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Why CX optimisation is a c-level concern

2nd Feb 2017
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An Interview With Jeanne Bliss, founder and president of Customer Bliss.

As founder and president of Customer Bliss, co-founder of the Customer Experience Professionals Association, and a CX executive with decades of experience with global brands like Lands’ End and Microsoft, Jeanne Bliss has helped to redefine what customer experience means in the digital age. She has devoted her career to helping companies achieve growth through customer experience optimization.

Today, Jeanne coaches Chief Customer Officers (CCOs) and other c-suite executives and consults for companies around the world looking to transform their customer experience. The cornerstone of her methodology is what she refers to as The Five Competencies, outlined in her book, Chief Customer Officer 2.0.

Genesys sat down with Jeanne to learn more about this framework and discuss her thoughts on customer journey management and a variety of other CX topics.

Genesys: How do you describe what Customer Bliss does for clients?

Jeanne Bliss: There are two big things that I do. One is that a lot of companies are committing to customer experience, but don’t really know what it is, and perhaps commit without clarity of the work ahead. One of the big things that I do is help unite their leadership team to have a reality check for what they’re about to commit to, and then create a very clear path of action that includes changing their behavior, changing how they drive the business, changing how they hold people accountable.

The other main thing is, with the emerging role of the Chief Customer Officer, with which I have many years as a practitioner, I actually coach this person to be successful in the first six months to a year of their role, when everybody is saying, “Do we need this? Is it important?” I help provide clarity so that these roles are valuable and don’t flame out.

Genesys: How would you characterize the role of the CCO?

JB: The shorthand is that the role of the CCO is to enable leaders to come together; to be very deliberate about how they will and will not grow; to help the company embed competencies that aren’t owned by the CCO, but rather live in the leadership team and then within their organizations—for example, changing what we think of as a success metric around the growth or loss of the customer; around how we drive accountability to customers’ lives; around how we listen in a deliberate manner; around our improvement methodology for improving customers’ lives; and about how we hold ourselves and people accountable. It’s really around embedding these skills and embedding these new behaviors, so that over time, the most successful CCOs go on to become CEOs, but that work continues to live inside of the organization. 

Genesys: You talk frequently about building a customer-driven growth engine. Can you describe what that is?

JB: It’s essentially the embedding of The Five Competencies. The reason I call it an engine is that a lot of customer service work is reactive: Reactive to survey work, reactive to certain feedback, reactive to somebody going out in the field. We need to move this work out of that reactive mode and instead into an approach where it’s a repeatable engine, if you will, where this is simply the way we bring a product to market, that this is simply the way that we enable the field to deliver value. By embedding these competencies into the organization, we’re able to build an engine that’s constantly moving forward, that is always going to find you the answer to drive value and to earn the right to grow.

Genesys: When you enter into a new engagement with a client, where do you find companies tend to be most deficient?

Genesys: The real work for almost every company is to unite the leaders in having one common perspective on delivering, first of all, reliability to the customer, and second, a consistent approach to embedding The Five Competencies. That really is the first piece of work in all of this: level setting.

Genesys: You mentioned a reality check as the first part of the engagement. Have you ever had a relationship end at that point, where they’ve realized what they’re getting themselves into and decide against it?

JB: I always brace myself for that. I’ve had a couple clients who in a good manner actually recognized how much work it was and said, “We’ve got these other three very large things we’re working on. We need to move this to another time so we can really focus on it.” I’ve had that happen a couple times, but most of the clients, when they see this work laid out this way, when they see customers as an asset, that this is really a growth strategy, they understand that they must do it.

Genesys: How large do you think a company should be before creating a CCO role?

JB: I think it’s less about size and more about behavior. When the silos of the company are working so independently that the customer is lost between the independent actions of the silos. When the silos are working hard, but working hard so separately that there is inconsistency, and the customer feels like they’re dealing with multiple companies. At that point in time, I think it’s a good idea to start considering how the company will unite, because without doing that, customer value and customer growth will continue to erode.

Genesys: Is there one thing that every company can do today to improve customer experience?

JB: There’s a few things. The first is to come up with a simple version of what I call a customer asset. What is the growth or loss of your customer base, not in retention rates, but in whole numbers? The leadership team needs to do a reality check around questions like, “Are we keeping more customers than we’re losing? Are we bringing in a lot of new customers but losing almost the same amount? The second thing is to unite your leadership team and the rest of your organization around the customer-driven journey. Reorient how you deliver the business from the customer’s life outward, versus from your processes outward.


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