In an increasingly digital world, it’s never been more important for brands to provide customer-centric experiences. It’s not enough to have just a good product anymore; the way consumers are able to use it is just as vital. Modern customers expect convenience and efficiency, and brands to hear them.
Without an effective feedback loop, products are changed without a true idea of whether it’s what customers want. On the flip side, adapting your CX to address their needs means a happy and loyal customer base who aren't looking to jump ship.
Here are the 10 CEOs we think are the most committed to digital CX in 2021.
1. Dara Khosrowshahi - Uber
In a pre-Uber world the idea of knowing the name and exact location of your taxi driver, not to mention an accurate estimate of your fare was a pipe dream. The experience designed with Khosrowshashi at the helm has taken everything we hated about hailing a cab and solved it within an app.
After worries about Uber’s passenger safety policy, which led to its license in London being temporarily suspended, they’ve also put a number of measures in place to put its passengers’ minds at ease: 1. an emergency assistance button, 2. the ability to report if you are feeling unsafe and 3. the ability to share your trip with trusted contacts to make sure someone knows where you are at all times.
Uber wasn’t the first ride sharing app on the market, but it treads the line between tech and taxi company perfectly to provide an industry leading experience from first click of the app to closing the door at the end of a trip.
“Uber has become such a classic example because it figured out how to create a simple, clean experience for both the customer and the driver. When both sides work in perfect harmony, everyone enjoys the experience. The taxi industry didn’t see Uber coming, and has been slow to innovate in response.”
Dan Gingiss - CX Keynote Speaker
2. Adam Brotman - Brightloom
Since his time as CDO at Starbucks, Adam has been determined to help brands build meaningful customer relationships and loyalty through mobile technology and personalized digital engagement.
He was a guest on Conversations with Conversocial in 2020, where he advised that brands should see every touchpoint with a customer as a single, connected digital relationship. This doesn’t mean it’s a one-size fits all rule for everyone, data needs to at the heart of every bespoke interaction. It’s an attitude he brings to Brightloom - a digital platform that gives restaurants the ability to provide their own mobile ordering system, whilst engaging customers with personalized experiences. If you imagine a flywheel, with the customer at the center, each of the spokes is a digital touchpoint that informs a brand of the customer’s intents and preferences - that’s how Adam approaches digital CX.
3. Katrina Lake - Stitch Fix
Despite being ostensibly a clothing company, Stitch Fix is in the data game. It drives the company’s every move and is behind every awesome fitting pair of jeans they send out to their customers.
In 2017, Lake took Stitch Fix public, with her vision of making personal shopping more affordable and less time consuming. To succeed requires feedback from all of its 3.5m customers to drill down into what each of them wants to wear. From algorithms that anticipate buying and purchasing needs, to making sure they're always stocked up, to the ‘Style Shuffle’ tool that determines a customer’s nuanced preferences, Katrina Lake puts data to work to provide Stitch Fix’s users with bespoke shopping experiences delivered to their front door.
4. Reed Hastings - Netflix
The streaming service doing its best to keep 200m+ people world sane during a global lockdown. Keeping those millions satisfied however, isn’t as straightforward as just publishing content and hoping subscribers find the thing they like.
"If the Starbucks secret is a smile when you get your latte, [Netflix's secret] is that the website adapts to the individual's taste."
From its early days as a movie rental service, Netflix has always focused on making the experience better for the viewer. Everything is personalized based on the viewer’s preferences - movie and TV show recommendations, the construction of content menus, and even the individual thumbnails that appear next to each show or movie. Over 80% of what is watched comes from recommendations. If that's not the epitome of digitally minded, we don't know what is.
5. Christopher Nassetta - Hilton
Despite being a global Hotel firm, Hilton is focused on utilizing technology to provide a seamless and personalized experience for its customers and employees.
As the company expects to welcome back more guests in 2021, Nassetta is looking at ways to digitize certain elements of the customer experience, without removing all human contact. Digital keys and the ability to unlock rooms using a smartphone are very important, removing the need to check-in at the front desk. They’re also providing guests with the offer of a connected room, that remembers your preferences like favorite TV channels, room temperature and light setting as soon as a guest checks in.
When it’s rolled out, no matter where guests are in the world, Hilton are trying to make it feel a little more like home.
