There’s a New CEO in Town
There’s a New CEO in Town
I’m not talking about a Jack Welch / Wyatt Earp hybrid but this new CEO is bringing some law and order back to the Wild West and it’s long overdue. Like every good story, this one starts a long time ago, so let’s jump into our fluxed-up Delorean and slip back to the previous century.
Motorola had just introduced the first cell phone, nicknamed “the brick” after multiple users had to undergo rotator cuff surgery. Arpanet evolved into the Internet without Al Gore’s assistance. Cabbage Patch dolls – the ugliest toy every invented – hit the market, and the freshly minted Mario Brothers launched a million cases of carpal tunnel syndrome.
On a personal note, I was a young, inexperienced father of a three-year-old daughter and working as an art director at a small ad agency. In those days before desktop computers, I routinely interacted with a typesetting company who turned my type specifications into a neat, shiny sheet of crisp black typeset headlines and verbiage.
The typesetters I worked with had a girl-next-door receptionist who became integral to this story. Typically, 1980’s front-desk receptionists were bulldogs in mini-skirts. Every corporate office had one and their primary function was to treat each cold-calling salesman like an unwashed homeless person with syphilis.
Due to some semi-cataclysmic event which I can no longer recall, one sunny morning, I found myself in charge of my young daughter. This happened on a day when I absolutely had to meet with the typesetters. Naively throwing caution to the wind, I scooped up my young daughter and headed over to their office.
Per our standard routine, my account rep came to the lobby for the tedious and lengthy job of reviewing type specs. Somehow sensing the tension in the air, my daughter was puffing up her cheeks and winding up to bellow out an emotion-filled complaint when the girl-next-door abandoned her front desk perch and showed up at my side.
“Can your daughter have chocolate milk,” she asked. “You bet,” I replied while struggling to balance my dueling-dog thoughts of “Damn right she can” and “Thank you God”. Then, to top it off, she took my daughter to another table where they shared chocolate milk and scribbled on copier paper (using crayons which magically appeared). Meanwhile I successfully completed my meeting.
That morning, I swore on my life that if I ever owned my own office, I’d pay that receptionist any amount she demanded to come work for me. I also vowed to never use any other typesetting company – a vow I honored until desktop publishing put all typesetters out of business.
Back to the Future (of business)
What I learned that day in 1983, many businesses are just now coming to grips with – Experience Matters. It matters to prospects. It matters to customers. It matters to employees.
Enter the new CEO (Chief Experience Officer). Many of you know my friend who inspired this story because this is exactly what he does for his bank. However, unless you watched Jeopardy last week, you didn’t see the astute thirty-something lady whose title is “User Experience Officer”. Apparently other companies are catching on too.
From picking up the trash in the parking lot to having a real person answer the phone in place of a phonebot, to a website that’s easy to navigate, to employees that care, IT ALL MATTERS.
I experienced this recently at my friend’s bank, of which I’m a customer. I’d just opened an additional account to handle credit card purchases via an e-store I’m running. The young woman who handles new accounts was gracious and helpful, getting me set up with a debit card and checks. At that point she could have easily and rightfully handed me off to the customer service department.
Instead, she slogged through the tedious process of coordinating my e-store credit card processing with the bank’s credit card gateway provider – a process that involved myriad calls and no small amount of obstacles. She made it happen! That’s what employees do when they know they are valued by their organization – they reciprocate by investing in the success of that organization. As a customer, I haven’t been this much in awe since that girl-next-door rescued me from young parent Hell in 1983.
In “Delivering Happiness,” his book about the founding of Zappos, Tony Hsieh makes two critical points. First and foremost, every single one of us — above every service we provide or product we sell — is in the business of customer service. Second, happy, engaged employees result in satisfied, loyal customers. If you don’t have a Chief Experience Officer to guarantee that both clients and employees are having a good experience, you might still be stuck in the 80’s.
Throw away your leisure suit, trim that mullet off your head and let’s talk about business in the twenty-first century, especially about customer experience. Hit that reply button now before you forget about it. I’ll buy the coffee. I guarantee it won’t be a bad experience.
“People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”
– Maya Angelou
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— Tony Hseih
It’s not a new book and I’ve recommended before but in light of customer and employee experience, it might be the Bible. Hseih cornered the market on creating a customer-centric experience before anyone else was even thinking about it. Give it a read.