Note: On June 2, I’ll be presenting at a Vision Critical webinar on the rise of the chief customer officer. The following is a preview of the content you can expect from this exclusive, live webinar.
Customer Experience is not a new idea
In 1984, as I lead the customer experience strategy at Lands’ End, I helped map the company’s customer journey and identify 267 touchpoints, narrowing that list down to the key 15 that were most critical to our customers. When the company went public in 1987, I walked the analysts through the stages of the customer journey, connecting the dots for them between the emotions at key intersections and business growth.
However, the acceptance of customer experience as a differentiator to grow your business is new to most companies. This appreciation for delivering a comprehensive one-company experience brings with it a new appreciation for the need for a Chief Customer Officer to unite the organization in understanding and developing the competencies to work in this manner.
Three Market Conditions
I’ve identified three market conditions that have compelled leaders and organizations to focus on their customer experience strategy:
- After years of CEOs asking their organizations to become customer-focused, it has become plainly apparent that the silos do not organically unite. In fact, some might argue that departmental silos have become more robust as channels such as mobile have emerged within organizations. While these are critical to give customers the options they want for how to do business with a company, their often-independent operations and key performance indicators deliver the company’s organization chart to the customer, rather than a one-company experience.
- Social media has put the megaphone in customers’ hands to tell the story of their experience of your brand. I am supremely grateful for this forcing function that has leaders around the world prioritizing experience that earns the rave of their customers. The key here is to earn it—not make social media a marketing campaign, or something to go “get” from customers.
- During the economic downturn, a shift in understanding took hold that nurturing existing customers is more profitable than acquiring new customer. I’ve been espousing and proving the return on investment in focusing on the customer base for many, many years. Now the message has finally caught on. Chief Executives and Chief Financial Officers, the two leaders most needed to commit to this shift, are coming on board, as the math on the profitability cannot be refuted.
With this increasing focus to “do customer experience” comes a responsibility inside organizations to “do” it correctly. This work is not about programs or simply fixing what’s broken. It’s about embedding new skills inside the organization for how they will and will not grow. I call these Customer Experience Leadership Competencies in my book Chief Customer Officer 2.0: How to Build Your Customer Driven Growth Engine. Competency three, which connects most directly to the content in The Enterprise Guide to Customer Experience, an e-book authored by Tyler Douglas, chief sales and marketing officer at Vision Critical, is “Building a Customer Listening Path” to tell the story of customers’ lives.
What Makes Customer Experience Stick?
For customer experience to stick and be embedded into the business, it must connect to tell the story of customers’ lives—so that people are compelled to do something about it. I wish you well in your journey.
To learn more about the rise of the chief customer officer and what it means for the customer experience practice, join me in this Vision Critical webinar on June 2.
A version of this blog post first appeared on the Vision Critical blog.