Customer Experience Conversations: Janet LeBlanc

In this next post in our Customer Experience Conversations series, we sat down with Total Customer Experience Leaders Summit’s speaker Janet LeBlanc, who is also President of Janet LeBlanc + Associates Inc. LeBlanc discussed how empathy and emotion has a critical impact on customer experience today.
This year, TCEL will explore the new realities of building brands and relationships in today’s socially driven and data abundant world. The event will shine an important lens on the power of insights and the critical need for marketers to focus on factoring emotion into the bigger equation to get a return on customer relationships.
Your experience at TCEL will include three full days of high-level visionary keynote presentations and in-depth case studies illustrating linking insights & data, data measuring & mapping, design thinking, synthesize intelligence from B2B and B2C companies across verticals, disciplines and cultures to march forward with a sound total customer experience plan.
Here is what LeBlanc had to say:
IIR: Describe your best customer experience.
LeBlanc: The best customer experiences are those that elicit the strong positive feelings and emotions that strengthening the relationship and loyalty a customer has with a company. Statements such as: ‘I felt like she understood what I wanted or they treated me with respect’ are the best examples of a great customer experience.
IIR: How is empathetic leadership changing leadership in customer experience today?
LeBlanc: Empathy is considered one of the five categories of emotional intelligence. It will enable a leader to develop a closer, more collaborative relationship with others. Taking a personal interest, showing that you care, and having a genuine concern about another person’s point of view fosters an environment of trust and caring’the ideal environment for employees to perform at their best and for customers to feel appreciated and valued.
IIR: Why are empathy and emotion so important in when it comes to customer experience?
LeBlanc: Recognizing the power an emotion has on determining the outcome of a customer experience is paramount to a successful customer experience management program. We may forget what someone says to us, but we rarely forget how they make us feel. Having empathy and understanding emotions throughout the customer experience journey helps organizations to stay connected to their customers, to design a better problem resolution process, and to create a more collaborative empathetic work environment.

IIR: What are the key traits of a great customer experience leader?
LeBlanc: Today’s savvy business leaders recognize the shift towards collaborative leadership capabilities. Implementing a large-scale customer experience program requires the commitment and collective forces of the entire leadership team. No one leader can drive customer-centricity alone. Strong alignment and collaboration is a must to be successful.
IIR: If your customers have a bad customer experience, how do you reconnect with them moving forward?
LeBlanc:  When a problem occurs, the bond between a company and the customer is broken. It places the relationship in crisis and creates a pivotal time for a company to re-establish the relationship and repair the damage. Most companies will train employees to apologize, but often will forget the most important ingredient needed for successful resolution’empathy. Even when an apology is offered, without recognizing the emotions at play or a statement acknowledging the gravity of the situation, the apology will not have a positive impact.
IIR: Employee recognition can positively influence employee behaviors and cultivate a customer-centric culture. How do you recognize and motivate your employees?
LeBlanc: Recognition programs motivate employees to make an extra effort or go the extra mile. By acknowledging and giving special attention to an employee’s actions, an organization is reinforcing the specific behaviors needed to realize its customer experience strategy and goals. The best employee recognition programs use a combination of informal and formal approaches that balance feedback from leaders, peers and customers. An effective employee recognition program not only recognizes top performers but also motivates all employees to reinforce and achieve the desired customer-focused behaviors.
Want to hear more from Janet on customer experience in person? Join her at Total Customer Experience Leaders Summit 2014 in Miami in April. To learn more about the event and register, click here:  http://bit.ly/1dmzfJe  

About the Author: Amanda Ciccatelli, Social Media Strategist of the Marketing Division at IIR USA, has a background in digital and print journalism, covering a variety of topics in business strategy, marketing, and technology. Amanda is the Editor at Large for several of IIR’s blogs including Next Big DesignCustomers 1st, and ProjectWorld and World Congress for Business Analysts, and a regular contributor to Front End of Innovation and The Market Research Event,. She previously worked at Technology Marketing Corporation as a Web Editor where she covered breaking news and feature stories in the technology industry. She can be reached at aciccatelli@iirusa.com. Follow her at @AmandaCicc.