Five Questions Every CEO Needs to Ask About Their Customer Experience

This post was written by John Kealey and originally appeared here.

According to a 2011 Temkin report, “Only 3% of companies have reached the highest level of customer experience maturity, which Temkin calls a Customer-Centric Organization.” Despite this, many CEO’s across the globe are claiming that their companies are indeed customer-centric. This reminds me of the warning posted on my rearview mirror: “Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer than They Are.” Perhaps as CEO’s we’re looking at the wrong metrics and the blind spot that’s apparent to our customers, eludes us.

As we contend with today’s ongoing customer experience evolution, there are five questions every CEO needs to ask and answer:

1. Who is championing the customer experience in my organization?

Though the actual title is irrelevant, somebody must own the responsibility. Especially when researchers tell us that “58% of executives declare they are customer-centric but only 3% really exhibit the highest level of customer-centricity.” The perception and reality are decidedly skewed. It is imperative that organizations assign an individual to own the customer experience. Someone who would interact with departments across the organization to design, implement, communicate and advocate for the customer and customer programs.

2. Are we using our customer program initiatives to impact the customer experience or just adding fluff to our marketing collateral?

Customer experience is the new buzzword, as such many organizations are adopting new initiatives so they too can claim customer-centricity. Loyalty programs, surveys and corporations speak of being customer-centric, however, only serve to cloud brand image if actions don’t mirror our conversation. Furthermore, when customer experience initiatives don’t impact the customer experience, our paint will soon peel, revealing a disengaged C-Suite, non-motivated employees, an uninformed front-line and disenchanted customers. Companies can only fake customer-centricity for so long. Customer-centricity comes from a place of genuine concern for the customer and their needs. Then solution offerings, loyalty programs and even sales methodologies all align with customer needs verses corporate needs.

3. Are my employees engaged and aligned with the customer experience creed we’ve established for the company?

People are at the core of any organization. They are closest to the customer and are loudspeakers for our customer experience creed. In fact, “92% of customers form their opinion about a company based on their call center.” Invariably, the problem companies face is twofold: they have not devised a customer experience strategy or if they have a strategy, they have not communicated the “said” strategy to employees. The C-Suite must share its vision for its customer, customer service and the customer experience as a whole with the entire company. Peppers and Rodgers indicates that, “69% of organizations have not provided customer-facing personnel with customer insights.” The only way we can create real change and a culture of customer-centricity is if we promote this vision and mentality through the company and continuously train employees.

4. Is my organizational and customer data burying my company or empowering my customer facing professionals (CFPs)?

The modus operandi today is to collect data. In fact, “15 out of 17 sectors in the United States have more data per company than the US Library of Congress!” We capture data throughout the entire buying process: before, during and after our customers make a purchase. As we should—data is insight. My fear, however, is that we may be so focused on collecting the data that it becomes rote and we miss the purpose. Forrester exposed this possibility when it indicated that, “Firms effectively use less than 5% of the information available to them in their decision making process.” Collecting data is just the beginning. Organizations must have the necessary tools and processes in place to derive insight from the data. Research tells us that “95% of large organizations collect customer feedback but only 10% use the information to drive improvement.” If the data we collect is not empowering our CFPs and the company is at large, then our burgeoning repositories are a dead weight.

5. What metrics and measurements do I need to look at to get an accurate picture of the customer experience we deliver?

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure” may be a cliché yet it’s true with every business process and initiative including customer experience. We must determine the metrics and management functions we intend to impact and track the related metrics. This is the only way we can really determine if our organization is truly customer-centric or just sporting the sticker. These metrics can then help identify the gaps in the customer experience and the processes that need to be modified or eliminated.

As CEOs, when we can honestly answer these questions, we set the pace for creating memorable customer experiences that drive loyalty, word of mouth and impact the bottom-line.

 

John Kealey is Chief Executive Officer of Vivisimo Inc. and an experienced senior executive with over 25 years in the communications and information technology industries. He is the former President and CEO of iDirect Technologies, which he joined when the company was a pre-revenue turnaround and helped grow organically to over $120 million in annual revenue and a position of global leadership in satellite routing technology when it was acquired by Singapore Technologies (ST) in November, 2005.