Managing the demands of employees and customers

Good morning.

The pandemic has made both employees and customers more demanding, and the successful companies will be those who can manage the rising demands. That’s the lesson I took away from a virtual discussion yesterday with a dozen CEOs from different industries, sponsored by Salesforce. Some excerpts:

“If you don’t have employees who are engaged and connected, as you all I’m sure know better than I do, there’s no chance you’ll have customers who are happy with the interaction.”
—Alan Colberg, CEO, Assurant

“The fastest way to get customers to love your brand is to get employees to love their job. Full stop.”
—Tiffani Bova, Global Customer Growth and Innovation Evangelist, Salesforce

“When you have your employees loving your brands, it’s easier to get consumers to love your brand.”
—Ravi Saligram, CEO, Newell Brands

“What I found remarkable during the pandemic is that our employees found a sense of purpose. And once they found a sense of purpose, there was incredible creativity at the front linevery, very locallyto do things that we never imagined that we would do… An example was going to somebody’s home delivering groceries every week because she was 95 years old and couldn’t use the Internet and couldn’t get to a store.”
—Vivek Sankaran, CEO, Albertsons

“Employees, customers, everybody through this pandemic has learned that we want to do what is right. Just connecting that together, seeing that come through was, I would say, the most important experience that we all felt.”
—Revathi Advaithi, CEO, Flex

“What’s really exciting now is that the pandemic and all that we went through over the last 16 months is truly a catalyst towards change. We are seeing massive movements towards not only digitization and different customer interactions but a repurposing of what it is that we should be doing. Instead of just being here to pay for losses when bad things happen to people and businesses, we are working hard to mitigate losses and to use data and technology and all the tools that are becoming available to us to prevent losses.”
—Jack Roche, CEO, Hanover Insurance Group

“One of those trends [that has accelerated] is customer control. Customers want what they want when they want it.”
—Erik Nordstrom, CEO, Nordstrom

“Among our teams, vendors, partners and the communities in general, there is a real concern about social and environment issues. I don’t think people would have predicted that there was going to be an acceleration in this area as a result of the pandemic, but there certainly has been.”
—Sebastian Picardo, CEO, Holt Renfrew

“More guitarists at every level and across every genre of music have been created or inspired to play again in the last 12 months than in the prior 12 years combined.”
—JC Curleigh, CEO, Gibson Brands

“The final word is that the greatest part of our business are the employees and the customers, and it’s all about service, service, service. And if you don’t have service, you’re nowhere today.”
—Blayne Lastman, CEO, Lastman’s Bad Boy

And if you don’t believe the above about accelerating interest in environmental issues, listen to my interview with Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good on this week’s episode of the Leadership Next podcast. “There’s a crescendo around this issue,” she said.  “We felt it coming back in 2019, even 2018, as we heard more from communities, more from investors, more from regulators. I’ve retired 52 coal-based units while being CEO, and I expect to do more.” Check it out on Apple or Spotify.

News below.

Alan Murray


Amazon monopsony

People love talking about Amazon's monopolistic behavior, but how about its monopsonistic (i.e. relating to its heft as a customer rather than supplier) practices? The Wall Street Journal has a doozy of a story on that front: Amazon has struck dozens of deals with vendors that give it the right to buy their stock at potentially below-market rates, so they can count Amazon as a client for their goods and services. WSJ

Tourism crash

COVID's hit on the tourism industry will run to $4 trillion over 2020-2021, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. That's far worse than expected, and it's largely down to an uneven vaccine rollout. Fortune

Deutsche Bank

Deutsche Bank's plans to relaunch its Asian equities business have hit a snag: its Hong Kong IPO sponsor license will lapse from July, because it failed to replace two regulated IPO principals on time. Financial Times

Clear vision

Ray-Ban maker EssilorLuxottica has agreed to go ahead with its purchase of Dutch eyewear retailer GrandVision NV at the price they agreed in 2019, despite a court ruling that said it could change the terms or walk away in the context of the pandemic and its effect on retail. EssilorLuxottica CEO Francesco Milleri: "The strategic rationale of the transaction remains strong and unchanged." Fortune



Mexican weed

Mexico's Supreme Court has declared as unconstitutional the country's ban on recreational marijuana. You may recall that, a few months ago, Mexico's lower house passed a legalization bill. This ruling will probably push that through the Mexican Senate, thus creating an enormous market for legal herb. Washington Post

J&J mystery

Questions are being asked about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine's efficacy against the Delta variant of the coronavirus, due to a lack of data. J&J's vaccine is famously the one that requires only a single dose, but we now know that the two-dose vaccines are much better at warding off the effects of the Delta variant after the second dose—so will J&J recipients need a booster? NBC/AP

Munger on Ma

Here's a quote you may not have expected to emerge from Berkshire Hathaway vice-chair Charlie Munger: "The Chinese Communists did the right thing." Munger was referring to Beijing's IPO-cancelling clipping of Jack Ma and his Ant Group's wings. What's more, he added: "I don’t want…all of the Chinese system, but I certainly would like to have the financial part of it in my own country." CNBC

Blood crisis

The U.S. blood banking industry is in crisis—it's always a difficult time of year, but the pandemic has made it worse. As Fortune's Kat Eschner explains: "In the jaws of a global pandemic and a major economic downturn, altruism…may be in short supply—especially when people are finally offered the relief of a vacation or a reunion with family and friends." Fortune

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.

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