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From Overwhelmed to AI-nspired


CEOs no longer need to be convinced of the importance of developing relationships with profitable customers and keeping them around. What they need now is...

...a way to accomplish this feat. Some are considering the creation of a C-level position to drive the action.
Suggesting a "Chief Customer Officer" may seem frivolous to leaders who believe they already focus on customers. There's often a proliferation of tactics and projects underway–the problem is they don't amount to anything significant for customers.
So first decide: will leaders be okay with someone (other than themselves) driving consensus on customer strategy and deliverables? You may be saying, "We have consensus now." I'm sure that you've had some good meetings, but how much of it stuck? When they were over, did everyone return to their respective corners and business as usual?
What about sustaining the work? After the first and second meeting of what I call "the funky task force" on the customer work, people start to lose interest. You know these meetings. The kick-off has 40 people at the table, some who clamored for an invite. One month later, six regularly show up. And the person who got the job to run the task force layered on top of his/her "regular" job? Well, they're losing interest fast.
Now let's discuss the sticky wicket of "how" to move past the hoopla of meetings and empty commitments. Do you have a central roadmap that everyone follows on how you'll drive the customer work and measure progress? I didn't think so. How about consistent metrics everyone agrees to? We have metrics galore in our companies and of course the 'customer' is now on our scorecards. But these are typically neither clear nor connected down to the operational level.
Roles and responsibilities and holding people accountable are a slippery slope in the customer work. This is about the hand-offs between the silos. Most companies need a task list that clearly states what each part of the organization will do and when to get the priorities accomplished. But most don't have one. Do you?
Is funding customer projects like pulling teeth? This may be due to duplicate spending across the organization. Everything is pitched as an individual program from inside the silos. At planning time these investments are often vulnerable in the first round of budget cuts. Why? Because each project shows up as a one-off tactic. There's rarely an annual plan for understanding and managing customers as a key corporate asset - determining how many were lost and why and pooling resources to keep and grow profitable customers. Why? Because it's no one's job to do this job.
Most leaders wouldn't refute that any of these actions are important. They want them to happen. They've always wanted them. Their failure has been in assuming the company could miraculously defy the laws of the silos to make them a reality. Separate motivation, the metrics and the mechanics have stayed firmly rooted in each silo. And they will continue to stay there until someone duct-tapes the silos together in a unified and executable customer plan.
Is it time you established a Chief Customer Officer to connect your company for customers?

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image of Jeanne Bliss
Jeanne Bliss began her career at Lands’ End where she reported to founder Gary Comer and the company’s executive committee, ensuring that in the formative years of the organization, the company stayed focused on its core principles of customer and employee focus. She was the first leader of the Lands’ End Customer Experience. In addition to Lands’ End, she has served Allstate, Microsoft, Coldwell Banker Corporation and Mazda Corporations as its executive leading customer focus and customer experience. Jeanne has helped achieve 95% retention rates across 50,000 person organizations, harnessing businesses to work across their silos to deliver a united and deliberate experience customers (and employees) want to repeat. Jeanne now runs CustomerBliss (, an international consulting business where she coaches executive leadership teams and customer leadership executives on how to put customer profitability at the center of their business, by getting past lip service; to operationally relevant, operationally executable plans and processes. Her clients include Johnson & Johnson, TD Ameritrade, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospitals, Bombardier Aircraft and many others. Her two best-selling books are Chief Customer Officer: Getting Past Lip Service to Passionate Action and I Love You More than My Dog: Five Decisions that Drive Extreme Customer Loyalty in Good Times and Bad. Her blog is She is Co-founder of the Customer Experience Professionals Association.