A continuing problem with customer service today is that many view it as a job for the few (the customer service department), when in fact it is a role for all. Whether or not the word “customer” is in your job title, at the end of the day, it’s the customer who determines your job, affecting your organization’s success, reputation, revenue, product and service development, staff size and retention – the list goes on and on.
More and more brands are embracing the all for one (the customer) strategy. Notes David Cooperstein in the Forrester report, Competitive Strategy in the Age of the Customer, “a customer-obsessed enterprise focuses its strategy, its energy and its budget on processes that enhance knowledge of and engagement with customers and prioritizes these over maintaining traditional competitive barriers.”
Brands like Zappos have laid the groundwork for this and continue to stand out as leaders. Affirms CEO Tony Hsieh, “Zappos is a customer service company that just happens to sell shoes.”
The CEO as Customer Service Representative
Hsieh, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Virgin Group Founder Richard Branson are a sampling of some of the most well-known CEOs/Customer Service Representatives. While the billionaire son of a barrister and flight attendant could easily take a break from the business spotlight, he chooses to continually shine it toward what he believes is a key differentiator for all brands including his own, and that’s customer service.
In Forbes, Entrepreneur magazine, the Wall Street Journal, and on his own blog and Twitter (when Richard Branson tweets, it’s him, not an assistant or a PR firm), Branson consistently credits customer service as a key to his companies’ and other companies’ success. And if Sir Richard Branson is willing to dress up as a female flight attendant and serve drinks in front of the cameras (even if it was the result a bet), you better believe he is willing to do whatever it takes to promote his brand’s top-down commitment to customer service.
The CIO as Customer Service Representative
A recent report from IBM’s Institute for Business Value shows that the world’s top CIOs are moving from a focus on the back-office to the front-lines as customer engagement and customer experience become key to business strategy.
“We have to think about customers more,” says Matthew Young, CIO of the European hotel group of Travelodge in the report, “not just the customer experience, but whether something moves the dial on customer consideration metrics.” And to do this, CIOs are using technology, real-time and predictive data and sentiment analysis as the drivers.
Customer-centric CIOs know that engagement on more and more digital channels is a must, but they also understand that it’s not just being on the channels – it’s understanding, anticipating and delivering what individual customers desire.
The CMO as Customer Service Representative
From mastering the digital customer experience to include mobile and social; to engaging with customers rather than continuously promoting to them, to ensuring the brand promise is aligned and maintained from pre-sales messaging through to post-sales service – the CMO’s role and priorities have changed dramatically during the Age of the Customer.
In a recent CMO Council survey, 73% of respondents said that customer centricity is now critical to their roles and their company’s success.
The CFO as Customer Service Representative
As this section of the C-Suite likes hard numbers, the stats below are just a sampling of why the CFO should get onboard for an across-the-board investment in customer service and the customer experience:
- Brands in the U.K. are currently losing nearly £15 billion annually due to poor customer service. ~ Harris/ClickSoftware Survey
- S. brands are losing approximately $41 billion each year due to poor customer service. ~ NewVoiceMedia Study
- 65% of 1,000 consumers surveyed said they’ve cut ties with a brand over a single poor customer service experience. ~ 2014 Parature State of Multichannel Customer Service Survey
- 81% of companies with strong capabilities and competencies for delivering customer experience excellence are outperforming their competition. ~ Peppers & Rogers Group (PDF)
- A 10% increase in customer retention levels result in a 30% increase in the value of the company. ~ Bain & Company
In Good Company
The above doesn’t begin to cover all of the C-Suite roles or all of the departments within an organization, but it doesn’t matter, because everyone’s in customer service now. If they’re not, there’s no time like the present to change. Tear down the silos; readjust your culture and course, and empower every employee with the knowledge and tools they need.
Notes Kate Leggett in Navigate the Future of Customer Service in 2014, “In the age of the customer, executives don’t decide how customer-centric their companies are — customers do.” So let’s give them what they want – all for one, and one for all.