If the events of 2020 taught businesses anything, it’s the value of a delighted, loyal customer.
In addition to the pressure caused by the pandemic, changing consumer behaviour amplified by digitisation has catalysed the need for a unifying leader, whose sole focus is the customer.
Increasing customer expectations and the subsequent importance placed on customer experience (CX) has resulted in a new role emerging in organisations globally, the Chief Customer Officer (CCO). The CCO sits in the C-suite, to align and unify the diverse teams that make up a business around one sole purpose: the customer.
Overseeing a businesses Go-to-Market teams, like sales, marketing and services, this role has the potential to revolutionise how businesses operate and the way they interact with customers. How? By representing the customer at the highest level and ensuring they are at the heart of every decision made by the company. And with 80 per cent of companies who prioritise CX reporting an increase in revenue, it’s evident why this relationship is so valuable for business growth.
A transformative shift in power
Today’s buyers are more engaged and informed than ever before. The sheer amount of information available to consumers has dramatically changed the power balance between buyers and sellers. Today, buyers are coming to brands informed and with a clear idea of what they want to achieve. At the point of engagement, they’re looking for validation, not information.
The customer journey really starts, not ends, with the sale. Our own CCO has the mantra, “customer-centricity is not an initiative, it must be built into the company’s DNA.” In an age of easily replicable products and empowered buyers, to retain customers, businesses must consistently demonstrate their value and help customers to achieve their goals. This requires leaders to critically reflect upon their businesses processes and entire customer journey.
Moreover, focusing on delighting your customers is good for growth. Today’s customers can be a businesses best asset and we see the power of ambassadors through peer recommendations outpacing business-produced content as a source of information during the buying process.
Customer-centricity drives business success
A company’s customer journey is not going to change overnight, so it’s important that during the transformation phase, businesses demonstrate a clear focus on customer-led initiatives empowered by a customer-in mindset.
Many companies operate with a function-out mindset rather than a customer-in mindset. A customer-in mindset starts with customer needs and builds your internal processes to match those needs. Function out strategies optimise for a specific purpose or function (for example, revenue or lead generation), rather than optimising around the customer. Function-out strategy also creates silos. Silos create gaps in the customer experience that are painful for customers to navigate and expensive for businesses to resolve. In turn, silos slow down decision making.
While it’s easy to grow in siloes, it’s not sustainable as your business scales. Silos within your business results in breakdowns between teams and painful handoffs for customers — both can subsequently impact transformation, change and growth. The CCO role is fundamentally about breaking down these silos and filling the gaps in the customer journey.
A vast majority of senior decision-makers in Australia agree that the CCO role is necessary to improve the relationship between a brand and its customer, yet only four in ten Australian companies report having a CCO employed. This reveals a clear disconnect, and in a time when customers are more powerful than any marketer or salesperson — this blindspot can stifle growth.
Future proofing your CX starts in the C-suite
A CCO is an asset to any company. Your CCO solves for the customer, is a change agent and looks through a customer lens in all that they do. They’re also skilled listeners who uncover opportunities to improve and create personalised experiences by working in partnership with their customers. In unveiling and getting to the crux of the problem the customer is facing, the CCO is able to align and unify internal teams to overcome these problems, thereby optimising the CX and driving return business, and ultimately, increased revenue.
Great CX actually starts much deeper than your frontline staff. The responsibility of delivering a great experience is a whole-of-business accountability, including the sales and service teams, marketing, HR and IT departments, as well as the C-suite. If a customer-centric mindset isn’t embedded in your company’s DNA, it’s hard to expect your frontline teams to deliver.
By dedicating an executive leader to navigate and implement CX strategies companies will have the opportunity to align and unify previously siloed teams. Silos not only create gaps in the customer experience, they can get in the way of growth. Ensuring that a businesses’ strategy is centered around the customer is as important as developing the strategy itself.
The secret weapon to sales and the overall success of business has, and always will be the experience customers have with your brand. Every time businesses uncover an opportunity to resolve a difficult situation for a customer, they also find an opportunity for improvement and reduce the likelihood of the situation impacting more customers. Creating an experience that delights the customer will ensure that they return, driving greater loyalty and retention and ultimately, a successful business.