Most CEO’s no longer need to be convinced of the importance of retaining customers and developing relationships with customers. What’s on their mind is how to accomplish this feat inside their organizations. With achievement in the customer work remaining elusive, organizations are now considering the creation of a high-level position to drive the action.
Throwing head count at the customer challenge is not necessarily the automatic solution. This should not be an automatic or easy decision.
The key to making that decision lies in first understanding what the work encompasses. Before you rush out and hire a CCO, take stock of where the company is culturally and decide if the time is right to bring someone in to make the big customer push.
Can you say yes to these statements? (Download the complete assessment)
1. There is someone in our company who clarifies what we are to accomplish with customers.
2. There is a clear process to drive alignment for what will be accomplished.
3. We have a roadmap for the customer work and know where progress will be measured.
4. Clear metrics exist for measuring progress which everyone agrees to use.
5. There is real clarity of everyone’s roles and responsibilities.
6. People really participate and care about the customer work.
7. Appropriate resources are allocated to make a real difference to customers.
8. There is an understandable process for people to work together.
9. The work is considered attainable.
10. A process exists for marketing achievements to customers and internally.
11. Recognition and reward is wired to motivate customer work.
Is anyone taking these actions?
Is anyone even thinking about them?
Does anyone have the time to?
Don’t just ask these questions, stew over them. Debate them with top leadership and board. Whatever you decide, driving customer profitability isn’t going to be a walk in the park. Is it realistic in your organization to divide and conquer these tasks? If you can, your organization is well adjusted. Having the operational areas own the responsibility and having them share the administrative parts of this work would be heaven. But I haven’t seen many evolved companies that are ready for this. It’s the pushing and prodding part of the work that most companies need someone to spearhead. That becomes the role of the Chief Customer Officer.
If you decide to proceed with a Chief Customer Officer exploration, make sure that you have consensus to go ahead with the role. The people whose sandbox the CCO will be in frequently had better agree up front to the company and to the discomfort that’s to come as a result of the work. Think hard about your appetite and aptitude for the work. Temper this with the fact that this is at minimum a five-year journey. Pace yourself.
There are four ways you can go with organizational structure: