Ten must dos for chief customer officers

Colin Shaw

CX expert and blogger Colin Shaw’s top tips for CCOs to help drive a company-wide customer experience focus

The role of a Chief Customer Officer (CCO) is to represent the customer at the executive level – and to ensure that customer experience is at the forefront of a company’s concerns. But such a mandate can be at odds with a company’s underlying aim: to control costs and increase profits.

In light of this potential conflict, a CCO must be diplomatic, strategic and patient in order to affect meaningful change. The following list is my top 10 must-dos to achieve this.

1. Ensure that you have both responsibility and authority

An increasing number of organisations have taken the key step of including a CCO in their management team. But almost half are not part of their executive management team, according to Forrester research.

This is a mistake. You cannot have full responsibility unless you have the complete authority to make decisions that accomplish your goals. Moreover, it shows an organisation is fully committed to the customer experience.

2. Collaborate across your organisation

The role of CCO requires exemplary collaboration skills across the entire organisation. First and foremost, a CCO needs to be a good listener so they can understand each department’s requirements so they can come up with mutually beneficial solutions. Once this solution is found it must be delivered in firm – as well as agreeable – way to avoid any backsliding on your aims.

3. Measure your impact

A vital aspect of your job is to measure your impact on your organisation. Therefore, you need to measure every customer touch point. However, avoid getting hung up on individual issues and remember that the whole customer experience is worth more than the sum of the parts.

4. Promote a culture of responsibility across all departments

When there are examples of poor customer experience in your organisation you need to be able to identify and hold accountable the department responsible. You need to be able to pinpoint the problem and hold that department’s feet to the fire – in a pleasant way of course!

5. Know your value as an organisation and what drives that value

Half of a customer’s experience is about how they feel. You need to fully understand your organisation’s emotional signature – and how that drives value or increases customer spending, loyalty or retention – and find ways to improve or increase this emotional connection.

6. Listen to the VOC and conduct customer research constantly

Knowing what your customers are saying about your organisation is the lifeblood of your department. The Voice of the customer (VOC) can be heard through customer research, letting you know how your customer experience efforts are translating into real customers’ experiences.

7. Develop a pay structure based on customer experience measures across the organisation

Every department should have their bonuses tied into customer experience measures. This idea was used by Voxeo’s CCO Anne Bowman to help quantify and prioritise the customer experience into the consciousness of every department at the Orlando-based telecommunications company.

It’s a great idea to measure your results because what gets measured gets done and as everyone knowns what gets paid gets done more.

8. Understand that a customer experience is not just rational elements

One of the many challenges of the CCO position is the nebulous nature of your directive. Customer experience isn’t just a bunch of numbers on a spreadsheet. Numbers play a part in the experience, but it’s also about customers’ emotional and subconscious interactions. Being able to understand what a customer says and what they do can be entirely different.

9. Implement internal changes

As the customer’s representative in your organisation, you may need to make internal changes where necessary that foster an environment of customer centricity.

10. Remember that people are happy… until you ask them to do something

Many departments may be perfectly happy to agree that customer experience is important to the future of your organisation. They may be happy to arrange a meeting about the topic. But know that once you begin to push for change in their department, their enjoyment level will drop, as will their level of cooperation. This is common in company politics.

With your collaborations skills, exceptional commitment to listening and creating mutually beneficial solutions, and pleasant but firm approach, you will be able to navigate this hurdle and emerge on the other side as a successful and valued team member.