In the business of customer experience management, we run into this disorder often. While difficult to cure, we have developed an effective process. In this article, we will explore what happens when it is left untreated.

1. What is Grandiose CX Delusional Disorder (GCXDD)?  

GCXDD is a kind of serious business related cultural illness called “organizational psychosis” in which an organization can’t tell what is real from what has been imagined by their marketing departments, motivational posters and website verbiage. These delusions usually involve the misrepresentation of customer perceptions or customer experiences. The reality is often either completely untrue or greatly exaggerated. This leaves the afflicted living in a world completely separated from reality.

Clear signs of fully developed GCXDD may include:

  • An over-inflated sense of worth, power, knowledge, or identity.
  • Company leaders/individuals whose opinions of the customer experience they deliver are unmoored from facts.
  • Statements like “world class” and “#1 in the industry” when referencing their customer experience.

The higher up the org chart, the worse the condition. This “Organizational Altitude” seems to be an accelerant to the severity of GCXDD. Close inspection also reveals GCXDD “enablers” who maintain roles in the organization by outwardly supporting leaderships’ delusional state. “Enablers” are not delusional themselves but to maintain power they keep afflicted leaders in a delusional state until they are able to source a new “host” with an updated resume.

2.  How can you tell if a leader, team, or an entire organization is afflicted with GCXDD? 

The symptoms include:

  • Ignoring customer complaints
  • Arguing away negative online reviews
  • Making statements such as “we deliver exceptional customer service” or “our people are our greatest asset” followed by actions that do violence to the customer experience and to employee engagement.
  • Leaders will also demonstrate a complete lack of curiosity about the reality of what the customer and front line staff feel and think.
  • Curiosity is replaced with a satisfaction of their own opinions about customer experience.

If GCXDD is left untreated it can lead to more serious problems, which, to the organization, seem to manifest independently although they are interrelated symptoms of GCXDD.  This is known as the “GCXDD Complex” and it includes:

  • Employee Disengagement Disease
  • Member Disloyalty Malady
  • The Very Deadly Revenue Shrinkage Syndrome

In the health club industry alone, we estimate that 7 out of every 10 health club owners is suffering from GCXDD. This subsequently affects more than a half million employees and nearly 30 million club members in the US alone.

3. What can I do?

First of all don’t be an enabler. If you are aware of an owner or a CEO with GCXDD we recommend a very strict 4-step intervention which has proven effective in clinical trials.  The method is as follows: 

  1. Seat yourself in a chair face to face with the afflicted opposite.
  2. Be sure the chairs are the same height and that your knees are almost touching. Although uncomfortable at first, this breaks down boundaries.
  3. Next, lean forward while simultaneously placing your left hand on the right side of his face and your right hand on the left side of his face.
  4. Now lean in and scream “wake the *&^% up!”

This can be done by anyone on the team or in the organization as long as they have enough relationship capital to get on the CEO’s schedule. Oh, it is also a good idea to have your resume updated as a precursor to the intervention in the instance that it doesn’t “take.”  In the instance that it does take, be prepared to start the process of understanding the gap between what your leaders want the customer experience to be and what it actually is.  Only when these gaps are clarified and accepted can healing really begin.