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ManifestoThe winning aspiration of the CCOThis is how you put your customerat the heart of your business…Keizer Karelweg 3...
Manifesto3An economic recession gnaws at strategic objectives of organizations and their directors,requiring difficult decis...
Manifesto4Impasse‘The Netherlands still in recession,record unemployment continues to rise…’‘Economy shrinking for the fou...
Manifesto5Closed-Loop Feedback systems are deployed; customersafaris held; customers adopted; Meet & Greets organizedwith ...
Manifesto6emotional bond between the customer and the brand.Employees can only do that when‘putting your customerat the he...
Manifesto7tomer at the heart of your business’is one of the strategicobjectives, is a key leadership task. For to consiste...
Manifesto8Summarizing‘Putting your customer at the heart of your business’is ajourney that takes time. With on the horizon...
Manifesto9Notes1 Forrester, Competitive Strategy In The Age Of TheCustomer, Only Customer-Obsessed Companies CanSurvive Di...
Keizer Karelweg 389 • 1181 RG Amstelveen •The Netherlandswww.customeradvocacy.nlColophon© Nicolette Wuringtelephone	+31(0)...
Manifesto The Winning Aspiration of the Chief Customer Officer
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Manifesto The Winning Aspiration of the Chief Customer Officer


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Devil's advocate turns employees and customers into ambassadors

Chief Customer Officer on the verge of entering Dutch boardrooms

The Netherlands hesitantly counts one Chief Customer Officer. A recent study showing that this role can make a significant difference in the boardroom in these dark economic times, this stands to change. The U.S. and Europe now know two thousand CCO's. Devil’s advocates, who guided their organizations through large positive change.

"Executives who dare to think countercyclical, greatly increase their chances of winning strong in these times of recession. An important strategic consideration being to focus on the customer now more than ever. And to leave it to a specialist, the Chief Customer Officer (CCO). The Netherlands is hardly aware yet of the CCO-role. Time to introduce this role in every Dutch boardroom where customer value, loyalty and self-criticism are seen as differentiating factors. "

Nicolette Wuring observes how the Dutch boardroom struggles with pessimism in their own ranks and customers. She knows how companies can make that one strategic component “to put the customer at the heart of your business”, so often heard, but much less often successfully executed on in a meaningful way, work for a business and a brand. She studied the response organizations in other countries found. They appointed a Chief Customer Officer.

Meanwhile the pressure of the crisis has a major impact on the mindset of employees. “They become risk averse, they ‘dive’, biding their time, hoping to survive the crisis undamaged. At the expense of service. While precisely now loyalty and optimism can make a big difference. We live in the Age of the Customer. Businesses need a different mindset to fully take advantage of this opportunity. A CCO can bring the required change in mindset and behavior. Inspire with a strategy that gives meaning to customer value and deliver material returns on taking real care of the customer. A CCO first turns employees and then also customers into ambassadors who are authentically and passionately committed to the organization. "

A company considering to appoint a CCO has some thresholds to cross, recognizes Wuring. "The CCO-role has a lot of latitude and is not easy to embed into complex organizational structures. Moreover, there are not many CCO's available that can handle this heavy duty task. And ‘the issues of the day’ reign. Customer trust is still falling in our country. In our neighboring countries the CCO has created a tipping point for many organizations. Research shows that truly customer-driven organizations experienced the largest positive change in 2012. "

Wuring is a pioneer in this field. Among others, she was the 'architect' and 'catalyst' of the transformation that led to the turnaround of the reputation of the European cable operator Liberty Global (e.g. UPC Broadband Europe) and is an international author, speaker and strategic advisor.

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Manifesto The Winning Aspiration of the Chief Customer Officer

