What you’re signing up for here is to take someone running an operating area (such as customer service) and layering the cross-functional customer work on top of that. This can be done, but it takes a Chief Customer Officer with an extreme amount of energy and very robust pull in the organization.
In this option, the leader has proven optimum effectiveness in running his or her operating area (usually either the leader of customer service or marketing). In addition to running the operation, this person now layers on three more dimensions of work:
1. Creating the company discipline and skill sets for customer management (metrics, process, engagement, communication, recognition)
2. Bringing together a team of people from through out the organization to craft and drive the change.
3. Emerging as the company spokesman, leader, and communicator on the customer work.
Ideally, the work is shared with the highest company executive who also delivers these messages. Even if the CX leader is not the communicator, he or she will have a large function in crafting the messages and determining the timing to internal company and customers about the progress. This is a significant amount of new work that needs to be considered and planned.
→ Critical checkpoint: Many leaders accept this additional role without really knowing what they’re accepting. That’s why it’s critical that their operation is a well-oiled machine before layering on customer experience work. It’s also important that the leading operating area has proven to the organization it already practices optimum customer practices that others want to emulate. If the area taking on the customer experience work is known for totally annoying, disregarding, or insulting customers, then this path won’t work.
As you can see from the explanation of this structure and work, it’s not something you can strap on the back of an already loaded-down operation and expect to thrive. There will be staffing issues here and definitely commitment issues.
The functional leader who takes on the CCO role must have some straight conversations about how he or she will be rated in this new customer experience work because there won’t necessarily be tangible by-products immediately. There needs to be explicit agreement that credit will be given for moving the company along the difficult path to acknowledging and aligning for change besides just measuring the change itself.
Pros for This Option
• Usually a seasoned, well-respected leader is the one to take on this role.
• Since there’s a decent amount of selling to make this happen, consensus is in place by the time the structure is adopted.
Cons for This Option
• Significant new work is layered on top of an already full work load.
• Unless silo competition is kept at bay, it could compromise the operation’s ability to lead.
• The burden rests on the lead operating area to develop new skill sets to lead the customer work.