Getting the board on board

Picture thanks to

This week is National Customer Services Week, or CSW, an opportunity to celebrate the relationship that all businesses have with their customers. I have been a member of the Institute of Customer Service for many years now and this week is one of the highlights of their calendar. More details can be found here.

This week then I am going to step out of my normal blog routine and focus on the five themes of Customer Service Week. Wednesday’s theme is the ‘Getting the board on board.’

It is everyone’s job to look after the customer yet in so many organisations it becomes nobody’s job. This is especially true of large businesses where the interface between the service offering and the customer can be remote.

I am not referring to the internal customer here as this is a concept I really struggle with. Customers are people who express their choice through money. They buy things from you. Your  colleagues internal to the organization cannot do that, they have to use your services and you have to provide them. All aspects of the business should be focussed on the real customers, those who are external to your company and pay your wages.

Yet it is easy to lose sight of this. Structures are formed. Job titles are agreed. Silos appear. You hear a lot about the Chief Executive Officer, the head honcho or the big cheese. Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operating Officer and even Chief Digital Officer in my own field are common enough yet how many times have you come across a Chief Customer Officer?

According to Wikipedia, ‘A chief customer officer (CCO) is the executive responsible in customer-centric companies for the total relationship with an organization’s customers. This position is relatively new addition in the CxO hallway, and was developed to provide a single vision across all methods of customer contact.’

Two things: Are there any companies other than customer-centric ones? What the heck is a CxO hallway?

The best way to get the board on board is for them to stop thinking in their hierarchical divisions and to address the common needs of those people they are there to serve. Customer services should not be a separate department. It should not be someone else’s responsibility. It is mine, yours and the board’s.

We all need to be Chief Customer Officers.

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