  1. 1. ManifestoThe winning aspiration of the CCOThis is how you put your customerat the heart of your business…Keizer Karelweg 389 • 1181 RG Amstelveen •The
  2. 2. Manifesto3An economic recession gnaws at strategic objectives of organizations and their directors,requiring difficult decisions, which often have a significant impact on the attitude andbehavior of employees.Directors can, however, restore trust with their employees and their customers byarticulating a winning aspiration, shifting their chances by redirecting energy consumingpessimism to commitment that generates energy, both internally and externally.How? By turning the frequently expressed strategic ambition of‘putting the customer atthe heart of your business’into an inspiring, meaningful, border-crossing aspiration thatpeople (employees, customers, in fact every stakeholder) can connect to and that connectspeople; and by consistently walking the talk. With a Chief Customer Officer (CCO), still a rarephenomenon in the Netherlands, arguably making the difference as catalyst, guide andinspiring leader.In every boardroom there’s a seat at the table for Finance, Marketing, IT and HR. However, inspite of the fact that a business lends its existence to its customers, a seat for someone whorepresents the customer is in the Netherlands not obvious.What prevents an organization from appointing a CCO? What can you expect from a CCO?How does he work? What does he deliver?This manifesto provides the answers and presents the link to your CCO...The winning aspiration of the CCOThis is how you put your customerat the heart of your business…
  3. 3. Manifesto4Impasse‘The Netherlands still in recession,record unemployment continues to rise…’‘Economy shrinking for the fourthconsecutive quarter…’‘Number of vacancies at ten year low…’Your employees are bombarded daily with ill-omenedposts in the media. Closer to home they are confrontedwith dismissal or threat of dismissal. Friends and familylose their jobs; feel the pressure to sell their homes; etc.Even when looking for entertainment, the threat is palpa-ble, with TV shows such as‘My life in ruins’.This has a major impact on the mindset of your employ-ees. The consequence is risk aversion and lack of energy.They‘dive’, biding their time, hoping to survive the crisisundamaged.Way outIn this doomsday scenario, the meaning of the word‘service’is rapidly deteriorating, both the service to in-ternal and external customers. Which is difficult to avoid.What’s inside will leak out. The customer shrugs. Choice isabundant.“I’ll just choose another provider. All products andservices are interchangeable anyway...“Meanwhile, you discover that there are customers outthere looking for more than just low prices. The experi-ence you offer them matters to them, and service is a keydifferentiator to them. So you set out to‘put the customerat the heart of your business’. It acquires the highest prior-ity on your strategic agenda. Examples of Dutch compa-nies that preceded you: Jumbo, Landal Greenparks Organizations demonstrating that even in timesof recession they are successfully creating opportunitiesto outperform the competition. The question is how canyou best create these opportunities.DirectionYou can answer this question by articulating a winning as-piration. By co-creating an ambitious, yet realistic horizontogether with the people in your organization.A horizon that touches the hearts and minds of youremployees. By acknowledging their deeply rooted humanneeds. By giving them an anchor point, meaning, respectand appreciation; inspiring them to add meaning andauthentic content to the vision, mission and core valuesof your organization; recharging and refocusing theiremotional contract with their job and employer (brand). Ashared strong sense of purpose – the horizon – connectsthe people in your organization. It generates a winningmood, in people, and in your organization. The perceptionshifts from‘surviving’to‘thriving’. Pessimism makes way forcommitment, ambition, drive and contagious enthusiasm.NewcomerIn 2011, Forrester 1called the era we’re in the Age of theCustomer, a time when focus on the customer mattersmore than ever before. In this era, Forrester argues thatcompanies need to start treating customer experience asa business discipline instead of a cliché. The Age of theCustomer puts the spotlight on the customer experienceand ultimately the arrival of the Chief Customer Officer,a role that has been the subject of extensive research atForrester for seven years already.During the Gartner Customer 360 Summit 2this year, itwas revealed that there are more than 2,000 companiesnow who have a Chief Customer Officer. The number isgrowing.“The Chief Customer Officer is a powerful asset that can helpresolve chronic customer issues, create sustainable competi-tive advantage, help retain profitable customers, and driveprofitable customer behavior through the effective customerstrategy… Creating the role is a serious undertaking andexecutives must be firmly committed to supporting the rolevocally and visibly to ensure the CCO has the authority andcredibility that is necessary for success.” 3Plenty of actionIn the Netherlands the awareness that customers are im-portant has also penetrated, partly thanks to for examplethe Twitter action of the well know comedian Youp van‘t Hek and a book like‘ Customers’from Egbert Janvan Bel. Rijn Vogelaar has unleashed a true epidemic withcompanies setting out to turn their customers into Super-promoters. Bain & Company introduced the Net PromoterScore, a widely adopted KPI. Marketing departments areextended with employees engaged in social media, webcare, customer experience, et cetera. Some companieshave allocated service under the CMO (Chief MarketingOfficer) reasoning that‘service is marketing’. But market-ing is all about the interests of the company, not theinterests of the customer.There’s a lot of‘customer-movement’in organizations.To generate customer insights Enterprise Feedback and
