Marketers sling the words “engagement” and “experience” like politicians trade barbs about their opponents – often and sometimes recklessly. They are ideas talked about a lot but tend to fall short in being realized. So, when good customer experience is recognized it can be like a breath of fresh air (instead of hot air). The Chief Customer Officer Council has named its Chief Customer Officer of the Year for 2013, an award that acknowledges a leader whose organization demonstrates a commitment to building customer relationships, cultivating profitable customer behaviors, and creates a customer-centric culture.
The recipient is Pete Winemiller, Senior Vice President of Guest Relations, for the Oklahoma City Thunder NBA franchise. The team has a reputation for offering one of the most exciting game atmospheres in the NBA and was number one in ESPN the Magazine Ultimate Fan Rankings this year. The fact that Winemiller and the OKC Thunder received the award is not surprising when you consider the mindset of the organization:
- The Thunder aspires to be “the most fan-centric organization in professional sports”
- The dedication of all employees, particularly front-line service personnel, is cited as a key to success
- The experience created is seen as a way to reinforce the organization’s core values to customers
Curtis Bingham, CCO Council executive director, says that the customer is the most important ingredient for business success, not product, service, or technology. Bingham refers to customer experience as “the new black,” a popular mindset that must become ingrained in an organization’s values in order for it to reach its potential as a source of competitive advantage. Bingham adds that products and services are increasingly becoming commodities, making customer experience the most powerful differentiator available to a marketer.
Customer experience may be the new black, but it should not be viewed merely as a fad or trend. When a business desires to have ongoing relationships with customers, a focus on experiences that convey the firm’s values as well as delivers value will be appreciated by customers and stand out in an environment in which many companies talk a good game about experiences but often do not deliver.