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Can you over-compliment your CX team?

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United States

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On a recent flight, at almost every stop along the way, the airline I had chosen reminded me that I was flying with "the best" So can you over-compliment customer experience. Airport signage told me...the CEO appearing on the pre-flight safety video told me...the flight attendant announcements told me...well, you get the picture.

The problem was that I got a whiff of an attitude from the airline's team that reeked a bit of, "You are so fortunate to be our customer and have the privilege of encountering the best team in the business." It is an arrogant aroma that no customer finds pleasant.

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I started wondering from a CX leadership perspective -- can you compliment your team to such a degree that it becomes a detriment to the delivery of an Ultimate Customer Experience®?

I came away thinking, "Yes, you can."

When customer-facing team members hear the same praise repeatedly to the point that they become immune to it or start to believe that they are infallible, your message gets lost. And when all the preaching about being "the best" starts to feel insincere, it can do more harm than good.

Think about how you react when someone gives you a compliment that feels forced or fake -- it doesn't make you feel good, does it? The same goes for your team. Over-the-top compliments can come across as disingenuous, which will not help anyone feel appreciated or motivated. It can also have an unintended consequence: you breed overconfidence in your team that separates them from the customer rather than inspiring them to superior performance.

The key is to find a balance in your praise -- give specific feedback that is sincere. Mix things up, so your team doesn't get numb to the credit.

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Genuine feedback goes a long way, and your team will be much more receptive (and responsive) to feedback that feels real and comes from a place of genuine appreciation.

Here are three steps to providing effective positive feedback:

  1. Avoid generalities and be specific in your compliments. "Great job" is vague and doesn't tell your team member what they did that was great. "You handled that customer issue expertly" is much more effective.
  2. Be sincere in your praise. If it sounds forced, your team will know it's not genuine.
  3. Mix things up, so your team doesn't become immune to the praise. Compliment different aspects of their work, and ensure you're providing feedback regularly, so they know what they're doing well and where they can improve.

Praise can breed over-confidence and even arrogance. It can also create a sense of entitlement. As the customer experience leader, you need to know how your team is receiving your compliments and adjust accordingly.

The customer experience is constantly changing, and your team needs to be able to change with it. If they're getting complacent because they always think they're already "the best" and do not need to improve, problems will start to arise.

The youth organization 4-H has always said it correctly with its motto: "To make the best better." Every business should aspire to the same. Even when rankings proclaim you're at the top of the heap, you can still get better at serving your customers.

Keep the praise coming, but make sure it's balanced and sincere, so your team stays focused on providing the Ultimate Customer Experience.®

 

ARTICLE WRITTEN BY SCOTT MCKAIN

And, by the way, if you are really "the best," you do not have to keep telling me. I will know it from the experience you deliver.

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