As the past year began, we saw a significantly different corporate environment. Tax cuts from the new administration created a wave of growth and investment and added a few dollars to most employee paychecks. At the same time, unemployment continues to hover around 4%, the lowest it’s been in 18 years, and baby boomers are retiring at record rates, resulting in a significant talent shortage. Combined with a lack of succession planning, these changes are fundamentally changing the makeup of the c-suite.
One of the most significant shifts facing executives is the role of the customer. Most executives spent the majority of their career without having to worry about what the consumer thought of their company. Outside of a call to the support line or a letter to the editor, there was no outlet for consumers to have their voice heard.
Just over a decade ago social media emerged to level the playing field. Now consumers can share their thoughts and opinions with everyone at any time. Managing customer feedback, user generated content, and online conversations about your products and services requires a different skill set. Traditional leadership training had no best practice for customer experience.
Today’s leaders must understand the entire customer journey, from the first time a prospect hears about the company, to the onboarding and training of new customers, every touch point matters. A recent Forbes article highlights the importance of CEO involvement in customer experience. The article notes that 75% of companies said their top objective was to improve customer experience.
But to do this you will need executive level involvement, “If you plan on going through a customer experience transformation the conversation needs to start in the boardroom. The CEO must drive the leadership conversations about the importance of pivoting to become a customer-focused company.”
If the CEO is not making customer experience a priority, there is little chance of improving your current position, “Forrester reported this year that the top three challenges for a customer experience program include organizational culture (54%), organizational structures (45%), and processes (41%) and these three programs are all driven by the CEO.”
They key is removing friction. The easier your products and services are to use, the more likely they are to be adopted by consumers. The article outlines additional trends to keep an eye on for improving customer experience, and each supports reduced friction.
One is personalization. Machine Learning is improving the ability to only serve people content that is relevant to them. Another trend is the use of Artificial Intelligence for data analytics for decision making. In the next couple of years we’ll be producing more than 40 zettabytes of data every day, just-in-time decisioning can increase customer satisfaction based on this information that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.
To learn more about your role in the customer experience, send us a note. At Sheer Velocity, our executive recruiters can work with your existing team and with new executive hires to develop a strong customer focused culture.