April 26, 2011
There’s a famous story about a group of visitors to Disney. They were walking in the Magic Kingdom when they saw a gray-haired man walk out of his way to pick up a piece of litter. One person in the group approached the man and asked, “How many custodians are there here?” The man replied, “45,000”. The guest was surprised at so many.
The next day the group attended a “Traditions” meeting and the same gray-haired man was there. His name was Michael Eisner, Chairman and CEO of Disney.
There is a strong link between leadership and great customer service. In 20 years of delivering customer service training, I’ve observed that companies with effective leaders are more likely to have employees who deliver great customer service. Great leaders don’t just talk about customer service; they demonstrate what it looks like for their employees.
Leaders need to have a vision of what they want to achieve.
Few employees will support a customer service initiative that is not clearly defined. They need to understand why they are being asked to do something. The vision needs to be communicated. Let everyone share in it. Let employees see what’s in it for them if they follow you.
Great leaders delegate and empower.
That doesn’t mean that they simply dump on their employees. They create structure, allocate responsibility, provide support, and offer training and resources. They empower their people to make decisions. This is part of what makes people feel significant.
Great leaders always respect the people on their team.
They treat their employees as their primary customers. Successful business leaders are masters at keeping their people informed. How are we doing? What are we doing? What new is happening? Newsletters and other internal communication tools should be used to keep employees up to date and informed on the big picture. Key performance indicators are set and explained clearly to employees. Targets are set and success is celebrated. This is how leaders create a sense of community.
Great leaders keep the energy going.
They demonstrate their passion for the company, their vision and customer service through their actions. They have the strength and the energy to work against the odds to achieve their vision. They create a buzz in their organization that keeps the team excited about providing great service.Research conducted by the Strategic Planning Institute found that those businesses that gave good service grew twice as fast as those with poor service. Great service starts at the top of the organization and needs to be frequently reinforced through training and leading by example.