You’ve probably heard it before at shareholder meetings or read it in annual reports: "We're shaping our business to deliver amazing customer experiences". While the intent is admirable, delivering on that promise is likely the difference between prosperous growth and a slow demise. It requires more than just organizational shuffling. It demands a complete re-thinking of traditional business functions - in particular, the very fundamental changes impacting companies have been building for decades and now are coalescing around the power of the customer and how the old concept of the sales process has changed forever.
From pear shaped…
Traditionally, organizations have structured themselves in silos. Siloed structures put everything in order. They keep business units focused on their own KPIs. They look impressive on organizational charts. Plus, they make it easy for the C-suite to isolate and measure performance – or lack thereof.
Only one thing is missing from this tidy arrangement: the customer.
As customer choice and promiscuity have grown, so too has the importance of customer experience. Without the ability to coordinate and collaborate towards achieving optimized customer outcomes, siloed organizations are putting the people who pay their wages at the bottom of their priorities.
A simple example is how call centre performance is typically measured on managing call time. Call centre KPIs drive service agent behavior. Often that means getting the ticket out of their queue and into someone else's as quickly as possible. This siloed thinking can lead service agents to keep on top of their KPIs at the expense of everything else - including solving the customer's issue.
…to customer shaped
Companies have long realized that they need to get their business units collaborating more effectively. Since around 2000 this has spawned tech startups offering collaboration solutions, as if a few layers of tech will magically solve the problem of cross-silo effectiveness.
More than technology ‘patches’, successfully-evolving businesses will have to remodel themselves on four pillars: Brand, People, Data and Innovation (see Notes below). These 4 pillars are the foundation on which a Chief Customer Officer can thrive and add tremendous value - no other factors will matter more in the years ahead.
This remodeling upon Brand, People, Data and Innovation is not intended as universal. Nor is it a set and forget solution. It's simply an essential first step to coping with the age of customer omnipotence.
1. People will perform one or more roles depending on the size of company. For just about any size company the role of Chief Customer Officer is essential.
2. There are 4 pillars that form the foundations of the company - Brand, People, Data and Innovation.
3. Brand is the beating heart of the company and the company forms around its concept of “brand”. What does this company represent? How will it behave? What will be its contribution to our society?
4. People, from the Founder/s to the senior staff and including contractors and suppliers, will be a key competitive advantage.
5. Data is one of the 4 pillars on which your company will grow and prosper. This function incorporates responsibility to gather and leverage data and the use of A.I.
6. Innovation has to be a pillar and has to become part of the fabric of the company.
7. Customer is in effect the raison d'être of the business. Nothing is more important than “Customer”.
8. The Chief Customer Officer is basically the most critical role of all and has responsibility for the entire Customer Journey, including working to win back a customer who’s churned away. Reporting to the CCO is the GM of Customer Growth, previously known as GM or VP of Sales. This new structure reflects the enormous changes that have occurred in the traditional notion of the sales process and how customers are now very much in control. The role of GM or VP Customer Loyalty can be interchangeable with titles like Customer Success, Customer Service and incorporate Customer Support.
9. The remaining positions are the traditional roles, of COO, CFO and CTO. There is a strong argument that over time the CTO role could become part of a shared services platform rather than the notion that an organizations technology services team is a competitive advantage.