How well is your company doing at providing exceptional customer service?
Sometimes, the only way for c-level officers to answer this question is to get intricately involved in the customer support process.
Customers today are resourceful. It is easy to Google names of c-level officers. Frustrations can then be sent directly to someone with clout, rather than slowly being passed up the line of authority. So, whether they want to or not, more upper-level executives are getting involved in customer support activities.
According to Forbes, Peter Strebel, CMO of Omni Hotels, says he doesn’t go more than six hours without checking his email. This is true even when he’s out of the office. When he’s on vacation, he delegates someone to take care of issues in his stead. He even steps into the bathroom at a wedding to check his email.
For Peter, the hotel industry is a 24/7 world. After all, customers are experiencing his hotels at all hours of the day. This means that aspects of the customer experience are always occurring and that issues could always arise. To truly help customers and build the Omni brand, he always needs to be available.
There are ways, of course, to limit interaction. Companies can easily provide FAQs and Knowledge Bases through customer support software like Rhino Support. These files of information can answer many of the concerns of online customers without the need for follow-up from anyone.
It’s easy for customers to reach c-level officers.
They can find them on LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media sites. Gone are the days where executives could distance themselves from negative customer experiences and leave their employees to clean up the mess.
Peter has had customers reach out to him with issues they’ve had at various Omni Hotels. He typically responds just like any other customer service representative would. He listens to their issues and tries to solve their problem. His goal is to leave them with a positive experience with the brand.
If senior leaders incorporate customer experience into the corporate culture and make it an integral part of the training and everyday processes, it tends to be more successful than if a lower-level employee tried to start a similar initiative. Many officers have been finding unique and valuable ways to get involved in customer service. If you follow their lead, you can make a big difference to your current and potential customers.
In the new world of social media, every bad experience can go viral.
Similarly, outstanding customer service, especially by a c-level officer, can create strong positive buzz. For example, Glasses company Warby Parker landed in the news a few years ago. Anjali Kumar, then the head of social innovation and general counsel, found a customer’s glasses on the train. Anjali not only returned them but also replaced the scratched lenses.
A small act like this can make a big splash and turn a casual customer into a brand ambassador for life. No matter if it’s a company that sells sunglasses or a luxury hotel chain, senior executives set the stage for quality customer service. If the customer is the most important part of a company, then it should be the most important part of an executive’s job. If you’re a c-level officer, consider getting personally involved in the support of your customers.
It all comes down to what Peter Strebel says, regardless of your title, “Exceeding customer expectations is the key to our future.”
Special thanks to Blake Morgan and Forbes for her article.