Chief Customer Officer
Getting Past Lip Service to Passionate Action
by Jeanne Bliss

“Chief Customer Officer” is written so you can discover the reality of the effect your organization is having on customer relationships and profitability, and then do something about it. The process includes understanding what drives the organization, how you work together, and how readily you can come together to solve the tough customer issues. And, finally, do your metrics and accountability line up to mean anything significant about managing customer relationships? The answer to your situation may be naming a Chief Customer Officer, or it may not.

This book will help you discover what the right answer is for your organization. Traversing it will lead you through three categories of information and decision making:

1. Why Do Customer Efforts Crash and Burn?

What is your company’s Power Core? Where is the organization predisposed to perform? How is it directing company priorities, the development of competencies and the areas where people seek to excel? How do your collective company actions have an impact on customer relationships and profitability? How are the silos working together, and what are the areas where they conflict?

2. Are You Wrestling with Customer Leadership?

What role does leadership have in driving the customer agenda? Are they leading it, hindering it, or on the sidelines? Are your metrics a bowl of spaghetti? Do they line up to drive strategic customer management? Or are they the usual conflicting silo-based metrics used to manage the discipline? Is there accountability expected by leadership and understood by everyone so that people know how and where to perform to impact customers most optimally?

What things are you actually doing to match the commitment to the customer to the actions of the organization? What is the series of actions you should be taking to drive the focus? How many of them are you doing now? Is there any difference between the actions leaders believe the company is taking versus what the organization believes is happening?

3. Is a Chief Customer Officer the Solution?

Do you need a Chief Customer Officer to advance the action? As the CEO or corporate leader, do you know what you’re buying when you put someone in this org chart box? This role’s got a lot of work for executives too; are you willing to do what it takes to really have the job have optimum impact? If you decide to add a CCO, where should it report? What will be its sphere of influence?

What “Chief Customer Officer" Will Do For You

Executives/CEOs; use this book as a platform to evaluate your organization and your personal role in driving the customer agenda. You may be wondering why you just can’t get traction on customer management and customer profitability, even though you’ve named it as a corporate priority. Through this book’s evaluations and outline of the issues, you can understand why the impasse exists. There is information here to assist you in determining if the answer is a single position, or a whole host of things that must change in your organization. Hiring or appointing a Customer Officer will require a personal commitment by you. This book will outline what you need to be ready and willing to step up to doing before you put a name on that org chart.

To the New and Existing “Chief” of the Customer Effort; this is your comprehensive hand-book packed with ideas on how to get this vital work accomplished. The tools, approaches stories and empathy will arm you with a place to start and a methodology for how to proceed in the first month, the first year and those that go beyond when things really start to take hold. Inside, you’ll get ideas for how to manage across the silos, where to weave in accountability and how to engage the commitment of top leaders in the journey. And most importantly, it will provide ideas on how to break the work into segments so you can advance the organization down a specific path of improvement.

Senior Leadership and Functional Leaders; you may be trying to crack the nut on how to deliver a comprehensive customer experience. You may be at the point where it’s obvious all the factions you’re trying to bring together to get that project done have different agendas. Or you’re the Service VP with vast amounts of customer information that could greatly drive the company forward. But people just aren’t lining up to participate. You may have joined forces with another functional vice president to get the company to make some tough cross-company changes required to manage customer relationships. In your passion, you may have found yourself the de-facto leader for this gnarly company-wide effort. This book takes and translates the issues you’re experiencing but may just not have had time to articulate. It offers tools to move the log-jams you’re experiencing and tactics for how to proceed with your particular brand of challenge. Check out chapter eleven in which customer champions are interviewed and explain what they’re doing and how it’s going.

For twenty-five years, I’ve had the fifty ton weight of “Just go fix it” strapped to my back regarding the “customer thing.” I’ve worked with enlightened leaders where we’ve been in lock-step every step of the way. Having had the good fortune to begin my customer zealotry career at Lands’ End, reporting to founder Gary Comer, I received the foundation to know when that path was right. But I’ve spent way too much time pounding on doors to get into meetings, onto the agenda, and to have a seat in the room where the “big” decisions are made. These experiences gave me a living laboratory to figure out how to navigate in less friendly waters. My instincts for knowing which kind of water I’m in has become quite sharpened, as have the different approaches required to get the job done. Over the years, these survive and thrive tactics have amassed into a play book which are now assembled into this tome you’ve almost got in your hands.

It’s my goal to give you as many ways as possible to fight the gravity of that rock. Along the way, you’ll also need to become a bit of a Tom Sawyer, getting people to come paint your fence, and I pass along those things too – because the real joy in this work comes when it’s not your own anymore – it’s the organization’s. I hope you find real value in these methods behind the madness, passion, guts and process to get a company to wrap itself around its customers. Keep pushing on that rock! Through this book, I’ve got my hand in the small of your back prodding you on.

Reprinted with the permission of Jossey-Bass, all rights reserved, no portion of this may be reproduced without the permission of the publisher or author, Jeanne Bliss.

Jeanne Bliss has over twenty-five years holding the responsibility for driving the customer effort inside the ‘corporate machine’ - with Lands’ End, Inc. - Leader for the Lands’ End Customer Experience, reporting to founder Gary Comer; with Allstate Corporation - Vice President, Customer Satisfaction and Retention; Coldwell Banker Corporation - Vice President, Franchise Services; Microsoft Corporation - General Manager, Worldwide Customer and Partner Loyalty and Mazda Corporation - Senior Manager, Customer Satisfaction. Visit for additional information.


Many more articles in Customer Service in The CEO Refresher Archives


Copyright 2006 by Jeanne Bliss. All rights reserved.

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