To me, customer experience is everything. I firmly believe that the key to business success is customer obsession, and that it starts with a strong customer focus at the highest levels of the company. That’s why, when I took the role of Chief Customer Officer (CCO), I purposefully spent several months talking to our clients to understand what they want, need, and expect from the Bridge Partners experience.
These conversations have reinforced my belief that it’s not enough to offer great products and services. Of course it’s important to perform well during critical client interactions—such as when developing a well-crafted project scope, kicking off a new engagement, and delivering the outcome on time. However, just as with any long-term relationship, what clients want is that you pay attention to their needs and aspirations and be there for them over the long haul.
What I’ve learned is that if we’ve ever fallen short, it’s not because we lacked a specific service in our portfolio; rather, it’s because we hadn’t provided the experience that clients want and expect. People are looking to partner with someone they can trust, someone who’s invested in helping them achieve their goals. And fostering that kind of relationship requires genuine human connection and a willingness to pay attention to clients’ needs.
As CCO, one of my key objectives is to accelerate growth for our company—and that means building a powerful experience that’s aligned with each client’s purpose. My role includes developing a precise understanding of what clients need from us, not just what they want to buy. It entails creating a compelling experience by cultivating a sense of connection between our company and the leaders we serve. And it involves helping clients achieve their goals by being relevant and creating value both today and into the future.
The impact of being customer-obsessed
Like many other companies, we believe that enhancing the customer experience requires elevating this role to the C-suite. The reason for this is clear: Customers have access to an on-demand marketplace of products and services at their fingertips. Coupled with the mounting power of social and digital transparency, differentiating a brand in today’s economy requires a holistic view that extends far beyond any one product or service.
According to a report by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, approximately 73 percent of business leaders say that delivering a relevant and reliable customer experience is critical to their company’s overall business performance. Yet just 15 percent say their companies are currently doing so.
It’s vital that every company have someone leading the charge at the senior executive level. According to one study, 10 percent of Fortune 500 companies and 22 percent of the Fortune 100 have a chief customer officer. It doesn’t matter what companies call the position—the titles often vary. But in today’s fast-paced marketplace, establishing executive accountability for the customer relationship is key to improving customer loyalty, increasing revenue, and developing a competitive market position.
A focus on the long term
Delivering a great customer experience is not accomplished in a day’s work. It’s a mindset shift. As Boston University dean Susan Fournier and business executive Lara Lee wrote several years ago in the Harvard Business Review, “A community-based brand builds loyalty not by driving sales transactions but by helping people meet their needs.” In today’s marketplace, brands are often valued more on the basis of the experience than on the product. By appointing an executive who champions the customer at every step, leaders can energize the organization and align their teams to view key decisions through the lens of the people they are there to serve.
For my part, spending time with clients is the highest priority, and learning how we can better serve them is my objective. In the coming months, I’ll share my ideas about how to engage more effectively with customers and how to apply data-driven insights to measure progress. I look forward to the ongoing conversation, and I encourage your feedback along the way.