Have you recently become a chief customer officer? If you’re taking on a CCO role in a company, there’s a lot of work that has to be done to get your customer experience program off the ground and running. From getting executive buy-in, to understanding the inner workings of the organization itself, and looking for areas of opportunity, it can all seem so overwhelming.
In my last 3 podcast episodes, I shared advice from previous guests regarding the lessons learned during the implementation of a customer experience transformation. Today, we’re going to look at how two customer experience leaders prioritized the work that needed to be done when they first stepped into their roles as change agents within their organizations. I ask Kathy Tobiasen, VP of Customer Experience at Nature’s Bounty and Donna Peeples, Chief Customer Officer at Pypestream: How Do You Prioritize the CX Work to Be Done in the First Year of the CCO Role?
Listen and Understand How You Can Provide Value
Donna Peeples is a seasoned CCO who also held this role at AIG. Donna learned that when it comes to prioritizing initial work to improve customer-focused operations, you must first understand how the company defines and communicates the role and value of the CCO. From there, she recommends the following:
- Get executive buy-in from key stakeholders. Working with other decision makers will help define your success or failure as you take on the work. Get executive buy-in as early as possible. When the CEO tells the company they’re shifting to a focus on customers, this will bring a lot of power to the situation.
- Go around the company, talk to peers. Figure out how you can get to know the leaders. Have conversations with the C-Suite and your peers, it’s a two-way street. One of the most powerful things you can do is have one-on-one convos with your counterparts in different departments. This gives you the ability to understand what their agendas might be and how they think about the customer, which will be incredibly useful to your own work and determining business goals you’ll need to meet.
- Leverage the knowledge of your needs from peers. Use this knowledge to identify the capabilities and roadmap you’ll need to identify the capabilities and the roadmap that you’ll all build together to get to the place where the company needs you to be to be.
- Communicate the differences between customer service and experience. You may find that some of the executives who’ve worked outside direct contact with the customer think of this as customers service, but this work cuts across all functions of the departments and the teams have to understand that it’s not just customer service.
Donna says that this assessment process can take around 30 days. During this time of speaking to others, you’ve probably identified some glaringly obvious places where you can identify quick wins and you lay the groundwork for what’s possible.
Get people to recognize there are opportunities for improvement, connect it to the growth of the business and show them there’s a way out of this.
Determine Customer Growth, Loss, and Retention
Kathy Tobiasen has served in both B2B and B2C roles, and at The Nature’s Bounty Company, a global manufacturer of vitamins and supplements. As VP of Customer Experience, she is responsible for managing and creating good customer experiences from end to end. When I spoke to Kathy, we took a more comprehensive approach to understand what the first year in her role looked like. She described her process for assessing the work to be done as the following:
- Listen and talk to customers. Take customer calls, read emails and chat transcripts that call and I am talking to them, as well as reading emails and chat transcripts. Listen so you can understand what customers and frontline staff are saying are the challenges, so you can get to the root cause of everything. A lot of the times, it’s not any one group or any one function is causing a problem, it’s the fact that people are not working together to create the experience.
- Figure out what’s happening with customer growth. Is it going up? Is it going down? Where are you losing customers? Where are you gaining customers? As important as it is to gain customers, you need to really understand why you’re losing them. Spend time defining what each of these customers are. Get all the right people in the room, and defining what a lost customer is, what a lapsed customer is, what a new customer is.
- Get leadership involved. Walk them through the customer growth and loss process, and be clear about what these definitions mean. Then, get aligned on where you’re getting the data and create the trends. Develop trend lines so you can understand, are you growing? Are you declining? And where you’re having the challenges. Create a customer health dashboard so you can visually see what’s happening.
- Develop a process and methodology to report back findings. Work closely with the other teams in the organization in order to understand what impacts them in the customer journey. Map out the customer journey together so everyone can see how the complete customer experience comes together, and document the process.
For Kathy, it was important that she and her team were able to position themselves as a group that’s there to help the functional groups create great experiences, and do some of the heavy lifting on the documentation and process of the work, as well as driving decisions and research.
As we can see, whether you’re a CCO in a B2B or a B2C company, listening is a crucial step to prioritize when focusing on your organization’s customer experience transformation. Listening is the key to understanding the wants, needs, and concerns of all parties involved in this extensive work.
So tell me, how do you assess and prioritize the work needed to be done when you first step into a customer experience led role?
Note from Jeanne: I want to let you know that we’ve welcomed a sponsor for our show, Customerville. Until now, I have been paying for all of the expenses of the show myself. I love doing these for you – but they cost quite a bundle. This partnership ensures that I can continue these shows that you’ve shared such positive feedback on. Thanks so much to Customervillle! Enjoy the show!