Customer leaders must have the determination (and delirium) of a salmon. We know the salmon’s story. It swims against the current, defying obstacles and gravity, often leaping several feet up small waterfalls in order to get to its destination. The salmon are determined and unconventional.
With this in mind, leaders can also be unconventional, daring and ready to turn the company from facing inwards to facing its customers. Salmon leaders are about facing challenges head on, driving commitment from employees, the board, stockholders stakeholders and customers alike.
In order to become salmon-like managers there are a number of critical actions which will help you turn your organization forward to ensure customer experience success.
1. Take Personal Ownership
When you commit to the position of Chief Customer Officer, or whatever the similar title might be, make everyone aware that you understand the importance of your mission and the impact of your commitment to the business. Give examples of what you intend to accomplish and what will be lost if you do not meet those goals. This will help you establish yourself as an accountable and long-term CCO who is dedicated to the mission of the organization and to achieving a cohesive customer environment.
2. Establish Acceptance and Role Clarity of the CCO Position
It is imperative that there be a clear and working relationship between the company leadership and the CCO. It is critical that you come to a consensus on how leaders will facilitate real change at an operational level by thinking through a system of rewards to fortify the team and their dedication.
3. Drive Consistent Accountability
Demand regular meetings or sessions to identify and track progress on the customer experience agenda. You will need to resist the temptation to tack accountability sessions on to existing meetings. It needs to stand alone or it will be delayed or removed from the agenda. To create continued clarity, have the CCO drive the meetings so that they can create a strong focus and help facilitate change.
4. CEOs Should Provide Political Cover
The CCO by nature should be a strong and independent thinker able to steer and focus the team and leadership through any political struggles. However the CCO will need someone like the CEO at the highest level in order to build collaboration and help prepare senior management for the work ahead and the challenges that may be upcoming. A CCO who is forced to navigate these obstacles without support will wear out over time, and lose trust and confidence. They will see themselves become more isolated as the job proves more challenging. Having political air cover is therefore critical to a CCO’s success.
5. Establish Corporate Patience
While the work of a CCO is not for the faint-hearted, it is also not full of short-term gains or wins. This role is a multi-year endeavor. A CCO cannot jump ship after the first year. This would be a tremendous waste of time, money and talent. The CEO must set realistic expectations and work with the CCO to build momentum and an ambitious but achievable 5 year plan.
6. Build a Clear Roadmap
In order to create a shift in the organization to cohesively deliver customer experience, you must create an effective roadmap to define timelines, expectations for success and to align goals. Company leaders should be involved in helping to frame the roadmap and key accomplishments. Clarity is critical to the success of the CCO and to an enhanced customer experience.
After 25 years as the Customer Experience Executive in five major US Corporations, Jeanne founded CustomerBliss in order to create clarity and an actionable path for driving the customer loyalty commitment into business operations.
For more information on Jeanne, check out her blog at www.ccocoach.com
Jeanne’s Twitter – @JeanneBliss