Required Reading: CCOs and the Power Core
Despite lip service and their best intentions, most executives only sing about being customer-centric and don't actually deliver on that promise. Different divisions and departments in corporations can fail to communicate and act as a team, creating silos instead of superior customer service. Drawing on her firsthand experience at top companies, author Jeanne Bliss provides guidance in her new book, Chief Customer Officer. CRM
magazine's Colin Beasty took some time to speak with Bliss.
magazine: What will readers find most interesting about your book?
Bliss: A lot of other customer guru books get into the proper metrics, but this book gets into the operational execution of them. I talk about the power core, which is where the power of the company is coming from. Is the company an IT-based company, or a marketing-based or sales-based company? It's important for a CCO to identify the power core as a priority, then get real with it and figure out if she is willing to add in all the other competencies that are required to become a customer-centric company. If she's not, you're going to run into a brick wall.
magazine: Why is becoming a customer-centric company such a tough sell for executives?
Bliss: Becoming customer-focused is hard work. Every CEO says he wants to be customer focused and will proclaim it to anybody who is listening, but not address any of the systemic issues that created the mess for customers in the first place. Many don't understand that the mess they've created is a direct result of how they've run their business. CEOs need to change the metrics that measure results, change the mechanics to force business silos to work together, and change the motivation of how they reward and compensate their people. Employees want to do what's right for the customer, but if you give them a choice between helping the customer and getting a raise thanks to a solid quarterly report, which one do you think they're going to do?
magazine: Why should a company have a CCO?
Bliss: A CCO creates a unified approach and allows somebody at the executive level to define the customer experience. When you ask most companies about their customer experience, the answer is as varied as the number of people you ask the question to. If a company can't even define its customer experience, how can it possibly understand what the handoffs are and how to manage against those handoffs? The CCO defines the customer experience to create clarity around where the handoffs between the silos are, because that is the customer Bermuda Triangle--that's where we lose customers. Finally, they create accountability throughout the enterprise.
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