November 24, 2017

The rewards for delivering a stellar customer experience (CX) today are high. But the stakes are rising too. In hidden corners of your organization, enthusiastic teams may be working on CX initiatives that they believe will give your company a competitive edge. But to make that happen, they will likely need the unwavering support of the CEO.

Exactly how can CEOs play key roles in the success of a CX initiative? From our research and client work, I’ve identified five key roles: consensus builder, unifier, influential designer, customer advocate, and thought leader. Each role shapes the initiative and provides momentum. I’ll illustrate one of the roles – influential designer – through the examples of Pepsi and Airbnb.

Putting design thinking at the heart of the enterprise.

Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo, has overhauled the company’s CX as an influential designer. In 2010, Pepsi’s revenue growth had flattened, in part, Nooyi believed, because its products failed to excite customers as they walked by them in stores. To Nooyi, design had been viewed as no more than a question of colors and logos on packaging, rather than about how customers experienced Pepsi’s products across multiple touch points. She came to the realization that design had to be at the forefront of the company’s thinking. And so she appointed the company’s first-ever design officer. “In the past, user experience wasn’t part of our lexicon,” Nooyi said in a Harvard Business Review  interview.

Today, design has a voice in almost every decision Pepsi makes, Nooyi said in the article. Putting design thinking at the heart of the enterprise has helped the company accelerate growth.

At Airbnb, CEO Brian Chesky used design thinking to map the experience of three key stakeholders: people who rent out their properties, guests of those properties, and employees. He hired a former Pixar illustrator and together they storyboarded the experiences of each type of stakeholder. The results gave Chesky and his team valuable insights and kick-started the company’s hyper growth to $1.7 billion in revenue last year, according to one media report.

Other CEOs have played different roles in their firms’ CX initiatives. In my Perspectives article How the CEO Can Propel a CX Initiative, you can learn about the roles played by Sir Richard Branson at Virgin Group, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Angela Ahrendts at Burberry, and Patrick Doyle at Domino’s Pizza Inc.

As President of TCS’ Service Lines, Krishnan leads Consulting and Service Integration, Cognitive Business Operations and Digital Transformation Services globally.

Krishnan drives forward the vision, direction and go-to-market strategy for TCS’ Services organization. In addition to fostering the development of new services and solutions, Krishnan and his leadership team, armed with expert skills and deep contextual knowledge of key industries, successfully guide complex global transformation initiatives for the world’s leading enterprises. 

Krishnan’s organization is focused on driving growth and transformation for TCS clients by spearheading and leading their evolution from IT-centric to customer-centric models which streamline and optimize business functions. Many of the world’s largest corporations rely on Krishnan and his teams to define and apply technology as the driver toward successful business outcomes. This, in turn, creates a path for TCS customers to create new business models and alternative revenue streams. By developing and leveraging best-in-class experts and offerings in Design Thinking, Consulting, Cloud, IoT, AI, Analytics and Enterprise Applications, Krishnan has successfully positioned TCS as the industry’s leading expert in enterprise transformations.

In addition to helping TCS’ clients transform their businesses, Krishnan is focused on upskilling and reskilling thousands of employees, building collaborative workspaces, enhancing the management of contracts and partnerships and improving customer service.  

This business transformation will allow TCS to reduce overhead and time to market, drive efficiencies, invest in people and skills development, focus on customers and deliver smarter, better solutions-- faster than ever before. 

With more than 25 years of business and technology consulting experience at TCS, Krishnan’s previous leadership roles include VP & Global Head of Consulting & Enterprise Solutions; COO of TCS Financial Solutions; Executive Director for the State Bank of India Group Core Banking Program; Head of TCS’ Global e-Commerce & Enterprise Application Integration practice; and CTO for Tata Internet Services.  

Krishnan, who earned a B.S. and an M.S. in Engineering, lives in Mumbai, India with his wife and their two daughters. He enjoys non-fiction books, movies and tennis, and he is passionate about promoting education in India’s rural communities.