Next up in our Executive Q&A series is an interview with Christopherson’s Chief Strategy Officer, Josh Cameron. Josh shared insight on how Christopherson’s strategy has changed over the years and how the company is preparing for the future.
Q: Can you perhaps set the stage for us and share how Christopherson’s strategy has changed or evolved in recent years?
A: Christopherson has been in business since 1953. To stay in business successfully for nearly seventy years you’ve got to do more than a few things right and it requires a continuous commitment to development, growth, and evolution. Different eras of our business required different focus, but in recent years, I’d say our strategy is focused on creating equilibrium between the human side of service and the digital side of technology solutions.
Christopherson has always had a stellar reputation for customer service. We’ve also been known for our commitment to innovating and developing corporate travel technologies that solve problems. As we move forward, we’re looking for smarter ways to combine those two aspects of our solution in a more complimentary way. That will require what I’m calling the “productization of Christopherson”—in other words, finding ways to transform and enhance our customer-centric approach to service with or through technology, while also enriching our technology to allow for even better service.
Q: What was the catalyst or “the why” behind this new approach?
A: Businesses need to be able to solve customers’ problems more rapidly and how you do that matters. Everything we’re working on now and planning for the future is because we want to provide instantaneous resolution and instantaneous information so customers can make the best decisions for their business or perform the necessary task in that moment.
Q: How does that then affect what Christopherson’s working on now?
A: Right now we’re spending significant time and resources evaluating our core technologies, layering or redeveloping where necessary, and making sure we’ve effectively centralized the digital and human interactions between our travel agents, our clients’ travel managers, and the business travelers themselves. That’s the foundation.
We’re also making a shift in how we meet the needs of all those customers. In the past, we’ve been hyper-focused on corporate travel managers, helping them do their jobs faster, easier, and better. But as we move into this new phase of strategy, we’re also building for the business travelers and corporate travel agents as well.
We also have a renewed focus on customer-centric product development through design thinking. Every tool is measured against our strict standard of being useful, elegant, and intuitive. Every service interaction is measured against our consultative standard. Ensuring this strong core will allow us to amplify our customer-centric approach in a way that we’ve never seen as a business.
Q: Can you tell us more about the equilibrium Christopherson is working to achieve between those human and digital interactions?
A: The beautiful thing about technology is that it can solve users’ problems in the most efficient manner. What’s exciting, to me, is that as we streamline our ability to meet the needs of countless customers through technology, we free up resources, which we can then invest back into solving new problems and different needs.
That said, we’re not looking to replace people with technology. The first of our two core values is that we value people, and humans have an innate, intuitive ability to navigate both nuance and complexity that can’t be replicated digitally. The question for us is how we can make those customer interactions as efficient and personalized as possible. Because when we can do that—deliver instantaneous resolution and instantaneous information in a consultative, personalized way—it allows us to ultimately do more with less.
Q: How do you see this refocused strategy positioning Christopherson for the future?
A: When we look back on our company’s history, the years we experienced our highest growth were the years when our innovation was at its peak. As we move into this next phase of innovation with a clear vision of our renewed strategy, we feel confident it will spur an acceleration of growth, widen the differentiation between us and our competitors, and strengthen the value we create for our customers.
Q: Thank you for your time today, Josh. One last question, just for fun, what’s the best business trip you’ve ever taken?
A: Well off the top of my head, I don’t know if I’ve ever been on a trip that wasn’t a business trip because I’m always traveling with Mike. But I did really enjoy the BCD Travel meetings in Cancun a few years ago, as well as their event at the Ritz-Carlton in Tahoe. I brought my wife along with me on that one and it was fun to be together. Although I’m realizing it may have been memorable because it was our last trip alone before we had kids.