Changing customer needs was identified as a top local challenge in the 2017 Central Ohio CEO Survey conducted by Capital University for Columbus CEO. Here are how some past CEO of the Year honorees are addressing it.

Sandra Harbrecht, president, CEO and owner, Paul Werth Associates

Top managers now consider questions about positioning, engagement and reputation-building. CEOs today see enhancing the company’s reputation with all of its constituencies as a critical aspect of their role and are driving these conversations. Previously, these responsibilities often were delegated—until something occurred that captured the CEO’s attention. Marketing, digital and creative expertise have become deeply integrated into our public relations counsel—largely because people are forming their opinions of organizations and individuals through a more complex web of media channels and networks both on and off the web—including earned, owned, shared and paid channels.

John P. McConnell chairman and CEO, Worthington Industries

The more we can help them with innovative ideas or assist them beyond the scope of fulfilling an order, the better. We set our expectations high for customer satisfaction by doing all we can to ensure on-time delivery and in producing the best products and services. It is our job to exceed their expectation, and we do that by being a partner with them. We work with them on forecasting, material needs, new product development, new packaging, and we look for ways for both of us to be efficient and effective in our businesses. If our customers are successful, then we are successful. We have always had that attitude toward the people and companies we are in business to serve.

Stephen Steinour, president and CEO, Huntington Bank

Customer desires and needs are always changing, but their expectations are clear: Companies must listen to what they want and deliver smart solutions to help them. At Huntington, our purpose is to help make people’s lives better, and we do that by proactively caring for their financial futures. Asking our customers how we can help them, and then listening to and understanding them, informs our response. A central part of our strategy is a human-led, technology-enabled approach to looking out for people. We invest in technologies and features, which meet customer needs—and sometimes much more.

Elizabeth Blount McCormick, president and co-owner, UNIGLOBE Travel Designers

Our business was founded on the motto: “The customer is always right, even when they’re wrong,” and that is as true today as it was at the start. We pride ourselves on putting the client first and regularly putting ourselves in their shoes. The customer is the source of our business and because of that, we have a strategic and high-expectation service level agreement that every employee must adhere to. In that agreement, we vow to quickly respond to each request so that a customer feels cared for and appreciated from the first point of contact all the way to their return from a trip. We want to ensure each customer is treated exceptionally and is “surprised and delighted.”

Bill Owens, executive director, Clintonville-Beechwold Community Resources Center

Our customer is our clients and/or donors who are experiencing or want to address a social problem. Assess. Plan. Intervene. Repeat. Our job is to help assess the situation, plan for an intervention, intervene and then start the process again. We evaluate our impact, reassess the situation, plan further intervention and carry it out until the initial concern is fully alleviated. This process often reveals new issues, and this is where we can rise to the occasion to address emerging issues that affect our quality of life. Coupled with our approach to being rigid with our mission and flexible with the means of carrying it out we and our customers will always win!

Central Ohio corporate and nonprofit executives can provide contact information to participate in the 2018 CEO Survey at capital.edu/ceo-survey. The survey will be available in August.