5 Things Great CEOs Understand About Customer Experience

by Jeannie Walters

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Your CEO understands how important customer experience is to the success of your organization. They invest in resources to provide great experiences because they understand the immense return they get on those investments, right? 

If this describes your organization, I hope you know how fortunate you are.

I talk to customer experience leaders every week who share how they might have heard talk about how important customer experience is for their organization, but they rarely see the action to back that up.

They don’t feel supported and don’t have the real buy-in of the CEO and other executives. 

This manifests as not getting the resources, people, technology, and tools they need to help actually deliver better experiences.

  • Without buy-in, CX leaders are less likely to have collaboration with other departments in the organization, which was confirmed in GetFeedback’s State of CX Report for 2022.
  • Without coalitions across the organization, CX leaders are often left with the role of collecting customer feedback and reporting on it, but unable to create the changes needed to act on customer needs.
  • Without action, customer experience becomes a nice platitude, but not a path to greater success.

Your CEO wants the organization to succeed. They are often tasked with conflicting accountabilities to various stakeholders like boards and committees.

It’s easy to slip into a misguided understanding of what customer experience really is. That’s why it’s up to CX leaders like you to share the right information with your CEO. 

Here are five talking points to help your CEO become great when it comes to CX. 

 

1. Customer experience is happening whether you invest in it or not. Success is really about customer experience management.

That’s right. Your customers are experiencing your brand and their journey with your brand whether you invest in the experience or not.

After all, if you sell a product or service and customers buy that product or service, they are having an experience.

  • If you’re not deliberately shaping their journey, it’s probably not a great experience.
  • It most likely isn’t designed to build trust and loyalty throughout their journey.
  • If there’s no feedback gathered then they might be badmouthing the brand on other channels like social media. 

Technically, you can ignore all of that and you STILL provide customer experiences. Crazy, right? 

What happens on the inside of the organization is Customer Experience Management (CXM). 

CXM is how we go from thinking CX is “nice to have” to act on it like what it is: 1) a mindset, 2) a strategy, and 3) a business discipline.

Before you ask for any additional buy-in from your CEO, make sure you’re speaking the same language around what Customer Experience is and what Customer Experience Management requires.

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2. Every organization has its own unique definition of Customer Experience success — and your CEO needs to know yours. 

Perhaps one of the most important roles a CX leader can have is to define customer experience success, and how to measure that success. 

It’s not enough to say a goal is to provide exceptional customer experiences. You have to take that a step further and ensure that is defined well enough to be understood by the CEO and everyone else in the organization.

We recommend starting with a Customer Experience Mission Statement and building a Customer Experience Success Statement. Both can be used to gain commitment from the C-Suite and can be leveraged as a way to communicate progress in an ongoing way.

Better yet, ask your CEO to help lead communication around customer experience efforts in regular ways. These goals must be defined and supported from the top.

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3. It’s easy to say the customer is the boss. It’s more important to act that way.

It’s fairly common that as employees rise up in the organization, they get farther and farther away from the customer.

They no longer have interactions with them, and rely on others like account managers, frontline employees and customer service teams to provide those one-on-one interactions.

Customer-focused organizations prioritize keeping customers close. This means bringing the real voice of the customer to the executives by sharing contact center recordings, customer stories from open-ended feedback requests from surveys, and even inviting customers in to share their stories. 

  • Doordash made news announcing their WeDash program, where everyone (CEO included!) is asked to deliver a food order once per month so they can understand the delivery driver’s true experience.
  • Retailers often ask executives to spend a day working alongside frontline workers a few times a year.
  • And others sit in with customer service representatives to listen directly to the feedback they are receiving. 

All of this is important because without staying connected to the customer in this way, the CEO and others can dismiss data and ignore the emotional consequences of poor customer experiences. Nothing moves people to action like emotion!

 

4. Better customer experience creates a cycle for better employee experiences

Employee retention and talent acquisition have taken center stage in business strategy recently, and rightfully so. Employees are seeking workplaces that support their values, provide wellness opportunities, and enable learning and advancement. 

Customer experience management means caring about the employees who are designing, delivering and driving customer journeys. It means investing in their education, their feedback cycles, and their wellness.

It also means tapping into their ideas around innovation for the customer experience. 

When employees feel cared for, they are more likely to refer others to apply for jobs. Those referred employees are more likely to be hired and more likely to stay longer, according to LinkedIn’s 2022 Global Talent Trends Report.

The CEO can set the stage for a culture that supports these employee-centered programs that help achieve customer experience success.

 

5. There are literally dozens of ways customer experience pays off in real business results.

Research shows customer-centric companies were 60% more profitable than those not focused on the customer and those with a customer-focused CEO are more profitable than their competitors. 

Of course, any organization must focus on increasing revenue and reducing expenses to earn higher profitability. 

Higher customer retention and lower customer churn mean customer acquisition costs go down while average customer spend goes up. It’s literally a win/win.

Customers who refer other customers reduce marketing and sales costs while also providing a pipeline of qualified customers. In one study, referred customers were 25% more profitable than customers acquired other ways.

There are several ways to determine the real value of customers so you can measure your progress in real dollars and cents, including many on this very site.

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If there’s one thing your CEO needs to understand, this is it…

It’s an enormous mistake to let the role of customer experience management be reduced to reporting on customer feedback data without context or action.

Hearing about a relatively unchanged Net Promoter Score (NPS) or a seemingly decent Customer Satisfaction Rate (CSAT) can lure leaders into thinking everything is fine.

This can lead to thinking investing in “customer experience” is not worth it because nothing changes. But thinking customer experience is JUST about collecting customer feedback is the flaw in this logic. 

Your CEO wants your organization to succeed. Those feedback metrics are meaningless without a strategy and the business discipline required to turn those insights into action. 

 

How many of these ideas does your CEO understand? How many have you talked about?

My challenge to you is to choose one or more of these concepts to bring up with your CEO.

No doubt your CEO wants to be great. And CEOs typically become leaders because they care about their employees and customers.

Lean into these ideas and help your CEO see how investing in the customer experience can help achieve remarkable results for the business, the employees and their customers.

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Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the CEO/Founder of Experience Investigators, a global Customer Experience consulting firm. She has 20 years of experience helping companies improve loyalty and retention, employee engagement, and overall customer experience. Jeannie is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA,) a Professional Member of the National Speakers Association, LinkedIn Learning instructor, TEDx speaker, and President-Elect of the National Speakers Association Illinois chapter. Learn more here.

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