How is it that certain brands, in the face of wandering customer focus, are still able to strongly engage with customers?
Their top leaders have a lot to do with that engagement.
For example, Richard Branson, founder and CEO of Virgin Group, has always focused on being in the "experience business," Forbes contributor Carmine Gallo explained. Here's a perfect example of that mindset with Virgin America's airline boarding video.
Herb Kelleher, founder of Southwest Airlines, and John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile, also have strong customer engagement strategies. These three men all seem to have one key attribute that differentiates them from their competitors: They trust their teams to deliver amazing customer service. That trust creates an amazing effect—the employees feel empowered.
The power of trust from agents to customers
The culture of Virgin America is, as reported by Gallo, hyper-focused on customer service—flight attendants, in the face of a flight delay, have served cocktails to waiting passengers when stuck before boarding. Virgin America flight attendants embody the Virgin spirit with this problem-solving attitude. And that is what makes the difference in optimizing customer engagement. While training is integral to succeeding, opportunities to creatively problem solve is also important.
- Entrepreneur.com contributor Jonathan Long said it another way when discussing John Legere's outlook: work to fix your customers' problem. By giving your contact center agents the opportunity to solve a problem, they have greater ownership of the process—and will be more willing to continue doing it moving forward.
What does this look like in day-to-day operations? Work to put aside the time and resources to train your team to make sure they have as many tools at their disposal as possible. In a separate article for Forbes, customer service consultant Micah Solomon suggested starting each work day with ten minutes to discuss key customer engagement strategies.
Take a cue from these leaders and make yourself available to brainstorm with employees and to listen to their ideas—and importantly, realize there are many ways to get from point A to point B when problem solving. Praise the employees that have found another way to solve a problem. Other employees will notice and internalize the cue.
It also means, as a leader, taking a step back and letting your people do what they do best: help the customer. By working to empower your team, they will in turn be more motivated to take the initiative—and that is the most important tool when engaging with customers.
Kelleher gave a word of advice in his Fortune interview, saying "[customer service is] not a job that you do for six months and then you just say, 'Well, that's behind us.' It's something you do every day." What actionable changes can you make that will yield results quickly? Those small wins will keep morale high and make it easier for the team to continue in that direction without losing focus or getting disheartened.
How would you optimize your customer engagement?