Catching People Doing What’s Right Along the Customer Experience Journey


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Starting around 2012, I had the good fortune of working with the leadership team at Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) as they sought to elevate their customer experience from the middle of the pack among all automobile manufacturers on the J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI).

In late 2015, I was proud to share a view from the trenches as the MBUSA leadership team partnered with their dealer body to take their customer experience to the #1 position on the J.D. Power CSI. That perspective was detailed in my book, Driven to Delight – Delivering World Class Customer Experience the Mercedes-Benz Way.

I’ve spent much of my career both helping organizations succeed in customer experience transformation, and sharing stories of leaders and organizations who are passionately seeking to improve the lives of those they serve.

Although I hadn’t thought about it when I started sharing stories of customer experience excellence, I’ve found that great leaders want to learn from other great leaders. Such was the case for Kevin Clayton, Keith Holdbrooks, Donie Wood, and others at Clayton Homes.

Right after reading Driven to Delight, these Clayton leaders approached me to help them on their tireless journey to customer experience excellence. Although I’d heard of Clayton, I really didn’t know much about them when they first contacted me. I knew they were primarily in the manufactured housing sector and that they were a Berkshire Hathaway Company. Having worked for International Dairy Queen (another Berkshire Hathaway Company), I reached out to leaders at Dairy Queen and sought as much input as possible in advance of a meeting with leaders at Clayton.

After several calls where Clayton leaders exuded a passion for people, I decided to head to their corporate headquarters and a manufacturing plant to conduct due diligence before agreeing to consult on their behalf.

The Journey

It’s been a couple of years since those early meetings. I reflect back on my journey with Clayton and marvel at how much they have accomplished from the perspective of:

  • A powerful customer experience vision map
  • An inspiring customer experience mantra
  • Specialized customer journey maps
  • Outstanding Net Promoter Score™ results
  • Cutting-edge customer experience training tools
  • Substantial improvements in employee experience as referenced in this Builder Magazine article

Recently, I was working with a group of leaders at Clayton headquarters in Knoxville, Tennessee where I stayed in one of their tiny homes which is part of their newly opened The Lodge conference center. As soon as I entered the home, I became so excited that I did something very uncharacteristic of me – I start streaming video to family, friends, and colleagues to share the customer-centric design of the home. I was completely out of character when I was sending selfies at the home.

It was at that moment that I realized I hadn’t done my part to more broadly share my excitement for leadership and frontline efforts concerning employee and customer experiences at Clayton.

It’s easy to write books about sleek, high-profile brands like Mercedes-Benz, Starbucks, Ritz-Carlton, and Zappos, but I am way overdue in giving a nod to leaders and team members at Clayton who’ve impressed me with their commitment to live their mission “to open doors to a better life and help families build happiness through homeownership.”

Thanks, Clayton! With all the negatives in the news cycle, your passion for people inspires me!

I look forward to hearing about your desire to “do what’s right” along with your customer experience journey. Please reach out to us so we can talk.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Michelli, Ph.D.
Joseph Michelli, Ph.D., an organizational consultant and the chief experience officer of The Michelli Experience, authored The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and the best-selling The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary.


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