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Want to get attention from your audience?

Customer focused leadershipTry expressing uncertainty. It might work.

Research from Zakary Tormala of Stanford Business School shows that experts who express some uncertainty can be more compelling and more likely to capture the attention of their audience.

This Harvard Business Review article and recorded interview highlights the findings from Zakary’s research, including when a CEO might want to exude certainty and when she might want to be less certain.

One common obstacle for customer experience strategy is capturing attention from internal and external audiences.

Could this research help overcome this barrier? It has raised several questions:

  • Are customers paying attention to your requests for their feedback? If uncertainty is expressed, could it prompt more customer participation?
  • Similar to customer participation, could showing some level of doubt prompt action from account managers?
  • Who should send the message? Should it be someone who is already accomplished or someone with the potential to be great?
  • When are customers motivated by "objective truth" (like expert eye witness testimony) versus the "subjective domain?" 

Despite these questions, there is one element that Zakary’s research confirms for customer focused leadership. Regardless of expressed certainty or uncertainty, the communication must be relevant and compelling.

About the Author

Leslie Pagel

Leslie Pagel

As vice president of customer experience, Leslie is responsible for incorporating the voice of Walker’s customers into the solutions development process. To do this, Leslie spends the majority of her time interacting with Walker account teams, clients, and prospective clients to understand their business challenges. She coordinates several listening posts that are used to drive strong client relationships and enhance our consulting and technology capabilities.

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