Want to Improve the Customer Experience? Start With Your Team.

Monday, April 2 2012
BuildPeopleEvery customer you serve has an experience; whether bad, indifferent, good or great. Great customer experiences do not happen by accident – they happen by design. Each customer is unique and their definition of a great customer experience will also be different. For some it may be the ease of interactions on your website, or telephone; to others it will be speed of product delivery or problem-solving.

Regardless of the definition it is certain that creating a great customer experience starts with meeting the needs of your internal customers, the people who work for your organization. Happy and satisfied internal customers generate happy and satisfied external customers.

It is not enough to assume you are delivering a positive customer experience. Bain and Company did a survey that revealed the perils of assumption. Of 362 firms surveyed 80% indicated they believed they delivered a superior customer experience; however, only 8% of the customers agreed!

I believe that if those 362 firms had focused on delivering superior service to the people within their organization the results would have been different. What can you as a leader do to improve the customer experience of your team members?


  • Cancelling meetings with team members to accommodate more senior staff or clients. Cancelling once because of a genuine situation is acceptable, but cancelling regularly sends a strong message about where your staff fit in your priorities, and that they are not valued.
  • Micromanaging. Let team members grow, learn to organize, and make decisions.
  • Dictating goals. Involve the individual who is tasked with completing the goal to ensure you have achieved a mutual acceptable agreement.
  • Assuming that what drives or pleases you motivates others.


  • Having regular coaching sessions with your team members.
  • Asking for input. Involve your team in decisions.
  • Giving frequent feedback about what individuals are good at, as well as areas they can develop.
  • Celebrating successes.
  • Listening with empathy. Strive to understand how others feel.

A great leader cultivates a flexible style in order to leverage the diverse strengths of the team. You cannot bake a cake with only one ingredient; nor can you develop an effective team with carbon-copy members.

If your goal is improving your external customer experience, reflect upon how you are treating your team. Happy team members will strive to provide a better customer experience to your clients. Please remember to feed your staff and they will in turn feed the customer.