Customer Experience Inspiration


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.

A conversation about customer loyalty

Loyalty: A Conversation With Gold’s Gym Hall of Fame Inductee Blair McHaney

This blog was first posted in:Expert Edge on August 25th, 2014 by Kimberly Warner-Cohen for the Customer Experience Report. It is an interview with Blair McHaney

Customer loyalty in the fitness industry tends toward either extreme, as clients generally either commit to their new routine or fall off and spend the remainder of the contract’s term wishing they could cancel. A well-structured onboarding process is key to a successful customer retention strategy, according to Blair McHaney, owner of two Gold’s Gym franchises in Central Washington and Director Emeritus of Gold’s Gym Franchisee Association. He is also the only franchisee in the organization’s history to  both win its three most important awards and be inducted into the Gold’s Gym Hall of Fame alongside The Incredible Hulk’s Lou Ferrigno and gym founder, Joe Gold.

Customer Experience Report caught up with McHaney during the 2014 Customer Service Experience Conference and discussed successful customer loyalty strategies, learning curves and the importance of a well-trained staff.

CER: Gold’s Gym in general and your gyms specifically have experienced significant long-term customer loyalty success. What success strategies could be applied across other industries?

Blair McHaney: The first thing is just this recognition that –let your front lines actually deliver the product. You’ve got to let them deliver on any loyalty promise. You can’t try to mandate every action or tactic that people take in order to grow loyalty. It doesn’t really matter if it’s a gym or hotel or anything else. When you run into policies consistently that are tough on the customer experience, that’s when you see that it’s usually the C-suite that’s gotten in the way of delivering a great customer experience. You want to build a violin? Here’s some two by fours and a hammer. But I think that’s the same anywhere. I don’t think it’s different in any organization.

CER: What common challenges have you experienced while driving customer service?

Blair McHaney: When you accept that customer experience management is going to be a business discipline, that means that there’s a lot of business process implications. You’re never going to be a great practitioner from Day One. So then your program has to evolve over time. And the more sophisticated you get, the deeper you dig on those things that are causing negative experience or those things that cause people to not be as open about identifying processes that should be improved. Everybody will find their way back to how they hire, onboard, train, develop and educate their people. If you’re gonna get excellent at this, excellence will be driven. You’ll always end up back at that point at some point.

CER: Has it been a trial and error or – ?

Blair McHaney: I don’t think it’s so much trial and error. I think it’s more strategy and urgency. Companies have some kind of strategy. They’ll say, “This is our strategy and this is towards our customers.” And then when they start to gain a tremendous amount, especially continuous customer feedback. I’m not talking about the market research once a year or twice a year. When you’re having this continuous customer feedback, you can see whether you’re executing the strategy or not. Then you find a spot where there’s a gap. We think we deliver whatever it might be, right? An inspiring environment or great hospitality. But, according to our customer, whatever we say is apparently just marketing blather and our customer is not feeling the same thing. So there’s a gap there. I don’t think it’s so much trial and error as is it urgency. We have a strategy that we’re trying to deploy. What’s most urgent? What’s the most urgent gap? We have to address that gap and as soon as you start to address that gap and dig in, at some point, it’s going to take you back to how your people are sourced, hired, trained, educated, onboarded, developed.

CER: When you spoke, you gave real world examples of employees taking on responsibility. How difficult was it getting them to the level you wanted them to be?

Blair McHaney: I think it’s important enough that we are investing now, and this is just in the few clubs, instead of having three hours of onboarding and about 12 hours of in-department training, it’s going to expand to about 50 of training. And onboarding is going to expand greatly. When I’m saying onboarding, I just take for granted you have to do all the HR crap, right? You have to sign the papers. I’m not even talking about that. I’m talking about cultural onboarding. I’m talking about understanding why the organization exists and what it’s aspirations are. All of that; the cultural onboarding. I think it’s equally important that all staff members have to be reboarded once a year. Because your onboarding is going to evolve. It’s going to get better. It’s going to get more and more aligned as your thinking gets more and more wrapped around customer experience. And then the people who were onboarded two years ago, it’s a different world. And they need to be reminded.

CER: Is the reboarding the same amount of time as the onboarding?

Blair McHaney: Yes.

CER: What customer loyalty innovations would you like to see in the future?

Blair McHaney: One thing that I really want to see in the technology is to build up the operational sides of it more. In other words, tracking – when you deploy an initiative, being able to track it. Having more of a social aspect in there, where your own teams are actually interacting with each other within the system. I think so much of the loyalty innovation is going to be business model innovation and how you think about your own customers. And I think that’s going to be informed a lot by your customer experience management system but I think it’s so much about how you digest that information and try to innovate around that.  There are all those things that I want to be able to track in the system.

