“Strategy is about competitive advantage. Without competitors, there would be no need for strategy, for the sole purpose of strategic planning is to enable the company to gain –as effectively as possible– a sustainable edge over its competitors.”
I believe that customer experience excellence is absolutely critical to fostering new acquisition, retention, expansion, and loyalty, and to a company’s bottom line. Business value and price, are of paramount importance—but I would go as far as to say this: companies that create legendary value and service experiences for their customers stay in business longer, create sustainably higher revenues in their industry, and attain “leader board” status among their competitors. Enter, the Customer Officer (CO).
The CO’s responsibilities are foundational and far-reaching. These include establishing a customer-centric company culture; projecting and pursuing long-term customer profitability; listening to and acting on the voice of the customer; creating the Customer Strategy—and aligning the organization around that strategy. A well-conceived Customer Strategy enables a company to achieve the staggering economic and brand value that comes from keeping the right customers for a lifetime.
Companies such as USAA, Oracle, Nationwide Insurance, Dunkin Brands, and Jet Blue have hired customer officers who’ve mastered the art of customer experience strategy. Working within very different companies, these senior executives demonstrate significant commonalities, starting with evangelistic customer commitment. They log hours alongside staffers and listen in on call-center conversations to maintain a focus on the customer experience process at every company level. They foster a great working environment and offer perks to nurture the employee engagement that’s crucial to a consistently high-quality customer experience.
The role of the CO, in my view, is to envision and articulate a clear strategy, identify ways to streamline and simplify customer process, and follow through with improvements based on direct customer insight. Customer officers also garner influence with their peers in the company, enabling other functional senior leaders to understand and effect customer experience enhancement across the organization. Within every department, they collaborate on the design of customer-focused objectives, measurable performance, and performance incentives to directly or indirectly elevate the customer experience. This approach to focused, coordinated change results in measurable business impacts for the company.
Given current economic pressures and complexity—not to mention the serious need to “hold and expand” current customers—the CO is a company’s key strategic advantage in brand leadership efforts.
Stay tuned weekly as I delve more deeply into the rest of the best practices for higher customer retention identified in Mend the Holes in Your Leaky Bucket. This 10-article series will give you valuable insights and guidance as you plan, develop, and implement your own customer retention strategy.
Ready to move forward more quickly? Interested in personal assistance? Let’s chat. Please sign up for my complimentary one-hour Customer Insight Strategy Session by calling our office at 617.848.4589 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lori Carr is a customer experience pioneer and expert. Working with Fortune 500 companies for the past 25 years, she helps recognized brands to dramatically increase retention, loyalty and profitable revenues.