• Mark Slatin

Your CX North Star: The 2 Pillars That Drive Consistency


“Mrs. Jones,”a long term customer, had just lost her husband after 54 years of marriage. To express condolences, the banker who knew the couple wanted to buy flowers. Unsure about whether management would be pleased or frown on the idea, he opted to pass. Upon hearing this story, the CEO of the bank expressed frustration, “why don’t they do simple things that can make a big difference?” They know that ‘Customers First’ is one of our core values?”


This CEO is in good company.


Sadly, the disconnect between leadership’s vision and the actual execution is all too common. Despite the well meaning, talented employees who want to make a difference, the end result can frustrate all parties. They can miss an opportunity to connect emotionally with customers.


So Why the Disconnect?


Most likely what’s missing is their North Star.


The North Star is the brightest star in the constellation known as The Little Dipper and it’s the one star that remains stationary. Way before GPS was invented, sailors used it as a navigational tool. The North Star served as a fixed point that guided the way for sailors to their desired destination.


The CX Mission and Principles, together, should serve as the North Star in much the same way.


They should guide the strategies and behaviors of an organization that desires to drive toward a consistently outstanding customer experience.


Why Does Having a CX Mission Along with CX Principles Matter?


Without a North Star, ships drifted off course and could only react, sometimes too late. A CX North Star anchors everyone in an organization on how to be proactive and stay on course without micromanagement. They inform the team on how to make decisions and best serve customers so that they stay tethered to what’s important.


Let’s dig into each one.


What is a CX Mission Statement?


You’ve heard of a corporate mission statement - a concise explanation of the organization's reason for existence. It describes the organization's purpose and its overall intention. Much the same way, a CX mission statement makes clear, in a single sentence or two, how the organization should care for its customers. The two statements, the corporate mission and the CX mission, should be in harmony with one another.


How to Create a CX Mission Statement:


There are many ways to arrive at an inspirational CX mission statement, but there are no shortcuts to generating a good one. It will require rolling up your sleeves and brainstorming the behaviors that create an outstanding customer experience. The good news, it will be unique to your organization.

Let’s start with four key components:

  • Inspirational - It should inspire team members - something they understand and want to make their own.

  • Aligned - It


should align with your brand promise (you must be clear on that first).

  • Simple and Clear - Jargon and insider terms don’t inspire or provide direction. Avoid ambiguous phrases like ‘unlock shareholder potential’ or “eclipse the competition.” For example, principles like ‘Take the Extra Step’ and ‘Surprise and Delight’, provide clarity.

  • Customer Focused - This is about how to care for your customers so it’s important that it’s rooted in what they would desire.

Here are some examples of CX mission statements from brands you may recognize:

  • Nordstrom - “In-store or online, wherever new opportunities arise, Nordstrom works relentlessly to give customers the most compelling shopping experience possible.”

  • Warby Parker - “We believe that buying glasses should be easy and fun. It should leave you happy and good-looking, with money in your pocket.”

  • Southwest Airlines - “The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit.”

What are CX Principles?

While the CX mission statement provides inspiration and general direction, the CX principles aim to guide behaviors. These define concrete ways to care f


or customers when the situation may be a bit more gray.


Clearly defined, non-negotiable principles that tell the team - “here’s how we care for our customers.”


So when you experience consistently outstanding customer experiences from your favorite brands, like Amazon, Southwest, Costco, Apple, Chick-Fil-A, etc., it’s not by accident. They have codified their CX mission and CX principles and successfully embedded them within their culture.


Did you know that these brands have a set of principles?


Starbucks


The 5 Green Apron Principles

  1. Welcoming

  2. Genuine

  3. Knowledgeable

  4. Considerate

  5. Involved

Chick-Fil-A


Chick-Fil-A trains their employees on a simple four-part model when serving customers

  1. First, make eye contact.

  2. Second, smile and strive to see the customer return a smile.

  3. Third, engage personally – ask how their day is going.

  4. Fourth, every Chick-Fil-A staff member has the unilateral power and they are even encouraged to offer complimentary food in an attempt to make a customer’s day better.

Southwest Airlines

  1. Be responsive to issues.

  2. Communicate beyond complaints.

  3. Get to know your customers.

  4. Keep a positive attitude.

Creating these guiding principles does not take rocket science, but it does require effort.


I promise you that each one of these principles took deep thought, but was well worth the grind. They serve as the North Star for all employees at these organizations and their customers have rewarded them with their loyalty…but committing them to ink didn’t mean they were done.


“Got Our CX Mission and CX Principles, We’re Done Right?”


The short answer and the long answer is a resounding ‘no.’


The way CX leading companies differentiate their brand is by embedding these into their culture. Living by the principles is an ongoing strategy that begins before an employee starts their first day of work. The CX mission and principles should be a staple at every stage of an employee's career. From new hire orientation and onboarding, to leadership development, and reinforced in day-to-day interactions.


Successfully implementing these two elements of the CX North Star requires a strategic approach and a commitment by leadership. Here are some examples of how we

we operationalized the principles Bank where I led the CX effort:

  • Featured CX Principles on placards in prominent locations including the Executive Board Room

  • Designed an interactive activity for all new hires that introduced them to the principles at their orientation

  • Recognized employees who demonstrated the principles at quarterly CX Principle Awards breakfast hosted by the CEO

  • Built-in the CX principles into every employee’s performance review

Decisions like whether to buy flowers for a grieving customer become clearer to a front line employee, when a company has codified their CX mission and CX principles and embedded them into their culture.


One thing Starbucks, Chick-Fil-A, and Southwest have in common; they have codified their CX North Star. What is stopping you from finding yours?


If you would like to talk about how you might get started, feel free to reach me here. Sometimes it helps to have an outside facilitator who is experienced in the process.


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