CEOs are leaders. It’s just a characteristic that comes with the job–and it doesn’t matter which came first. Whether it’s through quiet integrity or enthusiastic team meetings, teams both large and small are guided by the true north that is their CEO. A CEO’s focused vision and direction are crucial to a business growing and flourishing.
However, if not cultivated carefully, that same leadership is moot. In a time where 91% of people trust an online review as much as they trust their best friend, coupled with the fact that 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a better brand experience, CEOs would be wise to leverage their leadership such that it nurtures the common thread that weaves through each of their internal departments. This is the thread that determines a product update, the thread that reveals pain points, and the thread that can either promote the brand like crazy or put a bad taste in hundreds of people’s mouths with a quick social media post. This thread is the customer experience.
To really see results in your customer experience efforts, consider it like tiling a backsplash. If you’ve never tiled a backsplash before, the main rule is to work from the middle-out. This ensures that the backsplash will be symmetrical at each end (i.e.: balanced, consistent, and well-formed).
CEOs who want to facilitate an exceptional customer experience do it like they’re tiling a backsplash– from the middle out. Here’s how:
– Lay the right foundation.
– Establish dependable management systems.
– Measure satisfaction and use the data to drive action.
Lay the right foundation
The first step in gaining loyal customers is to focus on the people of your company. Your employees are your foundation and their happiness in their job should be your number one priority. As the saying goes, “happy employees make happy customers.” A Gallup report states that engaged employees are more likely to improve customer relationships (which translates to a reported 22% increase in sales). Imagine if your entire team felt engaged at work. You would easily achieve that 22% increase in sales–maybe more.
Adopting a more employee-focused culture can drive enthusiasm that will inevitably translate to the customer experience. You can create this kind of culture by offering recognition, opportunities for advancement, offering feedback and praise, and providing ongoing training or coaching to teach employees new skills. An investment in your employees will result in 21 percent higher productivity, and 37 percent lower absenteeism, according to the same Gallup report.
Consider Chick-fil-A, the fast-food chain that has been #1 in customer satisfaction for three years in a row. The ASCI’s ranking tells us that America’s most-beloved restaurant didn’t get there based on their waffle fries and famous dipping sauce alone; customers rave the most about Chick-fil-A’s cleanliness, quick service, and hard-working employees. So it led me to wonder, where does Chick-fil-A find these engaged employees? Or rather, how does Chick-fil-A treat employees that makes them so happy at work that it translates to happy customers?
A quick search will tell you that Chick-fil-A empowers their employees with mentoring and professional development, they offer discounts on food, are extremely flexible with employees’ schedules and provides Sundays off (to name a few, remember this is a quick search). What’s more, the company awards scholarships to team members across the country each year. But the overall tone as communicated by part-time and full-time employees is that the company’s mission is clear, and their investment in their employees is genuine. No wonder these employees have no problem saying, “My pleasure”– it’s in the DNA of their culture.
Embrace autonomy by empowering your various teams to handle situations using their judgment. When this is done in accordance with company values, you cultivate leadership and accountability. It’s here that your team can create pathways to truly forming meaningful relationships with customers because they’re right there, listening to the voice of the customer. Leadership at Amazon, for example, has turned their company into an entire case study on customer experience– Amazon listens to customers’ evolving needs and anticipates where they are going by eliminating the pain points of online shopping (like paying for shipping, ease of delivery and returns, etc.). Amazon did not start out offering these services, rather, they listened to their customers and continually embraced new ways of working.
In the SaaS landscape, every member of your team can make a difference for the customer. At Zight (formerly CloudApp) we’re constantly finding new ways to integrate our screen recorder for product teams, marketing teams, and even designers and executives because we know how important those touch points are in the customer journey. Integrations with Trello, Slack, and even Microsoft Office provide better visual communication to businesses that value clarity. It’s almost as if using screen recording software and personalized video takes the roles from customer/vendor to a true partnership where both teams have the desire to work together and get on the same page.
Establish dependable management systems.
Companies with an excellent satisfaction rating are typically run like a well-oiled machine. According to Harvard Business Review, if a CEO can establish a high bar with employees and give them the tools to meet expectations, productivity will often soar (and so will your revenue). Furthermore, CEOs with a driven focus that yields success do so by putting business management systems in place to maintain workflow and innovation.
