Managing the customer experience in a large company requires a different set of core skills than in a small company. Large companies, focused on growth and Wall Street expectations on EPS, move all their investment into new products, cutting costs and acquiring new customers. Naturally this means that the existing customer base suffers.
At a large company, two negative things happen at once to hurt the customer experience:
- The customer experience is seen as an expense and is a target for reduction (or elimination).
- The sheer size of a large company distances leadership from customers. From this distance, true customer needs are unknown and unaddressed and what the customer needs is lost in a quagmire of misguided initiatives and metrics.
So while no CEO would say “customers are unimportant” their actions send a very different signal. For the customer experience to thrive in large companies, leaders must battle to:
- Re-connect with customers – leaders must cross the chasm and reach out to customers. If they don’t, customer needs are minimized and eroded as each layer of management puts their own spin on reality. This is less of a problem at small companies because management often knows the customers and their needs.
- Re-communicate the value of customers – leaders must continue to beat the “customers have value” drum. Too many companies focus their efforts on new customer acquisition even while their existing base is fertile ground for new sales and expansion.
- Gain broad organizational support – leaders must educate others in the company and gain their support by demonstrating how continuing to invest in existing customers is a long-term (and short-term) benefit to the business.
Looking back on the challenges and dangers of delivering a customer experience at different size corporations, three things become clear:
- Verysmall companies may be oblivious to the need to deliver a customer experience,
- Small companies run the risk of over-emphasizing the customer experience to the detriment of long-term corporate health, and
- Large companies are tempted to forget the value of customers while they focus on growth and margins.
The pivot point is that as your company grows, the skills needed to deliver a quality customer experience change also. To succeed while growing the business, your customer champion(s) must adapt their skills and become the company’s conscience. Otherwise, customers become just another afterthought.
How are you adapting your approach to meet the needs of your company?