NPS Blog

Helping leaders hit the gas on culture change at Safelite

Safelite AutoGlass repairs and replaces car windows and windshields. To offer more convenience, the company’s technicians often make repairs at the accident spot or in customers’ parking lots. Around 2008, under the leadership of CEO Tom Feeney, the company clarified its view of the road ahead and made a decision to focus less on financial measures and more on earning customers’ loyalty. It used the Net Promoter System to help support this change and gauge progress.

In a previous episode of the Net Promoter System Podcast, we heard how Safelite applied the Net Promoter System and became a “people-powered” and “customer-driven” organization. It began hiring technicians as much for their service orientation as for their technical skills, encouraging them to, say, vacuum a customer’s car at no extra charge after replacing the windshield. Hearing from customers that Saturdays were their busiest days, Safelite added staff and extended hours to better fit customers’ schedules.

Safelite

Helping frontline workers change the game is crucial to winning customer loyalty. And in our latest discussion, Tom told me it had been equally important for Safelite to reset the priorities of its leaders and their views of their own roles.

“We’ve spent a lot of our time in the past seven or eight years teaching that there’s a difference between managing things and leading people,” Tom says. Managing things has meant telling people what to do, whereas leading has meant engaging with employees, hearing their views and bringing them into the decision-making process.

TomFeeney-120x113Leaders need to get close to their employees. Tom advocates frequent town hall meetings, regular store visits and riding in trucks alongside technicians. Also, the company doesn’t begin its meetings with financial results; instead, it starts with “What’s going on with our people?” “What’s going on with our customers?” And based on that, “How did the month or quarter or year turn out?”

Tom exemplifies that commitment to customers and employees. He meets regularly with employees and uses their suggestions to change policy. One way he keeps in touch with them is by using a tool called asktom.com—employees can ask any question and receive an answer within 72 hours. The company then publishes the exchange in an online resource center for other employees.

To keep executives accountable, Safelite changed performance reviews to incorporate metrics such as employee turnover and engagement, and results of the 360-degree feedback that managers undergo annually. The company also conducts monthly and yearly employee engagement surveys that ask staff how satisfied they are with their jobs, their managers and Safelite. Using these surveys, the company looks at “trends across the business to see the type of climate our leaders are creating collectively and individually,” says Natalie Crede, Safelite’s senior vice president of people and leadership development. For problem leaders, the message is clear: Shape up or ship out.

The outcome of this people-first approach has been enormous growth. Safelite served nearly 5 million customers last year—a record it expects to break in the coming year—and has recently hired 1,000 new technicians, expanding its technician count by 33%.

To successfully implement the Net Promoter System, the entire organization has to be a part of it. According to Renee Cacchillo, who is senior vice president of customer, brand and technology: “It’s not about gathering surveys in a customer function and reporting the results.”

You can listen to my discussion with Tom, Natalie and Renee on iTunes or through the player below. Click here to browse more episodes of the Net Promoter System Podcast. For more on leadership within the Net Promoter System, check out the Loyalty Insights brief “Leading a Net Promoter System company.”

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