Our New CXO Role: Designed to Grow Client Love

Our New CXO Role: Designed to Grow Client Love

“Chief Experience Officer” (CXO) is a relatively new title in the corporate world.  As companies have wrestled with ways to be sure customers have a consistent positive experience, no matter what part of the firm they touch, the CXO role has emerged as the answer.

Beth ForbesBeth Forbes, a founding partner of Heart+Mind Strategies, is taking on the new CXO role at Heart+Mind.  Previously, Beth wore many hats, overseeing operations, finance, staff management and quality.   This broad background, along with her experience providing strategic counsel to clients, gives her a particularly appropriate set of skills for designing an end-to-end experience with the goal of delighting clients.   The unique twist in her new role is Beth is also focused on delighting employees and steadfastly believes employee delight is tightly linked to delighted clients.

“We’re a company that has a deep history in understanding human emotions.   And we’ve always functioned like a big family.  When it comes to delivering great work to a client, we can’t set that history aside and say we’re just going to use our heads and forget our hearts.  We have to ensure that associates working with our clients love what they do, care deeply about the client and believe that the client’s problem is their own, until it’s solved.”

To deliver that kind of deep commitment to clients requires a lot of support for each and every associate.

“First of all, we are a company of people who have a passion for understanding human motivation and apply that passion to solving client problems.  All of our clients need to persuade, motivate and move stakeholders to action.  We have a great research toolbox, but it’s the craftsmen wielding the tools who make the difference.  So, as a company we want to find likeminded people who share that passion and give them the support and tools to help them ply their craft as skillfully as possible.  It’s my job to make that happen.”

“Second, our staff is growing quickly.  Heck, we’ve grown by 40% in 2017!  Some folks are just starting out, others are in the later years of their career. However, all want to know their pathway in the company because we’re all better at meeting the needs of our clients if we feel like our own path is clear.  In my new role, I’ll be working closely with all our associates to help them define a clear path that capitalizes on their own strengths, interests, ambitions and abilities.

“Finally, it’s important that good people be recognized and rewarded for outstanding work and the kind of innovation our clients want, need and value.  As we’ve expanded our team in the past couple of years, we’ve brought on folks who bring exciting expertise from outside our world – –  from management consulting, ad agencies, PR firms. They bring deep knowledge of different industries.  We want to be sure that everyone in the company can benefit from each other’s diverse and sometimes divergent experience.  I will be working to be sure everyone at Heart+Mind Strategies and at our clients benefits from the collective expertise.  And that innovative ideas, whether home grown or from new colleagues, are recognized and rewarded.

Most importantly, though, Beth will be keeping an eye on all client interactions, measuring how close we come to our ultimate goal:  to “grow client love.”

Growing Client Love

Several years ago, a client sent this email: “I would say ‘I love you guys’ but it would sound unprofessional.”

Not very long or complicated, just a few words, but the most meaningful words you could hear from a client. They’re meaningful because they represent a deep, trusting relationship.  While this type of relationship usually grows with care and nurturing over time, the bedrock foundation comes when these disciplines are applied right from the get-go:

Keeping promises – from the very initial interactions with a client, delivering on promises is what starts to cement the relationship. We’ve all heard many sad stories about ‘bait and switch’ tactics that happen so often in research and consulting. The polished, senior team goes in for the pitch, makes compelling promises and then disappears. They’re nowhere to be seen for critical decisions on project design, execution and delivery.

While we have wonderful, capable junior staffers who are smart and speedy learners, we also know they need senior support and leadership to deliver on our promises. Everyone here understands that our goal is to overdeliver and we revel in not just keeping, but in exceeding our promises.

Having empathy with our clients – whether a client is the leader of a company, a marketing director or a researcher, they are always under pressures that surround research-based decisions. Regardless of their position, their reputation rests to some extent on how smart our work is and on how well we communicate it. One of the things we look for when we bring new people into our organization is strong empathy. A side benefit – – it makes this company a really nice place to work, but more importantly it means everybody is good at walking in clients’ shoes.

Taking on our client’s challenges as our own challenges– regardless of how large or small a project is, we know it takes place within a larger context. Often the biggest challenge is not solving the issue expressed in the rfp, but getting buy-in from other people who need to act on the findings. To bridge the gap that so often occurs between research insights and action, we’ve created a “Strategist” role. Strategists are people with hands-on consulting experience, whose focus is less on research results and more on helping clients apply insights. They typically have broader business backgrounds that give them a wider perspective when answering the question: “How does this client put these findings to work in their organization?”

One thing you might have noticed is that building this kind of relationship is a little bit like being in a successful marriage. While the proposal/wedding/honeymoon phase is exciting, it’s the long-term work that continues to keep the flame alive. We love our clients and we work hard to keep that love strong!

Is Social Media Marketing Worth the Investment?

In light of the Cambridge Analytica revelations and consumer concerns about privacy, how should we think about the value of social media?  Erin Norman, Senior Solutions Consultant, Public Policy, takes on the question here:

Link: Is Social Media Marketing Worth the Investment?