I have been a big fan of Dr. Joseph Michelli ever since his book, The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary. Having had a long career in hospitality, I especially enjoyed reading Dr. Michelli’s The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton. That was followed by The Zappos Experience: 5 Principles to Inspire, Engage, and WOW. Having read all three, I strongly recommend them to anyone interested in creating the World’s Best Experience for their customers. Each book offers insight on how these companies have established their internal processes to ensure the consistent delivery of their trademark service. Individuals and businesses are sure to learn something from the philosophies, principles and practices of these companies that they can then incorporate into their own operations to create exceptional customer experiences. I am sure there is as much value that can be found in Dr. Michelli’s newest book, but I will let him introduce it. So it is a real privilege for me to feature a post from him. You can find out more about Dr. Michelli and a great offer on his new book at the end of his post.
I’m honored to provide this guest blog for Bill, a guy who will certainly leave a legacy for helping leaders develop the “world’s best customer experiences.” Which begs a broad question for all of us, what will our legacies be?
Charles Dudley Warner, likely crafted the phrase “everyone talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it.” Sadly, when it comes to transforming customer experiences there are parallels to Warner’s observation – since much is tried and far less is accomplished. Take a Forrester Research finding that 92% of companies have customer experience elevation on their strategic priority list and juxtapose that with data from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) showing customer satisfaction is approaching a 9-year low. You see the problem.
There are a lot of well-intentioned leaders who are not “ALL-IN” when it comes to transforming customer experiences and I suspect the difference between “investment” and “commitment” may account for so many failed efforts. While I have had the good fortune to consult with a wide swath of senior leaders, several years of interaction at Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) highlights the value of declaring, defining and fully committing to (not simply investing in) customer obsession. These and many other lessons are chronicled in my new book Driven to Delight: Delivering World-Class Customer Experience the Mercedes-Benz Way. For our purpose lets hone in on a few key takeaways:
Declare It Now – Have you determined what you want your leadership legacy to be? Will a portion of that legacy reflect your role in engaging your team and your customers? Leadership guru, John Maxwell, suggests that each of us will be remembered “in one sentence, so write it now.” The CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) Steve Cannon, has been very public about his legacy. In magazines such as Automotive News and in appropriate discussions with stakeholders, Steve repeatedly and resoundingly declares “customer experience will be my legacy.”
Live-In to Your Declaration – The problem with publicly declaring a legacy is that it places pressure on you to make choices in accord with it. Heightened focus on those choices occurs when we select accountability partners and when we seek mentors to guide us on our path. That’s where following thought-leaders like Bill comes in!
Inspire Others – Harry Hynekamp, general manager of customer experience at Mercedes-Benz USA, notes “customer experience transformation it hard work. There is no end point and it doesn’t spontaneously combust. It takes stewardship and dedication.” Since customer centric success comes from mobilizing people, improving processes, and integrating technological/human solutions, communication is a key requirement of leaders. Legacies take shape when those leaders willingly and transparently tell stories of success and setback along their purposeful journey.
Measure & Celebrate – One of my favorite questions is “how do you know?” How do you know if you are creating one of the worlds best customer experiences? How do you know if you are living your legacy? By setting signposts in advance and defining key performance indicators, we truly can gauge progress. At Mercedes-Benz the aspiration was to fulfill their brand promise of “best or nothing” not only in their automotive innovation and safety but also in their customer experience. Progress is measured by internal metrics and number 1 finishes on the American Customer Satisfaction Index and the J D Power Sales Satisfaction Index.
Give It Away – To maximize legacy, one has to magnify one’s influence. The best calculation of influence I have run across is the multiplication of scope and effort. Influence goes up as the number of people you affect increases and as you enhance the effort you dedicate to them. When it comes to the complexities of improving customer experiences, it takes enterprise-wide scope. The more we volunteer our “lessons learned” and “knowledge gained” the more we influence others. In turn, the more we mobilize our organization to improve the live of customers.
Lest, you think the concept of legacy sounds a tad self-serving or grandiose, in truth we all leave one! Some people design their careers to maximize their lasting positive impact others leave their legacy to chance. I hope you will consider a deeper dive into what it takes to create a thoughtful legacy that drives world-class customer experiences. In so doing, I further hope you will set a target like being Driven to Delight – every customer, every time – no excuses!
Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D., C.S.P., is an internationally sought-after speaker, author, and organizational consultant who transfers his knowledge of exceptional business practices in ways that develop joyful and productive workplaces with a focus on the total customer experience. His insights encourage leaders and frontline workers to grow and invest passionately in all aspects of their lives. Find out more about him at josephmichelli.com . Follow him on Twitter @
Dr. Michelli has graciously offered a sizable discount, free shipping, and an autographed copy of the book to the readers of this blog post. Simply click on the book cover above or here and enter the promo code VIP at checkout.