7 Habits to Guide and Inspire Every CX Leader
For many people, myself included, Stephen R. Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” lays out a wonderfully simple but powerful set of guidelines for working well, collaborating successfully, and achieving meaningful goals. It’s also timeless. Feeling stuck? Feeling like your CX vision is stuck? Chances are, even a quick review of the 7 habits can offer up the reassuring reset, renewed optimism, and clarity of thought necessary to move forward with better results.
So, when I came across Stephen Van Belleghem’s recent CX take on Covey’s Habits, I wondered how on earth has no one had thought to do this before now? It’s a smart, on point, and refreshing reminder for all of us in the CX space: if we set the right, lofty goals, map out a way to get there, starting from the here and now, and we truly engage with and rally all stakeholders, we’ll get there.
I hope you enjoy these 7 CX Habits as much as I have. And I hope that, when you’re ready to partner with a customer contact provider who is just as committed to your brand promise and your customers’ experience as you are, you’ll reach out to us at Skybridge Americas. We would love to learn about your business and show you how Skybridge Americas delivers superior CX to all of our clients’ customers.
The 7 habits of highly effective CX leaders
Stephen R. Covey’s bestseller ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ is one of the most influential business books of all times, selling more than 40 million copies and inspiring and transforming leaders all over the world. Coming across an infographic with these 7 habits recently, it struck me that they were so fundamental of successful human behaviour that they were perfectly applicable to people responsible for customer experience as well. And so I decided to write this blog, applying Covey’s ‘rules’ to CX leaders:
- Habit 1: Be proactive.
- Habit 2: Begin with the end in mind.
- Habit 3: Put first things first.
- Habit 4: Think win-win.
- Habit 5: Seek first to understand, and then to be understood.
- Habit 6: Synergize.
- Habit 7: Sharpen the saw.
Habit 1: Be proactive.
Covey talks about the difference between the circle of concern and the circle of influence. The circle of concern consists of all the things that are out of your control, like the weather, the economy and mistakes that others make. The circle of influence consists of all the things you can control: like your skills, what you learn or your attitude. You can either choose to be reactive or proactive here. If you’re reactive, you’ll keep complaining about the things that are out of your control and get nowhere. If you’re proactive, you’ll not only not complain about the things you can do nothing about, but you’ll find out what you can do to improve the situation.
Just like that, highly effective CX leaders are proactive: they don’t overly focus on the negative parts of CX that they cannot control. Take the case of a really difficult customer who probably made a mistake in the online order procedure and then tries to pass off that mistake to a faulty website. There are two ways to react to that: put all your time and effort in finding out who made the mistake. If you find out that the mistake is the customer’s, (s)he will be annoyed anyway, maybe even livid because they see it differently and might never return, leaving negative reviews all over the web. And if the mistake is indeed yours, the customer won’t be happy either, because they will have had to wait a longer time before their problem was fixed. Top CX leaders, however, won’t put time and effort in finding out who made the mistake, but they will fully invest on what they can control: do everything in their power to put the smile back on the face of the customer. And do everything in their power to check, doublecheck and improve the ordering system so that mistakes – even those on the side of the customer – almost never happen.
Habit 2: Begin with the end in mind.
Covey believes that successful people have some sort of “map” in their minds of where they want to go in life. They determine their life goals and develop a plan on how to get there. They figure out their destination first and then work towards it.
Amazon has a list of Leadership Principles which is used every day, “whether they’re discussing ideas for new projects or deciding on the best approach to solving a problem”. The top of that list features “Customer Obsession”, which they explain in a very Covey-ish manner:
“Leaders start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.”
I’s a “rule” that I often mention in my keynotes and books: a company can only be great at CX if it starts with ‘the end’, with the customer – not its own great ideas or processes or whatever seems more important at the time – and works backwards from there.
Habit 3: Put first things first.
This one is about prioritizing. It seems pretty easy, but we all know that sometimes we get stuck in answering e-mails or in meetings that are actually a lot less important or urgent that we would like to believe. Covey designed a really handy quadrant to help us decide if we should do, plan, delegate or eliminate something from our to do list:
In CX, for me the priority is pretty simple: always focus on Joy, on the things that make your customers happy. That should always be the first and last thing on your mind. All the other things, that can sometimes take up a lot of bandwidth, may seem important, but they really aren’t, when you compare them to “Joy”.
Covey’s first three habits are about moving someone from being dependent, to being independent. They’re about self-mastery, inner strength, character, purpose, and values. The next three habits are about transforming from independent to being interdependent, which is the highest level of what Stephen Covey calls the maturity continuum (from dependence to independence to interdependence). Interdependence is the level where you think like a team or like a family and where you make each other better.
Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing