I like to think that as leaders we only have one priority: Our customers, and their service and purchase experience. Everything else we do supports that priority.
Some of what we do to support that priority is more important than other parts of our job. First, being an OutFront frontline leader. Making sure the customer priority stays the priority.
Second, coaching and developing the staff to deliver the best possible service and sales experience. The more we help our employees be even better, the better the customer’s experience. Perfect since that’s our priority!
Here are three leadership tips/reminders to help you accomplish this goal.
1. See YOUR day as a series of choices. As a young manager I often felt like my day ran me, as though I had no control over what was going on. At the end of the day I was exhausted and had accomplished hardly anything I planned to do.
Nothing changed until I realized that I always had a choice about what I did. I could delegate. I could put something off. I could knock something off my list quickly. Most important, I learned to challenge myself by asking, "Is this the best use of my time at this moment?"
When a leader has a choice, they’re able to keep the customer and his/her experience as the priority.
2. See your actions as words. It was Gandhi who said that action expresses priorities. Your staff won't always follow what you say, but they'll do what you do. Your actions tell your staff what is most important each and every day.
It's not the memo. It's not the training video. It's what you, as a leader, do day in and day out that communicates what's important. Many leaders do not communicate a customer priority in what they’re doing.
Of course you have many other things to get done in addition to working with customers. Leadership is choosing the right time to do them. Frequently reminding your staff to interrupt you when they get busy.
Making sure your staff knows that customers come before any other tasks and activities you've asked them to do.
3. Make time every day to coach and lead on the floor. Again, when we develop our people, we improve the experience. Following through on our priority.
Most people work from a to-do list. I believe leaders should start that list by blocking out the time they're going to be coaching and leading their team. Everything else works around that. This isn't when you're "working the floor" or “hanging out in a cube” but when you're coaching and leading. There's a big difference.
So let me ask, how well are you leading a customer priority?
How to use this article
Discuss with your leadership team how well they communicate and act a customer priority, and in which of these areas they can improve. Take a moment also to brainstorm two or three more things they might do to improve their prioritization.