The Power of Purpose


How often as a consumer do you feel a Wow Experience? Probably not often enough.

Lots of things can help deliver that Wow feeling for consumers — setting, personalization, speed, uniqueness, and many more variables. I saw one differentiator at work recently during experiences with two companies in the same field that couldn’t have been more different.

The Power of Purpose as a way to differentiate the customer experience was in action at a Tesla store I recently had the opportunity to visit on a field trip for customer experience professionals organized by McKinsey & Company.

During our visit, the engaged employees in the store clearly were the factor that set the experience apart. They were enthusiastic, knowledgeable and friendly. Sure, having a great product helps, but you could see how an experience with these pricey, technology advanced cars could become intimidating. It could also become very easy for the staff to fall behind on the frequent technology updates and all of the knowledge it takes to address customer questions and overcome objections.

Because of their passion and excitement for the purpose of the company, employees approached learning tasks with enthusiasm and took great pride in sharing their knowledge about the cars, answering tough questions and leading customers through the sales process. It became clear that their commitment was driven in large part to rallying around a clear purpose centered on the environment and technology.

We asked our Tesla associate who took us on a Model X test drive if he hopes to stay with the company after he graduates from college and why he is so committed to his job. He talked enthusiastically about the company’s purpose and explained that he believes strongly in the environmental mission of the company — even though a green perspective isn’t something you’d expect from him as a self described “muscle car” driver on the weekends.

Even more telling was what he said about the culture of the organization: they had given him a chance. As he described, he is a young man in an urban setting with dreadlocks and getting an opportunity meant a lot after having been turned down by other potential employers including a large bank.

His connection with the company makes him passionate about the cars and motivated to learn. The staff told us that each associate completes about 45 min of online training every day to keep current.

This visit to Tesla stands in stark contrast to the experience I had several days later at the dealership where I was having my car serviced. The staff was on cruise control with absolutely no responsiveness to customer needs, all of which was aggravated by the poorly designed service facility setting. Because staff members were following their routines and focusing first on their own needs, we ended up getting a phone call to discuss our car’s issues from a service technician sitting at a desk positioned right next to where we were standing in the long line of customers waiting to make payments from the check in counter.

Our concerns about our nearly brand new car were dismissed with little discussion about what they had found, leaving us to wonder if they’d even driven the car (which was a service we’d paid extra for).

All throughout, none of the employees made eye contact or spoke to anyone in the long line, leaving us all with the clear sense that we were bothering them by interrupting their paperwork duties and rigid routines.

Clearly there was no Power of Purpose at work in this dealership.

The two experiences remind me that we as Cx professionals have a duty to drive employee engagement as a key factor for improving the customer experience at our companies.