Introducing the 2011 1to1 Customer Champions

Customer Experience
Customer Experience
Organizations that deliver a superior-and profitable-customer experience do so because of business leaders with an unrelenting focus on the customer. We call these leaders 1to1 Customer Champions.

Customer experience has become a business imperative. According to Forrester Research Principal Analyst Paul Hagen, 86 percent of business leaders say customer experience is a top strategic priority for 2011 at their organization, 76 percent plan to differentiate based on customer experience, and 46 percent have a company-wide program in place for improving customer experience.

It's no wonder that pleasing customers is reaching such prominence in corporate America. Research from Temkin Group finds that even incremental enhancements can lead to multimillion-dollar revenue gains. "We analyzed the correlation between customer experience and loyalty across 12 industries and found that customer experience leaders enjoy a double digit advantage in several areas, including customers' willingness to buy more from them, reluctance to switch business away from them, and likelihood to recommend them," says Bruce Temkin, managing partner of Temkin Group and chairman of the Customer Experience Professionals Association. "A modest improvement in customer experience can, for example, drive between $179 million for health plans and $308 million for hotel chains of incremental revenue over three years for every $1 billion in annual sales."

The fact is, focusing on the customer is simply good business. Whether it's listening to customers and acting on their feedback, delivering more personalized customer service or sales interactions, or targeting marketing communications based on customer value segments, taking a customer-centric approach is certain to produce positive results.

1to1 Customer Champions know this-and act accordingly. They take steps to better understand customer needs, behavior, and value, and then use that insight to make informed decisions that lead to profitable business outcomes.

Selecting the 1to1 Customer Champions each year is no easy feat. All of the nominees are working tirelessly to champion the customer cause in their organization in ways that also make an impact on the bottom line. This year the 1to1 editorial team was delighted to have two guest judges: Temkin Group's Bruce Temkin and 2008 1to1 Customer Champion Liliahn Johnson, director of fan development for the NBA-both experts on customer experience management.

The 1to1 Customer Champions are experts in customer experience success, as well. As the 2011 1to1 Customer Champions demonstrate, an uncompromising focus on the customer is a guaranteed business driver. Hear how in the stories that follow.

- Ginger Conlon

Ven Bontha, Vice President of Customer, Experience, CEMEX, uses his company's B2B status to build a competitive advantage by focusing on the customer experience. Rich Brecht, Director of Customer Experience, J&P Cycles, shifts the best of in-person customer contact to J&P Cycles' electronic and voice interactions
Michael Colbourn, Vice President Marketing, Sales, and Communications, Stowe Mountain Resort, encourages customer listening in unusual places-and gains valuable insight Stowe would otherwise have missed. Roger Curtis, President, Michigan International Speedway, revved up customer insight and then turbocharged the guest experience.
Susan DeLaney, Vice President of Customer Experience, UPS, leads a problem-resolution team that guides ever-improving customer experiences. Tom Feeney, President and CEO, Safelite AutoGlass, focuses on employee engagement to help ensure customer satisfaction.
Dennis Fitzgerald, Vice President, Customer Satisfaction, Yaskawa America Inc., architected an approach to identify and act on individual customers' concerns. Stephen Jackson, CIO, Harry Rosen, delivers an intense focus on customer centricity, which is restyling the CIO role.
Donna Lendzyk, Manager, Customer Loyalty, SaskTel, maintains acommitment to learning from customers that helps to ensure customer satisfaction. Ingrid Lindberg, Customer Experience Officer, Cigna, led the translation of Cigna's jargon-filled interactions into customer-friendly communications, increasing customer engagement and satisfaction as a result.
David Payne, Assistant Vice President, Contact Center, The Standard, leads efforts to create an engaging workplace to build true customer "care." Chuck Sliker, Senior Vice President of Operations Services for Arby's, ascribes to the adage that customer feedback is gift, and champions the use of that insight to measure how well Arby's is meeting its promises.
Jeffrey J. Smith, Vice President Operations and Loyalty Services of Omni Hotels & Resorts, champions programs that promote flawless service, which builds customer loyalty and improves financial performance. Tim Teran, Senior Vice President, Consumer Insights & Strategy at Macy's Inc., links improvements in employee engagement and customer satisfaction to key business drivers.
Jay Topper, Senior Vice President, Customer Success for Rosetta Stone, translates customer insight and a customer-centric environment into ongoing customer experience improvements.