  4. 4. Manifesto5Closed-Loop Feedback systems are deployed; customersafaris held; customers adopted; Meet & Greets organizedwith customers; interactive feedback and co-creationplatforms deployed; social media monitoring toolsdeployed. All this activity notwithstanding, there is notmuch improvement in the perception of the customer inthe Netherlands. Companies in the Netherlands still scorelow on advocacy (turning employees and customers intoambassadors).Stumbling blocksIs the customer really at the heart in all this marketingviolence? No, not enough. And that is partly explainable.Because there constantly loom stumbling blocks.Markets are saturated and hyper competitive; productsand services are commoditized and interchangeable;digitalization and globalization are rapidly increasing; eve-rything and everyone is connected; markets are conversa-tions and customers have more power than ever before.In this playing field new rules apply, making it increas-ingly difficult to stand out as a brand and create valuefor customers. The‘output’of an organization (products,services, operation) only provides access to the market.Output concerns the functional and rational part of the re-lationship of a customer with a brand. Differentiation andvalue are generated by the‘impact’you have as a brandon the customer, the emotional part of the relationshipof the customer with the brand, where the challenge isto consistently do the right things at the right time in theperception of the customer.‘Putting your customer at the heart of your business’isa layered objective, which starts with doing things right(output), to then do the right things at the right timein the perception of the customer (impact).‘Doing theright things’from the customers’perspective is all aboutrelevance and credibility.ExperienceThe value that emotionally binds a customer emotionally- impact - is largely (co-)created at the interface betweencustomer and employee. A customer’s experience is key.But, experience is intangible, situational and a snap-shot. Perception is personal, emotional and meaningful(positive, but also negative). The employee makes thedifference, makes it personal for the customer. The feelingan employee gives a customer is the impact of the brand.And if that is consistent at every interaction, and an expe-rience that in all circumstances gives the customer a goodfeeling, the customer remains, creating the chance that heis so excited that he becomes an ambassador.Customers previously moved through a clear linearprocess. Marketing was responsible for branding, brandawareness and lead generation. Sales qualified leads andwas responsible for conversion to sales. Customer servicetook care of the after-sales and service process. Today littleremains of this clear linear process. The concept devel-oped by Forrester, Agile Commerce 4, is a good visualizationof the variety of interaction moments in all stages of thecustomer cycle.Most companies are not organized with the customerin mind but in departments, fragmenting the customerexperience. Each department is responsible for a part ofthe customer experience. Everyone is responsible for partof the customer experience, but no one for the wholeend-to-end customer experience. Resulting in an incon-sistent customer experience. If‘putting your customerat the heart of your business’is used as a marketing tool,without the alignment, buy-in and commitment of (everyperson in) the organization, it is an impossible (at timeseven frustrating) task for the (people in the) organization.‘Putting your customer at the heart of your business’is along-term goal that touches all the constituent parts of anorganization. When‘putting your customer at the heart ofyour business’is a strategic objective, it is crucial to ensurethat, prior to communicate externally about this objective,the basics of the organization are in order, that the outputof the organization is up to par, that the organization‘doesthings right’. Only then can employees focus on‘doing theright things’in the perception of the customer; creatingthe desired impact and consistently charging the desired
