How optimism and positivity can help you create a better CX

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The past few years have been difficult in many aspects: we’ve experienced a pandemic and the impact of global warming seems to become a lot more tangible, while the war in the Ukraine triggered an energy, a food security and a raw materials crisis. And all of this, combined with other forces like geopolitical power shifts, has us headed in the direction of difficult times, if not a recession.

I see so many people around me panicking about that. They are freezing up and even taking restrictive measures. And though it is very important to stay aware of our changing surroundings, to be critical, to analyse what is happening in order to know how to react, I feel that a lot of people let themselves be dragged down by negativity these days.

Those of you who follow my content, know that I’m a positive guy. I always try to focus on the hopes, not the fears. I try to see the good, zoom in on what we can change and how we can improve things. And so, today, I wanted to write something about how fostering a positive attitude in life can help us create better CX.

Be fun – create joy for your customers

When I went to see Top Gun 2 with my family, we loved it so much that it inspired me to create a new concept, which I called the “Top Gun Effect”: it’s about creating CX experiences that are simple and old-fashioned ‘feel good’ done right. Something that may not change the world, but puts a – much needed these days – smile on our face. Something fun.

And the more I play around with that concept in my head, the more I see examples of that around me. Take Snapchat, for instance, one of the least toxic social media out there. Those fun filters that people love playing with so much will not solve any major problems. But they make us laugh. They trigger joy, even in adults who may feel like a child again for a brief moment.

The same goes for the otherwise very serious AP News Agency, one of the biggest in the world, that also has an “oddities” section, where you can read funny or feel good stories like the one from a woman who retrieved her diamond wedding ring, a family heirloom, after a man with a metal detector responded to her social media plea for help and found it at the bottom of the ocean. We need more of that in our lives.

Trust – don’t let difficult customers ruin the experience of the good ones

Every company has difficult customers and a very small part of them will even be dishonest. The latter are the ones that will take advantage of loopholes in your processes or might misuse the return policies of your online business. But they are the minority. Let’s say that they comprise 10% of your entire customer base.

So I always tell my audience and customers not to let these bad apples ruin the experience for the rest of them, which is about 95% in total. Don’t punish the honest customers for the behavior of others. Instead, let positive emotions take the decisions. Show your customers that you trust them. And you will see that that will create a boost of happy customers, too.

The same goes for when something went wrong during a transaction between you and your customer. Do not waste your time looking for the person who made the mistake: an employee or the customer. It’s a waste of energy, time and of a good relationship. Maybe it was the customer, but if so, it will often just have been done accidentally. So show your customers that you trust them, don’t blame them and then just fix it.

Say “yes!” – always go beyond

Imagine that a customer asks if they can switch hotel rooms, so they can stay next to their friends. Or if a restaurant customer wants less potatoes and more vegetables. Or if they have bought new sunglasses somewhere else, but want your optician shop to provide the prescription glasses.

Companies can easily answer “no” in these cases; because it’s a hassle, it’s not according to procedure or it will cost more. But the thing is: even if it’s acceptable to say “no” here, here, these are all requests that are perfectly grantable. And so imagine how happy you will make a customer, how much you will spread joy and positivity if you do say “yes”, if you go beyond what you usually offer. And so that’s what I always advise my audiences. Become known as that company with the fantastic experience, with the incredible positivity. And yes, as a side note, you can only reply positively to reasonable requests, that are not dishonest towards your other customers. But I believe that you’ll notice that most requests are fairly simple and easy to say “yes” to.

Experiment – embrace the risk of innovation

Positivity and optimism are essential when it comes to innovating in CX. When you introduce a new feature, product, service, process etc., there will always be a risk. But if you always focus on everything that could go wrong and foster a negative attitude, people in your organization will be afraid to try out new things in order to better serve your customers.

When it comes to harboring a realistic positive attitude towards risk, I always love to share a mental trick that I learned from Amazon. According to them, about 99% of all customer improvements function like two-way doors: the impact of a possible failure of this type of small-scale experiments will always be so low that you’ll be able to retrace your footsteps – and go back through the door – without losing face, heaps of money and – worst of all – customers. So you can treat those with full optimism. But then there’s the remaining 1% of customer improvements: the ones that will deliver massive value when they do succeed but tend to be a lot riskier, because you will not be able to turn your decision around if they fail, without feeling an extensive negative impact. An example is free delivery: you cannot offer that and then take it back because the benefits that you hoped for did not fall through. These are the minority of changes that should be approached with caution and should be really thought through.

Happy employees = happy customers

All of the above is actually just as applicable to your employees as it is to your customers:

  • Trust them and don’t make up ‘command and control’ rules because a minority of their peers could be taking advantage of you.
  • Try to say “yes” to any reasonable request like taking two weeks unpaid leave on top of their official holidays to make that trip they always dreamed of.
  • Try to create a fun and feel-good environment, maybe with Friday network drinks or team sports as a work break.
  • Meet their experiments with optimism and not with risk-averseness. And find out together if they are one-way or two-way and how they can about them, in a psychologically safe environment.

Beyond that, it’s so important to have a positive and optimistic work culture, so your employees will feel happy and fulfilled on the job. I have said it before and I will keep saying it: happy and positive-minded employees beget happy customers. It may not always work the other way around: toxic work environments can sometimes not (or very little) affect customers, but if your team is happy, this will always reflect upon the customer experience.

We all need more positivity in our lives, especially in these sometimes scary times. Does that mean that we should closing our eyes to a complex reality? No, of course not. But making people feel good is what every company should be trying to do all the time. Especially when these times aren’t easy.

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