Cultivating Fantastic Customer Experiences – Part 3

cultivate3In part one of this series, Nate Brown (@CustomerIsFirst) talks about putting the focus on the employee experience to benefit the customer experience.

Then, Jeremy (@jtwatkin) follows up in part two with his “poomatoes” and how fertile soil can grow toxic cultures.

And now, here I am to roll it all together. Or, something like that.

I have little to no experience in gardening. I gave up before I even began. I over water and under nourish every plant I try to grow, even when I follow the instructions on the tag! So why even bother?

When I was a child though, we had a garden in our backyard. It was my responsibility to “harvest” some of the vegetables that my younger sister and I planted. One day, after school, I was in the garden, picking carrots out of the dirt. One particular carrot was jammed in there pretty good and was tough to get out, so I began digging in the dirt beside it. As I’m digging, I hit what appeared to be an air pocket in the soil. Out crawls a giant, hairy wolf spider from it’s cozy den that I just destroyed. I fell back and screamed as the spider scuttled away. I then ran inside to share the story with my sister, who never stepped foot into the garden again for fear of running into the spider.

So you see, even with a bounty of fresh vegetables to harvest, there will always be some unexpected gaps in the soil with creepy, crawly things ready to leap out at you. These are the holes and challenges in your company culture.

While you may not be able to prevent or predict what happens or when it happens, being prepared for those culture pits begins with having a strong, passionate team, working together, with the right tools for the job.

Because, when you encounter a surprise like that, it can leak over into your customer experience, possibly shying them away from doing business with you.

So how can you “mind the gap” in your company culture, keep everyone on the same page, including your customers, without everyone freaking out about what lurks below?

It’s not an easy job but sometimes we just have to step into the shoes of what we’re trying to grow!

Be the Carrot

A carrot grows underground with its green leaves sprouting out of the soil. As a leader, you have the tough job to keeping one ear to the ground and one to the sky. Being present and mindful about the culture that surrounds you helps you be ready for action when something goes awry.

Be the Sunflower

Sunflowers are the leaders that grow tall in the garden. Sunflowers turn and face the sun.  In the company culture, it’s important to have people who are focused on the greater vision and mission of the company so we are moving in the right direction. Their many seeds (of knowledge) are shared with the soil to grow more flowers or given as a snack to squirrels, birds or us humans. They don’t hold back! They are can grow together successfully as a group and they can grow successfully on their own, which is a huge part of building a strong relationship and culture (i.e. taking care of yourself to take care of others).

Be the Pumpkin

The pumpkin grows on the vine, together, with it’s pumpkin friends. Pumpkins are harvested and used for so many different things from scrumptious pie, to stage coaches to Jack-o-Lanterns. On a team, it’s important to acknowledge and appreciate the variety of unique qualities of each team member and what they bring to the garden.

Cultivating customer experience can be dirty business.  With so many obstacles (i.e. rocks, poomatos, wolf spiders, etc.) there will inevitably be moments you will want to throw in the towel.  Don’t give up.  The fruits of your labor will take shape in lasting customer loyalty…a treat cherished in any organization!


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  • I love your stories, not sure whether I am the carrot, the sunflower or the pumpkin. Or maybe I’m just the poop that helps everything grow. I think we all need to be a combination of all of the strengths including leader, listener, teammate and consultant. Excellent use of examples Jenny. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks Doug! You’re so right–I think we do need a combo of everything to truly thrive and help our customers thrive.

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