SaaS Tattler Issue 79 - Giving Customer Success a Voice at the Executive Table
In an era where the customer experience matters more than ever before, having a voice at the executive table changes everything. Cue the Chief Customer Officer (CCO), breaking down Silos, strapped with customer intuition. Despite good intentions, there is a lack of clear understanding around the authority and role of the CCO. We’ve decided to dedicate this issue of the SaaS Tattler to identifying the pivotal importance CCOs play in driving business growth.
The CCO position is a relatively new, but important, addition to the C-Suite. In the age of the customer, companies are putting greater importance on the whole experience, not just part of it. A CCO’s priority is protecting the Customer Experience, from start to finish, and they can accomplish this by breaking down silos that form within their organization. In this article, Colin Shaw, explains why the CCO’s job is vital to keeping your product relevant in a competitive landscape.
The CCO’s priority is protecting the Customer Experience, from start to finish. Their role is to look at the whole experience and not just one part of it. In this way, the role is cross-functional—with an exclusive focus on busting down silos that form in the organization.
Silos tend to form based on the function of a department. When a department is Siloed, they are not seeing the whole Customer Experience, but instead just their part of it (e.g., invoicing, shipping or client services). This narrow focus can lead to problems.
Consider the damage caused by a Call Center Silo. A Call Center wants to process calls as fast as possible, so the members of that department focus on speed of call processing.
It sounds great, right? Who wants a long call at the call center?
But it’s not always great and can cause a problem further down the Customer Experience. We were working with a utility company where the cost of processing the call was $3, and the cost of sending out an engineer to fix a problem was $15. The call center would handle a request quickly and dispatch the engineer. But because the call center didn’t take the time to ferret out the problem with the customer in their haste to process the call the engineer turned up to the customers’ without the right equipment. So, the engineer would have to come out again, at a cost of another $15. In this example, the call center’s siloed focus on quick processing for the call quickly was costing the company more money, as well as causing a poor Customer Experience.
The intention of the CCO is to be the authority on all things customer. Despite the intended purpose of this role, in reality, not all CCOs are empowered enough to make meaningful change at their organizations. In some instances, this can be attributed to a lack of understanding of the role. In this article, Charles Trevail, lists the five roles that a CCO must pay in order to build a genuinely customer-centric organization.
Above all, the CCO needs to have customer intuition. Ultimately, it's about always thinking like a customer in order to get the company to rethink the role of the customer.
Customers can be the emotional epicenter of the corporate brain. Through their creativity, ideas and expertise, customers can pioneer a fundamental shift in business that's imperative for long-term growth. CCOs can spearhead the effort. They ensure the customer is designed into the company's structure, processes and culture. And they actively collaborate with customers and other partners to create mutual value in an agile and ongoing way.
CCOs need to know when and how to switch between roles quickly to be most effective. In today's chaotic economy, delivering on the expectations of the organization, and of customers, is the benchmark for CCO success.
Despite more companies quickly adopting the CCO position, it still remains the most fragile amongst the C-Suite. There are two reasons for this; (1) companies rush into creating this role before removing key barriers, and (2) companies don’t understand that improving customer strategy is a long-term investment. In this article, Cvetilena Gocheva, discusses the four most common inhibitors affecting the success of the CCO.
Curtis Bingham, the founder and executive director of the CCO Council, argues that organizations need to understand that developing and improving customer strategy is a profitable but longer-term investment. As such, it can take an investment of two years or more for the CCO’s activities to flow through the company and make a significant impact on top- and bottom-line results. Therefore, patience plays an important role in facilitating the successful work of the CCO. Curtis Bingham recommends that CEOs must commit from the outset to support and invest in the CCO and his/her initiatives for a minimum of two years to ensure the highest ROI. In turn, CCOs must manage the expectations of the CEO and Board to allow for this two-year probationary period.
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