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The hidden potential of senior management: Five reasons they should help close the loop

Blog by Ian Luck
February 14, 2018

The act of closing the loop (resolving customer concerns), though a vital cog in the customer experience machine, is often defined as something that only frontline employees and maybe mid-level management need to deal with.

But is it really only the job of those listed above, or is there a great deal of potential hidden in the shadows? Is there much more to be gained by enlisting senior management in the process of closing the loop? In this article we shine a light on those shadows – illuminating five reasons why senior management needs to be involved in the experience of closing the loop.

One: Imagine you are a customer and you filled in a Net Promoter® survey a day ago. First surprise: Someone from the company gives you a callback to figure out what exactly went wrong. Surprise number two: You aren’t just talking to a department manager or store manager, but instead a senior executive of the company. How would that make you feel? One of your primary thoughts would probably be “wow, they actually care enough to get a senior exec. to call me.”

Getting your senior management down on the frontlines gives the company a personal touch. By being addressed by more than just frontline employees, the customer feels the company is putting them front and center.

Two: Of course senior management doesn’t have the time to do this more than a few times a week or every two weeks. The key then is targeting this potential to have the most effect. Think of using your senior executives in a triage style strategy for the most valuable customers both at risk and not at risk.

Don’t have them calling customers that have concerns but don’t seem at risk of leaving or conversely customers who are very likely to leave but bring in very little revenue. For example, use your senior management in turning your most loyal customers into excellent referral machines or additional revenue. Conversely target them for high revenue customers that are showing signs of losing faith; senior executives can ensure a continued relationship.

Your senior executives have enormous influence when closing the loop, but limited time; so think about how to use them “to get the most bang for your buck.”

Three: As information gets passed on from frontline employees to management, a true understanding of what is happening is often lost. Having senior management deal directly with closing the loop means they learn first hand about those points of contact between customer and company. It puts senior management right there alongside the customer, meaning greater insight and understanding is created.

While the reverse is just as true, for there is much that frontline employees can learn from the involvement of senior management. Problems and ingrained behaviors that frontline employees find hard to break out of, can be helped by the experienced input of senior management. Senior management’s “fresh eyes” are a means to educate and create new ways of thinking about issues at the front.

Four: Senior management involvement in customer experience has the potential to go way beyond saving customers and educating management. The role of top-level executives is in shaping strategy and the allocation of resources to fulfill such strategies. Strategies though, need continual revisal due to the current day pace of markets and technology and as such knowing exactly what your customers are thinking, feeling and doing is critical.

Many executives use analyzed customer feedback to determine patterns or trends that arise in customer feedback. Such findings are used as a predictive tool to determine future strategic priorities. Involving senior management then, in closing the loop, is an excellent means by which to dig deeper into patterns and trends found. Senior management are able to use first hand experience with customers to probe deeper into ideas or thoughts they may be having in relation to informing future strategy.

Five: Lastly, be open to the idea that involving senior management in customer feedback and closing the loop can take on a very wide variety of forms. Don’t think that calling a few customers back once a week/month or analyzing response data is the only way to go about having your senior management involved.

At the board meetings of Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), customer feedback gets reviewed before financial reports. But even before this, meetings open with a recount from a current patient of his or her experience at a CTCA facility. Adding to this, board meetings don’t take place in office headquarters but in their facilities, with meetings rotated between different facilities so that may learn more about their facilities.

Be creative in your approach to involving senior management and you will find interesting new ways of learning about your customers and company that will benefit everyone involved.

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