How to Be a Better Customer Experience Leader

Annie Oehley

Formerly the Western Cape’s Regional Director for Kelly Recruitment, Annie Oehley has an extensive background in Human Resources. She currently runs her own Industrial Psychology practice – helping companies with training and development, as well as psychometric assessments for development, recruitment and promotion.
Annie Oehley

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4 Ways to Power Up Your Customer-Centric Leadership Strategy

by Annie Oehley, MA Industrial Psychology (cum laude)

In today’s competitive market, it goes without saying that high-level company leaders need to understand that meeting customer satisfaction needs is essential to the bottom line. Simple as it may seem, this is a complex issue – with many contributing elements – that has driven organisational psychologists to conduct extensive research on the various factors that impact on this goal.

Organisational psychology research makes use of scientific, statistics-based methods to identify what factors will lead to a company’s success. For nlighten’s clients, measuring customer satisfaction levels – and linking them to sales figures – becomes a primary point of focus.

What are some of the behaviours that define a successful customer-centric leader?

  1. Inspire your team to go above and beyond
    How to Be a Better Customer Experience Leader

A significant revelation linking employee behaviour to improved sales centres on customer satisfaction. Studies found that employees that go beyond what is expected of them – beyond company-defined performance expectations – tend to delight customers more, leading to marked increases in sales. It comes as no surprise that leadership behaviour (that of CEOs and Senior Management) had the strongest influence on an organisation’s “passion for service”.

  1. Adopt a participative leadership style
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Research findings show several common leadership behaviours that impact on proactive service performance. A participative leadership style encourages employee involvement in a company’s decision-making and emphasises the value of team contributions. Senior executives and line managers who micromanage less and empower their employees more by delegating responsibility to them – giving them more decision-making responsibility to complete their tasks – are more likely to nurture a passion for service excellence amongst their team.

  1. Focus on employee development
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A recent study within a major South African ITC organisation investigating line managers’ behaviours revealed that those who focussed on the need to attract and retain talented employees displayed an important set of behaviours that resulted in a profound mindset shift within the company.

In this case, the organisation’s CEO personally attended the Leadership Development Programme’s workshops and events – even participating in performance reviews. The message to all employees was that executive attitudes were focussed on excellence and employee development. By the same token, top management involvement in even the most menial of company activities, like service excellence programmes, can lead to improved levels of customer satisfaction.

  1. Lead by example
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Leader behaviours that focus on service quality include the ability to recognise and appreciate high-quality service, removing service delivery obstacles and setting clear customer satisfaction standards. When management support for customer experience excellence is abundant – employees are more likely to reflect that philosophy in their work – showing more customer-centric behaviours in the process.

In the end, leaders who rely too heavily on external service consultants or internal training departments to improve customer satisfaction levels without including themselves – are unlikely to develop teams with a proactive sense of service performance.


View a nlighten article by Nathalie Schooling on: How Customer Experience Impacts Bottom Line Growth

nlighten. enhancing customer experience: www.nlighten.co.za