6. Anne Boden - Starling Bank
After 30-years working for some of the world’s best know financial institutions, Anne Boden founded Starling, which has been voted Best British Bank for the past 3 years.
Boden's vast experience in the industry led her to believe banking could be fairer, smarter and a more human experience. With no high street locations, the entire operation is app-based and provides a modern solution to money management.
Opening an account is straight forward - all you need is a phone and photo ID - and Starling moves across all new customers’ finances and scheduled payments and the app itself provides instant spending notifications, categorised breakdowns of monthly spending and spaces to put money aside with instant access. Customers used to the red-tape involved in traditional bank accounts and apps are provided with a far more intuitive experience, suited to their needs.
“Our goal has always been giving our customers the bank they tell us they want and one which puts them in control of their money and their data. We know exactly what our customers want, because they tell us every day.”
7. Tony Xu - DoorDash
To quote Tony Xu from the DoorDash blog “From day one, our goal has been to build the best possible platform for all our users, and the only way to achieve that effectively is to continuously listen and collect feedback from all members of our community.” If that’s not a fair indication of a CX-minded CEO, then I’m not sure what is.
As one of the most popular food delivery services in the US, DoorDash regularly solicits suggestions from its customers via a dedicated feedback button on its app. Recognizing the shift in consumer needs as the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020, the company partnered with regional and national convenience stores across the country to move its operations beyond hot food delivery and expanded to household essentials like groceries and even over the counter medicines.
8. Whitney Wolfe Herd - Bumble
She recently became the youngest female CEO to take a company public after founding the dating app with a difference. Bumble is designed with one particular demographic in mind as a female-first dating experience. Wolfe Herd said she wanted Bumble to empower women and feel more modern than ‘traditional’ dating practices of men being expected to make the first move. So if there’s a heterosexual match, it’s up to the woman to make the first move.
It’s not simply a dating experience aimed at offering a change in the dating world, the safety and privacy of its users is a top priority. There are protections from digital sexual harassment - unwanted sexual photos are met with an instant and lifetime ban and Wolfe Herd took the fight to the US Government and was instrumental in passing a bill in 2019 that criminalises the act of sending unsolicited photos.
As a CEO she is determined to protect the digital experience of Bumble’s users both on and off the app.
9. Stewart Butterfield - Slack
If you’re employed in a modern workplace, chances are those four clicks that mean you’ve got a message will trigger a Pavlovian response to instantly check your laptop. Slack changing how companies communicate internally, with a focus on being completely customer-centric.
As a company strategy, Butterfield focuses on helping customers as a primary goal, with growth as a (very welcome) outcome rather than the main aim. The emphasis is on regular customer feedback loops to inform the changes and product roadmap to continually improve the platform. Employees are encouraged to avoid becoming ‘Jacks of all trades’ and become experts in certain areas rather than trying to master the whole product. It streamlines customer queries because anything incoming can quickly be routed to the right expert.
By understanding their customers’ needs, Slack continues to build a platform solely with its users’ needs in mind - ensuring its a product always rooted in its usability.
10. Eric Yuan - Zoom
For most people in January 2020 the verb ‘to zoom’ was in no way related to video chatting with your friends and family. What a difference 12 months and a global pandemic makes!
The way we communicate has changed and Yuan’s company has been at its heart with a face-to-face video experience that values customer experience above everything.
"We focus across the company on the happiness of customers and building trust with them."
His vision breaks down into 3 simple goals:
- Making sure the product works - continuity across all platforms and devices and measuring NPS to make sure they’re focused in the right direction.
- A frictionless experience - focus on ensuring it’s simple and easy to use - an intuitive experience on desktop, mobile or tablet from set up to making a call and 24/7 support.
- Focus on people - creating a happy work environment for employees to ensure they’re self-motivated and providing the kind of innovation the keeps every interaction a customer has with the brand as enjoyable as possible.
These CEOs all recognize the value of existing customers to their business. If a consumer has an amazing experience, they're likely to tell people about it. Globally, word of mouth marketing drives $6trillion in annual spending and accounts for 13% of consumer spending, and it's free! By concentrating on delivering exceptional CX, they are ensuring a happy customer base and all the advantages that brings.