Kenny Bain discusses why CEOs need to be actively involved with customer engagement
How often do you ask, “What do my customers want?”. More importantly, do you know the answer? Customer experience (CX) is moving rapidly towards the top of the CEO agenda as businesses realise its importance to the bottom line. Successful CX requires organisational transformation and cultural change, and therefore needs to be led from the top – without senior leadership involvement, initiatives can stall or fail to deliver ongoing benefits.
Starting internally, being approachable and part of the team will have a huge impact on the company and its culture. Transparency in communications and accessibility across the board is vital when creating a culture where employees can share concerns, constructive feedback or ways to improve daily practices. I feel an open forum to share these discussions is key to driving employee engagement and productivity – everyone who works at Rant & Rave is valued, and their contributions are vital to the growth of the business.
To help with this effort, we use weekly internal emails where questions from our employees can be emailed directly to the board – who will then feed back their response, typically within a week. We also use a text messaging system in a similar way. Questions and thoughts can be sent via text, making it less formal, but a prompt response will still be received. This not only ensures colleagues know that they can share their thoughts and opinions, but also that the senior management team are aware of the day-to-day successes and concerns of employees at all levels.
I find that creating an open and honest arena to share what is on everybody’s minds, is a great way to engage with the team and find quick resolutions for any issues.
Similarly, one of our utility clients has seen their business transformed by listening to their frontline agents and empowering them to make the decisions that will make their customers’ lives easier. Every morning at 8.30am the senior team sit down with the frontline agents and listen to the changes or decisions they would like to make.
Facing the customer
It is not possible for a CEO to answer every query that comes in, nor would it make sense to send them every escalation, however, there are significant benefits to using them in communications. Bringing the CEO into selected conversations demonstrates a really important level of humanity, and that the business is listening to its customers and taking their feedback seriously.
We have a number of customers now integrating CEO communications into their customer engagement strategies, and it’s been very well received. One example of this is a key service update message delivered by the CEO, following the ‘you said, we did’ method. This update would be a recording as it’s likely to be a broadcast message, but it shows that the CEO is aware of, and involved in the issue, and its resolution.
CX must start at the top
A successful transformation to customer centricity occurs when the CEO champions and drives CX. As customer experience becomes a central focus of the corporate strategy, more CEOs will be making decisions in this area. For many brands, strategies have evolved in recent years and, as such there have been tangible results; it’s now about moving from good to great. A CEO might be a couple of steps away from the customer service frontline, but with competition for customer loyalty fiercer than ever, brands need to be prepared to go above and beyond. With feedback fatigue rife and consumer demands increasing, brands need to grasp innovative solutions to stay ahead of the competition, and the CEO should be the leading force behind this. According to a recent Genesys study, 58% of companies with a high degree of profitability relative to their rivals, report that, ultimately, the CEO has ownership of CX management. Therefore, a CEO who instinctively considers the customer as part of their decision-making processes will automatically lead a company to success.
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