How to lead a customer-driven business transformation by establishing value for the role of the chief customer officer
This is a sequel to Chief Customer Officer, published in 2006. The material in that volume has been revised and updated to accommodate all that has happened…and not happened…since then but its core thesis is even more relevant now than it was then: world-class companies share five customer leadership core competencies. Here they are, in essence:
o Treat customers as the most precious asset
o Focus on providing an experience that is most desirable to the customer
o Listen to customers to learn how to improve that experience
o Make customer experience development as important as product development
o Sustain proactive customer leadership at all levels and in all areas
I agree with Jeanne Bliss about the importance of these core competencies while presuming to point out that companies annually ranked among those that are most highly admired and best to work for are also annually ranked among those that are most profitable with the greatest cap value in their industry. It would impossible to build a “customer-driven growth engine” unless and until everyone involved in customer relationships (directly or indirectly) is wholly committed. Years ago, when then chairman and CEO, Herb Kelleher, was asked to explain the spectacular success of Southwest Airlines, he explained, “We take great care of our people, they take great care of our customers, and our customers take great care of our shareholders.” Kip Tindell (CEO of The Container Store) and John Mackey (CEO of Whole Foods) are among those who share that opinion.
As I worked my way through this book, I was again reminded of another. Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell wrote a book in which they explained how to create “customer evangelists.” First, there must be “employee evangelists” and Bliss addresses that, notably with material provided on Pages 168-171 that includes a Code of Conduct for Employees. Leaders must inspire workers to become self-motivated customer leadership evangelists. One of the best ways is for leaders to serve as role models of customer leadership evangelism.
Bliss makes brilliant use of several reader-friendly devices that include a “Reading Road Map” for this book, mini-commentaries located throughout her narrative that focus on 33 customer leadership exemplars, “Action Lab” interactive exercises and assessments through each of nine chapters, checklists of key points, worksheets, and summaries that facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of key material later.
Bliss provides an abundance of information, insights, and counsel when explaining HOW TO:
o Define the Chief Customer Officer with clarity
o Unite leadership initiatives to ensure role adoption, community, ownership, and accountability
o Honor and manage customers as precious assets
o Align leadership with nature and extent of customer experience
o Build a “customer listening path”
o Establish and manage a revenue erosion early-warning system
o Sustain a shared commitment to customer-driven growth
o Design a five-competency “Maturity Map”
o Recruit, interview, and evaluate candidates for CCO position
o Then select the person best qualified
o Ensure the CCO’s success with a full commitment of support from CEO and other C-level executives
As Jeanne Bliss explains, “My goal in writing this book was to establish clarity for what it takes to lead a customer-driven business transformation, and to establish value for the role of the chief customer officer.” She succeeds. Indeed, much of the information. insights, and counsel that she provides (with appropriate modification) can be helpful to almost any organization, whatever its size and nature may be. Many (if not most) companies cannot afford a CCO but all businesses need everyone involved in the given enterprise to be customer-driven. Peter Drucker nailed it “If you don’t have a customer, you don’t have a business.”