Scott Griffiths, Chief Financial Officer of Marketing Finance at Farmers Insurance Group of Companies, discussed the three critical areas that CFOs need to focus on to win at customer experience.
“Everyone’s heard the story that customer experience is becoming increasingly important to companies,” stated Griffiths at the outset of his keynote presentation at the 2017 Chief Financial Officer Leadership Forum held on May 9 in Los Angeles. “It’s always been important, but because of the freedom of information now and the ability to share a bad experience with multiple people, there’s no place to hide. If we just arrive in a city and we’re longing for Mexican food, where do we go? Yelp.”
Griffiths continued, “So, you might think that because you’re in finance and don’t interact with the customer directly, customer experience doesn’t relate to you. But you’d be dead wrong. With regard to customer experience, the CFO has the most vital role within the organization—more important than the CEO, the head of marketing, the head of sales, or even the Chief Customer Experience Officer. Why? Because the CFO has the ability to kill customer experience or let it flourish.”
“With regard to customer experience, CFOs have the most vital role within the organization—more important than the CEO. Why? Because the CFO has the ability to kill customer experience or let it flourish.”
Griffiths then described three areas that are required to have successful execution of excellent customer experience. The first is defining your customer. “If you don’t know who your customer is, it’s unlikely you’re going to provide them with a great customer experience,” he observed. “To do that, step one is to figure out where you stand within the market of whatever you’re selling—services, retail, software, whatever.” He displayed a chart divided into five segments—geographic, sociographic, demographic, behavioral, and psychographic. “A trap that a lot of companies fall into is focusing on an easy part of the slice—the easiest being demographic.” Griffiths pointed out that a car can be a utility vehicle or serve as a social status symbol. “People choose a particular vehicle for reasons ranging from whether all the sports equipment will fit in the back to a proclamation of, ‘I’ve made it.’ None of that has to do with demographics. There’s no bad segment; there’s only a right segment for your company—which is the intersection between your company’s value proposition and the needs, wants, and expectations of your customer,” he explained.
“Most companies can’t be all things to all people, and trying to do so is a recipe for disaster. Most companies either focus on one or maybe two or three segments. Tesla—status and the environment. Ford—off-road and budget. What if you get this step wrong? Remember Segway? Steve Jobs backed this. So did Jeff Bezos. Both thought it would be a huge hit. What failed to happen with Segway was no one investigated the market for this product beforehand,” stated Griffiths.
“Remember Segway? Steve Jobs backed this. So did Jeff Bezos. Both thought it would be a huge hit. What failed to happen with Segway was no one investigated the market for this product beforehand.”
“What can you, as strategic CFOs, do to make sure this doesn’t happen to your company? First, invest in the research and then evaluate the data and segment the market. Lastly, identify your target customers. Make sure it’s financially viable to target this group. Whatever your value proposition is, you need to find the target market that intersects with it,” he stated.
“First, invest in the research and then evaluate the data and segment the market. Lastly, identify your target customers. Make sure it’s financially viable to target this group.”
“The second area you need to pay attention to is understanding your customer. It’s necessary to understand their wants, needs, and expectations, and you need to get this information directly from the customer. Measure the customer experience journey for your target customer. I use the word ‘journey’ advisedly because it’s the whole experience that needs to be measured, and at any point you can either delight or turn off your customer,” Griffiths said.
“The third area of focus to improve customer experience is creating a customer-centric culture in your company. ‘Data is useless without action.’ Set the data free, communicate it to everyone in the company, and empower them to provide desired services to customers,” he advised.
Griffiths summed up with, “There’s actually a fourth area, which is rinse and repeat. Customers’ expectations change, and companies need to adapt, so it’s necessary to constantly refresh the information from your customers and create a culture of innovation.”
ABOUT SCOTT GRIFFITHS:
Scott Griffiths is the Head of Marketing Finance for Farmers Insurance. He joined Farmers Insurance in 2008 and provides financial leadership for the enterprise’s marketing resources, covering TV, radio, digital, sponsorships, research, internal and external communications, and innovation.
Griffiths began his career in auditing at KPMG in the UK, qualifying as a Chartered Accountant. Moving to the US in 2001, he briefly worked in public accounting, obtaining his CPA license, before joining Countrywide Financial. He went on to hold several leadership roles at Countrywide Financial in both the Global Markets and Correspondent Lending Divisions.
Griffiths is on the Board of Directors of the Boys & Girls Club of the West Valley.
Education: B.A. (Hons), Sheffield University, United Kingdom; ACA, Institute of Chartered Accountancy of England and Wales; CPA, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.