3 Things My Dad Taught Me About Customer Experience

By Gabe Smith,CCXP posted 16 days ago


For me, Father’s Day offers a chance for a self-assessment that is more important than any workplace performance review. How am I doing as a dad? Am I helping my 4-year-old daughter become a kind, empathetic, self-assured person? Am I creating great memories for her? Am I helping her strike the right balance between play and education (not always an easy thing during these times)?

 Father’s Day is also a time for reflection about my dad and the lessons he has taught me, mostly by example. If you asked him, my dad wouldn’t tell you he’s a CX practitioner—he’d tell you he is a grocery store manager. He's held the role since the early 2000s and worked in the industry since the late '70s.

As I’ve immersed myself in CX over the years, I’ve realized how some of the lessons I learned from my father have shaped my beliefs today.


Lesson #1:  Don’t Be Afraid to Stand on the Front Line

Most of the “carryouts” at the store—those who bag a customer’s groceries, walk the customer to his/her car, and place the items inside—are teens in their first job. In any organization, those at the bottom of the hierarchy can feel that their leaders don’t understand what it means to do the often thankless and repetitive work that makes the business run.

 At my father’s store, it’s different.

 On a given day, you’ll find my dad unloading the truck, stocking shelves, talking to customers, and carrying out their groceries. His employees see it—and the message they receive is clear: their jobs matter, and they need to be done at a high standard.

 Leaders who talk to their employees about the importance of CX must also be willing to engage with customers and jump into the trenches. When they do, their employees will notice that their leaders’ actions are aligned with their words.


Lesson #2: Do What’s Best for the Most

Grocery customers’ needs are basic: food, water, and toiletries.

 In normal times, those needs are met easily for many. But these are not normal times. A lockdown-induced toilet paper shortage led to hoarding and empty shelves. From a business perspective, it didn’t matter who was purchasing it and whether they truly needed it or not--but it mattered to customers who couldn’t make it to the store at opening to buy the freshly-stocked product. In addition to keeping a few packages off the floor so he was able to help truly desperate customers, my dad decided to re-stock this essential product at random times of the day so that everyone would have a fair chance at purchasing.

 CX leaders are often faced with decisions that will make some customers unhappy. My dad taught me that what’s best for the most is almost always the right decision.


Lesson #3: Invest in Your Successors

Simon Sinek, in his book The Infinite Game, said that “great leaders are the ones who think beyond ‘short term’ versus ‘long term.’ They are the ones who know that it is not about the next quarter or the next election; it is about the next generation.”

 Don’t get me wrong, my dad wants to have great quarters—but he’s committed to the long game. I’ve watched him invest significantly in the future through his mentoring of younger employees, many of whom are now in positions of leadership within and outside of the grocery business.

 When we invest in those who will lead CX programs after we’re gone, we’re investing in our own legacies.

 Happy Father’s Day to my dad and to all who are dedicated to improving the lives of their customers, the lives of their employees, and the lives of their friends and family.

Gabe Smith and Dad

1 comment



Nice story Gabe!!! Nice dad as well! Its key to stand for the community and not for oneself as many people in the US often does. To be selfish, is a problem. As Churchill said, "You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life."  Not always nice but principles great one is what makes us, or not.