At last year’s Dreamforce, there were dozens of sessions focused on the customer experience. Topics ranged from the impact of technology on the customer experience, to personalization of the customer journey, to creating a scalable experience and more. Meanwhile, the role of Chief Customer Officer (CCO) is growing – from a position that was virtually nonexistent in 2000 to being represented in 22 percent of all Fortune 100 companies. In fact, CCOs now even have their own conference – Chief Customer Officer USA – just launched in January 2017. Given the importance of the customer experience, the level of interest around it is not surprising. With the age of the empowered customer upon us, businesses face greater pressure to set themselves apart from the pack. It doesn’t matter if you have 20 employees or two thousand – if you’re in high tech or manufacturing – the customer experience has become a critical focus area. However, while most businesses develop a vision and mission statement – so everybody knows what the company is striving to accomplish – core values have not been as widely adopted. Less common but equally important, core values are essential for implementing an enterprise-wide customer centric approach. Core Values Prioritize the Customer Experience To deliver a successful customer experience requires more than just a better mousetrap. You need employees who are committed to helping your customers solve actual problems. You need employees who understand the pain points of your buyers and are driven to go above and beyond in serving them. This is where core values come into play – core values focus employees on how to operate in relation to customers on a day-to-day basis. If customer experience is important to your company, then it’s imperative to prioritize the customer or your ability to service them as part of your core values. Doing so also has the added benefit of strengthening your overall company culture. For example, Zappos (an Amazon company and well known in the industry for delivering phenomenal customer service) states “Deliver WOW Through Service” as its first core value. Think about what you’d like your employees to exude during customer interactions. How do you want customers to feel about your business? How do you teach employees to make “customer first” decisions? By answering questions like these, you start creating a culture that focuses on its customers and their experiences. Reinforce Core Values Consistently and Continuously At Xactly, we emphasize our core values during new employee orientation, training and ongoing internal communications. Additionally, our CEO uses quarterly “all-hands meetings” to illustrate how core values contribute to our company success – and to recognize employees who are going above and beyond in driving superior customer experiences. Xactly’s core values are Customer Focus, Accountability, Respect and Excellence, and they happen to spell out C.A.R.E. By effectively communicating and placing importance on your core values, you provide guidance for employee behaviors and decision-making processes. Above all, this must be driven from the top down. Executives need to demonstrate their own commitment to core values in their actions and behaviors. Leaders must “walk the walk,” not just “talk the talk.” Better Customer Experience Equals Better Business A superior customer experience creates loyalty and brand recognition that differentiates you from the competition and generates more revenue for your business. According to Forrester Research, companies that prioritize the customer experience grow 14 percent faster than the laggards. Customer experience has clearly become more important than ever. But, before you can plan and implement a customer experience roadmap for your company, you must first identify and establish your company’s own core values that include a focus on the customer.
Bernie Kassar is Chief Customer Officer at Xactly Corporation, a leading provider of enterprise-class, cloud-based, incentive compensation for employee and sales performance management. Xactly’s products allow organizations to make strategic decisions, increase employee performance, improve margins, and mitigate risks.  Zappos Core Values: http://deliveringhappiness.com/book/zappos-core-values/  Xactly Core Values: https://www.xactlycorp.com/company/about-us/  Forrester Research: “Customer Experience Drives Revenue Growth,” 2016