Putting The “Customer” In Customer Service

December 5, 2012 by Bill Bradley


Title: On Being Customer Centric

Competencies: customer service, customer focus, sales

Who benefits: anyone with internal or external customers (which is just about everyone); sales and customer service managers and leaders

Consultant Usage: recommended reading for sales and customer service consultants, customer service trainers

What’s it about? Holy Crap!  You are our customer and I have been ignoring you since May 9 (Great Customer Service = Profits).  What’s that all about?  So many of our readers are in the customer service business (or should be).  In my own defense, let me remind you that I reviewed Uncommon Service: How to Win by Putting Customers at the Core of Your Business at the beginning of the year and still consider it the #1 must read on customer service (and it will appear in a few weeks as my book of the year).  It sets the bar.

But Shirley (one of my favorite readers) there must have been something new in the “customer genre”.  Why yes, she (Shirley) surely answers most assuredly. There is the August publication of Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business.  If you like facts and figures, this book has them.  If you like stories, this book has them.  There is something for everyone.

For those of you who like straight forward reviews (tell me why I should read it), here is what you will get:

Part I tells the reader the “what and why”.  There are three chapters on what the customer experience means (from the eyes of the customer, not the organization), how it relates to revenue (excellent, as you might expect), and what is a “customer experience ecosystem”.

Part II offers what the authors call the “six disciplines of customer experience.”  The six would be strategy, customer understanding, design, measurement, governance and culture.  Practical applications can be found throughout this segment of the book.

Part III is a bit more theoretical, about what happens to companies as they become more outward focused and how the customer experience will determine which companies will emerges as successful organizations in the future.  By far the most interesting discussion in this final segment is on the role of Chief Customer Officer.  This position is not new in concept.   You may recall Jeanne Bliss’s fine (and passionate) 2006 book Chief Customer Officer: Getting Past Lip Service to Passionate Action.  She made a concerted effort to lobby for a person at the top of organizations charged with finding the right solutions for her or his respective organization.

Before I close, I would like to jump in and ask a related question and beg you readers for a response in the comment section.  It appears trendy to have a Chief Customer Officer (CCO).  We have had this discussion before.  A few years back it was equally trendy to place a Chief Quality Office in the top echelon.  Back then the debate was whether it was a good idea to have one person or one department in charge of quality.  Wasn’t quality everyone’s job?

If we have a CCO are we risking the CEO delegating customer service issues; the CFO saying “not my problem”; the COO saying “hey, that was carved out of my job”? Shouldn’t customer service be everyone’s business?  If we have a separate organization within the larger organization, what is the message? What do you think?

Catch you later.

Bill Bradley (mostly) retired after 35 years in organizational consulting, training and management development. During those years he worked internally with seven organizations and trained and consulted externally with more than 90 large and small businesses, government agencies, hospitals and schools.

Posted in Engagement, Leadership Development

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  1. Jack Hagerty says:

    Customer focus, to be effective, has to inform every decision made by every part of the organization. You can’t pigeon-hole it without losing that focus. Besides, I dislike most trendy things.

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