Last year, Walmart added a chief customer officer role to better align its digital and brick-and-mortar business, especially as competition from Amazon continues to increase. Their goal is to keep the customer at the center of its operations. Mastercard, Neiman Marcus, and many others have added this high-level position to their C-suite as well, increasing their focus on customer growth and relationships.
Other organizations have moved into this realm by creating a hybrid Chief Marketing Officer/Chief Customer (Experience) Officer. I’d say this is an indicator that a senior-level role with a focus on customer growth is in demand. Whether you’re currently a CCO, looking to become a CCO, or a C-Suite leader who manages customer relations within your organization, there are a few key principles and ideas that you should be familiar with if you want to be successful.
1. Foster Good Employee Experience
Understand that your people, your team, is your biggest asset. If you want happy customers, you need happy employees. Do your due diligence in fostering proper communication and engagement internally. As Rosalyn Curato, CCO of Allovue said in our interview, a big part of your role will be ensuring that you’re communicating the right information to the right people and that there’s a timely cascade of information throughout the organization.
2. Determine What Type of CCO You Report To or Want To Be
Now, if you’re a C-Suite leader who reports to a CCO, it’s critical that you know how to speak their language. In order to drive your CX work, you and your CCO have to be on the same page. You will need to determine if your CCO is a North Star-based leader or an ROI-based leader. The North-Star leader will recognize that by focusing on earning the right to growth through behaviors, you can build a different kind of business. An ROI-based leader will focus on the financial outcome and payout for every action taken.
3. Break Down Silos and Communicate One Message
For CCOs leading a large scale/global organization, it’s critical that you understand where the silos are in your organization. It will be your job to integrate these departments and/or teams. As a CCO, you will have to embed the idea of customer-centricity across the whole organization, not just one department, says Yamini Rangan, CCO of Dropbox. Listen to our conversation, here.
Curt Balara, CCO of Bel Brands also has great advice for bringing together different brands within a company to align under shared goals.
4. Align with the Core Values
As a CCO, you have to ensure that the actions of you, your team, and the business as a whole, align with the organization’s core values. As Aurelia Pollet, VP of Customer Experience at Exemplis shared with me on the podcast, these values need to guide day-to-day decisions. It’s also helpful to hire employees whose personality fits within the organization so that it’s already a good cultural fit.
5. Prepare Yourself to Move Around Different Industries
The great thing about being a CCO is that you can move across verticals. You don’t have to stay in one industry – and I’m speaking from experience. I’ve been a CCO in the auto industry, in technology, real estate, and others. One of the keys to being successful as a CCO in any vertical is honing your ability to unite the C-Suite. You will need to truly learn how to describe and define the business of the business and consistently drive accountability.
6. Know Your Audience and How to Best Meet Their Needs
You will need to know who your audience is and what they value beyond surveys and NPS scores. Ask yourself, how are you meeting the customers’ goals? Do you spend time listening to your customers and speaking with them? Do you know why they use your service or product and how you could best meet their needs? As Alison Circle, CCO of the Columbus library shared, it’s not just about providing books to be checked out, it’s about learning how to engage these patrons throughout the various stages of their lives.
7. Be the Disrupter or Prepare For Industry Disruptions
One thing is for certain, customer needs and behaviors are always changing. And it’s these customer behaviors that can disrupt your industry and how business is done. But if you take the time to truly understand your customers, as mentioned above, you can step up to the challenge. Consumers want options and convenience. Are you making things easy for your audience? Are your company’s behaviors value-creating or value-eroding? Companies like Amazon, Walmart, Spotify, and Chewy have found ways to provide value and support for their customers that help them stay ahead of the curve. Be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to the everchanging needs of customers.