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Showing Love to the Customer as the CFO

I have seen in recent CFO surveys that improving and/or impacting the customer experience is a key initiative for CFOs in 2015. What actions, policies, and processes can CFOs take or lead to impact the customer experience in 2015?

Answers

Topic Expert
Christie Jahn
Title: CFO
Company: Prime Investments & Development
(CFO, Prime Investments & Development) |

What an interesting question. Being planted at the corporate office and not in a customer facing situation will mean the CFO should make a point to get in the field a few times and see the world from the other side. Really make an effort to hear the customer, their perspective and needs. Another thought would be to get more involved with the net promoter score and dig into what issues arise and can be handled with the CFO's mindset. I'm very interested to hear what others say!

Marcelo Rodrigues
Title: CFO
Company: BPO Solution
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, BPO Solution) |

The CFO has to adopt a client satisfaction approach, which influences processes, team vision and IT solutions. The CFO and financial team have to be seen as key players at the customer workflow, collaborating with sales and operations to improve the customer experience. The finance team have to work to improve the most ordinary process, as credit analysis, billing and accounts receivable collection, but also work close to sales area, for example, to under demand, give financial solutions to special projects, regarding to pricing and funding. The team view is something to work every day to be a natural approach and IT is a fundamental component regarding to improve process efficiency and people experience.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

Both Marcelo and Christie has the concept. Put yourself in the position of a Customer of your firm and rate that experience.

You'd be surprised what you'll find works an doesn't and that will be the impetus to change and improve.

Not all improvements will directly drive additional sales, but overtime a happier customer is a more committed customer; and in this day of buying at the lowest price, you need to give a more wholelistic value proposition.

Mark Matheny
Title: VP - FInancial Planning and Analysis
Company: Novolex (formerly Hilex Poly)
(VP - FInancial Planning and Analysis, Novolex (formerly Hilex Poly)) |

In my opinion, face time provides the most opportunity. Getting in front of the customer, listening, and responding to their concerns. Letting the customer know that their supplier consists of a team of people supporting the relationship, not just the sales representative.

EMERSON GALFO
Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

I have approached it differently. I have empowered Operations and Sales people to determine if the extra mile or the little extra cost will benefit the company. They are the front lines of your company. It pays off big time if you are proactive with customer experience instead of reactive.

Let me explain.....
How many times have you as a customer heard something like "Sorry sir/mam, it is company policy and we can't do it for you!". Or "Sorry sir/mam, it is company procedure to do it this way!".

Would you rather hear something like this? ..." Sir/Mam, it is against company policy but I will call the office and see if we can do something for you!" or "Sir/Mam, we will incur the extra cost but since you are a new customer or been a long time customer, I think that the extra cost will be ok, Your continued business and your overall satisfaction is important to us....Let me call the office"

>>>>It is the threat of "policy/procedure" and getting in trouble with the "OVERLORD CFO" that mostly prevents your operations, sales, customer service from going the extra mile or improving existing services.

Let me be clear, It does NOT mean giving them free rein but giving them parameters and choices or an option to call the office if it is possible. In short, a common sense approach to business. It is also NOT building a fence between company and client, an US vs THEM approach but a mutually beneficial relationship.

If you want to be analytic about it, let your sales/operations people know your cost of customer acquisition. Most of the time, the extra cost (to go the extra mile) is far far less than what it would take you to replace that customer in case he/she leaves.

I have also accompanied Operations and Sales people in their day to day servicing of customers and follow up sales calls. I have done this with problem accounts and top accounts. This way, I get first hand experience and facetime with customers and see if problems can be resolved or service improved. Facetime alone and knowing that the CFO is involved gets the company "bonus points" from the customer.

Topic Expert
Christie Jahn
Title: CFO
Company: Prime Investments & Development
(CFO, Prime Investments & Development) |

Love the angle Emerson. We set parameters such as you have $X dollars as a store manager to be able to discount as needed as a customer satisfier so you feel empowered to make decisions. Now that is not going to get me face time but I feel like gives them the power to wow a customer on the spot and not have to make them wait for a call to corp. To me it provides a more family type environment.

EMERSON GALFO
Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

I guess I can summarize my post and the answer to original post by..... "getting out of the way" and letting your operations/sales people do what it can do to provide the service needed to not only satisfy but WOW!.

Zappos' customer service (sustomer satisfaction) is legendary....

http://www.forbes.com/sites/advisor/2013/05/13/what-zappos-taught-us-about-creating-the-ultimate-client-experience/

Even on-boarding and training materials emphasize the trait and how they do business.
http://www.slideshare.net/InfinitOInc/10-inspiring-zappos-customer-support-stories

I recognize that not all companies can be Zappos' and Amazons. One trait that all companies that are highly rated in terms of customer service is EMPATHY and the willingness to go the extra mile for the customer.

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