A Conversation with the CCO of VMWare, Scott Bajtos – CB36

Podcast Episode Overview

One of the most interesting things about this episode to me is where Scott began his pathway to the CCO role. Namely: Human Resources. You don’t see as many CCOs come from HR, but it makes sense. One of Scott’s first key roles, for example, was building out an employee retention strategy. Employees are essentially internal customers, so the tie to working with — and providing value for — external customers isn’t as big of a leap as we sometimes think. In fact, engaging employees en route to customer advocacy is a major way Scott has driven growth in his career. If you take anything from this episode, I would take that aspect: a relentless focus on your employees and internal stakeholders can be just as effective (or more) than a focus on KPIs and external stakeholders. (Obviously you want a focus in both areas.)

About Scott

From his LinkedIn: Scott Bajtos Jeanne BlissScott Bajtos joined VMware in 2009 and oversees the company’s global services team, which includes education, technical support, professional services support and customer advocacy to ensure a best in class pre and post sales experience for customers and partners. With over 26 years of experience in the software and services industry, Bajtos brings a strong background in customer support operations and customer loyalty.

Most recently, Bajtos worked for SAP and served as Executive Vice President and general manager. He has created global customer advocacy programs aimed at strengthening customer loyalty while maximizing revenue and satisfaction at a variety of companies, including Business Objects and Cadence Design Systems. Prior to joining SAP, Bajtos worked for Business Objects, and served as executive vice president and chief customer satisfaction officer, as well as several other executive and management level positions. Prior to joining Business Objects, Bajtos served as vice president of customer care at Marimba, Inc., an Internet infrastructure management solution provider. He also served as vice president of the Office of Customer Advocacy at Cadence Design Systems, where he created the company’s global customer advocacy program aimed at strengthening customer loyalty while maximizing revenue and satisfaction. Bajtos holds a bachelor of arts degree from Saint Mary’s College of California.

The Three Phases of the CCO Role

Most CCOs have to do some degree of “packaging” around their role. Scott was no different. He saw his role as three phases:

Phase 1: Determining what the core competency of the organization was with regard to customer-driven growth. In Scott’s estimation, it was customer listening. (This is one of my five competencies as well.)

Phase 2: Driving research and development. In this case, Scott wanted better systems for how the organization takes feedback, channels it, and uses it towards better decision-making and service improvements.

Phase 3: The people. Once the logistics (above) were defined and settled, Scott wanted to make sure the necessary skills were embedded in management teams. In order to grow end-to-end experiences, you need strong managers and strong front-line employees. This is the stage where his background in HR helped a lot.

The Internal Stakeholders

Quick note here, as you’ll hear it throughout the podcast episode: many companies have a relentless focus on customers and metrics related to customers. That is great! Often, those companies are very, very successful. But when companies do that and begin ignoring their internal stakeholders (employees) in the process, the success isn’t long-lived. Turnover hurts businesses, and people who don’t feel connected to the work will turn over. It’s hard to drive customer-based growth if your internal team is always recruiting, hiring, and training new people. You need a focus internally and externally.

The “Pay It Forward” Question

I ask all my guests: What do you know NOW that you wish you knew THEN? Scott’s answer:

  • Invest in your systems early. This makes the processes more streamlined, and it leads to less rebuilding in the future.
  • Embed employee recognition: You want to catch employees doing things right and reward them/acknowledge them instantly. You must — absolute must — build recognition and reward that drive the good behaviors early on. Otherwise, it’s a lot of catch-up and course-correcting. Incentive structures are important, and cannot exist only at the highest levels. (Obviously the highest levels will reap more rewards in good business periods, but the incentives must extend all throughout the employee base.)
  • Be nimble: Rigidity in constantly-shifting customer environments is bad.
  • Engage leadership: They need to know what you’re doing, why it matters, and most importantly why it matters to them and what they’re evaluated on. Engaged leadership means more problem-solvers and collaborators when the fire drills and challenges come down the pike, too.

Be back on Thursday with a new post about CCOs and headcount. Have a great week!

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