Build Admirable Acts, Guided by Your Non-Negotiables

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In my Daily Dose video series, I explore the topics that chief customer officers must grapple with on a daily basis. Join me as I discuss what I’ve learned over the course of my 35-year career, so that you can more effectively do the work that needs to be done.

The following is a lightly edited transcript of the video below. For the previous video about this topic, click here to read the transcript and access the video.


Today I want to introduce another really critical word, and that is “admirable acts” or “admiration.”

What’s interesting about the companies that earn a place in the hearts, the minds and the long term memory of their customers, is that it’s not just what they do or what they sell, but how they do it. There is an admiration that embraces their actions and their people—that fuse the company to individuals.

As I mentioned earlier, one of the things that we really need to do is be very deliberate about how we’re going to earn the memory in people’s hearts, how we’re going to earn your legacy. And I break that up into three sections: one is around “knowing it,” the other is “living it,” and the third is “building it.”

In this “Daily Dose,” we’re going to focus on a critical part of “build it.”

Now one of the first things that we need to do—when we think about building an order organization and an experience that earns a legacy—is building what I call your “non-negotiables.” Your non-negotiables are what you must always do to build in respect, trust, transparency—all of those attributes that you define as how you want to show up. It’s also being very clear about what you will not do. So I like to call these your guardrails for building out your operation.

Now there’s two actions I want you to think about, as you figure out what your guardrails are. Number one: create a new frame for how you decide what you’re going to put guardrails around. We often talk about the customer journey or experience with us by stages of the journey, but I have been really trying to move people and focus them instead on customers goals.

As customers work with you, they’re trying to achieve things. If you redefine the work of your business by customers goals, there’s still going to be on a journey with you—in a manner of sorts—but they’re going to decide when and how they move forward in that journey, based on the goals they’re trying to achieve at one time or another. So your first action item is to define your customer experience, your customer relationship, and your job as an organization, based on what goals you’re helping your customer to achieve, what goals you’re enabling your employee to deliver.

The second thing is: then get very, very clear about—within each customer goal—what must you always do operationally to help employees deliver on those goals, and then—almost more importantly than what you must always do—is what you will never do.

Now this requires a lot of digging. So what I suggest you do is: take one customer goal and bring in your employees, and then also your customers, and hear from them about the emotional responses and reactions they have today about how you make big decisions.

And from that, then go back and start digging in around the two or three things—that as people present things to you—you will guide. And create a conscience lens for when you’ll send people back to the drawing board, or when you’ll guide people to “rethink it, because it’s not something we’d ever do.”

For example, are you an organization that would inadvertently hide facts from customers or make it hard to get their information? Nobody does this on purpose. But complexity has become something that is analogous with customers not knowing the full truth. So if you really want to be truthful and transparent, then as your people and your organization builds things, truth is going to be one of your non-negotiables.

So in this “Daily Dose” today, the two things I want you to think about is defining your customers goals and then determining your non-negotiables by customer goal. What will you always do? What will you never do?

Bring your employees in because they’re going to tell you immediately where there’s a lack of congruence between what you say you want to do and what’s happening. And then also validate this with employees and with your customers.

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