The Unseen Impact of Leadership on Customer Experience

Leadership impact

An employee spilled the beans about his boss. It was startling — especially because his boss was the doctor about to perform my procedure. There I was, clad in a paper gown when the anesthesiologist entered to get things started. Curious, I asked, “What do you think of Dr. B?”


He hesitated, then spilled, “He’s tough, has a short fuse, and isn’t shy about yelling over small stuff. He yells a lot.” Seeing my wide-eyed reaction, he added, “But with patients? He’s a different guy. Thorough, precise, and patient. He’s tough on us, but he’s good with his patients.”


As he walked away, I was left reflecting: a poor employee experience often mirrors the quality a customer can expect. From my experience, a troubled team usually means trouble for customers too.

A poor employee experience often mirrors the quality a customer can expect.

I was wheeled into the procedure room feeling uneasy. The doctor introduced himself with a tight smile. The IV worked its magic, and before I knew it, I was awake and being told all was well. My husband was sent to get the car while I waited for a final word from the doctor. That ‘couple of minutes’ stretched into a half-hour. When I asked the nurse where he was, she sheepishly explained that the doctor had moved on to his next patient, and I had to wait.


When he finally appeared, his brief “all’s good” and lack of apology for the wait crystallized the day’s events, prompting a thoughtful dive into what this means for leadership.


Six leadership insights that could transform your approach and impact:

1. Practice Emotion Management

Increase self-awareness when emotions run hot. Encourage your team to do the same. A leader’s strong emotional intelligence elevates the employee experience, directly influencing customer service.


2. Prioritize Clear Communication:

Develop the habit of clarity and respect, especially when giving negative feedback. A constructive approach leads to better results and maintained trust. Strive for transparency and understanding.


3. Reflect on Your Impact

Assess how your leadership style affects your team and customers. Are you inspiring and appreciating, or are you causing stress and dissatisfaction?


4. Value Everyone’s Time

Show that you respect others’ time by being punctual and efficient. Time management isn’t just courteous; it’s critical for maintaining a positive customer experience.


5. Hone Your Apology Skills

When you’re wrong, own it, apologize, and set things right. It’s a simple yet profound way to rebuild trust and show that you’re committed to improvement.


6. Foster a Positive Environment

Understand that the environment you create influences the employee experience, which in turn affects customer service. Strive to build a workplace where respect, support, and positivity are the norm.


This story isn’t just about my doctor’s appointment; it’s a spotlight of how leadership styles permeate every aspect of a service experience. It’s a call to action for leaders to reflect, adapt, and grow. Remember, your decisions and interactions shape the culture of your team and the perceptions of your customers. Aim to be the leader who not only meets expectations but exceeds them, creating a legacy of excellence and empathy.


©MMXXIV Marilyn Suttle | Suttle Enterprises LLC | Novi, Michigan

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Marilyn Suttle, CVP | Virtual & Onsite Global Trainer/Keynoter, Results Coach



Marilyn is listed in the world’s top ten speakers in the CX category for 2023, from Global Gurus research organization.

I work with organizations that want to stand out as a business of choice and with teams that want to work well together.

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