Jackie Huba

Q&A with Jeanne Bliss, author of Chief Customer Officer 2.0

authorbliss*304xx1098-732-51-0Jeanne Bliss is the Founder and President of CustomerBliss, and the Co-Founder of The Customer Experience Professionals Association. She is one of the foremost experts on customer-centric leadership and the role of the Chief Customer Officer. Her third, and brand new, book is Chief Customer Officer 2.0:  How to Build Your Customer-Driven Growth Engine. I chatted with Jeanne recently about some of the insights she shares in the book.

Q. What are the top mistakes organizations are making when they think about building a customer first culture?

A. There are 7 key inhibitors that companies stumble over in trying to earn customer-driven growth:

  1. Not having executives engaged in the effort. Often executives will say that they want to focus on the customer experience, but they hand off the tasks to a department or area to work on it. It is hard to sustain this work without executive involvement driving the new prioritization, removing actions that are in the way, and giving people permission to work together.
  2. Starting with a mantra, not an action plan. Often companies decide that they want to get some early traction by telling everyone to “focus on customer experience.” What happens next is that people realize this is a big corporate priority and begin making plans, creating new scoreboards and taking action. A lot of action occurs, executives get a false-positive that change is occurring, but it eventually stalls out because the actions don’t add up to improve complete end-to-end customer experiences.
  3. Not defining the customer experience and gaining alignment. The most potent recurring use for the journey map is to guide work and discussions from the customer perspective. Without this framework to unite efforts, silo work continues to proliferate.
  4. Not breaking the work into actionable pieces. Don’t boil the ocean. Successful CCOs advocate prioritizing 5 to 10 priorities at a time. Following through into they are completely improved will earn the right to keep doing the work. Making this work too large too fast is why it fails.
  5. Focusing only on survey scores and not on customer growth. The challenge of focusing mostly on survey scores it that the score is the motivator. And, a survey score is impacted by numerous factors, not all of which can be impacted by areas of the organization that are given the outcome metrics as their performance score.
  6. Lack of clear communications and behaviors to model. It’s not enough to do the work behind the scenes: the organization must be kept up to speed on actions, what it means to them, and successes. Leaders must emerge as constant communicators of why we are taking the actions we are. As new decisions are made that focus on customer experiences—people must be kept apprised of these decisions—and given permission to model this type of decision-making.
  7. Actions based on what people think versus what customers need. Many companies, especially those long entrenched in their business, believe they know what customers need. Even when they do research, they make the research about “validating” their plans rather than beginning by being open-minded and asking the customer about their lives and what they need. This approach often compromises the outcome of new experiences invested in—and in some cases will backfire as the investment yields negative customer response.

Q. Would you share more about your recommendation to replace the word loyalty with desire? You say companies need to “Earn the right to grow.”

A. I’m introducing a new word for customer experience professionals, marketers and leaders to consider, and that is to replace the word “loyalty” with the word “desire.” That is because what I’ve experienced and observed is that “loyalty” can be considered something to go get from customers, rather than something to be earned.

Loyalty efforts can become misguided when it’s established that customers with two products or services are more loyal to a brand or company than those who have one. This drives behavior to try to get more loyalty by pitching the client to buy that second product or sign up for that second service. Instead of earning the right to growth by delivering reliable and valuable experience, customer loyalty efforts focus on math and actions to get customers to buy more. The focus goes to campaigns focused on upselling and cross-selling to customers.

But you can’t earn loyalty without doing the hard work to deliver a reliable experience. That is why I use the phrase “earn the right to grow.” If you deliver a reliable experience, your customers and clients will desire to have it again. Desire is an emotion that will earn growth and prosperity for your business.

 Q. Would you share an example of a company that is really getting this right?

A. In my new book, Chief Customer Officer 2.0, leaders around the world tell their stories about how they are “pushing the customer rock up the hill.”   We often describe the work this way, as it is a large undertaking to unite leaders and the silos of a company to shift to customer-driven growth.

Here are few of the efforts these leaders are taking inside their organization. We celebrate their work in 40 stories like this in the book, entitled “My Rock, My Story.”

  • The Smithsonian Institute has just established their first-ever journey map to deliberately build out the experience for the over 30 million visitors they welcome each year. This has prompted a whole host of activities, starting with your welcome experience as you enter the main rotunda of the entrance for The Smithsonian.
  • Adobe requires their leaders to go through a “customer immersion experience” each year where they have to step through the activities that customers must accomplish to be their customer- and they attach that activity requirement to compensation!
  • Ontario Canada’s Enersource Corporation has established a culture effort entitled “Would You Treat Your Mother This Way?” to encourage their utility workers in the field to think twice before putting a utility pole in someone’s yard, and to own the entire customer experience.

Thanks Jeanne! 

More on Jeanne and her new book here.


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