Companies continually look for innovative strategies to drive market growth: one new idea they’re trying, according to Paul Hagen in the "Harvard Business Review" (HBR), is hiring a Customer Experience Manager (CEM). This role is also called Chief Customer Officer. Some companies, like SunPower, see the office holder as the customer’s champion throughout the organization.
Finding the Customer’s Voice
A CEM must find the voice of the customer. The traditional way of doing this was using voice of customer surveys or focus groups. In the last few years social media has been evolving into an effective set of customer communication tools. The CEM and her team can have conversations with customers on social media sites almost anytime because of the widespread use of smartphones by the public. This gives the CEM an opportunity to prove her customer experience mettle by quick responses to customer questions and rapid turn-around time for customer issues. More and more CEMs are creating customer services teams dedicated to “talking” to customers on company social media sites.
One of the CEM’s main tasks is to manage the customer’s perception of the company. Part of this task involves making the staff conscious of how their decisions impact the customer. This awareness is backed-up by research results reported by Bob Thornton in "Customer Think" in 2011: he says that evidence suggests a customer’s perception of a company is influenced more by the experience she has with its agents than by the basic offering itself. The chances are she might not notice the sleeker, faster new plane or train she traveled in but there’s every chance she’ll remember a courteous, hyper-efficient company representative.
The customer might not appreciate all the innovations a company tries with its core products and services but they still expect the core offering to be first class. It’s part of the CEM’s role to ensure that the basic product is still high quality as well as delivering first class customer service. The CEM instills courtesy and hyper professionalism into her customer contact staff. But if the basic services aren’t delivered, customer dissatisfaction increases.
As the CEM is the customer’s champion inside the firm, they aim to change the company structure to make it customer centered. Dan Ariely, writing in the HBR, gives an example of a successful car manufacturer hiring a new CEM to make the company pro-customer and improve sales. The new CEM switched its organizational focus from automotive engineering to customer service, opening a new call center in India with low call-waiting times. He developed a red carpet program giving full warranty on all cars bought and a company credit system for loyal customers.
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