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Does Your Company Need a Grand Poobah of Customer Service?

September 15, 2019

“I dub you King (Queen) of customer service! Now go forth and rally your troops to make our company the best in how customers are served.”

Chief Customer Officer (CCO).

Or so goes the new executive title behind what is operationally a very dumb idea. Is this yet another gimmick in which to punt the customer service football farther down the field to a future date?

You bet!

There are few better ways to distract people–employees and stakeholders–from the real issues facing a company’s survival in a brutally competitive world. Yet, it is global competition that’s driving this recent fad with an increasing number of companies, naively believing that creating a CCO position will fix poor customer service.

It brings to mind the fad back in the early-mid nineties that saw senior executives being appointed to chief change management poobah. What was poorly understand back then was that by isolating one position as being responsible for driving the organization’s change process that managers could respond by saying, “That’s Frank’s problem!”

All it did was pass the buck to the sucker sitting in the executive window office, erroneously believing that his or her job was to inspire and lead the organization’s managers forward into an unknown yet exciting future. The fad quickly died, and so rightly.

Other dumb fads have since come and gone. And now another one has entered the corporate realm, spinning off the never-ending customer service conveyor belt of hyperbolic ideas and concepts.

Give it a break, fellas.

For some inspiration, watch this two minute clip of customer service guru Tom Peters talking about building customer loyalty.

Customer service in an organization, whether in business, government or the non-profit sector, is EVERYONE’S business. Each and every manager in an organization must live and breathe customer (client) service. For if you’re not, you have no right being in a management appointed position. Lead, follow or get the heck out of the way!

So let’s drop the pretence and stop the bullshit.

For those of you are keen on building a strong customer service experience in your organization, check out Harley Manning’s and Kerry Bodine’s book Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Centre of Your Business. This excellent book reflects the reality that while consumers continue to suffer from bad customer service that customers are growing in power. It’s a bizarre dichotomy, but that’s what’s happening in our economy, especially as one retail analyst recently dubbed the “Amazonification” of online selling.

If you’re leading a company, large or small, or a public sector organization, think twice before you jump on the CCO Grand Poobah wagon. Ask yourself this simple question:

Is parking the responsibility for executive leadership in customer service the role of one person?

Don’t fall prey to yet another fancy management fad. Use your common sense. Save your money. Enrol your full management team and all employees, from top to bottom, to create a corporate culture where everyone owns customer service.

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.
– Charles Darwin

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