Leadership & CX

Whenever we work with clients on optimizing or enhancing their customer experience (CX), there is a methodology we generally follow. It always starts with the Brand Promise. Among the several steps, one of them is actually to Pivot around the customer but in that process, we need one crucial element, the Human touch.

When I talk about the human touch, it normally means the people that make up the organization, empowering them to deliver on the brand promise. To start however, the most important aspect is leadership.

You have read it here before. The ownership of the customer experience starts with the CEO. Not the customer service department or the support staff. If the leadership does not have responsibility of the customer experience, then no one in the organization will. This means that leadership is required and needs to play the crucial role.

Let me relate an interesting real-life experience. Honda’s tagline is the Power of Dreams. The brand in Malaysia is well known for quality, reliability and resale value. They have built a large network of service centers, including a number of premium end-to-end centers that can perform all sorts of repairs, even body work and painting. Recently, a friend purchased a Honda vehicle including some specific accessories. However, a couple of weeks later, one of the accessories started to come apart. Since the car was due for the first month check-up, it was assumed that it could be fixed then.

For warranty reasons, the process required the customer bring in the car for a visual confirmation and approval before the work can be done. While this is done to protect the organization in the event the customer voided the warranty due to their actions, the process should not have required the customer bring the car in for verification and a second time for the repair. The repair work actually took only an hour so the two visits should not have been imposed on the customer. Nevertheless, after the repair visit, the part came apart again several hours later. Calling the sales rep, service manager and repair manager did not yield any result and only after some escalation that the service manager called my friend back. Note that this warranty repair falls under the jurisdiction of the Repair Manager and not the Service Manager. The Service Manager called to ask my friend bring the car in at her convenience for the repair again.

This is bad form. If the Repair Manager was responsible for this repair, shouldn’t he be one to make the call? Secondly, considering the situation, to expect the customer to bring the car in again a third time without any promise for an expedited fix or special appointment shows indifference to the customer’s plight. Only after further escalation did Honda dispatch a repair team to the customer’s premise to perform the repair. It took under an hour.

Talking to my friend about the entire incident just proves to show that leadership matters for the customer experience. She said if only the repair manager would have called her up and arrange perhaps a special priority slot to get the repair done quickly, she might have just taken up the offer and make a third visit. Instead, the indifference made her angry enough to escalate the problem, up to the point of demanding her money back.

Things break. People fail. When the proverbial fecal matter hits the spinning blades, leadership is needed the most. Empowering people is important but so is leadership. Even superheroes need leadership.

Spoilers if you’ve not watched Avengers End Game




At the final battle, when all the Avengers arrive to back Steve Rogers aka Captain America up, what do they wait for? Leadership. And the good captain doesn’t let them down. He assembles them and leads the way. Customer Experience may not be as dangerous as Thanos but the same principle applies.