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Does Your Company Need a Chief Customer Officer?

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all-hands-on-deckIf customer relationships aren’t front and center in your organization, it might be time to expand the C-suite.

In the race to win customers, it’s “all hands on deck.” Rush, rush, rush … keep those leads coming in … drip, drip, drip … nurture prospects and accelerate the buying process. Sound familiar? This is the pandemonium many of us face on a daily basis. Then marketing complains that sales won’t accept their leads, while sales moans that marketing leads aren’t qualified (which is true, because cold leads generally suck).

The result? An endless focus on attracting new customers, while existing customers are left to fend for themselves, instead of being tapped for their ideas, feedback, and referrals.

Are You Neglecting Your Best Referral Sources?

Current customers are always your best source of new business. They know your value first-hand and offer referrals to their extensive networks, but only if you nurture those relationships—not just through automated marketing, but with one-on-one communication.

Customer relationships are the referral seller’s most valuable asset. Yet, salespeople close deals and move on, often because they believe customer retention is “not their job.” The deal is done, and now account management takes over.

Too many companies lack a cohesive process to develop deeper relationships with existing clients. Sales and marketing teams are fragmented and siloed. And if that doesn’t change, it will destroy future sales pipelines.

Enter the age of the Chief Customer Officer.

There’s a New Executive in Town

Daniel Newman—author of Evolve: Marketing (^as we know it) is doomed—says this new role is essential for companies to stay competitive. He elaborates in his Forbes.com post, “Chief Customer Officer: Tying Together Technology, Marketing and Advocacy.”

Here’s a snippet:

The C-Suite is witnessing quite an evolution with new roles beginning to emerge: the Chief Customer Officer (CCO) is one of the newest among them. Last year CCO Council’s Annual Chief Customer Officer Study identified the role of CCO as quickly turning into “a staple of modern business” with 22% of Fortune 100 companies and 10% of Fortune 500 companies having one on board already. Founder and Executive Director of CCO Council, Curtis Bingham explains the trend, “With accessibility and the consistency of customer experience in mind, many companies have turned to creating a chief customer officer (CCO) position in the C-Suite. This still-emerging and evolving role can be defined as: the executive responsible for the total relationship with an organization’s customers.”

The customer is no longer “owned” by any particular department, but rather “shared” between various key business verticals: operations, marketing, product, IT, etc. As one-to-one conversations are becoming more and more important, it is paramount that the highest level of the organization is represented by someone who cares deeply about the customer. Someone needs to be responsible for making sure that customers and employees are engaged in the organization and connected to communities and areas of the business where the goals of customer satisfaction and retention can be met. The CCO breaks down the silos to align the company’s goals with the customer’s needs.

Show Your Customers Some Love

Read the rest of Newman’s article, and consider how your company could reorganize sales and marketing processes to help pay closer attention to your most important asset—your existing customers.

You can also show them they’re essential to your organization by inviting them to contribute to your blogs, highlighting them in articles, or conducting joint webinars. Organize events for your customers to convene and network. Learn what’s happening in their worlds and offer them referrals.

Now, that’s taking care of your customers. I think your Chief Customer Officer would love that.

Connect with No More Cold Calling

Follow Joanne on Google+ or Twitter @ReferralSales, or connect on LinkedIn and Facebook.

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