Delivering an amazing customer experience starts at the top with customer-focused leadership.
Companies winning in customer experience are led by people obsessed with the customer experience and putting customers first in everything they do. These leaders set the tone with their words and actions to make customers central to every business decision. One survey found that of companies with the CEO directly involved in customer experience, 83% increased customer satisfaction and 58% increased in revenue associated with CX. And BCG discovered companies with high customer satisfaction scores have generated twice as much shareholder value over the last ten years as their competitors, meaning high revenue and shareholder returns.
There is incredible power in customer-focused leadership. To succeed in customer experience, companies must have strong leadership from a CEO who understands and values the importance of customer experience.
A Culture of Customer Focus Starts from the Top
A customer-centric culture is only possible with a customer-focused leader. Great leaders set the tone for their companies; when they are obsessed with customers, that focus spreads through the rest of the organization. But when leaders focus more on revenue and quarterly reports, employees follow suit, and customer experience suffers. According to an IBM survey, 60% of CEOs of companies that outperform the competition list customer experience as a top priority, compared to 38% of underperformers. Clearly, leaders who focus on customers create a competitive advantage.
Without a strong customer-focused leader, customer experience efforts will likely fail. CX teams need the buy-in and partnership of a leader who understands the importance of customers. Research backs this up: companies that lead in experience are more likely to have a CEO and executives leading company-wide CX efforts.
Shawn Nelson, founder and CEO of LoveSac, has built a nearly billion-dollar company because of his customer obsession. LoveSac has disrupted the competitive furniture industry because of Shawn’s willingness to adapt to meet customers’ changing demands. He encourages his employees to meet and exceed customer expectations, which has led to innovative DTC showrooms, integrated technology, and impressive shipping and return policies.
Even as the company grows, Shawn stays connected with customers on social media and talks to them daily to get their feedback, listen to their suggestions, and see their problems. Because of Shawn’s example, employees throughout the company feel empowered and encouraged to provide personalized service. That customer love has created loyal customers and a thriving company.
Customer-Focused Leadership Drives Revenue
Customer-focused leadership does more than drive culture—it also impacts the bottom line. When leaders focus on customers and encourage their employees to do the same, it creates a customer-centric organization that people want to join. 64% of companies with a customer-focused CEO are more profitable than their competitors.
One of the best examples of customer-focused leadership comes from Tricia Griffith, CEO of Progressive Insurance. Since becoming CEO in 2016, Tricia has led Progressive’s stock to quadruple. One of the reasons for her incredible success is that she never stops listening to people. Tricia is always thinking about customers and encourages her employees to find creative, innovative solutions with customers in mind.
Tricia told me this: “Every year, I’m on the phone with our call centers or in a car with a claims rep to understand their jobs and how we can make things easier for them, which will make things easier for our customers. Leaders should be on the ground. Don’t just sit up in your office and think things are going well or that you don’t need to question things. Every CEO should question everything, especially if they were part of the decision.”
Participate in My Customer-Focused Leadership Survey
Do you want to help shape the future of customer-centric leadership? I’m gathering survey information through DDI for my upcoming book, and I’d love to get your input. Learn more about the survey and share your opinion here.
Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist and the author of The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her weekly email here.