Posted: 14th June 2010

Customer engagement: what kind of CEO are you?

An interesting story surfaced recently regarding AT&T threatening a customer with legal action after emailing the CEO twice complaining about the company’s pricing structures. In contrast, it mentions that if you email Apple’s Steve Jobs as a customer you are likely to get a personal reply. Which side do you fall into when it comes to engaging with customers?

As we have observed with some of our clients’ successful customer feedback management programmes, they all tend to have the full buy-in from the top. In fact, often the inspiration behind the initiative has come from the CEO. Customer engagement programmes that use customer feedback to inform and shape the business plan can reap huge benefits to the bottom line. But this can only happen with visible, passionate and relentless commitment to the programme by the CEO. A business’ “culture” is more than just an environment or a mission statement; it’s about the way in which the CEO (and the directors) go about their jobs each moment of every day. And it is certainly reflected in every customer interaction, no matter how brief.

When implementing a strategic customer feedback management programme, organisations must establish clear objectives from the top down. Effective customer engagement is an ongoing process aimed at creating a cultural change within an organisation to improve the experience of its customers. Senior management must be given the data they require to act upon any issues in order to give frontline staff the support they need to improve customer experiences.

What role does the customer play in the strategic direction of your business? Do they have a ‘virtual seat’ in the boardroom? CEOs should be taking a leaf out of Steve Jobs’ book. Don’t offend your customers when they give constructive criticism. Use the feedback to identify the key processes that need to be improved in order to make your customers more satisfied, thereby growing the lifetime value of your customer base.

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