Making the case for the Chief Customer Officer Role, With Milista Anderson – CB51

Episode Overview

Milista Anderson is currently the Chief Customer Experience Officer of FIS Corporate and Digital Solutions. (FIS is a large-scale provider of financial services.) She’s been in that role for about a half-decade; back then, she had to justify the need for the role to other FIS leaders. A lot of this podcast episode is about determining the need for a CCO, setting the groundwork for one to come on, proving the work is there and business-forward, and more. The notes on this episode may be slightly shorter than usual because it was a busy week for my team and I. We will sketch out some of the key ideas below. Please feel free to listen to the whole episode when you have time.

About Milista

Anderson BlissMilista Anderson is chief customer officer for FIS’s treasury solutions business, leading the organization in its voice of the customer program and customer experience strategy.

Ms. Anderson has more than 20 years of experience in the design, development and delivery of systems, processes and organizational infrastructures within software development across diverse industries, including energy, financial services, manufacturing and education. She also has expertise in entrepreneurial business practices in insurance, health care and professional services.  She specializes in designing and improving operational models that get measurable results.

Before joining FIS, she held leadership roles in software implementation, delivery and support at energy-related companies El Paso Corporation and Dynegy, Inc.

Ms. Anderson holds a B.S. from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and M.Ed. from University of Houston.  She is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP) as well as certified Six Sigma Green Belt.  She is an IAF CertifiedTM Professional Facilitator.  She also achieved Process Management Certification through University of Texas-Austin continuing education program.  She is a graduate of Coach University program for life and business coaches and also volunteers with her local parish’s St. Vincent de Paul Society.

CCO Reporting Structure

Milista believes it’s important for a CCO to report into the CEO, although she has seen other models — including a CCO reporting to a COO or CMO. “It’s absolutely critical to report in that way,” she says, “because then it’s seen as being as important as the other executive-level leaders.”

What Is Customer Experience?

This is always interesting. I’ve asked a lot of CCOs this, and usually they have a 1-2 line idea that gets put on slides. Milista has “the sum of all relationships with your customers.” (I like it.) As the main definition was drilled into the organization, you started to hear “more conversations around the water cooler” about customer experience, how a customer will feel about different ideas, etc. It began to became a unifying topic as opposed to normal silos like product, deployment, sales, etc.

“What Are We Doing Next?”

If your customers keep telling you they need specific services or items, you absolutely have to be tactical and push-push-push on those elements. FIS had a situation where some of their software implementation required weeks and hundreds of pages of static documents. Eventually the customer experience side got it down to an online document library and less than a few days. That is what customers wanted, though, so you need to be deliberate in getting it for them.

ROI In FIS’ Business

Like any executive, Milista gets asked about ROI all the time. They tend to focus on references, referrals, and “wallet share” — meaning how much money a customer is spending with them. “Reference-able” customers are also sometimes called advocates, i.e. “Come work with FIS, because I’ve had a great time with them.” Rather than running references as an ad hoc process, they defined a program where customers could enroll to be advocates, etc. It also gives you an idea who might not be interested in their next renewal.

What’s Changed In Five Years Of Doing This Work?

“The role itself hasn’t changed that much,” she admits, “in terms of moving the culture and working on process improvement.” Relationship-building is probably even more prevalent than ever before. Relationships are one of the only things that can get you through a conversation largely dominated by profit/revenue metrics.

One of the big changes in five years is a new mantra: “Defend the customer, not our process.” It’s too often to think “Oh, we told the customer this a million times, it’s their fault and not yours.” Well, that’s ultimately going to hurt revenue.

What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Then?

  • Find three themes: … be relentless about achieving them.
  • Don’t make a big long list of the problems: … just simplify the focus.
  • Build good relationships with peers and C-Suite: … get as many people on your side as you can. Understand their agenda and work style.
  • Stay above the fray: … there is whining and complaining in any organization about internal politics and customer behavior. Rise above it.

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