Last week I had the opportunity to ask Bob Thompson, the author of the book “Hooked on Customers”, a few questions. Bob is an international authority on customer-centric business management who has researched and shaped leading industry trends since 1998. He is founder and CEO of CustomerThink Corporation, an independent research and publishing firm, and founder and editor-in-chief of CustomerThink.com, the world’s largest online community dedicated to helping business leaders develop and implement customer-centric business strategies. His book reveals the five habits of leading customer-centric firms.
CX-IQ.COM – Bob, many industry observers, as well as practitioners, agree that a culture and politics of organizational silos negatively impact experience of the customers. Have you encounter in your research any specific practices of customer-centricity leaders, that allow them to overcome this challenge? Can you share it/them with our readers?
Bob Thompson – People often blame organizational silos for customer experience dysfunction, and for good reason. But the answer is not to “bust” silos, because they also serve a purpose: specialization. However, you can’t expect silo managers to cooperate on their own without encouragement from their boss. Having shared metrics and rewards can help. For example, if one team is responsible for the web experience and another the call center experience, management can encourage cooperation by setting up metrics and rewards that focus (and reward) both groups on the overall customer experience. Sprint used this technique, and also rallied around an internal metric that drove the business case: cost.
CX-IQ.COM – In your book’s “Habit 1 – Listen” chapter, you shared lessons for managing VoC from perspective of different companies. Some of these lessons mention benchmarking of the company metrics against their industry averages obtained from 3rd party providers. There is a debate in CXM community about methodological integrity, and therefore a value, of comparing a company’s numbers with the ones produced externally. How critical, in your opinion, is a benchmarking practice for an improvement of customer experience?
Bob Thompson – I agree that it’s difficult to benchmark, but it’s important to understand how one company compares to another in the customer’s mind. Customers make decisions based on what is different between options in their consideration set, not the absolute raw scores. I would recommend benchmarks produced by an outside firm to ensure it’s an apples to apples comparison.
CX-IQ.COM – Bob, you quote Jeanne Bliss “human duct tape” role definition of CCO. I am a big fan of duct tape – for a quick repair that needs to be done right later. As you point out through your book – customer-centricity is not a destination, it is a journey. How long can a “ship” sail, patched together with a duct tape? Isn’t a CCO only needed where CEO and CMO have failed?
Bob Thompson – Any change requires specialized help, and customer-centric change is no different. An effective CCO can help bridge the gaps in the short term while implementing systemic reforms that, eventually, will mean the CCO is no longer needed.
CX-IQ.COM – Bob, thank you very much for the great book and for sharing with us the lessons you have learned in your research.
For more information you can visit HookedOnCustomers.com.