Ten Aptitudes of a Successful Customer Leader

Leadership Aptitudes

A successful Chief Customer Officer/Customer Leader can:

  • Bring folks together who don’t normally work together.
  • Establish clarity out of the complexity that surrounds who does what on projects for “customers.”
  • Break the work into manageable chunks so that it doesn’t get abandoned.
  • Develop “ownership” of the work by the operating areas.
  • Consider their success as enabling the operating areas to focus and change.

Ten Customer Leadership Aptitudes

Here are the ten customer leadership aptitudes of people who are the most successful in the customer experience mission:

1. Revenue = Attention
A Customer Leader has got to be able to make and prove this case to gain executive and board support. Customer Leaders must attach CX work to the profitability of the business.

2. Make Them Listen
A Customer Leader translates the customer information into compelling, disruptive and engaging nuggets of information.  They make people WANT to have more…to crave knowing more.

3. Guerrilla Metrics
A Customer Leader gets the customer on the agenda of every key meeting.  Customers are discussed as humans, as people we either kept or drove away. Customer Leaders make it painful to ignore the fact that our actions every day either grow or shrink the customer base.

4. Persist!
A Customer Leader handles thrives in the face of resistance. They are comfortable persisting, even when they’ve been turned down.

5. Action, Not Banners and Coffee Mugs
The Customer Leader’s job is to make it real and keep it that way.  The corporate memory keepers have little patience for empty commitment to the customer. The company will need to see change to believe that the commitment is real.

6. Survival of the Chameleon

Customer Leaders understand the functions of the organization. Most importantly, Customer Leaders need to know the players and what their hot buttons are.  Use this knowledge to thrive as a chameleon, modifying approaches as necessary to connect with each part of the organization.

7. Keep the Troops Positive
Customer Leaders with teams need to constantly work to honor the folks working so hard on a long-term set of actions. Where other operations have their own score card to track success, the success of your team is measured in the success of others. Keep your team positive by celebrating all the steps of achievement along the way so they know how they are contributing.

8. Market Back – Marketing HOPE
In a Customer Leadership job, you must understand what customers and the company needs, deliver it to them, and remind them that you gave it to them.

Marketing back helps customers believe that the company is listening and acting on their words. It jolts the naysayer out of thinking things can’t or won’t get done. It’s absolutely essential to getting the future momentum you need by feeding the organization hope one morsel at a time

9. Create Urgency
Customer Leaders clarify for the organization exactly which issues and experiences are keeping or repelling customers. They simplify the work, and with that simplicity, make it easier and more compelling for people to want to take action!

10. Give the Power Away
Astute Customer Leaders understand that this unique power they possess cannot be abused; in fact, it must be given away.

With strong advocate partnerships, one of the greatest tools a Customer Leader has to continue motivating participation is having people present their own actions, and putting them front and center to take the credit.

Additional Reading:

One thought on “Ten Aptitudes of a Successful Customer Leader

  1. @Jeanne, fantastic list, thank you! One of my favorites is #3. What are your recommended practical methods for CCOs to “know their customers as people”? In my experience the problem with traditional surveys is that they quickly become static. CCOs who have access to real-time, continuous information have a huge advantage for keeping cx on colleagues’ radar screens.

    For #8, what about when customers want something that the org can’t deliver due to operational constraints? Or that it doesn’t want to deliver? Is part of #8 interacting with customers to try to reset expectations if the org is unwilling to deliver?

    Finally, do you advocate using customer experiences with competitors/substitutes as long as it’s not done in a shaming manner? I have found that can be highly motivating for execs, once one has developed some degree of trust with them.


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