Senior Executives Are Now In Customer Service
It’s late at night after a long day at the office—are you checking your work email? Maybe not, but chances are a senior executive is, and it just might be to respond to a customer. Customers are resourceful. They are Googling senior-level executives names, finding them online and venting. They’re doing this on nights, weekends and holidays. That said, more and more upper-level executives are getting involved in customer.
Peter Strebel, CMO of Omni Hotels, says he doesn’t go more than six hours without checking his email, even when he’s out of the office. When he’s on vacation, he’ll delegate someone to take care of issues in his stead. He’ll even step 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—which means aspects of the customer experience is always occurring and issues could always arise. To truly help customers and build the Omni brand, he always needs to be available.
Across industries, executives are now more public than ever and can be reached more easily by customers who can find them on places like LinkedIn 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—by listening to their issue and solving their problem to leave them with a better experience with the brand. At Omni Hotels, like many other customer service-oriented companies, each employee is expected to showcase the brand and make customer service their top priority, even the leaders at the top of the org chart.
Executives have long been responsible for setting the stage for customer service. 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 something. However, recent years have shown the importance of senior executives not only talking the talk but also walking the walk—finding their own ways to get involved in customer service.
It starts by knowing the customer and wanting them to have the best experience possible. Senior executives must also be easily accessible to customers. If a C-level manager at a company doesn’t respond to your email, it feels like more of a snub than if it didn’t get returned by a customer service associate. Because senior executives tend to stand on a pedestal, they must be vigilant in portraying the company brand and building a strong customer experience. One wrong mistake could quickly spread.