Some examples of this are putting in place a cadence of meetings that employees can plan on and prepare for consistently. Other approaches to add include keeping track of dashboards of metrics that are appropriate for each department, clear accountability, and having channels for monitoring performance and making rapid course corrections when necessary.
Clear communication from the top down is absolutely necessary for small SaaS startups all the way to large conglomerate businesses. Having clear discussions beforehand between the internal teams can eliminate potential confusion for a customer. Imagine a sales rep isn’t sure about the function of a specific feature included in your “premium” package. He makes a quick guess on the spot, and the lead then decides to purchase your product–only to become frustrated upon finding out they were sold on a different expectation. That customer now has every motive to write a negative review about your company and become the undesired detractor. Had that particular sales rep utilized communication software and fully understood just what that specific feature offers, a clearer picture would have been presented to the lead, and the potential for that lead to turn into a promoter would still be there.
For CEOs, clear communication means there is zero room for error. Remember that you are the true north for your team. Make decisions, implement them, and make space for course corrections when presented with an opportunity to do so. Take advantage of code review tools, productivity apps, and product management tools to disseminate the necessary information for your team to function optimally. When dependable management systems are in place, you’ve set the stage for your team to play their roles at their peak level and work toward the highest potential of your company, and you bet customers can feel the difference.
Video can also be a fantastic medium to connect with remote employees, share quick screenshots in Slack, or capture your thoughts verbally on a screen recording vs textually in an email. Our eBook, How to Incorporate video into your business can help you get started.
Measure satisfaction and use the data to drive action.
As a CEO, it’s in your best interest that your customers are happy and successful with your product. That is, after all, what breeds customer loyalty: an excellent customer experience coupled with the value your product provides. In reality, the customer has all the power– but that’s the way it should be. Having an understanding of this should spark serious motivation for your company to provide the best possible customer experience so that you can be the cause of a loyal, promoting customer–and reap the benefits.
The key to satisfying customers is not just to measure what happens but also to use the data to drive action throughout the organization.
Keep track of customer touchpoints and happenings, along with any correlating circumstances to drive dissatisfaction (such as, “The internet went out and the customer was unable to use our VoIP system”). Likewise, keep track of positive feedback to capitalize on marketing ideas (maybe there’s a facet of your product you hadn’t considered to be a game-changer until hearing a happy customer rave about it). Use this information as a guide. It will prove to be a great resource for optimizing the customer experience.
Measure satisfaction, and measure it often. Pay attention to your NPS, or Net Promoter Score, to identify the number of promoters, passives, and detractors you have within your customer database. This is the most well-recognized metric to measure customer experience, and it’s done by asking customers how likely they are to recommend your product to a friend. Another commonly used indicator is the CSAT, short for Customer Satisfaction. Respondents rate their experience on a 1 to 5 scale (1 being extremely dissatisfied and 5 being extremely satisfied). The difference between NPS and CSAT is that NPS measures customer loyalty to the organization while CSAT measures customer satisfaction with a product or service. Once you know where you stand with your customers, you’ll be interested in the CLV, or Customer Lifetime Value. It’s basically customer revenue minus the costs of acquiring and serving the customer, and it’s a key stat for your Customer Experience team to understand a reasonable cost per customer.
In addition, look to establish other customer service metrics to ensure that your front lines are interacting in the best way possible with customer concerns and potential detractors.
Use the data from NPS, CSAT, CLV, and your company’s churn rate to drive action that will make a meaningful impact. The information gathered is of no use if you aren’t prepared to make adjustments and changes to alter the trajectory of your business for the better. As the CEO, use this data to work with your board and other executives to develop strategies for acquiring new customers and retaining existing ones. If you can do this while maintaining profit margins, it means your customer experience efforts are paying off in a big way. Cheers to that!
If you’ve got a willing team, a bullet-proof (yet malleable when necessary) system in place, and customer experience data to pull from when making company decisions, you will have created a company, backed by promoters, that’s poised for long-term success. Let Zight (formerly CloudApp) help you in this process to make the customer experience one that’s clear, positive, efficient and easy. Sign up for free right here.