Master these mindsets to enchant customers

Delighted customers. They drive powerful results and are integral to growth for more and more companies. But the bar to meet—and even better, exceed—customer expectations continues to rise along with the potential for increased speed and personalized service, provided by advances in technology as well as rapid sociological and economic shifts.

Additionally, social media is an added challenge, as any displeasure appears online instantly—and that spells reputational damage that is hard to walk back even when the complaint is unwarranted. Focusing on better customer care takes more than better call centers or higher-quality products and services. Creating a truly outstanding customer experience every time requires a cultural shift, with every employee fully on board with customer-centric attitudes and behaviors. Most organizations struggle.

Creating a truly outstanding customer experience every time requires a cultural shift, with every employee fully on board with customer-centric attitudes and behaviors.

Often, it is one or more of five critical mindsets that get in the way and must be addressed to enable distinctive customer service—and ultimately, customer satisfaction. Here we look at two of these mindsets: Employees serving customers are blind to the satisfaction issue that exists, and employees erroneously believe that their goal is to protect the company’s resources rather than delighting the customer. We will review the remaining three in an upcoming post.


From “I don’t think there is an issue with our customers, as I haven’t heard of anything significant” to “I continuously try to understand customers’ current and future expectations and how we are faring against them.”

In the daily life of an employee, it’s very easy to focus only on the task at hand without really listening to what customers are saying—especially if they’re not voicing any explicit complaints.

In addition, organizations often tend not to systematically educate their employees on what they have found really matters to customers and why—for example, by market research or learnings from other areas/locations. Without these insights, frontline employees lack the ability to decode “weak signals” sent by customers, and employees without direct customer contact remain constantly in the dark.

The supply chain leadership at a consumer packaged goods (CPG) company reached out to their distributors to examine their process end to end with the goals of streamlining and improving. Together, they discovered that the pallets being packed for the client had to be dismantled and repacked when they arrived at the warehouse, as the facility could only accept pallets of a certain size. The CPG company quickly adapted their pallets to accommodate this, therefore improving their distributor’s experience. Sometimes, just taking the time to observe the processes end to end can identify glaring issues no one raised previously.

The Takeaway: Management must empower employees to ask questions and look out for opportunities to improve the experience of the customer, rather than simply waiting to hear explicit dissatisfaction.

Resource Management

From “It doesn’t matter if not all customers are happy, as we cannot solve all customer demands” to “What matters most is the impact we have on our customers; our continued success will come from that.”

Employees sometimes see a customer need but believe that they should not use company resources to address it. They may think that solving a customer complaint will expend unnecessary resources and hurt the organization’s bottom line. Or, they may feel their customers should simply be satisfied with a uniform product or service. If they aren’t, employees explain they can only provide what’s available.

This situation often gets thornier when top management emphasizes financial objectives more frequently than customer and employee experience. Employees may honestly feel they are expected to protect the organization from unnecessary expense and only serve customers in a generic, prescribed way.

A European car rental company, acting on customers’ feedback on slow service, revamped its consumer experience to create speedier service. Customers receiving a different vehicle from the one they requested dropped 70 percent, productivity increased, costs fell 10 percent and service revenue rose 5 percent.

The cost of pleasing one difficult customer is offset by increased revenues realized by attracting customers drawn to a company’s reputation for sterling customer service.

The Takeaway: Keeping the focus on operational and financial goals over customer and employee goals fosters behavior that undermines the customer experience and, ultimately, the company’s economic success.

Improving these mindsets, when bolstered from senior management, will not only raise customer satisfaction and delight customers, but generate better returns in the process.

In the next post, we will examine what lack of accountability, lack of empowerment and self-perception do to customer satisfaction.

Learn more about our People & Organizational Performance Practice