The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People For a Better CX

A leadership guide that could help improve your customer experience!

One of my all-time favorite books is The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey[1].  Released in 1989, it has since sold over 25 million copies worldwide[2].  I had the opportunity in the mid-90’s to hear him speak.  He was as inspiring in person as his writing was in the book.  For many years, I tried diligently to pursue the 7 habits. But like so many other self-help approaches, I gradually lost my passion for them and moved onto other leadership development approaches and concepts. 

More recently, I found myself quoting from the book again to emphasize to organizations the importance of having a strong leadership foundation in order to create a better customer experience.  Let’s start with a brief review of the 7 habits.  Before you read on, if you are familiar with the book, can you name the 7?  I must admit I stumbled through them a bit but eventually I remembered them all.  I’ll recommend you read the book for a more thorough understanding of the concepts Covey presents. 

The 7 habits of Highly Effective people (as stated in Covey’s book) are:

·       Be Proactive

·       Begin with the end in mind

·       Put First things first

·       Think Win-Win

·       Seek first to understand, then to be understood (my personal favorite)

·       Synergize

·       Sharpen the saw

Now think of these in terms of what we are trying to accomplish with improving the customer experience in our organizations.  Let me share some examples.   

Be Proactive.  Customers appreciate organizations that are proactive in anticipating their needs; advising them on order status or seeking their opinions. 

Begin with the end in mind.  Journey mapping can help us understand each point of contact a customer has with our products and services.  Design thinking can help us navigate to our ultimate goal of achieving a better customer experience – we begin both with the end in mind. 

Put First things first.  Although Covey talks about this in terms of leadership versus management, for us in CX, it is about creating a vision, collaborating across the organization and seeking what matters most to our customers. 

Think Win-Win.  I contend if we did more of this when designing our experience road maps, we’d see less hold times, better trained front line employees, better utilization of technology and streamlined processes that benefit the customer and the company. 

Seek first to understand, then to be understood.  A strong voice of customer and voice of employee program can help us first understand our ‘personas’ and then market our products or align our service to meet the stated need.  We need to talk less and listen more to both constituencies. 

Synergize.  Covey states this as, “Combine the strengths of people through positive teamwork to achieve goals that no one could have done alone.  Improving the customer experience is not about one department or organization, it’s about all functions working together to create a company that is easy to do business with. 

Sharpen the saw.  The art of continuous improvement is the cornerstone of any effective CX program.  Covey also mentions the concept of learn, commit, do.  These 3 words illustrate our efforts to understand our customers, commit to improving and executing on our commitments towards a better experience. 

Applying Covey’s 7 habits can contribute to improving an organization’s customer experience. Most importantly, these leadership concepts can help CX professionals turn their passion into sustainable improvements that deliver increased loyalty, revenue and profit for their organizations. 


[1] The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey, Free Press, 1989. 

[2] Wikipedia

Robert Azman