Of CEOs, Mice & Men: Great Leadership Leads To A Great Customer Experience

Every so often I like to discuss several related topics under one umbrella. The underlying theme here is the power each member of every organization has to offer its customers either a true secret service company experience, where the customer journey has an almost magical flow or one that causes the customer to ultimately jump ship and go with one of their company’s competitors. We may live in an imperfect world, but by and large, great leadership leads to a great customer experience.

Disney Cast Member Ruins Couple’s Proposal

Unnamed 17, The DiJulius GroupDisney’s customer experience action statement can be paraphrased as “To create one of the most special memories in a person’s life”. Yet even great customer experience companies fail. When you have hundreds of thousands of customer-facing employees, you are bound to have some that may slip through the cracks and not have the service aptitude necessary to execute consistently on that action statement. In this example a Disney cast member interrupted a proposal, grabbing the diamond ring out of the man’s hand while he was still on one knee popping the question. 

As you can see in this viral video the Disney employee ruins the marriage proposal either because he doesn’t think marriage is a good thing or more likely, because he thought he was protecting a company policy where a Disney guest cannot propose. Whatever the reason, Disneyland Paris issued an apology for the aggressive and inappropriate behavior of their cast member.

*RelatedHow “Policy” Destroys Brand Loyalty

This was the right move on Disney’s part, but it can’t ever change the negative experience and disappointing memory of the couple involved and the witnesses both in person and online. Not to mention the story they’ll collectively be sharing for years to come. And it will likely have a less-than-positive impact on anyone who’s dreamed of finding the perfect spot in the Magic Kingdom for a fairytale proposal to their beloved.

New CEO of Starbucks Working as a Barista

Laxman Narasimhan, the new Starbucks CEO who replaced Howard Schultz, is working in the cafes, making drinks, and ringing up orders. “To keep us close to the culture and our customers, as well as to our challenges and opportunities, I intend to continue working in stores for a half day each month, and I expect each member of the leadership team to also ensure our support centers stay connected and engaged in the realities of our stores for discussion and improvement,” Narasimhan said in an email to employees.

This leader epitomizes rallying the troops and leading by example. He isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty, literally, or metaphorically to understand a Starbucks customer’s experience. Narasimhan truly wants to understand each facet of his employees’ experience as well. And rather than just giving the idea lip service, it is something he plans to continue doing for the foreseeable future. Such an approach will lead to a rise in employee engagement, increasingly positive customer interactions, and greater customer satisfaction over time.

*RelatedA Great CX Project Lead Has These 5 Characteristics

A Day in the Life of an Employee

More CEOs and senior executives need to do exactly this, roll up their sleeves and work with their frontline employees and other customer-facing workers. Leaders need to truly understand the employee experience, i.e., what a day in the life of an employee looks like, what service defects frustrate them and their customers, and what opportunities exist to create a frictionless customer experience that will exceed customer expectations, leading to customer relationships that last.

DoorDash offers another great example. Last year all its home office employees, from the lowest-ranking software engineer to the company’s CEO, were required to make at least one food delivery run per month to better understand their customers’ and front-line employees’ perspectives. It was a unique approach to discovering customer issues and helping to develop a more customer-focused company culture in which everyone is motivated to provide an outstanding customer experience.

A happy customer is a loyal customer. How can you tweak your organization’s customer service strategy with something similar to encourage greater customer engagement while creating more positive experiences for all concerned?

CEOs in the US Got a Raise While Their Company’s Stock Price Fell in 2022

More than a third of S&P 500 companies awarded executives more pay for 2022 than in 2021 even though they had negative total shareholder returns last year, according to the Financial Times. The report showed that many executives continued to enjoy big pay awards despite a 19 percent drop in their stock price last year, the biggest fall since 2008.

*RelatedWho Is to Blame for Greedflation?

Corporate greed has been a long-term problem especially when you look at how poorly these same companies have performed. Simon Properties is one example. This company, the largest shopping center owner in the US, saw its total shareholder return drop 22 percent last year. Yet they awarded CEO David Simon an increase in salary from $10.5 million in 2021 to $35.7 million in 2022. Simon was also given a $28 million cash bonus. Similarly, Moderna’s stock fell nearly 30 percent in 2022, yet their CEO Stéphane Bancel’s compensation increased by 6.7 percent. High executive salaries clearly don’t guarantee customer loyalty and, in these cases, the companies saw increased customer churn.

Success and Motivation Start at the Top

Unnamed 18, The DiJulius GroupThis disconnect between company success and C-suite leader compensation may not be happening within your own organization, but it points to a common issue: leaders who fail to consider their company’s success—including the success of each employee throughout the entire organization—a personal mission. Such an outlook can’t help but filter down through the ranks, affecting every employee and ultimately, the bottom line. Great executive leadership takes emotional commitment to a vision and the ability to share it effectively with your employees. Do this and become a customer experience leader as your company goes from one that looks for great employees to be the kind of organization that great employees find.

*New Customer Experience Executive Academy starting in September ’23

Episode 115 of the CSRev Podcast 

115: Tailoring Your Brand Experience to the Female Consumer

Unnamed 19, The DiJulius GroupChief Revolution Officer John DiJulius of The DiJulius Group talks with author Katie Mares about her book CustomHer Experience: The Importance of Tailoring Your Brand Experience to the Female Consumer. 

You will learn:

  • How to better understand the female consumer
  • How to transform the transactional service a woman currently receives into the alluring, interactional experience she craves
  • How to adjust their approach when interacting with customers
  • What are the differences between men and women 
  • Why should an organization look at HER Experience differently 
  • Where should an organization start when developing an experience for HER 



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About The Author

John DiJulius

John R. DiJulius is a best-selling author, consultant, keynote speaker and President of The DiJulius Group, the leading Customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on Customer experience trends and best practices.