As it appeared in the Daily Nation on June 27th, 2017
Many business leaders are clear about their strategic direction. Many have clearly mapped out how to get to their desired destination. They know the exact road-map that their businesses will take for the next one, two or three years. Most company executives can easily point out how they intend to grow their business. Some mention regional expansion while others cite introduction of new products as the route they will take. In today’s fast-paced world, business leaders are also bringing up adoption of new technologies as key to their survival. How many of these businesses have fully integrated the customer experience into their chosen strategic direction?
Customer experiences whether good or bad can be traced to the choices that organizations make. Most of the choices are made during the day-to-day interactions with customers. However, the very critical choices are made when companies are determining their strategic direction. Even the day-to-day choices are greatly influenced by policies set in the boardroom and standards that rely on the business functioning as a united whole. In boardrooms and during strategy sessions, business leaders choose between alternatives. During such discussions, customers may be perceived as a welcome guests or an unwanted intruders. When the customer is a welcome guest, their end-to-end experience is well integrated into the overall corporate strategy. It is easier to steer the company into the right direction when the customer is at the center of its strategic direction.
Customer experience is today perceived as a new battleground. Unfortunately, very few business leaders are quick to point out customers as the nucleus of their strategic choices. Looking back to the ten years I was in the corporate world and the eight years offering advisory services to businesses, it is evident that there is a gap between customer experience and overall corporate strategy. In many organizations, customer experience is still considered as a stand-alone, an addendum or an insignificant facet of the overall corporate strategy. As a result, most experiences that customers go through are not seamless. Pockets of inconsistencies in the customers’ experiences are evident in most organizations.
At a Customer Experience Management conference a few days ago, I shared with participants the missing links in integrating the customer experience into the overall corporate strategy. In particular highlighting that customer experience is largely misunderstood and equated to a front-line responsibility. Secondly, I stressed on the leadership question and finally shared insights on putting the customer experience at the epicenter of corporate strategy by being more intentional, using voice of the customer metrics and staying relevant. I believe I was speaking to a converted customer experience community. Unfortunately, in our midst, we are yet to witness CEOs who are as obsessed with customer experience as Jeff Bezos. Jeff is the founder and CEO of Amazon.com a company that I greatly admire. Amazon’s goal is to be earth’s most customer-centric company. As the company has journeyed towards this goal, it has been evident that its desired customers experiences steer it strategic direction.
Is your organization shining or falling back in customer experience? How is this linked to your overall corporate strategy? The choices that business leaders make support or erode the customer experience efforts. As the market place becomes increasingly competitive, futuristic organizations are pro-actively integrating their customer experience into their overall corporate strategy to stay ahead. Is yours one such organization?
Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy