Without a rudder, Customer service in most organizations will fall flat.
They will meander, try, attempt, hope, and plan.
Then they fizzle.
Then they will fail.
The reason is clear: Many organizations have rolled out a Customer service platform, but have neglected to put someone at the helm to run it. They are missing someone to nurture and grow the platform, to beg for resources, and to demand excellence.
That isn’t to say they aren’t trying – many executives and Leaders are pushing every day for the very best in service. They are amazing people with even better intentions and they really do have the Guest in mind. The problem is that they have 897 other things in mind and so many demands that they can’t give it enough of their attention.
The answer many companies have adopted is to have a Customer Service Officer. This position, sometimes known as the Chief Customer Officer or Chief Experience Officer, is the champion for the Guest experience. For purposes of this article, we’ll be using the shorthand of CXO.
The best part about this position is its purpose – to drive great Customer Service and client retention. There are a multitude of ways you can utilize this role – and it doesn’t matter what you call it. The important pieces are to make sure that the position is imbued with the authority to drive change and the tools to be successful.
There is no need for the position to be a board member – in fact, it doesn’t even need to be an executive. Ideally this will be the only person’s responsibility and could be called Director of Customer Service rather than CXO. In a pinch, you can appoint someone as the Customer Service Champion if you can’t afford a designated person to fill the need.
You must hire the right person. They must be dynamic, committed to the Customer experience, and amazing at leading without formal authority. Even though they will have it, they need to be much better at leading change without throwing their title around.
So do you need a CXO? Yes! Here’s why:
They Are Silo-Busters. Chances are any organization big enough to support a CXO is big enough to have silos. I’ve seen organizations of two have silos, so take every chance you can get to break down walls. There is nothing that unites a business like Guest. They are the reason for us to come to work every day and without them we have no business. So that could be the unifying force that brings all functional groups together. Your CXO can help you get the team rowing in the same direction by painting the vision of fantastic service.
They Give Focus to the Customer Service Mission. There is no doubt that Customer service needs all the support it can get – and there can’t be any hidden agendas. Too often Customer service gets mired in organizational clutter. One corner wants to drive suggestive selling. Another is concerned with top line revenue growth. And yet another is looking to mine for Customer preferences to improve market penetration. All of those are worthy goals, and do have a place within the framework of Customer service, but they can’t be the deciding factor. The genius of having a CXO is that its puts the Guest in the spotlight without attaching caveats or riders.This position has a strategic view of Customer service – the ability to collate the surveys, intercept questionnaires, complaint calls, and comments cards in a streamlined way. With the right technology this 20,000 foot view will actually help drive improvement at ground level.
They Can Champion the Tactical. It is so important to think strategically – but then you have to GET STUFF DONE. That is where the CXO can win. It takes a special intensity to get out on the front lines and push, pull, drag, cajole, and beg Guest facing teams to deliver. But in all honesty, that is what this person should eat for lunch. They don’t want a corner office, they want a list of places to visit. The CXO should be actively training and recruiting those in the field to do double duty as Customer service trainers and setting up a framework of great speakers to deliver their message. They should also be natural teachers who want to observe, train, and work with the Front Line Associates to deliver amazing service. They will be the Leader that models amazing behaviors, gets his or her hands dirty, and can’t get enough of working with managers and Front Line Associates to improve service.
I know this position sounds soft on its face, but think about the benefits. Better Customer service leads to client retention and same store sales. It also fuels the confidence in the Front Line Team that can deliver better efficiencies and suggestive selling. The CXO not only sees things like suggestive selling as revenue drivers, but also Guest satisfiers. In their minds it becomes more about making sure that Guests have what they need rather than shaking another dollar out of their wallets.
These are fine distinctions to be sure, but ones that make all the difference.
So consider the need for Customer Service Leadership in your business – then waste no time finding the right person to fill this critical position.
Until next time, head out and find that person who will treat your Guests like cherished friends (and inspire others to do the same).
Tony Johnson Customer Service Expert | Author | Trainer | Speaker
Check out my new book: RECIPE FOR SERVICE Now Available on Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Recipe-Service-Inspire-Deliver-Customer/dp/0986391204
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