  5. 5. Manifesto6emotional bond between the customer and the brand.Employees can only do that when‘putting your customerat the heart of your business’is meaningful for them. Afeasible horizon, a winning aspiration that touches theirheart, offers them an anchor point, inspires them toauthentically add meaningful content to vision, missionand core values.‘Putting your customer at the heart ofyour business’has become part of the‘why’of the organi-zation, of its reason for being. Felt, experienced and livedby the people in the organization. It’s become part of theDNA of the organization and part of everyone’s job.Balance‘Putting your customer at the heart of your business’does not require a complete transformation of theorganization. The challenge is to create balance betweenoutstanding customer experiences and economic feasi-bility. After all,‘putting your customer at the heart of yourbusiness’doesn’t mean you do anything the customerwants. If the strategic objectives are‘customer first’andprofitable growth, these need to be synchronized witha structure and control mechanisms aimed at achievingboth objectives. It especially means making clear andunderstandable (for employees and customers) choices,and being transparent, so customers have realisticexpectations and employees can make meet or evenexceed their expectations. Creating balance betweenquantity and (perceived by customers) quality, betweenoutput and impact, and understanding of the correlationbetween the two.Freedom‘Putting your customer at the heart of your business’means creating‘room for play’and‘freedom to be’for youremployees. Every person has what Aristotle called‘practi-cal wisdom’, the moral will and skill to the right things.“Awise person knows how to make the exception to every rule.”It is crucial that employees feel ownership, and takeresponsibility for the perception of each customer as wellas their contribution to the results of the company.‘Putting your customer at the heart of your business’invokes other capabilities from employees. Whereas in thepast mainly competencies at a task level (‘human-doing’)were important to the success of a company, a companyas a‘well-oiled machine’, today you need employees as a‘human being’. The‘machine’mustn’t only be‘well-oiled’,but also be capable of deploying empathy and creativity.In addition to professional and intellectual capabilities(‘left brain’), social, ethical, and other expressive skills(‘right brain’) are increasingly important. The first categorycan be‘implemented’. The second category can be stimu-lated by creating a winning aspiration and a safe environ-ment where people bring more of themselves to theirjob. An environment where people dare to experimentwith their behavior; a learning environment; an environ-ment where people are generally happy and feel valuedand respected as a human being. You cannot‘implement’this kind of environment. It is an interaction betweenall employees, an environment they together‘co-create’.Facilitating such a fertile environment, if‘putting your cus-
  6. 6. Manifesto7tomer at the heart of your business’is one of the strategicobjectives, is a key leadership task. For to consistently cre-ate the, by the customer desired, perception, you not onlyneed employees to perform at a task level, but they alsoneed to (be able to) perform optimally as a‘human being’.ThresholdsThe role of the Chief Customer Officer has been aroundinternationally for some time, and originally grew organi-cally out of frustrations with organizations that realizedno one person in the organization owned the end-to-endcustomer experience.The Netherlands hesitantly counts one single CCO. Thismight be explained by several factors. The role is insuffi-ciently defined. A CCO’s (direct or indirect) responsibilitiestypically include customer service, customer acquisitionand retention, customer experience and most impor-tantly, customer advocacy. CCOs centralize the ownershipof the customer relationship; they ensure long-term valueis created in the relationship between the brand andthe customer: a two-way street benefiting both parties.Successful CCOs orchestrate organization-wide change, adifficult task that requires collaborating with a wide rangeof employees and partners in the company. This shift inculture requires leadership skills, influence and trust.CCOs typically bring marketing; sales; distribution;customer service and support; systems, processes andprocedures experience; financial and governance experi-ence to their role. In addition they are savvy in companyculture and have excellent leadership skills. The depth andbreadth of expertise and the personality profile, requiredfor the role, make it challenging to identify and recruit theright person for the job.The firm commitment to support the role vocally andvisibly to ensure the CCO has the authority and credibilitynecessary for success can represent a threshold especiallyin combination with the economic environment we cur-rently live in, all too often forcing‘the issues of the day’topriority and dominating agendas.Last, but not least, creating a truly customer-drivenorganization is not something you can do‘on the side’. Itrequires undivided and active commitment, support andattention, but the amount of work behind this simplesentence is a fulltime job.PrecursorsThe weight of the CCO role rapidly increases. Turningcustomers into ambassadors, and restoring trust are moreand more often key in companies’vision, mission and(core) values, and as part of companies’strategic objec-tives. Yet in the Netherlands customer confidence in largecompanies and the feeling that companies put customersfirst is still declining. Unlike countries such as Germany,France, the United Kingdom and the United States.In these countries the Edelman Trust Barometer 20135shows the largest positive change in organizations, CCOsinspiring and guiding to become truly customer drivenorganizations; aligning vision, mission, values, organiza-tional structure, business