How to manage diverse departments

How to beat the challenges facing Chief Customer Officers – Part 2 of 3

Key insights into the best ways to cultivate a customer-centric culture.

By Amanda Salter

In the first article in the series we looked at the challenge of who ‘owns’ the customer. Here we continue to look at the challenges facing CCOs.

In large organisations, different departments and people will be responsible for different customer touch-points. As the Chief Customer Officer, your job is to ensure they all follow the same vision. But this isn’t always easy, especially when you factor in internal politics. We suggest looking at how other more modern ‘Chief’ type roles gained traction. For example, how did Chief Digital Officers build authority amongst their peers within traditional non-digital organisations? What lessons can be learned?

What you can do:

  • Clearly communicate your role
    While you’re creating shared responsibility for the customer experience across your organisation, you also need to decide and clearly communicate the part you’ll play. How active or passive do you want to be? Are you the conductor of the orchestra, responsible for directing the overall customer agenda? Or a consultant, advising on the bigger picture but taking a less hands on approach? Or somewhere in between? People need to know where you stand, and where they stand in relation to you, especially if the role is relatively new to your organisation.

Why? People need to buy in to you before they can buy in to your vision.

  • Get the CEO onside
    A bit of no-brainer, but your CEO needs to be your greatest advocate. They need to understand and be genuinely bought in to the importance of your role and your initiatives in the organisation. And they need to visibly and consistently communicate this, especially in the early days. Ideally, you’ll already have the full support of your CEO on the organisational KPIs that you’re intending to measure and put in place to drive customer centredness. This is vital for change to happen.

Why? If the boss isn’t in your corner, why will anyone else be?

  • Build a budget
    Make the case to have your own budget, with authority to disburse it as you see fit.

Why? Budget = power. If you don’t have a budget, you may be seen as less influential.

  • Get a team
    Make sure you have at least a small skilled team to help you towards your agenda. It goes without saying to carefully staff your team with people who “get it” and can evangelise with you.

Why? Headcount = influence. The more people who can spread the word about what you’re trying to achieve, the easier it will be to get support.

  • Start a project
    Create your own initiatives, promote visibility of these, and make it so desirable and exciting that other departments want to participate and feel left out if they don’t.

Why? Projects = visibility. If you don’t own or run any projects, you may be seen as just a “toothless authority”.

  • Set clear requirements
    You need to communicate clearly, specifically and simply exactly what is needed from each department. For example, this could be a re-prioritisation of effort, or contribution of time, resources, or budget towards a project. On top of this, people and departments need to know the benefits they will get out of it.

Why? A single customer experience policy across departments requires great communication, or it will all break down.

This is the second instalment in our three-part series. Look out for the final insight, ‘But who is my customer?’

Other articles in the series:

Part 1 – Who owns the customer
Part 3 – Who is my customer?

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