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Who Drives Customer Experience?

A few days ago, I blogged about Uber’s growing challenge with customer experience – a challenge every business faces. There was a key piece of information I didn’t highlight in that post because it’s so important I felt it warranted it’s own post. Well, here it is.

To summarize my earlier post, Uber’s ability to have drivers consistently deliver a world-class customer experience is the key to their long-term success. It’s not technology, marketing, or capital. It’s customer experience.

If you boil that down to its simplest form it means that Uber’s drivers will drive Uber’s success. Go one level deeper and you realize that means Uber’s success will depend on some of the lowest compensated people in their organization – people who, in Uber’s case, aren’t even employees.

That’s not unique to Uber, though. It’s true for almost every organization.

The challenge for leaders then is how to ensure that even the lowest compensated members of your organization are committed to delivering a world-class customer experience. Traditionally, training and management have been considered the keys. While those two things, obviously, play a role, I would argue one often-overlooked thing is significantly more important: passion.

Chick-fil-a is famous for its customer experience. So why is their experience so much better than their competitors? Sure, Chick-fil-a provides top-notch training and constantly stresses to employees the importance of service, but so do their competitors. The difference is passion. Working at Chick-fil-a is more than a job. Truett Cathy, Chick-fil-a’s founder, said, “Our goal is to have a positive influence on all who come in contact with us. We do not just do business; we become a vital part of the communities in which we exist.”

There’s only so much passion you can generate around selling chicken sandwiches, burgers, services, software, products or anything else. But having a positive influence on people’s lives, that’s something everyone in an organization can be passionate about – regardless of how much money they make. If they can’t, there’s probably a job waiting for them at one of Chick-fil-a’s competitors.

In the early days of Uber, when the customer experience was exceptional and consistent, their drivers had passion. They were changing people’s lives for the better – and getting paid to do it. You could feel it in the little things they did and hear it in how they talked. Some of those drivers are still around today, but they don’t represent the majority.

Today, the majority of the drivers are simply working a job that requires them to drive people from one place to another – and they don’t hesitate to tell you they’re not getting paid enough to do it. That’s a formula for a bad customer experience and something Uber – as well as every business – must address to be successful over the long haul.

Passion is the key to delivering an incredible customer experience. Creating it requires leaders to effectively communicate to every team member – regardless of their level of compensation – the “why” behind what they do. What are you doing to insure you team understands the work they are doing is more than just a job? Your answer may well determine your long-term success.

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