ceo magazine, customer service
Shep Hyken

Why should customer service be important to the CEO, or other executive leadership in a company? They typically don’t deal directly with customers. True, but they influence everyone in the company who does. They are the role models that others look up to for guidance. Virtually all employees emulate their actions. In short, customer service should be very important to the leadership of an organization.

When we have competition that sells competing products and services, why should they do business with us? What differentiates us? It’s not just the product. It’s the way we deliver the product. And, it takes the entire company, not just the front line to create the ultimate customer experience. 

Recognize that customer service is not a department; it’s a philosophy to be embraced by everyone. Before you can become customer focused, you must become employee focused.    Practice internal customer service. The “Employee Golden Rule” is to treat your fellow employees like you want the customer treated, maybe even better. You can’t take employees in the back room and verbally beat them up, and then tell them to go out and make the customer happy. It’s incongruent behavior. The customer is feeling what’s happening on the inside of the organization on the outside.

Leadership will also define the culture. They must set the course, prove it is important and model the behavior. Participate in the same training that the rest of the employees do – and be visible about it. In addition to defining the culture, leadership must defend the culture. If they see someone who is not in alignment with the culture or the company’s brand promise, it is incumbent upon them to help, support and realign that person’s behavior.

All eyes are on leadership to set an example. When people look at you, would they want to emulate your actions? They look to you as the role model, so take advantage of that. Walt Disney had a concept he calling “Stooping to Excellence.” He would see a piece of trash on the ground and stoop down to pick it up. He knew everyone was watching. If he walked by it, he gave permission to everyone else to walk by it as well.   

Ultimately, the leadership of the organization can have the greatest impact on customer service.  They can take the position to empower all of their employees to have a leadership mentality when it comes to service. When it comes to customer service, everyone is a leader. Everyone has the potential to become a role model. Everyone can lead, support and impact the company’s customer service culture.

And, it all starts with leadership, making the decision to become a customer-focused organization. 

About the Author

Shep Hyken, New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author and hall-of-fame speaker is the Chief Amazement Officer at Shepard Presentations. As a customer service expert, he helps companies build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. Learn more about what Shep can do for your organization at  For more information about his newest book, Amaze Every Customer Every Time: 52 Tools for Delivering the Most Amazing Customer Service on the Planet, go to Follow on Twitter: @Hyken



Jennifer Corob's picture
I am in complete agreement-- good customer service is key in gaining and maintaining respect as a leader. The customer will choose the company with the product that best fits their needs, but they will also choose the company that makes them feel respected and valued.
Aimée Smith's picture
As someone who has worked in customers service, I feel it is also important to know how to deal with "bad customers" who are disrespectful to employees and don't treat others with dignity or appreciation. A company should be able to stand up for itself when faced with customers who are bullies, even if that means losing business. A good company should have good customers, and that company should make sure that customers know how they should behave in order to become valued customers.

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