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Internal Focus Leads to External Results

March 12, 2019

In our world at ADDO, we do leadership—we build leaders and develop inspiring leadership programs. So the first time we meet with our clients to assess their needs, it’s interesting that they often want to focus on improving one of two sides of their organization: internally on culture development or team dynamics or externally on better customer relations, branding, or messaging. They tend to be fixated either on the how they show up internally (culture) or how they appear to customers (marketing).

This creates a struggle when we’re in a discovery process and seek to understand more about their organization’s culture, but they really just want us to focus on customer relations. On the other hand, when a client wants us to develop an employee program, and we start discussing how this might impact their brand, they get confused. They might even feel like we’re going down a rabbit trail. What they often fail to understand is that the internal company culture and the external customer experience are inextricably linked. Your employee engagement will eventually come through in the way you treat your customers. In other words, the culture behind the counter will always show up in the customer experience on the other side of the counter.

One of the reasons the customer experience at Chick-fil-A is so great is because they don’t just care for their customers, they care for their employees. Because they intentionally care for their employees (team members), their employees intentionally care for their customers. Their second-mile service starts from the top.

If you find yourself focusing on marketing and customer experience, you might want to spend some time analyzing your organization’s culture. On the other hand, if you’re only focused on culture, you need to understand that it will carry into your frontline interactions. If it feels fake or forced in the office, it’s likely to appear that way to your customers as well.

Here are three practical ways to improve customer experience by focusing on internal growth.

  1. Hire for character; train for competency. Cultivate the right company culture by getting the right kind of people on your team. You can teach skills to teachable and passionate people. You can’t change a talented person’s motivations.
  2. Make your purpose clear. If your team is passionately committed to your organization’s purpose, fruitful interactions with clients and customers will come naturally. But if there’s ambiguity around your purpose, even the best script on how to respond in every scenario will not protect your customers from an unsatisfactory experience.
  3. Listen. Your team members are on the front lines. They see things you do not see on a daily basis. They are smart (or at least I hope so if you hired them!). Empower them and your organization by listening to their feedback and encouraging them to improve the work you are doing.

It’s easy to get in the weeds, to see the problems, and to work to improve them one at a time. But this week, take a step back. Get a bird’s eye view of your organization, find ways improve the culture, and positive customer interactions just might follow.

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