Wanted – A Courageous CEO!


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This is an open letter to CEOs everywhere. Feel free to hand a copy to your CEO and / or your senior executives ASAP.

Dear CEO,

For the past decade, the case for customer centricity was made in several ways. Let us examine the evidence:
• You wanted to hear the voice of customers – You were provided with many research reports containing in depth insight into trends shaping customer needs and wishes.
• You wanted to understand the financial case – A multitude of studies were dedicated to making the financial case for customer experience. How is it that 40% of customers are willing to pay a premium price for exceptional experience? (Strativity Group’s Consumer Study, 2009)
• You wanted to know how would it work – Many books are available which detail the steps which must be taken to become customer centric and design and deliver exceptional experiences.
• You wanted examples and case studies – Those are also available through a wide variety of publications. Just as a reminder, here is a short of the classics: Singapore Airlines, Starbucks, Ritz Carlton, Zappos and Virgin Atlantic.
• You wanted to know the impact on your organization and employees – Last year I published a book dedicated to that – Try Excellence Every Day.
• You wanted to have a personal experience – It was delivered in the form of an embarrassing YouTube Video or damaging blog posting

So the question on the table is: What are you still missing in order to make the ultimate commitment to transform your organization and become customer centric?
“Well I have appointed a person to be manager of customer experience,” you rush to answer. If you refer to the low level person who had no budget or power and was supposed to become the magic wand which would break down all the corporate silos while competing with multiple corporate agendas, let’s be honest. That is not commitment. That is faking it. An in-depth look at the results delivered by that individual will probably tell you the truth about your commitment. So we are back to the original question. What are you still missing?
If you fully recognize that customer experience is not a nice to have but rather a must have, and if you understand that the time has to be now because your competitors are already working on their strategy, then there is really only one answer left. That answer is the root cause of the entire issue: Lack of Courage.
During our many engagements with clients, we identified one distinguishing factor among successful leaders. They were courageous.

Those leaders who successfully transformed their organizations to become customer centric were courageous in many ways:
• They had the courage to admit that their current value proposition was not good enough to differentiate them from their competition
• They were courageous enough to recognize that the days of product centricity were over and that they needed to start collaborating with their customers
• They were courageous enough and humble enough to listen to their customers
• They had the courage to break down silos and fight against private internal agendas
• They had the courage to align measurements with customer action outcomes
• They had the courage to stand up to the naysayers and say “This is the new direction! You can join us or you can leave us.”
• They had the courage to face change and overcome their fear of the unknown
• They had the courage not to hide behind complacency
• They had the courage to allocate sufficient funding to make customer centricity a real success
• And most of all they had the courage the lead the charge! They were there front and center and lead by example

The question of how to design and deliver exceptional customer experiences is not a marginal one. It goes to the core of your value proposition and ability to differentiate. Your customer experience is the reason you exist! Becoming customer centric is not something you delegate – it is the strategy you lead!

As you plan for 2010, the first and only item on your agenda should be “what are we doing for customers in the coming year.” Customers must be at the core of everything that happens in your organization. From innovation to leadership up to and including employee engagement, it is time to take this question seriously. The time is now to be courageous and lead the charge.


Lior Arussy
One of the world’s authorities on customer experience, customer centricity, and transformation, Lior Arussy delivers results. His strategic framework converts organizations from product- to customer-centricity. It is drawn from his work with some of the world’s leading brands: Mercedes-Benz, Royal Caribbean, Delta Air Lines, MasterCard, Novo Nordisk, Walmart and more.Arussy is also the author of seven books, including Next Is Now (May 2018)


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