One part of my business is that I have to travel a lot. I see the best and worst of what companies actually do to their customers. The poor experiences seem to overwhelm the best. Have you noticed?

Just recently I was going from Minneapolis to NYC. The jet was late, the attendants crabby and when I got to my hotel, the clerk was annoyed that I was late and acted more tired than I was. Chalk one up for mediocre service. Maybe you take the corporate jet and this isn’t a concern. But I am sure that you buy “stuff” with your money at a variety of places, and it doesn’t take long to experience service breakdowns, does it?

Quickly we all experience:

  • discourteous employees
  • unresponsiveness zombie-like employees
  • customer service reps that can’t make a decision
  • excessive delays on the phone
  • unknowledgeable employees
  • lack of complaint resolution
  • dinosaur service policies that don’t help
  • confusing service options
  • false promises

The list could go on, but let’s not get depressed. Sometimes I wonder what these organizations are thinking. Did they plan for their employees to do a poor job? Do they just not know what to do? Do they care? Are they stupid?!

I receive the American Customer Satisfaction Indexes (ACSI) monthly reports. I noticed that the average customer satisfaction rating is 76.8.This is about a “C” grade at best. I wouldn’t give the two companies mentioned above that I interacted with that high a rating. It’s too bad that so many companies have poor service or, at best, average service. Research shows us that the top service companies have higher sales growth and profits over time. Check out the PIMS Database, US Office of Consumer Affairs, Forrester, Bain and ACSI. Intuitively, we all know it is common sense. Companies with awesome service have higher customer loyalty and financial success. Superior service pays.

Instead of working to improve, it seems like everyone keeps surveying customers for more and more feedback but little actually changes. I think companies need to stop spending millions of dollars on customer surveys for data that isn’t used and provides little real return, and invest it in creating customer driven teams. It is obvious that few companies do this. Why not survey and measure less, and spend significantly more time listening to, training, coaching, recognizing, communicating with, planning with, supporting, innovating with and helping your employee teams? What if company managers did all of this like they were supervising Olympic athletes? In our technology driven society this next sentence may be a radical thought. Become people focused, not system focused. Imagine if we made employees the heroes of the business? I think they would serve customers in grand style, don’t you? This is the “secret sauce” to success that so many companies have discounted or forgotten.


Jeff Bezos of Amazon says, “If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.” Walt Disney added, “Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.” I just had to share these words of wisdom with you. For the good of the economy, and your success, I hope you or your organization consider the secret sauce to a superior customer experience. Your career and your company’s survival may depend on it.

By the way, do you want to enhance your career by increasing the customer experience of your department or organization today? Download this complimentary guide: Creating Sustainable Customer Loyalty and Sales Growth.

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