Accountability… “If it is to be, it is up to me”

“That was a great customer experience”… or, “I really felt they understood what I needed…” are words I wish I heard myself (and other customers) say more frequently, particularly in this day and age when we seem to be gathering more information than ever on how customers (b2b or consumers) feel about the services they consume.  

I’d like to say my experiences as a retail customer in the motor industry buck this trend. However, I must confess, they have been very mixed.  I’ve had some good experiences and some really poor ones but certainly not consistently positive ones. I can’t remember a single time when I’ve walked away thinking “WOW! that was amazing”. 

And, if you are wondering whether I have outrageously high expectations of customer experience, I don’t think so! As a customer, it’s always the little things which make a big impression on me … being asked about what’s important to me, being listened to, telling me what can be done rather than what can’t and avoiding telling me it’s the company’s policy or process.  

It’s easy to say we are customer focused, and not deliver a great customer experience and as the motor industry finds itself in what was recently described as “no longer a sellers’ market”, it looks likely that every sale will need to be worked for. Customers will look long and hard at who they choose to do business with, so focusing on delivering outstanding service to make the real difference to customers should be top of the list. 

Working with different teams across different industries, at Sewells, we hear lots of reasons why people can’t improve their performance, whether that’s selling more by delivering outstanding customer experiences, getting better performance from team members by being a better leader, or executing change positively and successfully by communicating more effectively. 

It can be easy to blame everything on circumstances, the economy, regulation, market conditions, supply chain, the deals being offered by the competition, resources and other people… rather than considering our own part to play. 

Where do you focus your energy when times are challenging? On those things which you can do very little about, or on those things you can influence and control. 

We diminish the power we have if we focus on those things we can’t control. Our real strength lies in focusing instead on those small actions we can take every day to make sure that wherever we are in the business, we help to consistently deliver amazing customer experiences at every opportunity. In other words, we are accountable. 

The Ladder of Accountability is a great model for helping us to assess how well we stack up in terms of being either reactive and unaccountable or proactive and accountable. No prizes for guessing where the magic happens! 

If you spend your time below the line, you look for excuses, blame circumstances and other people or you cross your fingers and hope things will get better. 

Above the line, you are proactive and take personal responsibility for finding solutions and driving success. It’s a mindset and attitude shift. 

So, where do you sit on this? 

Be honest with yourself. When are you above the line and when are you below the line? How can you show up above the line more frequently, so that you role-model accountability every day? 

If you lead a team, where are they? Are there opportunities to discuss what accountability looks like, and if it’s not where it needs to be, you can set clear expectations for where they need to be? 

Ultimately, it is within our gift to take control of the things we can influence and to be proactive to shape the outcomes we want to see. If we aren’t getting the results we want, we have to change what we do … or in other words … as my colleague, Dr William Holden, would say… 

“If it is to be, it is up to me.”

Use this to identify actions to improve your own accountability and see your Customer Experience scores and your performance soar.

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