Many retail companies are moving toward an “Experience” titled executive. The evolution started with our time-tested Marketing and Customer Service titles and is now further defined as Customer Brand Insight, Strategy and Business Development, Business Excellence, Customer Fulfillment and, for some, the Chief Experience Officer. What all these companies have in common, though, is recognizing that the “Customer is King”, and, if there is an unacceptable experience in one of their businesses (hotels, restaurants, stores – any Retail enterprise), they will suffer loss of revenue, market share and reputation.
The journey begins with a corporate philosophy and culture which supports an overall Customer Experience strategy, a drive to integrate innovation and best practices and a willingness to be continually directed and informed through the consumer voice. This is a holistic, customer-centric commitment, and not every company has either the culture or the leadership to embrace this model. There still is a great deal of hubris out there.
Your customers are focused upon value, as it relates to your product, service and facility. Any weak spot in these three will impact their experience – an opportunity lost, yet memorable for all the wrong reasons.
How can one person be responsible for the Guest/Customer Experience? Well, of course, s/he cannot. It is a collaborative, integrated effort and commitment with/through all departments, functions and employees. However, this individual becomes the Guiding Light, Messenger, the Experience Czar, first among equals.
All elements of the organization have a role to play. Human Resources surfaces and retains the talent. Training and Development “enculturates” the organization and elevates the performance skill levels. Marketing designs effective campaigns. Operations drive the results.
This is not merely a “feel good” exercise either, as efforts are accountable and tracked. You start with the customer based “feedback” metrics, continuous assessment of that information, and objectives fully integrated into your Strategic Plan and budgets. Results are quantifiable.
It is time to refocus, and our target must be our consumer. In this economy and for the foreseeable future our Customer, and our relationship with that Customer, spells our success. We must become knowledgeable and proactive with what we learn about them. We need someone in the company who takes this information, shares it with energized cohorts, strategizes our response to that marketplace, brings everyone together to meet those plans, executes, constantly assesses, continually enhances our market posture, embraces change and challenge, and, ultimately, makes us a better company. You may wish to revisit your organizational chart and refashion a key direct report – “Chief Experience Officer”.
John Hendrie is the author of the LRA blog 'A Guy Walks In'. LRA is a leading research and consulting company in the emerging discipline of Customer Experience Management (CEM). We work with our clients to help them design and deliver consistently exceptional customer experiences in order to drive customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy, and company growth and profitability. We have built a range of quality assurance, mystery shopping, research, training and consulting solutions to help them do so.
Today, we are a growing company operating in more than 120 countries throughout the world, servicing our clients from offices and resources in the Americas, EMEA and Asia Pacific regions and helping clients such as Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, the National Football League, Avis Budget Group, Madison Square Garden, the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas and Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group deliver exceptional customer experiences. Every touch. Every time. For more information, visit www.LRAworldwide.com.
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