Cultivating Fantastic Customer Experiences – Part 2

In part one of this series, Nate Brown talked about the dangers of rocky soil, also known as a poor employee experience.  I’d like to take this opportunity to one-up him with a little gardening story of my own.  Please bear with me here as I border on the disgusting.

As an owner of two Chocolate Labrador Retrievers, I shovel a TON of dog poop!  I typically shovel the poop into a bucket and dump it into the trash later.  On one occasion, I took way too long to make that transfer and sure enough – a tomato plant sprouted out of the bucket of poop.  Let me tell you how this truly scientific process went.  I fed a dog a tomato, the seeds then made their way through the dog, and sprouted into a lovely plant.  When I say lovely, I mean that we had hundreds of beautiful, red grape tomatoes.

I’m sure you’re asking, “Oh my goodness! Did he eat them?”  I am pleased to announce that I did NOT eat the tomatoes.  After consulting with people smarter than myself, I learned that the bacteria could potentially make its way into the tomatoes and make us sick.

Examine The Soil A Bit Further

This certainly makes the soil analogy interesting doesn’t it?  While my soil was apparently fertile enough to grow a plant, the fruit that was produced could have made me sick.  The effects here can be destructive, they just may take a bit longer to occur.

When you think in these terms, the soil is really the culture we build in our organizations.  There are many, many different company cultures where people can exist for a long time, and yet the fruit produced by that culture is toxic to both the employee and the customer.

A Better Way

One of my customer service heroes, Shep Hyken always says “Treat your employees the way you want your customers treated – maybe even better!”   As business leaders, it is imperative that we see this correlation and then build a culture that does just this.  I’d like to propose a few steps to achieve this.

  1. Invest In Our Employees- In my opinion, StrengthsFinder is the best thing since sliced bread, but that’s partly because that’s where my experience lies.  Regardless of the tool you select, you are showing employees that they are valuable to you.
  2. Learn About Ourselves First- The first real value with these tools is helping individuals gain higher self-understanding.  Until we have a good understanding of ourselves, it is very difficult to understand others.  Again, you are communicating to individual employees that they are valuable.
  3. Learn About One Another- Once we have a good understanding of ourselves, we can then learn about others.  StrengthsFinder gives employees the opportunity to dialog with one another about their strengths and gain a better understanding of how not to just coexist but to thrive together.  This shows employees that the company values healthy teams.
  4. Let The Fun Begin- Now that you’ve laid the foundation and everyone understands themselves and one another, you are well on your way to a cohesive team with a solid foundation.  I could lay out any number of options for team events to build cohesion.  The fact of the matter is, a team that understands one another won’t have any problem figuring out how to have fun together.

Are you building a healthy culture, or much like my “poomatoes,” is it toxic?  Your customers CAN tell the difference and this affects employee and customer retention.

What team building tools does your company use in order to communicate value to employees and build cohesive teams?  Please tell us.  Stay tuned for part three where Jenny will share her thoughts on ways we can cultivate this fertile soil and bear healthy fruit in our organizations.

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Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Experience at FCR, the premiere provider of outsourced call center and business process solutions. He has more than 17 years of experience as a customer service and experience professional. He is co-founder of the Customer Service Life blog and a regular contributor. Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.

One comment

  • Very insightful. I couldn’t agree more. Build a great team, on a solid foundation. You take care of your people and they will take care of you. Not because they have to but because they want to.

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