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CEOs Need To Become Customer-Experience Evangelists

CEOs Need To Become Customer-Experience Evangelists
By Jennifer LeClaire

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In today's interconnected world where every customer has the Internet as a soapbox, even a few unhappy customers can wreak havoc. That's why customer experience management has become a top priority not just for sales and service managers, but all the way up to the CEO. Turning customers into evangelists themselves can be a winning strategy.
 


CEOs already have plenty to do, but Oracle chief Mark Hurd is suggesting they take on one more task -- becoming customer experience evangelists.

In a recent column, Hurd challenged conventional wisdom that argues once your customer satisfaction ratings hit the 95 percent mark it’s a waste of money to spend more effort on that last few percent of the customer base. Conventional wisdom says those customers can’t be pleased so you should just move on.

Hurd insists that conventional wisdom is antiquated. In today’s interconnected world, customers control everything and even a few unhappy customers in the lot can be costly. With all this in mind, Hurd is pushing the customer experience evangelist envelope.

Three Challenges

An Oracle survey revealed 81 percent of executives surveyed realize that active social media processes and culture are essential to their success, yet only 65 percent offer social channels for sales and service. Where’s the disconnect? The respondents pointed out three challenges: inflexible technology that can’t handle modern social tools; siloed organizations that can’t adapt to rapid external disruptions; and insufficient funding.

“As I look at those three obstacles -- core technology, organizational structures, and budget priorities -- it’s clear that they can’t be overcome by a feisty social team, or a hard-charging sales leader, or even by a forceful finance chief,” Hurd said. “No, those barriers to becoming a truly social business that can deliver superb customer experiences can only be knocked down by the CEO.”

As Hurd sees it, CEOs need to make customer experience a top priority across the company -- and central goal of transformational efforts that attack those three obstacles before they transform from inconveniences to dangerous and devastating threats.

It’s the Brand They’re Buying

We caught up with Lisa Arthur, CMO of Marketing Applications at Teradata Corporation, an enterprise analytic technologies firm, to get her take on Hurd’s stance.

As she sees it, CEOs are employees of the company like everyone else, and customer experience should be a central focus across the board. Everyone in the C-suite -- CEOs, CIOs, CMOs, etc. -- should reinforce that the customer experience is the company’s central focus and also ensure that the brand is considered and delivered at every customer touchpoint.

“In a company of 1,000 people, there should be 1,000 customer experience evangelists. Why do you think the marketing automation category is expanding so rapidly? Because customers are demanding a better and better experience. They want brands to which they are loyal to know them, their preferences, etcetera,” Arthur said. (continued...)

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Neil Davey:

Posted: 2014-05-28 @ 12:38am PT
“In a company of 1,000 people, there should be 1,000 customer experience evangelists. Why do you think the marketing automation category is expanding so rapidly?"

Not sure I'd entirely agree with the view that marketing automation investment creates customer experience champions within the organisation. Customer centricity/evangelism requires a cultural shift more than a technological one IMO.

Neil Davey, MyCustomer.com

patmcgraw:

Posted: 2014-05-03 @ 11:35am PT
Great companies have great leaders...and part of the definition of great leader is vision that includes how the organization must consistently deliver a unique, valuable customer experience across the organization with empowered employees that also realize the importance of "Wowing the customer".

Data is nice to have but when push comes to shove a dedicated, empowered employee can ask the right questions, make the right decisions and Wow the customer. It worked before automation and it will continue to work because people buy from people...

Christine Crandell:

Posted: 2014-04-29 @ 7:45am PT
This article reinforced what I've learned with our clients. In every case where the CEO visibly championed knowing the customer, through their eyes, and evolved the their organization, it was a success.

In every case where the drive to become customer-led came from the middle of the organization and the CEO did not buy-in or only gave it lip service, it failed. That explains why a majority of companies are reticient to embrace customer experience initiatives and settle for 'finding and fixing isolated bad experiences'. Unfortunately, 'find and fix' is a 'whack a mole strategy' as it does more harm to customer loyalty than good because the root cause has not been addressed.

- Christine Crandell, Author



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