Does Your Company Need a Grand Poobah of Customer Service?

Jim Taggart's picture

big-waiter"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 I’ll argue is 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!

I personally can’t think of a better way to distract people–employees and stakeholders–from the real issues facing a company’s survival in a brutally competitive world. Yet it’s global competition that’s driving this new fad with an increasing number of companies, which naively believe that creating a CCO position will fix poor customer service.

I‘m reminded of the fad back in the early-mid nineties which 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 that did was pass the buck to the sucker sitting in the executive window office, erroneously believing that his job was to inspire and lead the organization’s managers forward into an unknown yet exciting future. This 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 letting it rip at a conference.

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 pretense and stop the bullshit.

13587513For those of you are keen on building a strong customer service experience in your organization, check out Harley Manning’s and Kerry Bodine’s new book Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Centre of Your Business. This book is receiving hugely positive reviews, reflecting 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. Companies such as AOL, Dell and Sears have been whacked as a result of poor customer service. But we still suffer from frustrating experiences with supposedly solid companies.

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. Enroll your full management team and all employees, from top to bottom, to create a corporate culture where everyone owns customer service. And take a moment to read a recent post I wrote about employee self-empowerment and customer service: Do You Have a Fred Working for Your Company?

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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