Are You a Missionary or Mercenary Leader?

Calvin Stovall

It’s been proven time and time again – a positive customer experience has a direct correlation with financial success. A recent customer satisfaction study showed that two-thirds of customers would be willing to spend more following an excellent customer experience.

When your customers like the experience you deliver they’re more likely to consider you for another purchase and recommend you to others. They’re also less likely to switch their business away to a competitor.

Customer experience has become the new battleground for competitive advantage. The successful organizations of the future will be the ones that create memorable experiences for their customers as opposed to simply completing transactions.

People don’t talk about transactions, they talk about experiences.

How do ICONIC brands like Zappos, Chick-fil-A, Amazon and Disney continue to rise above the rest? According to Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, the secret sauce is in having an “obsessive compulsive focus” on customer over competitor.

Bezos separates CEOs and entrepreneurs leaders into two categories – missionaries and mercenaries of the business world.

The missionary is building the product and building the service because they love the customer, because they love the product, because they love the service.

The mercenary is building the product or service so that they can flip the company and make money. “It’s usually the missionaries who make the most money.” he says.

The only way to win in today’s competitive environment is by:

  • delivering a seamless customer experience
  • making an emotional connection with your customers

Without passionate employees committed to wowing the customer, your brand becomes just another business in a sea of sameness – a commodity. Or you soar above and beyond the competition and become a category of one.

Jeff Bezos is a missionary leader famously obsessed with customers. “Obsessing over customer experience is the only long-term defensible competitive advantage,” Bezos has said.

It’d be hard to argue that Amazon’s compulsive obsession with customers hasn’t proven to be the best pathway to success and creating customer loyalty beyond measure. The iconic brand’s deliberate focus on pleasing its customers, rather than focusing on the bottom line has proved profitable for the company.

Take Amazon Prime for example. Currently, there are more than 100 million Prime members globally. Prime customers spend an average of $1,300 per year, nearly twice that of non-members.

Bezos’ customer obsession even transcends beyond the boardroom into every business decision and corporate meeting. Whether its three people, five people, or 15 people, every Amazon meeting has one extra seat reserved for the customer.

As I’ve always said, the experience your customers receive is a direct result of the work environment you create.

Are you a missionary or mercenary leader? What do your employees see in your daily behavior when you’re interacting with customers?

As a leader, it’s essential that your actions clearly demonstrate to your team that customer (and employee) experience is a priority. It may not require you leaving an empty seat in every meeting but believe me, people mirror and emulate what they see – not what you say.

Calvin Stovall, Keynote Speaker, specializes in delivering high-energy, customized keynote presentations for organizations that desire to reach or maintain ICONIC status. He focuses on delivering the perfect blend of business concepts, story-telling and music themes to bring home an impactful message that touches both the heads and hearts of his audiences. To Book Calvin for your next event click here:

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