2 best practices for closing the loop


In all bricks and mortar operations, the leverage point for improving customer experience happens at the location level. It is at the location level where the most information on individual members resides.  Empowering at this level draws out more impactful actions for improving the customer experience.  This is the “distributed approach”.

Distributing the responsibility and authority for multiple people to close the loop and solve problems within each location reduces business processes and speeds action.  Location-specific knowledge and tacit knowledge about individual members makes problem solving and member dialogue much easier. Moreover, a distributed approach creates a platform for adopting other OCEM best practices that will drive your program and ultimately, the customer experience. Here are 2 best practices.

#1 – Response Team Approach

  1. This approach is generally used when an organization does not have a “daily huddle” for operations at the location level.
  2. Requirements
    1. Establish a team lead
    2. 3-6 people trained in CLF best practices
    3. MXM logins for each person
    4. Each Team Member “owns” 1 or more specific days of the week. (e.g. Bob has Monday, Lisa has Tuesday etc.)
  3. Team Responsibilities
    1. Respond to 100% of new feedback on assigned day(s).
    2. Cover one another for sick/vacation days
    3. Take ownership of issues and follow up to resolution
    4. Share ideas for improving member experience
  4. Impact
    1. Heightened awareness of the customer experience throughout the location
    2. Greater empowerment to solve problems and improve operations

#2 – Daily Huddle Approach

  1. This approach is possible when a daily leadership huddle takes place at least every weekday.
  2. Requirements
    1. Top of daily agenda
    2. MXM logins for each person
    3. Trained in CLF best practices
    4. Ability to look at the system together during the meeting
  3. Team Responsibilities
    1. Review status of case assignments from the previous day
    2. Review new cases
    3. Ownership of cases distributed to appropriate team member
  4. Impact
    1. Establishes priority of member experience at the management level
    2. Creates easy pathways for managers to use member experience data in departmental team meetings
    3. More likely to have authority to make change

The opposite of the “distributed approach” is the “centralized approach”.  The centralized approach is generally ineffective and overly cumbersome for multiple reasons.  Here are two examples of centralization:

  1. Single person responsible for CLF in one location
  2. Single person or small team with centralized responsibility for multi-location operation

Closing the loop in a timely, meaningful, and personalized manner is the starting point of optimizing your Operational Customer Experience Management practice.  The intent of each of these two best practices is to ensure:

  • Cases are handled swiftly
  • Action is taken
  • Workload is distributed
  • Increased opportunities to share ideas for improvement
  • Most importantly, the customer experience actually improves.



      Medallia Experience 2016

      The ClubWorks team had an amazing time in Orlando for the 2016 Medallia Experience.

      If you’re curious to get to better know the theme of the conference — Generation CX — check out the video below. This video kicked off the conference and speaks to the power of today’s customers. We hope it resonates with you. And if it does, we’d love it if you shared it with friends and family, on social media and beyond.

      Just For You


      Identify one element of your experience that you can personalize for your customer. Consider the barista who knows and readies your favorite drink, or the car service that tunes your stereo to your favorite radio station. How can you demonstrate to your customers that you really know their tastes?


      Prove that you listen and that you care about the customer's comfort. That builds loyalty. Once you capture that first element, it becomes the foundation for a closer customer relationship.



      Choose one interaction in your customer experience. Now benchmark the company that is the best at this interaction. Not in your industry, but on the planet. Look for all companies that are excellent at that single interaction.


      Too many companies benchmark customer experience leaders only in their industry. Thought leaders benchmark outside their industry and leapfrog their peers.


      Take a look at your MXM Score Card. Scroll to the bottom of the page and see the average NPS scores for Hospitality and Retail. 



      In his book Blink, Malcolm Gladwell explains the power of first impressions. What first impression are you offering your customers? When they walk into your location, what's the first thing customers see? When they call, what's the first thing they hear? Now work backward. Define the ideal first impression and determine what you need to do to deliver time and time again.


      Sometimes we design experiences, and the first impression is the outcome. However, you can flip that approach; start with the first impression and then reinforce it.

      Aces Wild


      Who are your best customer service representatives - based on customer satisfaction scores, staff friendliness scores and other criteria? If you don't have the data, ask around. When you find those top representatives, ask them what they do and how they do it. Then shadow them and watch them do it.


      Your representatives are closest to the customers, and many understand how to drive customer satisfaction. They have the secret sauce; you just need to capture the recipe. Plus, should you embed their best practices in training, the fact that the idea originated at the frontline adds instant credibility.