10 Key Qualities of Awesome Customer Experience Advocates - dummies

10 Key Qualities of Awesome Customer Experience Advocates

By Roy Barnes, Bob Kelleher

What is meant by customer experience advocates? Simple — those employees who lead, direct, and foster change in the area of building and sustaining a customer-centric culture. Following are ten key qualities of awesome customer advocates.

They know their corporate culture may be the enemy

As you confront the realities of an intransigent corporate culture, an understanding of Newton’s Laws of Motion (albeit slightly modified) will serve you well:

  • A body in motion (your company) tends to stay in motion unless an external force (your efforts) is applied to it.

  • Movement is produced when a force acts on a mass. The greater (the larger and more entrenched) the mass of the object (the organization being moved), the greater the amount of force (by you) needed.

  • For every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction. (Be careful not to get your butt kicked in the midst of trying to change the organization.)

Moving your organization takes substantial effort. You need to apply all the cultural change tools available to you.

Moreover, it requires tremendous personal courage. Often, being a strong customer advocate means taking on the existing organizational establishment. Don’t underestimate the challenge before you!

They’re part of the “commitment culture”

As noted by transformational leadership experts Carol and Jack Weber of the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, many organizations have a compliance culture rather than a commitment culture. The difference between these two cultures is spelled out here:

Compliance Culture Commitment Culture
Business as usual Want to really believe it
Have to go through the motions Understand the “why”
Do what we’re told Self-motivated
Feel burdened Feel excited
Feel constrained Think for yourself
Stay out of trouble Want to excel
Do the bare minimum Go beyond requirements
Wait for instructions Take action
Need more supervision Intent directed
Quickly yield to pressure Emotionally compelled and engaged

It’s the job of the customer experience advocate to help transition employees from a compliance culture to a commitment culture.

They declare themselves

To be an awesome customer experience advocate, you must take a stand. You must make your opinions known. You must draw your line in the sand to let people know what’s important to you. You must declare yourself.

A declaration is a statement about a future to which one is committed, but for which there is little or no current evidence. When you make a declaration, you speak for something rather than talk about it.

They’re believable

To communicate your views on customer experience, whether in public or in private, you must forge an emotional connection with your audience. You must be believable.

Believability is overwhelmingly determined at the preconscious level — in other words, in the first brain. The first brain is the part of the human brain that is ancient and primitive. It’s the source of instinctual survival responses like hunger, thirst, and the sensing of danger.

The first brain is similar to that of many animals. (This stands in contrast to the new brain. Intellectual and advanced, it gets all the attention. The new brain is uniquely human. It’s the source of rational thought, consciousness, memory, language, creativity, planning, and decision-making.)

Believability comes from your core, and it can’t be faked. It is best created by establishing trust. For its part, trust comes from you consistently behaving a certain way — in what you say and in what you do. It also comes from being personally committed to what you’re advocating.

They say thanks

Excellent customer experience advocates say thanks — and they say it often, regardless of whether the “thank-ee’s” contribution was big or small.

So what’s the best way to say thanks? Ask your grandmother. She’ll tell you that sending a handwritten note is the way to go. When you take the time to send a handwritten note, it will never be forgotten.

They can deal with bureaucracy

In your efforts to improve customer experience, you will eventually run head-on into your organization’s bureaucracy. If you don’t deal with it the right way, this red tape will leave you exhausted and frustrated.

Here are a few tips for effectively navigating the bureaucracy in your organization:

  • Know exactly what you are trying to accomplish.

  • Learn how the bureaucracy operates.

  • Understand the approval process.

  • Ask questions.

  • Identify the gatekeepers.

  • Do it in person.

  • Be friendly and courteous.

  • Remember that a bureaucracy is made up of individuals just like you.

They find customer experience co-conspirators

You are not alone! The secret is to find people who share your views. If the online world has proven anything, it’s that you are not alone. These days, you can find any number of people around the world whose perspectives and interests closely align with yours.

As a customer experience advocate, your job is to persuade people to reveal their true selves. Think of yourself as a great liberator of souls. When everyone is pretending to be “normal,” it’s hard to find people who share your passion for customer experience. But they are out there. Reveal yourself and your point of view, and so will they.

They’re courageous

Anytime you try to break the mold — anytime you try to do something different, like change the customer experience at your organization — you need courage. But of course, courage isn’t always easy to come by.

They go the distance

Fixing customer experience is a marathon, not a sprint. In endurance activities of any kind, the objective is to hang in there until the end. You have to pace yourself. It’s a big risk to push yourself too hard in the beginning.

Mental stamina is also called for. At the most basic level, you can build stamina by taking care of yourself. Manage your stress and get enough sleep. Then make sure you plan for setbacks. Somewhere along the line, you’re going to get knocked down by some intransigent bureaucrat. Have a plan for how you’re going to pick yourself back up. Every marathon runner hits the wall eventually. Prepare for it now.

Finally, think positively. Nothing builds mental toughness and resilience better than self-confidence. Listen to the internal words that you are saying to yourself. If they’re negative, shut them down. Consciously give yourself more positive messages.

They’re engaged

Are you wondering what the top quality of awesome customer experience advocates is? In a word: Engagement! You want employees who are fully involved and enthusiastic about their work. The best customer experience advocates are those who are inspired and deeply committed not only to their specific jobs but to the company’s mission overall.

Engaged employees talk about the future with energy and excitement. They give extra discretionary effort to ensure that the right results happen. It’s not just about employees who are willing to put in the extra hours, it’s about ones who are enamored with the end result — the ones who just can’t wait to see how it all turns out.