The High-Performance Brand Is Built Upon High-Performance Leadership


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As the need grows for enterprises to differentiate based on unique and valuable customer experiences, the demands are increasing on customer-facing executives to ensure that their enterprises can really deliver on this promise. This requires executives and managers with extraordinary leadership abilities.

A few years ago, I interviewed Ella Lokshina, director of customer service and CRM at MegaFon-Moscow. She played a key role in helping her company to transform from a product- and technology-centric organization to a more consumer-centered enterprise. We can all learn from Ella about what it means to be a high-performance leader.

“MegaFon realized that its corporate progress in the rapidly growing and increasingly competitive Russian mobile phone market depends on a dramatic enhancement of our customer relationships,” says Ella. “A focus on delivering a unique and positive customer experience will help MegaFon build long-term customer loyalty, while reducing operational costs and increasing efficiency.” In Forrester lingo, this means MegFon intended to implement a Experience-Based Differentiation (EBD) strategy to create desperately needed distinction in the marketplace.

To help your company define and deliver a branded customer-experience, use the four critical leadership skills that helped Ella succeed:

• Communicating. You need to articulate the need for EBD change and involve others in the change process. This requires you to define the key audiences that need to know why the organization must adopt new ways and to develop a communications strategy to get the message out. Ella says MegaFon defined and used specific metrics to help communicate the need for change and to track progress.

The company uses five key metrics: number of repeat calls, number of topics discussed per contact, hold time, call time, and customer satisfaction. The number of topics discussed became a key measure. Customer service representatives are trained to ask questions of customers to learn if there were any additional issues or needs that were unmet. This information creates deeper relationships with customers and allows MegaFon to address a problem before it becomes critical.

• Organizing. EBD leaders must plan and structure the change process; setting EBD priorities and linking them to the enterprise business strategy while achieving “early successes” to build the momentum for change. “I have learned there are a number of critical factors for EBD implementation,” says Ella. “You must pay attention to all of these factors in order to succeed.”

MegaFon’s management spent considerable time defining the right objectives for the EBD initiative, and the project was intended to be an enterprise-wide effort from the beginning because it touched so many parts of the business that interacted with customers. The EBD team defined a clear road map for achieving its objectives and worked hard to persistently communicate the rationale for the effort to management and employees. Also, working collaboratively with a key technology vendor providing customer management solutions was very important.

• Supporting. Change leaders must provide the necessary resources to sustain the change effort to enable others to act. This may necessitate training staff in new methods while changing outmoded work processes. You will have to invest time and energy to see the EBD change through, which means becoming personally involved in improvement projects.

In the case of MegaFon-Moscow, the major investment necessary was implementing a new technology platform to enable employees to deliver on MegaFon’s new brand promise. Senior management made the necessary financial commitment to operationalize MegaFon’s customer experience strategy through implementing new standards, business processes, and technologies. Ella became the executive personally responsible for implementing the EBD initiative.

• Honoring. An EBD leader must “encourage the heart” while the change is unfolding. This means becoming proficient at rewarding those around you for adopting new ways and recognizing and publicly celebrating success.

For MegaFon customer service representatives (CSRs), the new customer management technology platform puts them in a position to better answer customer inquiries and to more effectively serve customer requests. This gives them much more control over their work and places more responsibility on their shoulders. They are now asked to be the embodiment of MegaFon-Moscow’s brand promise to customers — friendly, open, and honest. “The CSR role has greater status and responsibility under our EBD approach than in the past,” says Ella. “This new role is highly motivating for our CSRs, and I tried hard to communicate the importance they would play in delivering our customer experience strategy.”

William Band
Bill Band is a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research. He is a leading expert on CRM topics, having helped organizations define customer-driven strategies to achieve distinction in the marketplace for his entire career. Click here to download free related research from Forrester (free site registration required).


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