As we start off 2018 with the focus of continuously improving customer experience work, talking about the role of the Chief Customer Officer (CCO) is a great place to start. According to an AdAge article from 2016, this position has been on the rise since the early 2000s – and as of 2014, nearly a quarter of Fortune 100 companies had a CCO (or something akin to it). Why is the CCO role so important? Because the CCO leads customer experience and is tasked with improving the business engine through customer-driven growth – they are always thinking through a customer first lens.
During this CX process, it’s critical that the CCO “earns” the right to people’s engagement in the work across the organization. I’ve learned from former clients and CX leaders I’ve interviewed on my podcast, that in order to earn the engagement from leaders, you have to show how the framework for fueling the growth engine simplifies and improves the processes of running the business.
In order for your customer experience process to be sustainable and drive long-term transformation, it needs to be based on a company-unifying framework.
When the CCO works with a united leadership team to remove reactivity in a very deliberate way, they can engage in proactive decision-making opportunities to tackle four big culprits that cause CX work to stall: silo based prioritization and investment, capacity creation, holding people accountable, and annual planning.
4 Culprits That Hinder Customer-Driven Growth
#1. Silo-based Prioritization and Investment
Current prioritization: Silo-based operations often go separately to the (well-intended) survey dashboard to dissect data question by question, rather than by customer journey. Silos tend to cherry-pick projects they believe will drive the “lift” on survey question scores that can be attributable back to them. Unfortunately, this drives prioritization of multiple projects all coming from different silo-based points of view – giving a false positive that customers’ interests and needs are being focused on when they really aren’t.
Future prioritization: Take a one-company approach as leaders traverse the customer journey on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis to select the few impactful priorities versus the many silo-based priorities.
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#2. Work is Layered On and Capacity Creation is Not Addressed
Current prioritization: In most organizations, when new cross-functional teams are assembled to react to squeaky-wheel customer issues, these teams tax already busy people. These reactively assembled projects feel layered onto the “real” work of participants. Fatigue, exhaustion, and feelings of “Why are we doing this?” ensue.
Future prioritization: Line up projects under the stages of the experience. Line up all the projects from the silos and give visibility to duplicate actions and capacity drain. Moving forward, the disciplined process for accountability with leaders that comes out of a customer room process establishes a protocol for making trade-offs in a united manner. Leaders decide together what projects stay and what projects go.
#3. Lack of Rigor in Holding People Accountable
Current accountability: Squeaky-wheel issues lobbed to operational areas or cross-functional teams to “take a look” are inconsistent in rigor and process. What success looks like is not clearly understood or agreed upon. In general, there’s not a regularly understood set of actions and outcomes when “take a look at it” is requested. And more to the point, the “take a look at it” cycle by its very nature is reactive.
Future accountability: Teams are assembled by the entire leadership team and tasked to deliver a monthly set of predetermined action items until they are implementing a solution. They’re guided to diagnose problems and propose customer-centric solutions by a professional customer experience facilitator. When a solution takes hold and customer complaints on the issue start to decline, the teams can be rewarded – based on improving customers’ lives.
#4. Annual Planning and IT Investment
Current annual planning: Largely a silo-by-silo endeavor. Planning starts with each silo’s budget allocated, existing projects, ad their scorecards. Customer experience priorities are established separately by silo, as a result of the uncoordinated plans built by each. For this reason, annual planning is the Achilles’ heel of delivering a one-company customer experience.
Future annual planning: Should start with the framework of the customer journey. The customer room meeting that is held with all leadership before annual planning trends and accumulates the year’s information to unite and inform leaders of focus and priorities. Leaders debate and agree – and decisions are made which comprehensively connect product, sales, IT, customer experience, service priorities. Then the money is doled back out to the silos to plan.
While the five competencies frame the work to be done in your role as a CCO, it’s the attitudinal shifts in leadership thinking and behaviors along with your engagement to unite leaders, that will determine the successful transformation of your business. You can find more instructions and details to this framework in my book, Chief Customer Officer 2.0: How to Build Your Customer-Driven Growth Engine.