In true chat show style (complete with music from "Parkinson") Richard Owen, CEO Satmetrix, took to the stage to introduce and interview two other CEOs: Jagdish Parihar from Olam and Stephen Beynon from Eircom / Meteor.
Stephen Beynon talked about some of the challenges of the telecoms industry and then talked about involvement in customer experience. Most important was the desire to find a single galvanising measure that would pull the company around the idea of business transformation and development of customer experience. NPS was identified as the right approach to achieve this.
The company is a year into the journey - still lots of work ahead but to date they are pleased with progress.
Jagdish Parihar was one of 2 partners - and these were the only 2 people in the company initially - who started Olam in 1989. 21 years later they have achieved a level of growth that is phenomenal - especially for such a traditional market! Customer relationships have always been a key focus for the organisation. You need to form bonds of trust with your customers - demonstrating commitment through delivery.
For both Olam and Eircom, customer experience is at the forefront of their business models. There is a need to align the business to the concept. Stephen mentioned that this has opened up a sense of creativity and care within the organisation, driven by the focus on customers.
A key question from Richard - pursuing a customer focused strategy is not always the type of approach that generates immediate success - it can take time. Was that a concern?
Both Jagdish and Stephen underlined that the wait is worth it! To have customers and the customer experience at the top of the agenda cannot be underrated. But it is absolutely crucial to maintain consistency. Especially in terms of the leadership of the company. Having a CEO in place over a longer period of time helps to drive true company engagement in a customer focused strategy. You see this less in companies where there is a lot of turnover in the senior management.
Stephen: "Because our key focus was business transformation, we weren't so interested in the standard concerns from researchers. We wanted a metric that would give us the right focus - so we adopted NPS."
Jagdish: "Having the right vision also has to align with the values that you espouse as an organisation. This is central to success."
Richard raised the subject of innovation...a key topic for the whole conference.
Stephen: "Innovation means marshalling resources and funding properly. You don't slash budgets for innovation just because times are hard. You can't succeed by cutting investment in the customer focused initiatives."
Jagdish: "Olam itself was an innovation! The way it is structured from top down and bottom up is key to sharing information, driving quality."
Stephen: "And your structure will keep people focused in the right direction - and in a single direction!"
It was a great discussion which enlightened many about the true implications of having a serious focus on the customer experience as the core strategy for business transformation and growth. There were also a couple of great questions from the audience:
How do you break down the silos in organisations, to get them to work together?
- Fact based not function based discussions
- Reward and recognition.
Is it important to have a segmented approach to customers? Or should one size fit all
- LTV (life time value) is very important - this is a destination measure.
- Segment by value, allocate resources sensibly. NPS helps to do this and ensure that you get the right returns.
Your rewards are linked to long term not short term goals. How do you keep the immediate focus of employees?
- Jagdish: "Survival at the end of the day is based on the long term - but short term goals are also shared. Keeping employees engaged happens through focusing on sharing a holistic understanding of the business performance. Let employees know that they are central to the company success. Provide true support and care to the employees.
- Stephen: "Well balanced target setting has to be key."
Thank you to Jagdish for joining us from Singapore and to Stephen to flying in from Ireland. Learning about your companies and the approach you take to customer experience was a great audience experience.