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by Jeanne Bliss

Jossey-Bass © 2006, 302 pages, $27.95 (ISBN 0-7879-8094-3).

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Getting Past Lip Service To Passionate Action

When customer service expert Jeanne Bliss was helping Lands’ End get its customer relationships in order, she learned many lessons about the structures required to support her efforts. In Chief Customer Officer, Bliss has gathered these “survive-and-thrive tactics” into a guide to getting everyone in the organization on the same page of the program. After providing companies with the tools they need to assess themselves and learn what drives them, she shows them how to structure their organizations around facing customer issues together. In addition, she offers metrics that can help leaders accurately see where their efforts are working and where they need more attention.

Improving customer efforts requires many important questions to be asked and answered. For example, Bliss explains that to better manage customer relationships, a company must first look at its internal structure. What is the company’s power core? How do the company’s collective actions impact customer relationships and accountability? By asking companies to look deep within their own structures and assess their connections between departments and other silos, Bliss helps them assess the fundamental building blocks that will impact their larger customer relationship picture.

Customer Leadership

Once she guides companies to the connections that lead to better customer relationships, she gives them the tools they can use to assess the role that leadership plays in driving the customer agenda. Using real stories and studies to demonstrate how organizations can cultivate the necessary customer leadership, Bliss offers executives a number of tips and tactics that can help them become more accountable. She also presents specific ways companies can match their commitment to the customer to the actions of the organization. With her Reality Check Audit that gives company leaders valuable answers to their internal customer questions, Bliss helps them compare what they believe is happening with what is really happening in the firm.

The last part of Chief Customer Officer explores the possibility of creating a formal chief customer officer (CCO) role in which a single company leader is designated to keep customer management on track. Bliss lays out the tasks that this person must be able to perform as well as job descriptions and structures that have worked for other organizations. By presenting the questions that executives must ask themselves and demonstrating what such a role entails, Bliss offers company leaders the background that can help them make informed decisions about their commitment to the creation of this powerful solution.

True Life Stories

A final chapter presents true stories of six chief customer officers in a variety of industries who were able to make a difference in their companies’ customer relationships. For example, the chief customer officer position at Nautilus Inc. was created almost 2 years ago to ensure the “end-to-end management of customer relationships.” The CCO at Nautilus has oversight of sales, service, marketing and product development. Bliss explains that Nautilus’ CCO reports directly to the chairman and CEO, and is also a member of the executive leadership team.

Bliss’ examples demonstrate how real CCOs were able to overcome the challenges of getting internal buy-in, finding the right staff, executing customer strategies and establishing a balance. Bliss presents solid experiences that offer other firms tested ways to create one voice that the customer can hear for the entire company even when many brands are involved. By following her lead, companies can serve and partner with their customers better.~

Why We Like ThIS Book

Chief Customer Officer takes the lessons that successful companies have learned from their new approaches to managing customer relationships and organizes their experiences into a valuable coaching tool and strategy guide. While showing leaders the actions they can take and the processes that have worked for others, Bliss offers encouragement and tips that can help them avoid the turf wars and burnout that hinder improvement efforts. ~

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