Anybody who is in a customer experience leadership role knows their job is hard. Too much lip service. Too little action. Recommendations not getting acted upon. Lack of support when it’s most needed. Disinterested employees. There are plenty of others.
It’s not the same for everybody, a truly supportive CEO can do wonders in making the customer take centre stage. The problem is if the leadership is driven by profit, operational excellence or sales performance it makes the creation of a truly customer-centric company almost impossible.
Is there a way around it? Actually – yes – it requires one single step. It’s a pretty big step and one the CEO would probably have to initiate but if it is made it changes the way a company operates forever!
It is all to do with structure.
The traditional organisation chart has been with us for around 250 years and is dedicated to doing one thing. Create, market, deliver, sell and support a product or service. The sales-driven CEO is likely to have originated from a sales background. The operational excellence driven CEO focused at one time on that function. This isn’t to say there is no understanding of the importance of other functions, but it does explain the difficulty in getting a common agreed focus. Think about it. Our companies are a collection of different functions and the ultimate commander and controller will have a favourite function that in their world offers more critical impact than others.
The enlightened CEO could tear up that definition and create a 180 degree change in emphasis by defining the company with Desired Customer Outcome at the top.
The concept of segregation of labour is maintained but EVERY function within the organisation has a customer outcome alignment.
The implementation of this is not complex as it might appear. Companies cannot change their functions and processes overnight – that is far too revolutionary. What can be done is to define the outcome-driven company structure and make that the centre of everything the company does. This means everybody who is hired will have customer outcome as their driving focus – customer facing or otherwise. This means reward becomes customer outcome driven and everybody has accountability in their own job.
Change the backbone and the focus and you change everything. It will take time for a company to adjust, but adjust it will.
Do you know what the customer outcome-driven operating structure looks like in your company?