief operating officer Arun Rajan said “the majority of the recent group who left are managers who didn't fill critical roles within a company that no longer has traditional supervisors, as well as that it might have had to do some layoffs if there weren't enough people who took the buyout offer.”

Rajan went on to say, “While we have lost a number of folks, it is important to note that we have a significant group of highly talented individuals who will be staying to help move Zappos forward.”

What I think is most important to recognize in all of this, is that Hseih is totally committed to this progressive movement. He’s taking a huge, calculated risk and attempting to change the way organizations everywhere view the role of managers. While he knows he will lose employees, he’s choosing to focus and invest on those who stay and believe in his vision.

Hseih’s motivation behind pushing the idea of Holocracy is “to make Zappos's customer service the brand hallmark that helps him grow into other industries, much like Virgin's ‘hip and cool’ brand led it beyond music and into other fields.”

This is no doubt a hot button topic and I am looking forward to watching the continued progress, the challenges, the failures and the successes.

Regardless of where you stand on the issue, I find it hard to not respect Hseih’s level of commitment to trying something completely unorthodox and standing behind it. Leaders like Hseih show us that sometimes you don’t know what will happen unless you are willing to take a leap of faith and take action that will truly shake things up.

Where do you stand on the issue? I’d love to kick off a dialogue, so tweet your thoughts to @GaryMagenta using #HowIFeelAboutHolocracy

Monday, February 1, 2016

It’s About Time to Get Realistic…About Time

“There aren’t enough hours in the day.”

If I had a dollar for how many times I hear this – especially at work.

Many of us stress out about completing every last item on our to-do this, as if the world will implode if we do not. We skip lunch. We work late. Sometimes, we even get grumpy about it and lash out at others (gasp).

I think about how to balance my day quite often. It’s something I am always conscious of and sometimes I nail it. But sometimes I don’t. And I was reflecting back on a previous Root blog post when I remembered something from it that has always stuck with me regarding this delicate dance we do with time management.

In “A Manager’s Greatest Plight – The Relentless Pursuit of More Time,” there’s a part where a manager slips an employee a note that reads, “I will get everything done that needs to get done and it will be good enough.” 

Such a simple, yet powerful statement. One that has the ability to engage employees on a deeper level knowing that you just get it. The engagement spreads because it’s a phrase that transcends titles. It’s relatable to everyone regardless of where you sit in the corporate hierarchy. The reality is, that you can’t get “more time”. We all know that and can find common ground around it. Time is definitive and we have the same amount all day, everyday. That will never change. But, what we do have control over is how we choose to spend that time.

The post also pointed to three things you can do to help with the inherent time crunch that plagues most of us. We always talk about strategic engagement of our employees and these are some tips on time that will only help that engagement grow:

 1)   Delegate more
 2)  Be more selective about projects you take on
 3)  Retrain yourself & team on how you communicate

Solid takeaways that will help you work smarter.

All we can do everyday is come to work with a positive attitude (yes, that’s a choice as well), and manage our time as effectively as possible. But even operating on all cylinders throughout the day, will not ensure that every last item gets knocked off your list. We are human. And we are managing other humans, a fact which we must never lose site of.

Amid all of the coaching and development we give and receive, if we want true strategic engagement, we also need to maintain realistic expectations of our employees AND ourselves.

Now, say that phrase again and mean it…“I will get everything done that needs to get done and it will be good enough.” Make it a mantra. Go into each day with that in your head, gift it to your people like the best-kept-secret ever, and you just might find yourself amid a giant shift.