Over my career, I’ve done a lot of work around customer experience journeys, voice of the customer assessments, and helping global clients create exceptional customer experiences, which has made me aware of the work of Jeanne Bliss. She is the founder and president of Customer Bliss, the author of Chief Customer Officer 2.0: How to Build Your Customer-Driven Growth Engine, and cofounder of the Customer Experience Association. That’s quite a resume.
In Chief Customer Officer 2.0 she describes five competencies of a Chief Customer Officer. Here I add my own perspective to hers:
- Honor and manage customers as assets. This is asset management applied to relationships. Becoming a customer-driven business requires transformation driven by specific questions, such as “how many net-new customers in terms of volume and value, did we acquire this last year?” which sheds a bright light on your acquisition engine. “How many customers have we lost this past year, in terms of value and volume?” which highlights both the power of the experiences you create and market perceptions of the value you deliver. I love that Bliss talks about growth through loss of a customer base as well as acquisition. As a reminder, metrics and compensation drive desired behaviors, so the view of customers as assets requires an organization-wide commitment to driving those behaviors.
- Align around experience. A company’s structure and resources have to make customer experiences central. Many companies are very good at silo touchpoints: Sales does a good job but installation screws it up, or the product is fantastic but the customer support is terrible. Until you create cross-silo accountability, you are not going to be able to deliver an intentional, deliberate relationship-centric experience. Culturally, you have to cascade that down to everyone. If you are hiring more resources, put them near where the edge of business happens—on the street. They can be corporate resources, but have them live in the field, where they can maximize value delivery.
- Build a customer listening path. I’ll call this the engine to listen louder. The point is, you need one integrated system to gather qualitative and quantitative experience data from multiple data sources across the organization. This helps you create an environment where different parts of the organization see their contribution as part of one company narrative. As a consultant, if I walk into a company and hear “us and them” or “those guys,” I know that company is not performing optimally. If you are going to carry the business card, wear the shirt and drive the truck; your behavior must reflect one company manner and brand story.
- Proactive experience reliability and innovation. Here Bliss reminds me of the ocean sensors designed to give early warning of tsunamis by reporting fluctuation in water levels. What if companies had a REVENUE EROSION early warning system? What if you understood early in the journey those marquee moments that alert you that the customer experience you deliver is not as reliable as it should be? If you knew, “Customer X is going to drop us like a hot potato the moment this project is done,” could you then do something about it sooner than later? I believe it is fundamental to proactively develop the mechanisms, the resources, and the tools to know about experience problems BEFORE customers tell you.
- One-company leadership, accountability and culture. Probably the biggest hurdle I encounter in my consulting is that leaders must make exceptional customer experience more than a slogan. It has to be more than a manifesto. It is fundamentally about the choices leaders make, the actions they take, the accountability they demonstrate, the sense of customer-centricity that they infuse into that culture. Those who do it well frequently use what I call “proof examples.” They capture, share and celebrate proofs that customer-centricity works. By doing so they build a very consistent set of behaviors, decision-making processes, and customer engagement opportunities that set them apart from their competitive peers.
I look forward to interviewing Jeanne Bliss for my forthcoming book with St. Martins Press, CO-CREATE. In the meantime, it’s good to know that we’re on the same page regarding the centrality of customer experience, and the need for companies to build these five competencies.
- Jeanne Bliss, author of Chief Customer Officer 2.0: How to Build Your Customer-Driven Growth Engine, has identified five competencies companies must master to deliver exceptional customer experiences.
- When customers are seen as an asset, a company can structure itself to maximize that asset through listening louder and delivering reliably great experiences.
- Leaders have to infuse a culture of customer-centricity throughout their organizations, using “proof examples” that model the right behaviors and processes.