What?! Don’t Have A Chief Customer Officer (Advocate) Yet…

Imagine this.

You’re fighting a parking ticket, waiting for your turn in court.

You witness a divorce proceeding (never mind for a moment that you’d never actually witness family court fighting a parking ticket).

The parents are in a deadly battle… almost as deadly as the battle of Westeros.

Fighting… about who gets custody, who gets to see the kids when, who gets what holiday. Who controls what decisions over school, body, health, food… you name it.

It might remind you of a scene from primary school.

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And you’ll be thinking… it’s not about you… it’s about what’s in the best interest of the kids.

Because neither one of them is solely responsible for the kids…

They both are.

Yet they’re momentarily oblivious to this.

They’re fighting because when you have silos — as you are when a marriage separates or as a company grows — it’s hard to share responsibility for areas you mutually own.

Yet we all know to do right by those kids (let’s call them Sally and Bobby) that the parents need to work together and own together the best interests of Sally and Bobby.

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And while this might be obvious as a voyeur…

To those parents entrenched? Less so.

And the same thing today is happening in almost any business – barely funded scrappy startups to Fortune 500 titans.

Because everyone is responsible for the customer… no one actually is.

You can see how this might be a massive problem…

According to Gartner, in 2018 more than 50% of companies will redirect their investments towards customer experience innovations.

Unsuccessful Customers Will Make or Break You

No customers, no business. Easy. We all get that.

But in 2017 and beyond, SaaS, e-commerce, and marketplace businesses with the happiest, most successful customers will win, and those without will face almost certain death.

With hyper-competitive markets and buyer empowerment, happy customers will either make or break your business.

So, to increase customer successfulness, loyalty, and satisfaction… in other words, to do right by your customers…

Someone has to own them.

To advocate for their best interests.

And that someone is the whole company.

The same way a lawyer has to be a zealous advocate for their clients’ interests (or face losing their legal license).

But the majority of companies lack a strategy and infrastructure to do so holistically across the customer whole journey.

And that’s where the CCAO comes in — Chief Customer Officer (Advocate).

Haven’t got one yet? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

 

The Case for the Chief Customer Officer (Advocate)

Does this sound familiar at all?

  • No team can agree who owns the customer. It’s a turf war… so instead no one owns the customer.
  • If there isn’t a visible turf war, it’s just not top-of mind because you’ve all got a little piece of the customer.
  • Everyone kinda ignores the problem (trust me, I know you all see it) because cross-functional solutions are difffffficult.

I bet you don’t ignore getting more customers though.

Or tripling your growth rate.

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I bet those things are top-of-mind. And rightfully so…

Yet, the one thing that can amplify both of those and minimize costs is a better customer experience.

But keeping that top-of-mind, companywide? Yikes.

 

Get A CCAO, Get Sustainable Growth

Almost every billion-dollar unicorn and brand was built by and large on organic growth…

Word-of-mouth in all its shapes, sizes, and forms – from sexy a la Dropbox virality to good old-fashion customers *gasp* talking to other people.

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Quick… can you name one (non-enterprise facing, we’ll save this topic for later) billion dollar unicorn company that didn’t derive the majority of its explosive growth from organic sources?

I can’t.

And biggest multiplier of organic growth is CX.

A better customer experience (CX) leads to happier customers. Happier customers (and smart strategies) lead to more word-of-mouth growth.

We all know this. It’s a simple truth.

So how do you drive a better CX / more organic growth?

Start by acknowledging publicly you all own the customer if you haven’t already. Take the politics out.

Just like Sally and Bobby’s parents need to do.

And appoint a Chief Customer Officer (Advocate).

This is one — if not — the most important things to solve for to achieve sustainable organic growth.

Plus, every incremental increase in CX has a boosting effect on every other business function’s KPIs… from marketing to sales to product to engineering to operations to recruiting.

Just in case you need a few stats for convincing…

  • CX leaders achieve 5x more growth than laggards (Forrester)
  • Loyal customers are 5x as likely to repurchase, 5x as likely to forgive, 7x as likely to try a new offering, and 4x as likely to refer (Temkin Group)
  • I’ll only invest in companies with a NPS score of at least 50. (Jason Lemkin)

 

The Role of The CCAO (or CXO / CCO)

The key to building a leading customer experience is a deep understanding the customer.

But someone has to own this.

And then they need to parlay that understanding across every individual, function, and department within the company.

It’s no easy feat.

That’s why it’s best to view CX as a team sport and your Chief Customer Officer (Advocate) as the head coach.

A head coach who:

…Is responsible for running voice-of-customer programs to get inside customer’s heads and make sure everyone company-wide knows those insights. Consider them your stalkers-in-chief.

…Is the zealous advocate of your customer. Not your company. Not your product. And certainly not your internal opinions. And they are fiercely protective. Because you know happier customers, are more loyal customers, and delighted customers tell everyone about you… for free. At scale.

… Is responsible for creating, optimizing, and directing gains in the happiness and loyalty of your customers. Successful customers, happy shareholders.

 

Who Should Wear The CCAO Hat?

Depending on size/team, someone can add this role to their portfolio.

For instance…

If you have a Chief Customer Officer or Chief Experience Officer, we might just be talking semantics, but I recommend including the word “advocate” in their title.

This positioning is ultra powerful because at the end of the day, to be successful, they need to serve as the customers’ ultimate advocate both internally and externally.

If you have a VP of Growth, or are a VP of Growth, you can assume this role.

You’re likely already doing some of this naturally. After all you’re responsible for cross-functional growth across the company and there is no better source of company overall growth than a better CX.

And the VP of Growth needs better customer insights to develop experiment ideas that have a higher chance of succeeding anyway.

Another role that can perform interim Chief Customer Officer (Advocate) functions is the Head of User Research. However, they need to have a firm grasp of how marketing, product, sales, and customer success works.

Of course, the best option is building out a CX team that is comprised of cross-functional leaders, run by the CCAO, that functions similarly to a growth team, and works in tandem with the growth team, with a specific CCAO hire.

This is the business growth structure of the future. Start now. Or start when it’s too late. But either way, you’ll start, so I’d likely pick sooner. 🙂