A few months ago, I had the pleasure of seeing Tom Feeney speak about customer experience at an event in Boston. I was fascinated by his story of how Safelite went from a company that put shareholders first to one that put employees first. The reasoning behind this move: Highly engaged employees will deliver a great experience, which will improve business performance and ultimately make everyone happy (including shareholders).
As it turns out, that reasoning is correct. From 2006 to 2012, Safelite’s sales grew by high double digits, and its profits grew by triple digits. (I’ll let Tom reveal the actual numbers when he keynotes on the second day of Forrester’s Forum For Customer Experience Professionals West in Los Angeles on October 9 and 10).
Despite these impressive results, Safelite is now moving into a new phase of its transformation journey. It’s that multipart voyage toward customer experience maturity that makes Tom’s story a perfect match for our event theme, “Boost Your Customer Experience To The Next Level.”
In the run-up to the event, we asked Tom to answer a few questions about what Safelite is doing and how it’s doing it. His answers appear below. I hope you enjoy them, and I also hope to see you in Los Angeles!
Q. When did your company first begin focusing on customer experience? Why?
George Colony, our CEO, just released a post on his blog about enterprise architecture, aptly enough named “Enterprise Architects For Dummies (CEOs).” I retweeted the post to my followers and received a flood of responses, most of which were violently disagreeing with George’s assertion that EA works for the CIO. I think this is a pointless argument, but underscores a very important change that most are missing.
Here’s what I mean:
The objection to putting EA under the CIO is based on an old-school notion.That notion is that CIOs are chief technology infrastructure managers. Our data shows that the role of CIO is changing, fueled by cloud and other as-a-service technology. CTOs or VPs of IT are increasingly taking on the job we used to think of as the CIO, while progressive CIOs are evolving to something else. Locating EA under the CTO is a bad idea, we all agree.
Every business is a digital business.If you don’t believe me, I’ll send you a pile of research. There is no such thing as a non-information-centric business anymore — or at least there won’t be for very long, because they are going out of business. Forrester has been using the term “business technology” (BT) for a while to indicate that there is no room for having separate business and IT — it simply won’t work much longer. Even in the most paper, analog verticals, we can give you example after example; check out Monsanto’s IFS (they are a seed company!).
I realize I'm posting two rants in a row here (my last one was on marketing being a dirty word), but this is important! I just read in the WSJ that it's time more CIOs report to the top... my initial reaction was "oh come on, really, are we still on with this old chestnut?" -- the thing is, I couldn't agree more. But here's what gets me -- we were saying this in the '80s. The hope back then was that, as more CEOs stepped up who had grown up with technology, things would change and more CIOs would report into the CEO. Clearly this was pie-in-the-sky optimism ... so what went wrong?
Traditional wisdom (aka analysts) suggests that it's up to the CIO to "earn" a seat at the table by demonstrating leadership, delivering business value from IT, and lots of other hoops to jump through. While my colleagues and I work diligently on research to help CIOs achieve this, I can't help feeling there is an alternative perspective we are missing, and that's what drove me to write this blog post.