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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.
 


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“While data and applications can make the customer experience better and more personalized, it’s the brand they are buying -- not a CEO. Delivering what’s expected is a cultural and operational mandate that operates on genuine trust. Some companies are known for excellence in this area while others are not.”

Engaging Your Customers

Dan Farkas, an instructor of Strategic Communication at Ohio University, told us Hurd's comments make complete sense for two reasons. First, many people are strong advocates of transformational leadership.

“The idea is to turn employees into people who embody your spirit. Anyone can talk about being a customer experience evangelist,” Farkas said. “When Hurd lives this and showcases this kind of perspective, it provides a massive heap of validation to the change process.”

Second, he noted, there’s all sorts of data out there suggesting that younger people appreciate and expect to have a flatter communication pattern with organizational leaders. A CEO doesn't have to respond to every single tweet.

“Younger people will recognize and reward those companies that engage with customers. It's smart business sense, and I would argue it's moving from nice to necessary in many industries,” Farkas said. “This is especially so in the technology field where there are limited barriers to entry and where the user experience and review process play a heightened role.”

Turning Customers Into Evangelists

Kenneth Epstein, vice president for C3: CustomerContactChannels, a provider of customer service management and training solutions to Fortune 500 companies, told us it is absolutely is the CEO’s job to be a customer experience evangelist. That, he said, is because when the top person makes customer service a priority, it will then filter down to everyone in the organization who will deliver on the promise.

“Smart CEOs know it costs far less to retain a customer that it does to acquire a new one. There are many companies that invest millions of dollars to build their customer bases, yet many times, as quickly as new customers are coming in the front door, existing customers are exiting the back door,” Epstein said.

“In today’s competitive marketplace, customers not only expect value, they expect a good experience with the companies they choose to do business with. And when they have a good experience, they can be turned into evangelists themselves and go out of their way to tell anyone they know how much they love a company or product. Nothing is more compelling than that.”

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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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