CEOs Need to Be Leaders to Improve the Customer Experience

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The importance of customer experience can’t be overestimated. According to Gartner, 89% of companies expect to compete based on customer experience and services.

“Brands are facing unprecedented challenges, which require a new perspective on digital experience,” says Stephen Frieder, President, Adobe Americas. “In today’s economy, the customer-centric companies are the ones that will thrive; customer experience is now a C-suite priority. A sure way to earn trust and loyalty is to understand your customer better than anyone else, and deliver what they need exactly when they need it.”

Despite the importance of the customer experience, the senior management at many firms has only passing involvement in understanding and improving this critical component of success. Compared to executive attention to other strategic initiatives (cyber-security, product development, etc.), customer experience is often ignored. To enhance the customer experience and make it a competitive advantage, the CEO must become more involved.

CEO involvement must be structured and occur regularly. To helicopter in when analytics trend downward or market share is lost is to take action too late. Here are four strategic actions that will change the status quo and drive improvement in the customer experience.

  1. Include customer analytics in regular business reviews. The monthly or quarterly business review must put customer analytics on the agenda. Improvements in the quality and capabilities of customer analytics platforms should eliminate any resistance to including them. Customer analytics are also likely to shed valuable light on changes in other operating metrics.
  2. Increase CEO engagement. A truism in every organization is that identifying corporate priorities is simple: Watch how much time the CEO devotes to different matters. If CX is a critical strategic component of success, the CEO should be spending time on improving it. That said, it isn’t necessary for the CEO to micromanage the effort. Rather, involvement in regular monthly or critical ad hoc meetings may be the best approach. Most importantly, the CEO should know, at a reasonable level of detail, key CX initiatives, what CX analytics are revealing, and what the CX team is doing.
  3. Integrate CX into operational and strategic planning meetings. Many firms build strategic product plans with little input from the CX team. Engineers might build what they think is right and “throw it over the wall” to sales and marketing, with no more than a vague hope that it will help drive positive CX. The time has come to give the CX team a seat at the table and incorporate the information and analytics from CX systems into other operating units’ operational and strategic reviews.
  4. Add a board committee or subcommittee to study CX. Convening a board committee is a strong statement of CX importance. When the CEO makes this commitment, it forces all employees to recognize that improving CX is going to be everyone’s job. This may not be the right choice for every organization, but for most firms it will drive improved CX.

As Frieder notes, “The CEO’s leadership may be the catalyst needed to drive the organizational change necessary to support a truly exceptional customer experience. Now that data-driven teams can deliver real-time customer information to support more informed business decisions, the time is ripe to focus on the customer experience.”

Read why 2020 is the year of CX-Centric business transformation.

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