One of the benefits of my role as Chief Relationship Officer at CEO Connection is the opportunity to have fascinating business conversations with a number of mid-market CEOs. Last week I spoke with the head of a rapidly expanding, international company who has garnered remarkable growth statistics in her industry.
The most interesting part of our conversation centered on her belief that driving double-digit growth for more than ten years straight would not be her most challenging accomplishment. Rather, it’s the one ahead of her: creating a holistic approach to customer experience in all parts of the organization and in every store across the globe.
The Project Mindset
This CEO understands that her company is entering a new phase where growth will come from customers’ experience with the brand rather than from rapid, physical expansion. But the challenge she is facing is her executive team is viewing “customer experience” as a “project.” It is anything but.
Customer experience is part of a company’s culture. And culture starts within, with each employee.
Hospitality, for Example
One important aspect of customer experience we discussed was hospitality. This isn’t something you can “turn on” when you open a store in the morning and “turn off” when you close at the end of the day.
For a customer to genuinely feel that they’ve been treated warmly and with sincere friendliness you need employees who are like this by nature; you need a company that is like this by nature. And you need an organization that is hospitable in its approach to each other as work is done in corporate offices and on store floors.
The same holds true for every other aspect of customer experience, including respect, quality, and the higher purpose on which the company was founded, often aspirational in nature.
Essentially, it’s about Culture
And thus the need for a holistic approach to customer experience rather than a “project” mindset. When corporate employees create a company-wide project or strategic initiative there is a tendency (in my experience) to create written guidelines that are approved by the legal department and then communicated in a systematic manner via the corporate communications team, who may know nothing about the realities of day-to-day operations. Communication efforts are tallied, actions are recorded, surveys are done to measure internal results, and ultimately teams move on to a new project.
A holistic approach is entirely different. It’s about creating a culture built on solid values that says and inherently exudes, for example, “This is who we are. We are a company that believes in hospitality and respect. We believe in quality products and quality of life. We, as individuals, believe in something larger than ourselves.” And it’s about both customers and employees experiencing this as deep-seated beliefs that permeate all aspects and parts of the company.
Customer experience is not a project.
What do you think?
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