To be effective, customer service must go all the way to the top. It’s something I’ve been saying for a long time, and it’s catching on. In many companies, there is now a seat at the boardroom table for the Chief Customer Officer. The CCO has an important job – ensuring that everything the company does is focused on the customer, from the front line to processes behind the scenes that support the front line customer experience. This includes the obvious areas of customer service and customer experience, as well as a few not-so-obvious areas.
So what is the CCO responsible for within the management of the company? Who reports to the CCO, and who does the CCO report to? Depending on the company, there are varied responsibilities, but I think there are a few obvious ones. In my mind, there three important areas of focus for the CCO: culture, systems and customer advocacy.
As far as the culture of the company, it is the underlying basis for becoming customer-focused. Customer service and experience must be woven throughout the fabric of the entire company. Either a company is completely customer focused or it is not, and this comes through in the philosophy and vision of the company, and in how employees are hired and trained.
The systems that the company has in place encompass different types of work in different departments, and the CCO’s job is to ensure that all the systems are customer-focused and that everyone is working together in a unified way. It is the CCO’s responsibility to question the company’s systems and processes to align them in the direction of customer service. The CCO must constantly ask one basic question:
Is this a customer-focused decision?
Of course, this will lead to other questions and discussion. The idea is to challenge every aspect of the company to keep the focus on the customer. And this means everything – new products, policies, software, accounting programs – every part of the company should be reviewed to make sure it meets the requirement of being customer-focused.
The third area of responsibility is customer advocacy. The CCO manages the “Voice of the Customer,” reviewing and interpreting both direct customer feedback and data analysis. This involves an understanding of both the business and the customer to be able to sift through the data and ascertain the important elements.
The Chief Customer Officer must have access to all aspects of the company and a voice in the boardroom, asking the right questions and keeping the company focused. He or she must also be an advocate for the customer. It’s a balancing act between how a company operates and what a customer expects. An effective CCO creates a sense of harmony between the company and the customer.