Customer Experience, IBM Report: C-Suite Establishing More Direct Customer Engagement
C-Suite executives have a few things on their daily to-do list. And we know they can make or break companies by their actions, inactions and leadership abilities -- and inabilities. 

Empowering the Customer

Today, more C-suite executives are adding to that to-do list better customer engagement through digitized -- and sometimes direct -- avenues. It can help their organizations, they say, craft immediate strategies and create a vision for the future, according to a study release this week by IBM.

The study, “The Customer-activated Enterprise,” conducted by IBM’s Institute for Business Value, reveals that six out of 10 CEOs will do this: directly engage their customers and use that input in their business plans in the next three to five years.

How many CEOs do this now? Only 43 percent, according to IBM.

customer experience, IBM Report: C-Suite Establishing More Direct Customer Engagement

IBM conducted this study using face-to-face conversations with more than 4,000 CEOs, CMOs, CFOs, CIOs and other C-suite leaders from 70 countries and 20 industries worldwide.

It found more than half of CEOs cite customers as having the most influence on strategic vision and business strategy.

“Our research with C-suite leaders over the past decade has shown that organizations have steadily shifted to embrace more open, collaborative and reciprocal models,” Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president, IBM Global Business Services, said in a statement. "Today, CEO’s recognize that they can’t do it all alone. They’re opening up their organizations, breaking down barriers and actively engaging customers -- providing customers a seat at the table to help shape their business model and strategy.”

How Can Customers Help?

CEOs are not talking here only about product development. According to the survey, they believe customers can have an impact on:

  • Business strategy development
  • Pricing structure
  • Social policies
  • Environmental policies

The best companies out there are 54 percent more likely to collaborate extensively with customers, according to the report.

Direct and Digital Engagement

According to the IBM survey, more businesses are turning to customer advisory boards. Why? Because they give organizations the ability to set strategic direction, share best practices, better understand market segments and fine-tune business models, according to the IBM survey.

And hot off the presses -- we argued today the value of direct engagement like this for businesses. 

These communication vehicles provide direct input across the customer life cycle; they can define the customer opportunity to influence go-to-market plans, IBM says in its report.

But this doesn’t mean C-Suite executives are ready to abandon digital channels to drive customer interactions. More than half of CEOs use digital channels to interact with customers.

So what are the takeaways here?

If you’re a C-Suite executive, it may be time to join in on those key customer interactions and consider shaving time and resources off other organizational investments not involving customers. And it’s certainly time to use a multi-faceted approach to customer engagement, using means to reach both the highly-charged digitized customer and the other who doesn’t mind hopping onto a conference call.

Title image courtesy of Andrey_Popov (Shutterstock)