"A Chief Customer Officer is successful when he or she can simplify how the organization works together to achieve customer-driven growth, engage the leadership team, and connect the work to a return on investment."
Jeanne Bliss, author of Chief Customer Officer 2.0 was one of the first to hold this position and has since made the world realize its importance. After being the CCO (Chief Customer Officer) for several large companies (including Lands’ End, Mazda, and Microsoft), she co-founded the Customer Experience Professional Association and started her own company, CustomerBliss, which allows her to help other companies achieve customer-driven growth.
Part of what has made Jeanne so successful, and what she shares with us in this book, is her five competency model:
- Manage and honor customers as assets
- Align around experiences
- Build a customer listening path
- Embed experience reliability and innovation
- Lead company accountability, leadership, and decision making
Aim to Improve Your Customer’s Life
"Embracing your customers as assets shifts the attitude of leaders and ultimately the organization, because the purpose is to earn the right to growth by improving the lives of customers. When you improve their lives, the high scores will follow. They will. But the shift is to start work with the customer’s life, not the score. And that is no small shift."
Jeanne explains how most companies are addicted to surveys and use this to drive their customer experience. The problem with this is that it captures what customers think they will do as opposed to focusing on what actually has happened and why, which is at the core of her five competencies.
Two other things her model emphasizes are improving customer lives and breaking down silos.
The heart of your product/service should be to improve your customers’ lives. If that drives your product/service and your decisions, and if that drives the questions you ask and your customer experience choices, then you will grow due to the value you provide and you will deserve to do so.
But for these decisions to be effective, leadership needs to break down all the company silos. Every function needs to be focusing on improving customer experience and lives, and every function needs to be working together to roll out improvements. If the leadership team is not aligned and behind this goal, and working together to ensure its success, it will be impossible to get the rest of the company to do so.
Fix the Problem Before You Lose the Customer
"By establishing a competency for managing the process performance of key touchpoints that make or break your relationship with customers, you can start taking actions before customer relationships have eroded, causing customers to depart."
Companies know that efficient processes and measurements are important, but many focus all of this on their “power core” (what they’re in business for; e.g., product, sales, IT, etc.), rather than on understanding what is working and not within their customer experience. It is vital to develop these customer experience processes so that you can step-in and fix an eroding relationship. As many have said, it’s a lot easier to lose a customer than gain one.
Jeanne suggests many ideas and processes that would help with this, but I will just highlight a few:
- Give your team permission to resolve customer issues without needing to wait for approval.
- Create a “stop list” so that all can focus energies and resources on things that are effective.
- Discuss customer data in whole numbers, not ratios, so you can more clearly see the impact.
Experience Needs to Be Consistent and Reliable
"When you deliver a reliable experience, you earn the right to your customers’ story through word of mouth. And your customers will come back because they want to have your experience again."
Once you’ve figured out how to improve your customers’ lives and have the systems in place to understand what they want, you need to make sure that the experience you’re providing is consistent and reliable. Once you do so, not only will they come back for more, but they will be happy to share their great experience with their friends, both through word of mouth and through social media.
As per a stat Jeanne shares, “92% of consumers worldwide trust recommendations from friends and family more than any form of advertising.” That’s a huge number and free! Here’s another astounding stat: 300% is the “revenue gained by reducing negative word-of-mouth versus improving positive ‘buzz’.”
Given the above stats, the ROI on providing consistently reliable good customer experience clearly outweighs anything else a company can do. I know from personal experience that I’ve given up on apps or products if they were inconsistent, and I’m probably not the most impatient consumer out there.
Most companies have customers of one sort or other and most companies claim to be customer-focused, but Jeanne points out how few truly are and what it takes for them to get there.
Instead of spending time on surveys and then having each function try to fix the problem separately, a company needs to be aligned and working together, figure out how to gather multiple sources of customer input, and then how to offer their customers what they want consistently and reliably.
If leadership truly recognizes the value of this for continued growth, then having someone own this critical function—a CCO—makes sense. But they will have to support this person and give them a seat at the table and the resources to do the job well.
Have you worked for a company that was truly customer-focused? What did they do differently?