“Shock and surprise me,” was the advice a COO from a large financial services firm offered recently when I asked what he recommended for an upcoming meeting with 15 Fortune 500 CXOs. “We see a lot of great things everyday—this has to be even better,” was the final challenge he placed at the table.
These words capture the incredible challenge of companies trying to build effective, remarkable customer engagement strategies with large Fortune 500 companies. The challenge is even more acute when trying to build client experiences for the C-suite of those organizations. Part of the problem is that these individuals are very difficult to impress. They have access to every top program that you could imagine—so it isn’t about NASCAR or Wimbledon.
Knowing that the bar of ‘shock and surprise me’ was a difficult one to consistently hit, we took this question back to other CXOs to gain a deeper understanding of what success was to them and we were surprised to learn that ‘shock and surprise me’ was not necessarily revolutionary. As we dug into this measure of success we learned that incremental changes would exceed expectations. Here are some examples of what we learned about what they want to hear:
- Lessons Learned. We all learn from our mistakes, but executives consistently ask to hear about failures. Not the cost of the failure but why it failed, what were the organizational challenges, where did it fail, and how could the failure have been avoided? Executives want to hear lessons learned more than any other piece of content to help them avoid where others have gone.
- Operational Wins. One executive gave the example of how a business used analytics to help shape a more effective expense reporting system. This wasn’t what most would deem remarkable, but when he adopted it, he found that he saved his organization enormous amounts of time and it gave his organization a win in the eyes of his peers.
- Business Cases. While this may seem like a no-brainer, we were surprised that many CXOs are most interested in how to build and sell the case internally. ‘It’s less about the content, and more about the development,’ explained one CMO. Successful approaches and techniques that worked elsewhere are great fodder for illustrating this point.
What we like best about the above three is that you can find them in any organization—large or small—and it makes this bar of ‘remarkable’ achievable.