Sizzler Embraces Customer Experience Competencies

I just read a great article called Kerry Kramp Keeps Sizzler Relevant that discusses how Kerry Kramp, CEO of Sizzler, did a complete makeover of the company. What makes it so interesting is that Kramp embraced all four core customer experience competencies. Here are a few excerpts from the article that showcase each competency:

Purposeful Leadership:

“Leaders have to be directly engaged in the business to the point where they can really understand that the decisions they make are affecting the business — the employees, the profitability as well as the guests. You can’t lead from a corner office. You’ve got to lead from being out there where the business is actually done.”

The measuring stick was long-term success through customer satisfaction. Kramp didn’t want employees taking drastic measures to earn extra profit this quarter if it wouldn’t align with the company’s core in 50 years.

Compelling Brand Values:

“The value-to-what-you-got equation was a little bit off,” Kramp says. “So it began a course of discovery to try to understand what really made Sizzler tick — not so much where the direction had been in the past as much as where the guests wanted Sizzler to be.

“It was to try to understand the uniqueness of this 50-year-old company,” Kramp says. “Where it had been and, really more so, where everybody wanted it to be and how to make it relevant to the consumers that we would need to be attracting in this new world order with the economy changed the way it has.”

Employee Engagement:

Gauging what employees need to do their jobs should be ongoing and continually balanced with customer feedback. Kramp regularly tours stores to ask whether employees have tools to connect with customers, based on their own perceptions of what they think patrons want.

“All of a sudden, whether you’re the cashier, the dishwasher or the server, you knew the food,” he says. “You knew what ingredients were in it, you knew why we did what we did. If you know that the ladle’s supposed to be upright and it’s not, you stop and make sure that the ladle’s upright. The employees began to take real ownership of the way that things were done.”

Customer Connectedness:

“From the guest side, first it was to really understand what was important to them,” he says. “It was looking at: How do the guests want to use us?”

Start by observing as customers use your service and talk to others about it. Kramp watched customers as they examined their 50-plus menu options — often appearing overwhelmed.

“We kept our finger right on the pulse of the guests’ feedback,” Kramp says. “As they gave us indications of what they liked — either verbally or through the product mix, what were they ordering — we kept adapting our business to the direction that they wanted us to head in.”

The bottom line: Are you making customer experience sizzle in your organization?

Written by 

I am an experience management transformist, helping organizations improve business results by engaging the hearts and minds of their customers, employees, and partners. My "job" is Head of the Qualtrics XM Institute. The Institute is still being established, but our goal is to help organizations around the world thrive by mastering Experience Management (XM). As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. Prior to joining Qualtrics, I was managing partner of Temkin Group (leading CX research, advisory, and training firm), co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (, and a VP at Forrester Research. I'm a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Check out my LinkedIn profile:

4 thoughts on “Sizzler Embraces Customer Experience Competencies”

  1. Another great post, Bruce. What Sizzler are doing seems such common sense but the irony is the ‘common sense’ is anything but common. A perfect example of putting the customer first and listening to their needs in order to create excellent service. I’ll be using this example with my own contact so thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks Bruce. This is getting down to the real nitty gritty. It’s stories like this that make concepts like the four competencies real. Here in Australia I don’t even know who Sizzler is but I know that this post will be energising for clients of mine who are accountants. They are in the early stages of a “Clienteer” project where they are actually speaking to and learning from their clients, how novel is that for normally task based accountants. The Sizzler story resonates on every level with their project and seeing others create value from “customer work” will enthuse them come monday.

  3. It’s the BCE Chain, or Brand-Customer-Employee. It’s similar to the Service Profit Chain (SCP) developed by Hesket et al. The main difference is that SCP establishes relationships among profitability, customer loyalty, and employee satisfaction. BCE is not really the so-called competency but instead key element to achieve profitable sustainability.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.