With increasing frequency, technology is providing elements of customer care that used to be handled by people. The apps on our phones, the internet of things and artificial intelligence (AI) have already revolutionized the way we interact, and that transformation is projected to accelerate.
But author Jeanne Bliss reminds us that interactions with our colleagues and our customers will always need to be infused with humanity. “An app alone will not solve everything,” Bliss wrote in a recent article. “With the stratospheric increase in high tech solutions to ‘take care’ of customers, the need for high touch has also escalated. Customers need a healthy dose of both.”
How would your mother feel?
Bliss is one of the mainstage speakers at the Center for Services Leaderships’ Compete Through Service Symposium, October 24-26 in Scottsdale, Arizona. During a 23-year corporate career, she pioneered the role of Chief Customer Officer, holding the first-ever COO role at Lands’ End, Microsoft, Coldwell Banker and Allstate Corporations. Now a consultant, Bliss is founder and president of CustomerBliss, and the co-founder of the Customer Experience Professionals Association.
She’s also the author of “Would You Do That to Your Mother? The ‘Make Mom Proud’ Standard for How to Treat Customers.” The new book taps the lessons children learn from caring families to reframe how companies think about and execute service.
Mothers model for their children the way to treat other people. As Bliss writes: “[Moms] share freely. They have our back. They are there, in good times and bad. They always have our best interest in mind. They are brave.” Those traits should describe a company’s relationship with its employees and its customers, she says. In fact, companies that emulate these behaviors are the ones that grow and succeed: they are the “Make-mom-proud companies.”
A journey of transformation can begin, she says, by picturing your Mom as the customer at the other end of that phone call. Would you be happy with the way your company treats her? This simple visualization is “a powerful and instant reality check” as you evaluate your customer service and your employee relations, she says.
A workbook for transformation
In the book, Bliss provides a chapter-by-chapter guide to building humanity and empathy into the core of your organization.
It all starts with employees. “The Make-mom-proud companies find the people whose upbringing and values align to what they want their company to stand for,” Bliss writes. “And then they enable them to bring that version of themselves to work.” Once the right people are on board, successful companies fetter out the processes that prevent employees from acting according to their values. Th result? “Human needs prompt innovation. Teams unite. The front line is prepared and trusted to extend grace when warranted,” she writes.
Next, Bliss says to take a hard look at what it’s like to be your customer. What are the “bar of soap” moments? Is an interaction with your company fraught with waiting, complexity, repetition, anxiety? Make-mom-proud firms work hard to find those moments and resolve them with respect and reliability.
When companies untangle the processes that frustrate customers, they are demonstrating another trait that Bliss associates with Make-mom-proud organizations: they have their customers’ best interests in mind. They realize their own success is contingent upon customer success.” Bliss says that this is at the heart of companies that are “grow most organically, earning ardent admirers.”
Bliss says that embedding humanity into the business culture and operating model require “deliberateness of leadership.”
In a recent article Bliss writes: “Companies need to FOCUS. On the lives they serve. On rethinking the automatic responses and operations, and their processes that might cut the human out of how they serve.”
Because that customer is somebody’s mom. Treat her well and your company is legend.
“a lens guide to your company decisions” –by simply envisioning the person at the receiving end as your mother.
To see Jeanne Bliss in action, among other stellar keynote speakers, join us at the Compete Through Service Symposium, October 24-26, 2018 in Scottsdale Arizona. Visit wpcarey.asu.edu/symposium for program details and registration information.