model and customer strategy;breaking down organizational barriers; driving customerstrategy deep into the operations of key departments andbusiness units; building/improving customer (experience)competencies company wide; driving accountability forthe customer (experience) across the organization; mov-ing management and workforce to a customer-centricculture and organization. So that‘putting the customer atthe heart of your organization’becomes leading at strate-gic, tactical and operational level.It worksIt won’t be long before the value of the CCO will also berecognized in the boardroom in the Netherlands, seeingthat the value that this professional adds is of great signifi-cance for companies in today’s day and age. The CCO, withthe depth and breadth of expertise and the personalityprofile, required for the role, has an extensive track record,contained in verbs.A CCO…… achieves strategic objectives with respect to thetopics‘putting the customer at the heartof your organization’and‘restoring trust’;… plays the role of driving force and catalystbehind the transformation to a trulycustomer driven organization, top-downand bottom-up;… inspires to action and generates ownership andcontagious enthusiasm for‘putting thecustomer at the heart of your organiza-tion’and‘restoring trust’;… leads by example;… breaks down organizational barriers;… connects people horizontally, vertically en diago-nally;… transfers ownership and responsibility in a naturalway to then fade into the background.
  7. 7. Manifesto8Summarizing‘Putting your customer at the heart of your business’is ajourney that takes time. With on the horizon• Reaching the point where it starts to work for a brand.It has become a relevant, credible, and unique part ofthe sustainable competitive advantage of the brand;• Sustainable, and profitable growth, because happycustomer (and happy employees) cost less and delivermore. Customers stay longer, spend more and recruitnew customers.The question is, how to tackle this journey.In the Netherlands there’s a lot of focus on the customeralready. But is there enough coordination, consistencyand continuity, necessary for successfully realizing theambition? Start the journey with an‘HD 3D picture’ofthe organization. Obtain a three dimensional view of theorganization, its culture and what is required before thecustomer is really at the heart of your business’.En route you create• Awareness for the difference between output andimpact;• Awareness for the fact that successfully realizing theaspired ambition requires:o Creating a shared ambition (a winning aspiration)and shared goals;o Creating a shared language;o Combining output & impact;o Connecting values & results;o Making the ambition meaningful for everyone andan intrinsic part of everyone’job;• Awareness for the gaps between the ambition and itssuccessful realization;• Buy-in for the synchronization of strategic goals (shortand long term);• Buy-in for the phasing and prioritization (which ele-ments can happen simultaneously; which need tohappen sequential);• Buy-in for setting up result areas in alignment with theaspired values, ambition and strategic goals;• Buy-in for an integrated roadmap of strategic actionsaligned with the ambition,‘going concern’, already inprogress actions, and actions required to fill the gaps;• Buy-in for appointing a‘driving force’within the or-ganization to guide the organization in the process ofrealizing the aspired ambition. The CCOo Develops and executes a strategic roadmap, andgovernance mechanism really‘putting yourcustomer at the heart of your organization’;o Develops a shared ambition, a winningaspiration, shared goals, a shared language,an own(-ed) agenda, and produce communicablepro(-c-)(-g-)ress;o Generates company-wide contagious enthusiasmand ownership.The key questions directors starting the journey askthemselves are:• Are we prepared to initiate and devote ourselves tothis journey?• How will we devote ourselves to make this journey?• Who will be our ultimate travel guide?In the United Stated and the countries surrounding theNetherlands, the answer to the last question is appointinga Chief Customer Officer. A person with the appropriatecompetencies, personality profile, commitment, buy-in,contagious enthusiasm, a viable position and theright mandate.A travel guide who ensures that the perception ofemployees and customers shifts from ‘surviving’to ‘thriving’. Pessimism giving way to commitment,ambition, drive, ownership and contagiousenthusiasm.You aspire to restore the trust of your employees, yourcustomers and the marketplace? To put your customers atthe heart of your business? Create sustainable and profitablecompetitive advantage by turning your employees and yourcustomers into ambassadors? So you can yield the materialand immaterial harvests? Contact Nicolette Wuring,CCO pioneer in the Netherlands. /+31(0) 6 52 007 662
  8. 8. Manifesto9Notes1 Forrester, Competitive Strategy In The Age Of TheCustomer, Only Customer-Obsessed Companies CanSurvive Disruption, June 8, 2011; Gartner Customer 360 Summit, May 1-3 2013, SanDiego, USA;3 Chief Customer Officer Council;;USA4 Forrester Research, 2011,“Welcome to the Era of AgileCommerce”5
  9. 9. Keizer Karelweg 389 • 1181 RG Amstelveen •The Netherlandswww.customeradvocacy.nlColophon© Nicolette Wuringtelephone +31(0) 6 52 007 662e-mail nicolette@wuring.nlwebsite