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Memo to CEOs: Your Company's CX Should Exceed That of Your Most Recent Pizza Delivery

Updated: Feb 21, 2020

When I get the opportunity to coach my clients’ C-suite members, I always start with the same three questions:

1. What technologies are your currently implementing?

2. How do you manage your projects?

3. How would your customers rate their experience with your company?

The answers to those questions tell me everything I need to know about the company...or at least the people guiding the company.

Name any of the top 50 companies, in terms of growth, and you will find leaders that are already investing in the NEXT disruptive technologies, execute their work using world-class project management processes and employ dedicated teams to constantly measure the customer experience or CX.

For example, I have no idea if Starbucks has the best coffee. My palate is simply not refined enough to distinguish between gourmet coffee and any standard cup made by pouring water over crushed beans. However, I rarely purchase coffee from other companies. Why? Because Starbucks’ technology (combined with the Apple iPhone) has made it as easy as it can possibly far as I know. I simply sign-in to their app using my thumbprint, choose the closest location presented to me and order the same thing I always order. Then walk in and pick it up at their mobile station. Not to mention, every couple of weeks or so, I get a free drink without having to do anything because of their automated rewards program. Why would I change? Honestly, I can’t think of a single reason. Starbucks is now a technology company that happens to sell coffee and tea. And their customers' experience is personalized, efficient and delightful.

How about pizza? There was a point in time when I simply would not waste my calorie count on a slice of Domino’s pizza. Their quality had fallen off to a point where their pizza tasted like ketchup on cardboard. Now, go take a look at Domino’s stock price over the last five years. It has tripled. Domino’s pivoted and turned themselves into a technology company...while also dramatically improving the quality of their product. Domino’s app is very similar to the Starbucks app. When I open it, my “easy order” is presented to me and in just a few seconds, my pizza begins its journey from being prepared, to baking in the oven to being delivered by “Joe.” How do I know that? Because they also have a pizza tracker that tracks the progress of my pizza from preparation, to the oven, to the specifically named delivery driver. I've checked. Joe is actually Joe. And again, after a few weeks, I am presented with a free pizza via their “piece of the pie” rewards program. I actually don’t like Domino’s as much as other pizza options I have available to me. But, the convenience of their ordering process often dictates my decision. Domino’s is now a world-class logistics and technology company.

Both of these companies have made massive technology investments and use sophisticated project management processes to consistently transform their products and services with one thing in mind...improve the customer experience or CX.

Conversely, there are just as many examples of companies going bankrupt because they didn’t invest in technology and/or they couldn’t execute their strategic projects effectively. Companies like Blockbuster Video, Kodak, Schwinn Bicycle, General Motors, Sears and even Lehman Brothers. It can and does happen. And when it does, it happens quickly.

Here are the top three investments CEOs can make to keep their jobs and to enhance the value of their companies...regardless of the industry.

Invest in professional project management processes and personnel - Every single person in your organization should understand how your overall strategy dictates your goals, how your goals shape your projects and how you run your projects ultimately determines whether or not your company will be successful. And if everyone doesn’t understand that equation, put the training and personnel in place immediately. Both Starbucks and Domino's executed dozens if not hundreds of complex projects in order to achieve what they have over the last five years...a personalized, elegant, market-share -gaining customer experience. And every single department was involved at one point or another. IT, Operations, Marketing, HR, Accounting, Legal, Procurement etc. These were transformative efforts and they were executed by professionals. I cannot stress this enough. Project management is its own skillset. Everyone should possess basic PM skills in order to initiate, plan, execute, control and close projects. However, for the mission critical projects, trained, experienced professionals are required. If your company doesn’t understand and support this basic concept, they will not grow. And if you’re not growing, you’re dying.

Invest in the development of a 5-year technology roadmap - CEOs of companies in every industry must understand what’s coming. Whether it is artificial intelligence, robotics, enterprise software, cloud computing, mobile computing, blockchain, 5G, IoT, augmented reality or even quantum computing, organizational leaders need to understand that technology that has helped them get to where they are today is going to be obliterated in the near future. If you’re not the CEO or in the C-Suite, ask your executive team about three current technology trends. Ask them, “how is our company going to utilize 5G, blockchain and AI to enhance our position in the marketplace over the next 5 years?” If they don’t give you a reasonable answer, update your resume. And of course, companies need to invest in subject matter experts in these fields or pay to have existing personnel trained in order to compete.

Invest in CX - Why invest in technology and project management? It’s simple, to improve your customer experience. My most frequent conversations with executives center around CX. I hate to say it, but often, leaders can’t accurately describe what they’re customers are experiencing, much less have a plan for how to improve it. It simply MUST be understood that Domino’s and Starbucks are training everyone what they should expect from a world class customer experience. Leaders don’t like to hear this, but if their customers’ experience falls short of what they can expect from their pizza delivery, those customers won’t be satisfied for much longer.

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