Customer Service Focused CEO

customer focused ceo

The most competent companies are led by CEOs who are truly customer service focused and make clear decisions based on connecting people. A good CEO would not distance themselves from customers with a high and mighty mindset but would do the opposite and creates easy paths to their customers.  Customer service needs to move from being an underrepresented variable in investor presentations and become the main topic around which decisions are made.

Any business that deals with people serves the main purpose of making life easy for the customer. It goes without saying that all businesses need a CEO that can draw attention to the importance of customer satisfaction. Many CEOs report that their jobs become isolating because of others’ fear of seniority. Yet it is proven that CEOs can do their part to engage with customers and welcome them into the arms of the business.

A Customer Focused CEO breaks down boundaries between the business and the customers

It is important for a CEO to truly understand the value of customer input and embrace it for the gain of the business. Hence why online clothing store Zappos’ CEO Tony Hsieh, spends holiday seasons answering customer support calls. Through listening to customers, CEOs can develop more empathetic views concerning the business’ role within society. Feedback should not stop short of reaching the CEO if the company as a whole claims to be dedicated to customer service. They also deepen the relationship between customers and the entire business as customers know how an understanding CEO will encourage empathy in the team of employees. Getting the big picture of customer needs is a good goal to have and a wealth of customer input is needed for this, particularly on a personal level. 

Not only should CEOs ask for feedback from customers but they should essentially collaborate with them. CEOs should be picking from the brains of customers more than just occasionally and using customer insights to drive decisions. Sometimes, just asking what the customer thinks they need won’t get you anywhere; it can be hard to explain or not make sense. CEOs benefit from understanding not just the customer’s issue but what kind of service they had pictured. These insights can piece together imaginable goals for the company. 

A Customer Focused CEO should respect all employees

Employees can be considered the second layer of deserving customers. A customer will not give you their money if they’re treated poorly. An employee will not deliver in their performance if they are not being respected. To feel respected, employees have got to know that their input is valued by their CEO. They need to be looked to for feedback and CEOs should ask questions and seek out a variety of opinions. This should be a regular occurrence in meetings with executive leadership teams, but should also be able to take place between any employee and the CEO through alternative routes.

In return, CEOs need to deliver weekly direct reports to discuss overall performance and make suggestions for improvement to employees and maximise their talent. This will be easier if the CEO is highly involved in recruiting the customer focused employees as well. Richard Fairbank, the CEO at Capital One, says: “At most companies, people spend 2% of their time recruiting and 75% managing their recruiting mistakes.” Spending a little longer recruiting may seem costly but will save far more mistakes from being made in the future. With a CEO that listens to their employees and is confident in their capabilities, business can thrive in customer service without excessive trial and error.

A Customer Focused CEO will also predict long-term outcomes instead of changing course with the weather

Some sacrifices will have to be made at some points in time so that other greater things can happen later. For example, Wesfarmers managing director Richard Goyder has said that Wesfarmers is willing to reduce prices across all its retail businesses to encourage sales growth and shareholder returns. This short-term sacrifice has shown Coles’ resilience in the price war against Woolworths and won many loyal customers. Surely, no customers were complaining about being able to shop cheaper either. CEOs need to allocate resources wisely, investing heavily in customer experience.

They need to make sure that customer experience workers have access to enough of the data the company collects about their customers to do their job efficiently. Information should not be locked away from customer experience workers if they must keep the customer waiting for minutes while they fetch their seniors. Investment in sufficient data storage programs such as CRMs that employees can access from anywhere saves the business and therefore the customer a lot of time. 

The climate of customer demands will continue to change and it is up to a customer focused CEO to stay updated on trends and ideals and make decisions based on long-term benefits. Through listening to their customers and making it personal, a broad and versatile view of the business’ role can be achieved. It’s up to the CEO to push for a strong level of connectedness between themselves, other workers and, most importantly, the customers. Only when the net of the three is tight can communication flow fast and decisions accurate to the current situation be made. 

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