executive buy-in

How to Inspire Executives to Prioritize Customers

How can you convince a C-suite executive to put their money where their proverbial mouth is and really, truly invest in customer-centricity? To actually show, and not just tell, everyone they listen and and improve their organization to help their customers.

It is fairly common sense that for an organization to be healthy and have longevity, it must serve its customers… but what’s in a vision or mission statement isn’t always in practice.  Saying it and acting on it is a gap worth addressing. And change has to come from, and be modeled, by the top. It’s how frontline staff know what’s right, what’s wrong and what success looks like for the company. Executive leadership  must be on board with prioritizing the investment of time, money and resources necessary for a great customer experience (CX).

I reached out for input on this vary topic from some of my favourite customer service leaders.

What’s the top thing to do to get a company to invest (time/money/resources) in putting the customer first?

Annette Franz – Execs need to see the linkage to outcomes ($$). But outcomes take time and aren’t always a straight line (from the work). Nonetheless, paint the picture. And appeal not only to the left side of the brain but also the right… walking in customers’ shoes will help execs feel the pain. (tweet)

Mike Aoki – I think you need to show the C-level the financial link between CX and profits. Especially, how CSAT and NPS relate to market growth and client retention. (tweet)

Steve Digioia – By having the most senior leadership/owner personally contact each lost customer & listen to the reason(s) why they left. Let leadership explain why the company failed to do this or that, and justify their failings. The ivory tower crumbles by upset customers’ legitimate concerns. (tweet)

Bill Quiseng – It starts at the top. If the C-level is driven by short-term profits over people (customers and employees), the company will not do as well in customer loyalty and long-term profits as those companies that always focus on people first. (tweet)

Dan Gingiss – I would say get executives to step into the shoes of their customers, Undercover Boss-style. Start with regular, random contact center listening and make sure everyone gets to experience being a customer. (tweet)

Kate Nasser – Put top leaders into the position of BEING the customer. Nothing like some sensitivity training to awaken their AHA moments. THEN connect it with the statistics, data, and results other companies have achieved by being customer centric. It turns data into “Oh we get it.” (tweet)

Tricia Morris – (1) show the data on how CX has impacted the bottom line, (2) show continuing examples of frustrated customer feedback (most execs are only shown the positive), (3) show how other brands have made leaps forward with a CX focus (e.g. Dominos), (4) try undercover boss CX exercises. (tweet)

Seema Mathew – Cover all important aspects that top leaders are responsible for: where to organizationally structure CX, the need for a CXO, that CX is proactive, that CX is a growth strategy…  Rather do CX the right way than sit with churn or having to focus on strategies to keep customers when it’s too late. Demonstrate the benefit of delivering based on the needs of the customer.  You could even make them role play this. (tweet)

I couldn’t agree more with these suggestions.

The executive needs to tangibly see how the current actions of the organization are not fulfilling the needs of its customers, and the emotions that failure evokes. Numbers are only numbers until there are impactful, emoting faces behind them. Undercover boss exercises (as mentioned frequently above) will certainly go a long way to helping with this and helping those at the top to connect with the customer in a meaningful way.

How would you recommend getting your executive to see the importance of investing in customer-centric operations and culture?

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