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  • Writer's pictureMark Slatin

What PPP Taught Us About CX

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which provided relief to small businesses during the COVID-19 crisis, was implemented quickly and wound up most of its operations within two years. Whether you agree or disagree with the PPP as a lever to save American companies and avoid an economic collapse, one observation was undeniable - banks did heroics to help customers navigate a choppy PPP rollout, and their customers said widely felt the PPP loans saved their business. Here are some of my observations in retrospect:

  • Cross functional teams collaborated who had never worked together

  • New workflows were designed to orchestrate inflows of government communications that kept evolving and often contradicted prior instruction

  • Bankers helped business customers navigate (even fill out) forms to obtain funding

  • Employees never worked harder and never felt a greater sense of purpose

  • Customers expressed heartfelt gratitude for bankers who they viewed as heroes

I could not help but reflect on Pat Lencioni’s entertaining fable, Silos, Politics, and Turf Wars.

He suggests the antidote for organizational dysfunction described in his title: have a thematic goal - a single, qualitative focus that is shared by the entire leadership team – and ultimately, by the entire organization – that applies for only a specified time period. Essentially, a single rally cry. Sound like the PPP? I had a chance to lead three client roundtable cohorts of business customers in the DC metropolitan area in the midst of the lending and forgiveness process. Every customer who took a PPP loan overflowed with accolades and expressed deeper levels of loyalty as a result of their experience. Does it take a global crisis to get teams to work together?

Moreover, how does that translate to lessons for leaders? From a CX perspective the key lessons are:

  • Employees are highly motivated by their connection to the contribution they make

  • A single unified focus helps everyone gain clarity

  • Empathetic employees will always deliver better experiences

  • We are capable of a much higher level of execution than we think if we live out the first three lessons on this list.

I'm curious about what takeaways you observe from these lessons.

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