Last updated: Great leaders understand great customer experiences

Great leaders understand great customer experiences


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Creating a customer experience culture is a tall order and it begins with leadership that addresses the concerns of its internal constituents. After all, happy employees equal happy customers, right?

That is what Clive Schlee believes. As the CEO of Pret a Manger, the fast-growing (323 stores around the world), fast-casual sandwich shop, he created what he called Prett Buzz, a 60-second customer connection “filled with smiles, positive energy, and a genuine human connection, especially for repeat customers.” In order to make Prett Buzz a reality, “the company has identified a set of ‘Pret Behaviors’ to create the Buzz and an in-depth training program to instill those behaviors.”

Interestingly, the experience I had with Pret a Manger when I was in New York was exactly that. I had about 60 seconds to pay for my sandwiches and I remember experiencing the warmth smile and greetings from the staff who served me. I know now where that came from.

This example is not too far off from a couple more shared by Shep Hyken, a customer experience expert, speaker, and New York Times bestselling author. He talked about Walt Disney’s “Stooping Down to Excellence” or Ritz Carlton’s famous nine-words motto, “ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” These organizations start from the top with strong beliefs around customer engagement, and the leaders not only create the model, but also live out the principles, and encourage their employees to do the same.

Bottom line, the most successful customer-experience oriented organizations start with leadership. If the leader doesn’t get “it,” chances the employees won’t, either. If you’re a leader and you’re very much at the center of this topic, take heart—Hyken reminds us that excellence in customer experience is a journey, not a destination.

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