3 Areas Where CCOs and CIOs Can Partner To Build Competitive Advantage

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We continue to see the role of the Chief Customer Officer (CCO) evolve. While in the past, we saw the CCO role primarily defined as improving customer experience and championing a customer centric approach, CCOs today play a critical role in shaping customer strategy, driving customer growth, engagement, retention, and advocacy across all levels of an organization.

The rise of digital, mobile, cloud and IoT services has dramatically increased the number of customer touch points. While this has opened the door to almost unlimited opportunities for companies to reinforce their brand and drive positive customer engagement, the expectations by customers have also increased. Nowhere is this more true than in the cloud computing and software as a service (SaaS) space where businesses compete to deliver stronger outcomes and value to customers – from large enterprises and mid market companies to SMBs.

To be successful, CCOs need to partner closely with the CIO, CMO and other functional leaders to make sure the overall brand, product, services, and CX strategy are truly customer led.

While a CCO and CIO may not have worked together all that closely in the past, the roles have now become inextricably linked. Companies can no longer afford to make product strategy and technology roadmap decisions in a vacuum without an acute awareness of the impact on customers. Similarly, companies can’t build a cohesive CX strategy without technology playing an essential role.

With that overview in mind, let’s take a closer look at some of the specific areas where CCOs can partner with CIOs and other leaders to build competitive advantage:

Strategic alignment with customer needs

In today’s hyper competitive market, every facet of the customer experience—including brand strategy, new product innovation, service delivery, sales, marketing and communications—should be built around the needs of your customers.

CCOs play a key role in driving alignment with customers, bringing key stakeholders together, sharing voice of the customer feedback directly, and making it actionable across the organization. While data and analytics are crucial for driving growth and efficiencies, equally important are the structured and unstructured insights and real life stories from customers.

Even with thousands of different data sets and analytics, we need customer stories and insights to make that data relatable and actionable. It’s the stories that really drive customer-centered change across the organization.

Prioritizing technology decisions that deliver customer value.

For companies selling to customers in B2B markets, they need to make sure technology deployments strategically map to the specific needs of each target audience within customer organizations – from C-level and senior decision makers to developers and IT Pros. What are the specific problems each audience needs to solve for? What factors are most important to them when choosing a partner, product or service? What other areas can you increase the value you offer them as a partner?

While the functional benefits of your products or services such as price, performance and scalability are important, brand trust and ease of doing business also play a huge role in shaping purchase decisions for organizations of all sizes.

Co-creating value with your customer

To become a truly customer centric organization, companies also need to adopt a service mentality that is not only focused on improving customer outcomes, but also increased agility, given constantly evolving customer needs and perceptions. Doing this effectively requires having a holistic view of the entire customer journey – from the initial adoption of your product or services to value realization, and ultimately advocacy. That journey has to be put into the context of how each customer runs their business, services their customers, and measures performance.

By working in tandem, CCOs and CIOs can map technology deployments to the desired business outcomes for customers. For example, if you’re deploying a new Cloud ERP system, a key focus area will be improving business intelligence and information sharing across departments for each of the essential functions of the customer’s business (i.e. accounting, inventory and order management, HR, customer relationship management). Marketing and sales cloud platforms also create incredible efficiency and reveal new opportunities, allowing brands to better automate, hone marketing with real time analytics, and improve customer engagement. Done well, those gains are as good for your customers as they are for you.

But as we all know, technology for technology’s sake does not make a program successful. To deliver the desired outcomes for customers, the CCO and CIO need to work in lock step to develop a holistic strategy that aligns your business drivers and performance indicators with those of your customers.

Once you’ve clearly aligned strategic drivers and success metrics, the next step is to assign sponsors, key stakeholders and cross functional teams with the specific business outcomes they are responsible for. At the end of the day, you want every individual on your team to feel accountable for customer value and customer outcomes as part of their project and operational goals.

Why this all matters

Partnering on the right fronts takes hard work, commitment and rigor. Ultimately, companies need to embrace a holistic approach that engages nearly every part of the enterprise over the entire customer lifecycle. By doing so, each facet of the organization can hone their contribution to customer value realization capabilities and become more competitive in the process.

By developing and implementing a holistic strategy, you have an opportunity to unlock long term growth and value both for your customer and your organization, while also strengthening your relationship with the customer as they move from adoption to advocacy.

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