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Six Key Challenges for the Chief Customer Officer

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The CCO Council identified six of the greatest challenges CCOs face and recommends the following approaches to overcoming them. 

1. Customer centricity is not widely viewed as a strategic imperative and the CCO's contribution to this imperative is poorly defined. As a result, CCOs spend more time explaining and defending their value than they spend with customers.

Recommendation: The CEO and Board must recognize the growing body of proof that customer-centricity is the new basis for competitive advantage with demonstrable business results, and then make the CCO a part of this strategic imperative.

2. The most successful CCOs recognize and leverage three sources of CCO Authority, starting with either Positional Authority or Borrowed Authority and quickly earning authority of their own. Without such authority, cultural resistance to change, conflicting priorities, and a host of other obstacles prevent CCO success.

Recommendation: The CEO must provide to the CCO significant Borrowed Authority. The CCO must "earn" authority rapidly by providing value, demonstrating results at all levels, and effectively communicating the business impact of those results.

3. Not surprisingly, there is often limited understanding of the type of resources required to successfully convert an organization to customer centricity. The CCO of one enterprise company chose to report into Marketing as a strategy to gain greater access to staffing and expertise.

Recommendation: CEOs and Boards of Directors must have realistic expectations of the resources required for a CCO to be successful and make a commitment to supply those resources. 

4. Gathering customer data is easy, but converting it into action is much harder especially as the complexity of customer purchases and interactions increases. Many CCOs struggle to move beyond the voice of the customer and triage to create and implement customer strategy.

Recommendation: Implementing customer triage and issue resolution processes are critical first steps for CCOs. But then the CCO needs to make powerful allies and initiate cross-functional initiatives to create workable customer strategy that cuts across business units to improve the overall customer experience.

5. Implementing change is challenging for most organizations and resistance to change is human nature. Traditional methods for cultural change including bonuses and penalties help mitigate the resistance. Actively engaging employees in the process of change will move the culture from compliance to engagement.

Recommendation: The CCO must accurately evaluate the company's appetite for change and adjust expectations and program design accordingly. 

6. Many organizations are adept at measuring transactions but customer emotion and behavior are harder to measure and correlate to results. This difficulty is perhaps the single greatest reason for the CCO's role being the most fragile in the c-suite.

Recommendation: The CEO, Board, and CCO must agree upon metrics and measures that balance revenue, profit, and customer loyalty. The CCO must effectively communicate and market the value of customer-centric change to the organization to gain further support and adoption. 

Whether you are an experienced or new CCO, addressing these challenges head-on can help you drive more profitable customer behavior, create customer-centric cultures, and increase the value you deliver to your customers.

*This article is excerpted from The Bingham Advisory: Eight Imperatives for the Chief Customer Officer, available for free download from the CCO Council website here.

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Categories: Chief Customer Officer | Customer Centricity

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