Focus on Numbers and People to Drive a Successful Business

November 11, 2021 Lydia Adams

manager focusing on people and congratulating them

Good customer service is table stakes, and getting it wrong will likely cost you dearly in customer churn. As a CFO, you may not think this is an area that pertains to you, but creating a delightful experience for the customer begins with an attitude that lets you focus on people that ultimately permeates the entire organization starting at the top.

April Downing is a seasoned financial and operational executive with over 20 years of experience for publicly and privately held technology, services, and consumer companies. As CFO of Khoros, April is responsible for leading Khoros’ global finance organization and supporting the company’s financial strength but also organic and inorganic growth.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • What leads to a successful customer experience

  • The role of culture and leadership in delighting customers

  • Why a CFO needs to focus on a positive employee experience

Growing Companies and Building Brands - Focus on Your People

Khoros is a software and services company that provides a digital-first customer engagement platform for more than 2000 of the world's top brands, including one-third of the fortune 100.
As CFO of Khoros, April also focuses on operational excellence and a positive employee experience. Her proudest accomplishments at Khoros include adapting successfully to onboarding remotely, learning a new company and market, and developing a culture of building trust across the business.

''I think that diversity breeds the best outcomes. And I love to see that we live for that every day. I believe that having experience across many industries, lots of different sizes gives you the ability to bring different experiences and perspectives to hear,'' Downing said.

Personalized and Efficient Customer Experience

A great customer experience sometimes means alleviating the need for a consumer to talk to the company. It's also making sure that consumers can choose the channel they want to engage in, not just through the phone. The customer experience needs to be personalized and authentic. When brands try to automate too much, they lose the personalization element and the chance to delight the customer.

Besides, consumers are demanding. They expect brands to have a better appreciation of who they are and their previous engagements. The ability of a brand to deliver a unified experience to the customer journey is critical.

''I think conversations on digital channels are asynchronous. Customers can engage in real-time on their terms. And that improves convenience, satisfaction, scalability, and drives a great customer experience. There are lots of different ways we can engage. The brands need to bring all that together to a cohesive experience to offer a great customer experience,'' Downing said.

Delighting the Customer is a Matter of Culture and Leadership

Leadership should focus on people

Culture is critical and empowering in delighting the customer. There are five principles for creating a culture of delighting the customer experience within a company. One, deliver on the brand promise. Two, empower your people. Three, embrace empathy. Four, do what you say you're going to do. Five, know what matters.

April also highlights the link between internal and external customers. She states that organizations should treat the internal customer in the same way they treat the external ones. 
Even though culture plays a significant role in delighting the customer, leadership has to be the mainstay of driving that perspective of delight. April believes that that's possible through a cohesive leadership team and engaged employees. But the leadership team needs to provide clarity, alignment, and accountability.

''I'm a firm believer that if you take care of your employees, they'll take care of your customers, and in the end, that's in the best interest of your shareholders,'' Downing said.

For more interviews from the CFO Weekly podcast, check us out on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player!

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