Promote an Outward Mindset During Your Coaching Conversations with Employees…

It Can Do Wonders for Your Customers’ Experience

By Lisa Rike,CPBA for Mobius VP, LLC

Think for a minute about a recent day at work. Were you on any phone calls? Did you read and respond to emails? Were you in any meetings? Did you meet with someone for lunch?

Now, ask yourself this question. How often did you think about the other person’s perspectives and needs during your interaction? Did you consciously think about the recipient of your emails and that person’s reaction or response to your message? Did you think about the objectives or needs of the other people in your meetings? Did you see mainly your own perspectives and purpose or consider theirs?

Our brain makes it easy for us to think about ourselves. It has an abundance of stored experiences and memories and searches those to help you interact or deal with a current situation. This means that thinking about ourselves is easy and picking up on the needs and challenges of others requires effort. And, that effort is worth it!

Every organization who has customers is in the people business. Being in the people business requires putting in the effort to see your customers’ needs, challenges and objectives. Companies use feedback management tools to collect feedback from their customers to gauge customers’ satisfaction, loyalty and experience. Hopefully, an enterprise management feedback approach is used and that customer feedback is distributed throughout the entire organization. The question then becomes, what lens do your employees use to read the customer feedback? The best lens is the outward mindset lens. This means blaming and excuses give way to being curious and grateful for the feedback as well as more action-oriented because of the feedback.

In the book “The Outward Mindset”, The Arbinger Institute has researched the value of developing an outward mindset which means that you see people as people with their own needs and challenges rather than objects to help you achieve your goals. Organizations benefit greatly from adopting an outward mindset. The Arbinger Institute explains the importance this way: “Because accountability, collaboration, innovation, leadership, culture and value to customers all improve as organizations apply an outward mindset in their strategies, structures, systems, processes and day-to-day work.” Here is an example of the difference between an inward and outward mindset.


Call Center Representative example

Inward focused mindset
The focus to solving a customer problem is on accurate and timely resolution with attention on policies, procedures and metrics.
Be curious about:
– How often do Reps get pushback from the customer on the resolution causing more time on a call?
– How often do the Reps look at the clock because call length is a metric?
– After the call, how often do Reps delay finishing the steps needed to complete the customer issue because wrap-up time is a metric?
Outward focused mindset
The focus to solving a customer problem is first on recognizing the demeanor of the customer and listening for their unique needs and challenges. This mindset equips the Rep to make it easier on the customer as the Rep works to solve the problem accurately and timely.
This approach is easier on the customer because the Rep is set up to respond to the customer as a person and not as “caller #25 with the same problem.”
– The Rep can use a compatible communication style so the customer can more easily understand what is involved in solving their issue.
– The Rep can converse with genuine empathy and/or acknowledge the seriousness of the problem in a way that recognizes the customer’s needs and challenges.


At first glance, the inward mindset focus seems acceptable. Those metrics matter. The customer experience is comprised of two aspects though.

  1. The technical details of solving the problem.
  2. The manner in which the customer was treated during the interaction. This will leave the customer feeling a certain way about your organization.

Which mindset best serves to achieve both of those results? During conversations with customers, what is top of mind? Is it problem solving or is it problem solving in a way that helps the customer be receptive? There is a difference.

Maya Angelou said “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” Those feelings will show up in your customer feedback.

Consider what The Arbinger Institute calls collective results. They explain it this way: “A result that involves everyone in something much bigger than himself or herself and requires that everyone join together with others in order for their efforts to succeed.” An example of the San Antonio Spurs is cited in their book. The team is about winning championships but the collective result that motivates the Spurs has to do witha belief about how they must work together to win championships. Another example in the book is of a SWAT team who wanted to create relationships between the police and community that were steeped in respect for each other. That is something that required everyone’s commitment and actions on the SWAT team in order to achieve it. Their commitment and actions were their collective result. What are your collective results that set your employees up to have an outward mindset?

In the corporate world, goals are established for customer satisfaction, customer loyalty and the customer experience. The collective result that can help achieve those goals is that every employee recognizes that what they do in their position influences the customer experience even if the employee is not in a customer-facing role. Here is where leaders can instill an outward mindset. During coaching conversations with your employee or team, ask questions that promote development of an outward mindset. Questions might include:

  • What ideas do you have about what might be at stake for a customer with that issue?
  • What might a customer in that situation think about our organization?
  • What feelings might a customer in that situation have?
  • How can customers benefit from the process we are discussing?
  • What else can be done to make it easier for the customer?

Have you heard the saying “Activity does not always equal accomplishment.”? With an inward mindset, employees might be busy, but, is their activity making progress on the customer experience you want to achieve? When employees keep the fact that they are significant to the customer experience top-of-mind and use an outward mindset, each employee can make better decisions in how they spend their time and prioritize their work.

Using an outward mindset makes customers feel as if they matter. That’s good because they do.

Contact Us to Learn More

For more information and a copy of our soon-to-be released White Paper Customer and Patient Feedback Management: Are You Training TOSurvey Data? A White Paper to increase Employee Engagement, contact us here.


Outward Mindset book, pages ix, 27, 119

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