Never Give a Bad Surprise in Public – The Second Commandment of CX Influence

Never Give a Bad Surprise in Public

Meg slammed her Sharpie down in the strategy meeting. Some blunderbuss in Product just unloaded a dumptruck of blame on her support team, and things were about to get western.

Ever seen a showdown at work?

Meg’s heart was pounding, her fight-or-flight response kicked in, and before you could say “Pop-Tart” she was on her feet defending her team.

She was shocked, embarrassed, and angry to get a “bad surprise” in front of her boss and the other executives. And she fumed for weeks.

The CEO noticed the conflict. At the end of the meeting, he gave a speech about teamwork.

Conflict in the executive team is a massive problem. “Team cohesion” is the top priority for CEOs in 2022, according to the Annual CEO Benchmarking Report from The Predictive Index.

In CX, we collect some explosive data. Customer complaints, service breakdowns, and dirt on every department from sales to accounting.

When we notice a trend or discover a moment of truth, it’s exciting.

We want to share it with everyone. We want them to be excited too. We want to fix it and make customers’ lives easier and better.

But in your excitement, don’t break the Second Commandment of CX Influence:

Never give a bad surprise in public.

If you identify a problem, trend, or particularly nasty customer feedback, don’t drop it like a bomb in front of the responsible leader, her peers, and boss.

First, meet privately. Allow her time to absorb, digest, and understand the data. Let her ask questions. Let her follow up.


Then, when you share the data in public, she’s on your side.

“We discovered a CX issue in Support. I’ve already shared the data wtih Meg, and we’ve partnered on an action plan. Meg, can you take us through it?”

And Meg stands confidently and speaks – not about a problem, but about a solution.

Other executives lean in.

The CEO smiles.

And Meg starts coming to you for more CX insights because you’ve earned her trust.

That’s leadership.

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