Why inspiration is a huge challenge for business leaders

Cape Town - The real challenge for today's business leadership is how they inspire others, according to Craig Lee, former executive customer experience and brand manager at the Emirates Group.

He said it is important for business leaders to realise that before they can leverage their brands, they have to first connect with their own employees.

"Nobody these days follows someone who does not inspire. A junior in an organisation can have a greater following than the CEO if he or she inspires people and the CEO does not," Lee cautioned on Wednesday.

"Don’t underestimate the value of your own employees. Customer experience is a competence not a function. Care and empathy form the new commercial currency. Companies who can show care and empathy will win."

Lee was one of the opening speakers at the Customer Experience Management (CEM) Africa Summit taking place at the Century City Conference Centre in Cape Town.

In his view, three things are very important in creating a successful customer experience, namely people, business transformation and technology.

"Customer transformation cannot be just another project. It must be about truly delivering to your customer as well as those you want to gain as your customers. It is about future proofing your organisation with the right thinking," said Lee.

He emphasised that it certainly not about a mere focus on cost centres as "cost centres drive silo thinking, which then fails to join all the dots".

"Establish what the power base of your organisation is. Create an eco-system. Understand your organisation and how to deliver its message. Customer experience has a lot to do with leadership, strategy and getting optimisation in your organisation," said Lee.

READ: How to deal with the 'customer from hell'

Brand building

He cautioned that getting this eco-system of your customer right, is not just about customer service. Rather, it is about every touch point a customer has with an organisation.

"Don’t see brand building as something only the marketing department does. Every brand interaction create brand experiences that either produce wealth for your organisation or not," explained Lee.

"Negative experiences bring a real cost to a business for not responding to the negative emotions created."

Research shows that 92% of consumers still say they trust word-of-mouth suggestions more than formal marketing.

"A brand is no longer what we tell a consumer it is. It is only what customers tell each other it is," said Lee.

Therefore, in creating a customer experience, it is important to establish how a customer thinks and what he or she values.

"Most customers want consistency of experience, which is not necessarily merely having the same experience," said Lee.

ALSO READ: FNB tops SA customer satisfaction survey

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