Transforming Companies by Transforming Customer Experiences
We enjoy working with many companies from many different industries – auto manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, public accounting, financial services – because we know there’s a common thread tying these industries together. Customer experience is the common thread and it has the power to make (or break) your company.
I recently attended an annual automobile dealer conference hosted by one of our car company clients. This client has made significant strides in the last few years and is poised to reach its sales and retention targets set for 2012 and beyond. In fact, given major road bumps in 2011 – recession, stiffer competition, an earthquake shutting down auto part suppliers for months – it should have been a rather dismal year for this company and yet they exceeded all performance expectations and continue to do so.
Two things struck me as I interacted with many of the roughly 2,000 attendees at this conference about why this organization is realizing such great success.
1. First, everyone at the company understands and cares about the power of a great customer experience: Despite cultural differences between the non-US based senior executives from this company and its US-based executives, managers and dealers, I saw plenty of evidence that the entire company is focused on the customer experience.
For dealers this exceptional experience included well run seminars and executive briefings, previews of upcoming models and free test drives of one new model that’s generating a lot of buzz. In addition, the dealers have access to plenty of support for improving their customer experiences, whether in the show room, service bays, or online channels. This company has adopted an effective social media strategy that is fully aligned with their brand promise.
Bottom line: To achieve great results through the delivery of a great customer experience support has to extend beyond the boundaries of culture, department, and job title. All leaders, managers and employees have to support the cause.
2. While the Journey is Long, Relentless Focus and Execution Can Accelerate The Speed of Change: As noted earlier, despite major headwinds, our client never broke stride. I was very curious about how they achieved this and here is what I learned.
They did a great job executing their strategic plan and staying the course set in 2008. A major component of their plan, not surprisingly, put the customer at the center of their strategic decision making. (In their case, “the customer” includes both consumers and dealers). By building an effective customer experience strategy benefiting both groups of customers, this company has successfully transformed itself in a matter of four years.
Bottom line: Developing and executing against a solid strategic plan that puts the customer at the center, a company can more quickly achieve great things
We know organizational transformation isn’t easy, nor does it happen overnight. It requires a company-wide commitment and a long-term vision and a plan that includes a customer experience strategy. The reward is that companies that get this right have a significant competitive advantage. Regardless of the industry you work in or whether your end user is a customer, guest, doctor, or client; creating and delivering an engaging experience pays off. It’s hard work, but when it happens – it’s thrilling.