Positive Signs from the C-Suite

An article in this morning’s Financial Post profiled Marc Caira, Tim Horton’s recently appointed CEO discussing the company’s new strategy for addressing the increased competition in the North American coffee market. One key component of the plan….improved customer service. Now while this isn’t revolutionary by any means, it does highlight a growing and unified message we are hearing from the C-Suite.

After years of declining sales, increased competition and a growing impact of social networks on brand, many leaders are working to deliver stronger customer service strategies in order to create a happier customer base. Customer engagement and buy-in is recognized more than ever as a differentiator and a key element to a strong bottom-line.

Here are some of the other messages we are hearing from senior leaders:

“You have a responsibility (as a true leader) to be upfront with your customers and be willing to listen to what they have to say, both good and bad. We have embarked on a path to be more transparent with our customers and to address the questions and myths of our business that perhaps we should have done 10-15 years ago. Part of the transformation of our company and brand has come from the ideas and lessons we have learned from our customers”

John Betts, CEO of McDonald’s Canada

“We’ve had to create a connection with our customers that’s not based only on trying to ring the register but demonstrating a heartfelt commitment to communities we serve and where our customers live. More and more customers want to support those companies whose values are compatible with their own.”

Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbuck’s discussing how they rebuilt their corporate strategy in 2012 to address declining market share

“We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon that we’ve stuck with for 18 years, and they’re the reason we’re successful: Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient. If you’re competitor-focused, you have to wait until there is a competitor doing something. Being customer-focused allows you to be more pioneering. We will continue to embrace these beliefs as our customers and the markets are telling us we are on the right path.”

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon discussing the core beliefs that have built the brand and business called Amazon

“As a luxury brand we are all about service, wherever and whenever for the shopper. It doesn’t matter whether it’s online, on the telephone or in our stores, service drives growth,” Our service differentiates us from our competitors globally. It’s a blending of the online and offline customer experience – we just want shoppers to enjoy the Burberry experience. This commitment continues to drives our growth and excitement for the future.”

Carol Fairweather, CFO of Burberry’s International discussing the 17.1% sales growth in 2013

After years of deflecting customer interaction as a way of reducing operational costs, these are hopeful signs that maybe, just maybe, true leaders see the value to their business by engaging their customers often and in meaningful ways.

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