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Monday, April 25, 2011

Does a company's executive pay impact the service experience?

Executive pay has been in and out of the headlines for some time now, but is there a consumer impact for companies involved?

Attention and public outcry peaked when executives of some of the financial industry companies bailed out by the U.S. government were treated to pay increases and large bonuses, even as millions were being put out of work throughout the rest of the US economy.

That outrage sparked change in the form of legislation, granting shareholders a larger hand in determining CEO pay through an up-or-down vote. While many are adopting the new standards (and many still have not) it is still being debated whether the shareholder say in CEO pay will have the desired effect.

These measures are interesting from a shareholder’s rights & corporate governance perspective, but I’m interested in executive pay from another angle.

As a consumer of service experiences, does CEO pay factor into your decisions to support or not support a business?

If you knew that CEO A received total cash compensation of 6.5M, while CEO B was paid one dollar, would it affect your brand choice if the service experience was the same?

If the company with the high CEO pay was a worse service provider than the one with low pay, does that increase your level of frustration with the brand / make you less likely to tolerate failure?

Theoretically, it shouldn’t.

The pay of a company’s CEO is not an experiential aspect of a company’s offering.

But does it enter into an evaluation of value when our sense is that an organization with a sub-par experience takes for itself through rich pay before it gives to customers through a rich experience?

Open question. I'm interested in whether this topic impacts our behavior as consumers.

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