There are other factors, besides the CEO’s commitment to the Chief Customer Officer that will determine whether this new position will become a permanent box on the organizational chart. The CEO, CCO and the whole team need to realize that time and patience will be required as they begin to plumb the depths of potential cultural sea changes that may be company-wide.
Because there may be team members who just will never get on board with the sea changes that rock the company boat, the CEO needs to be willing to make some tough decisions about whether to keep those people. Culture change begins at the top. Only the CEO can send the message that the organization is committed to creating a truly customer-focused culture.
At Beyond Philosophy, we’ve witnessed what happens when we encourage the top level senior management team to get back in touch with their customers. An unfortunate side-effect to becoming a CEO, VP or CCO is that these people can lose the time to stay connected with what is happening to their CE. We encourage the CEO and CCO to talk about customers constantly, visit customers frequently, and listen to their customers.
Finally and most importantly, if the CEO is not serious, don’t bother even considering going down the path of improving the ce, let alone hiring a Chief Customer Officer. It will do more harm than good, from a leadership perspective, to attempt a half-hearted stab at creating the customer experience that differentiates the company’s products and services from its competitors. A CEO risks de-moralizing the entire team and that will be felt company-wide. The wave of negativity that results will stop on the shores of public awareness. When the customer senses that a company is not committed to making the necessary changes, they will start looking elsewhere.
We’ve worked with people who were given the full backing of the CEO and senior management team. We’ve coached CEOs and their teams when they need to be educated on what a CCO would actually do for them. If a company is truly committed to differentiating themselves in the marketplace, the hiring of a CCO is a great place to start.