Changing role of a CEO in the changing business eco system – Looking beyond numbers
The highest ranking person in a company is the CEO. That being said, every CEO is a leader of their own and have their own style of working and leading. But in this interview, we look beyond numbers to understand what a CEO needs to look out for and how it reflects on the company
- Would you say the business ecosystem has changed and if yes, how do we respond to it?
Yes, I firmly believe that the business ecosystem has changed post-pandemic and has reared the skewed growth pattern. Companies that revolve around technology and digitisation have discovered profound opportunities while conventional brick and mortar businesses have had to reinvent how they function.
But the one commonality for companies with challenges and advancements was how they reassessed resource management. It all boiled down to optimization and innovation as this newfound way of working also opened up doors for effective working.
The companies that had leaders that responded well to these adaptations found a way to take on the new challenges and the companies that didn’t, struggled to keep it together. I mean this in the specific context of SMEs and MSMEs.
- In this wave of evolution, what does the CEO of a company need to look out for? Essentially a mid-sized organization or a start-up.
The CEO of a company essentially builds the framework of functioning between each department like sales, service, HR, finance, and marketing and more importantly takes out time to listen to the customers’ voices to understand what they feel about the brand.
This centrally characterizes the role of a CEO to find the balance between internal consonance and external harmony. This requires the CEO to understand the opportunities and threats inside and outside the organization.
This happens by understanding if we are deploying the right quality and quantity of efforts to win the opportunities in the market for every organization realigned to the current world.
Taking a step back at times can mean two steps forward and that’s currently imperative for every leader. This is to take a step back and chart the team to win these new opportunities.
Let me put this with the inference of a leaky bucket. A lot of companies boast of high customer acquisition while their numbers are bleeding when it comes to customer retention.
To address this, the sales team would essentially look at finding the right customers, the service team would ensure these customers are serviced beyond expectation, the HR team finding the right fit for the teams to deliver the experience, the finance team directing the funds for the right mission and the marketing team ensuring they reach the intended market to run the whole show.
This is where the CEO steps in to set the Key Performance Indicators that are readjusted to match the requirement of the current world we live in, most of which functions virtually.
- If we narrow in on the service team, could you share how the CEO can streamline the team?
From time immemorial, it has been said that a service team or even a sales team needs to be customer friendly but I believe that it is not enough. There has to be a sense of obsession when it comes to servicing the customers to ensure no stone leaves unturned. Creating a customer-obsessed service team must be the top priority for a CEO.
When we specifically point fingers toward SMEs and MSMEs, I have often seen great leaders who feel the need to satisfy each and every client they work with and this intent is passed on to everyone in the team.
A big conglomerate can afford to have 10 – 15% of the market being unhappy with their offering or service but that number is huge for a progressive start-up or an MSME.
It all starts with creating a team that is proactive and not merely reactive to customer grievances and complaints. The next thing to do is to create channels of communication internally and with the stakeholders.
Merely because the customers are not complaining doesn’t mean they are fully satisfied. The CEO needs to look beyond numbers and have indicators to get the feel of the market and the customer base.
Say, for an instance, in the healthcare industry, if 95 / 100 get the right care and the other 5 don’t, the other 5 need the same amount of attention or more, as much as the 95 who are happy with the service. If not, it is easy for the number 5 to increase with time and seep in as a culture. This is to say that one bad apple can spoil the bunch.
Here are a few tips to build a team that puts the customer forward
- Building the empathy culture
Empathy should come as the natural response while interacting and not merely to put a flame down. This should ideally lead to action-driven problem-solving.
Teams should be trained to address any possible situation that they may encounter no matter how less the likelihood of that scenario is. This can help them be prepared to solve problems.
- Scheduled reviews
It is a good practice to dedicate time for dual-sided performance and reviews beyond numbers between the management and the sales force. It is important to be honest, open and compassionate in the sense of expression.
- Learning to go beyond
Lay some trust in the team and let them offer discounts, upgrades, add-ons, extra support and gifts if it helps the case. Establish some clear guidelines and entrust them to build rapport with every customer they work with.
A CEO usually goes beyond their role and tries to get the best out of everyone. What do you think a CEO needs to keep in mind while taking their company to the next level?