One of the Most Asked Questions: How Customer Experience Leaders Really Win

I’m fortunate to consult with many companies that deliver extraordinary customer experiences (CX) – some of which are featured in my books. Because of that work, media and social media interviewers often ask me:

What are the commonalities of “best in class” customer experience businesses?

Here are five characteristics to consider as you evaluate the strength of the experiences you and your colleagues deliver. World-class CX organizations:

1) Practice Servant Leadership. CEOs in the best CX companies are servant leaders. Fortunately, even when the C-suite isn’t fully committed to serving its team members, other leaders in the organization can have an immense impact and provide examples for the C-Suite. While there are many definitions of servant leaders, I focus on several core behaviors. Specifically, servant leaders:

  • practice self-care
  • address problems by listening to understand
  • engage people with empathy and acceptance
  • communicate a compelling service vision
  • demonstrate realism, perceptiveness, and self-awareness

In their book The Leadership Challenge, James Kouzes and Barry Posner describe servant leadership this way:

“Of all the things that sustain a leader over time, love is the most lasting. The best-kept secret of successful leaders is love: staying in love with leading, with the people who do the work, with what their organizations produce, and with those who honor the organization by using its work.”

2) Define What They Want Every Customer to Feel Every Time. Leaders take the time to state the desired emotional experience and invest in training on the importance of delivering optimal emotional value. I refer to this alignment strategy as a Way We Serve Statement™.

3) Practice Continuous Customer Listening. In last week’s newsletter, I outlined how to take a multi-dimensional approach to acquire information on customer behavior, subjective customer input, and objective customer survey results. World-class customer experience organizations always listen, observe, and anticipate customer needs.

4) Use Customer Insights to Design, Implement, and Innovate. While listening is essential to customer understanding, extraordinary CX businesses use what they learn to design, streamline, and create new products, services, and experiences. Darren Hardy addresses the connection between customer listening and innovative design by asking:

Do you connect to your customers by asking questions and genuinely listening to the answers? And if so, do you take the extra step to connect those customers to expertly personalized solutions?

5) Drive Accountability for Overall Human Experience. Leaders in world-class CX companies don’t make distinctions between employee or customer experience. They create a culture of accountability focused on demonstrating care to all people (e.g., team members, customers, shareholders, vendors).

So how are you stacking up against these common aspects of CX greatness? More importantly, where are your opportunities to improve?

To learn more about ways to position your company as a best-in-class customer experience provider, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at

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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.

Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

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