A Chief Customer Officer playbook is a sports analogy for what needs to be done to win the game: maximum customer lifetime value.
Playbooks are pivotal to the success of all team sports: football and soccer, baseball and cricket, basketball and volleyball, hockey and lacrosse, rugby and rowing, NASCAR pit crews, and so on.
Team strategy comes first: in sports, it’s based on your strengths and weaknesses compared to competitors.
On the contrary, in customer experience, shift gears to base your strategy on your core-growth customers: what are their goals? What are their views of your strengths and weaknesses toward achieving their goals?
- A playbook breaks the team’s strategy down into actionable plays (tactics) with roles and responsibilities to be successful.1
- Offensive plays proactively drive to the goal.
- Defensive plays guard against competitor progress.
- Offensive plays proactively drive to the goal.
- A game plan is a subset: a selection of plays for a game against a specific opponent.
A play chart is prepared for each game.2
Typical CCO Playbooks
Chief Customer Officer playbooks are typically focused on (A) Touchpoint Management and (B) Experience Management, rather than (C) Experience Leadership.
As you browse this list, consider yourself as a pro sports team owner. Would you be confident of maximizing lifetime value with the (A) and (B) plays alone? (Lifetime Value = cumulative profitability across your customer relationship duration, so maximizing revenue while minimizing cost to serve and maximizing relationship length and strength.)
Can you add some offense and defense analogies to these examples?
A) Touchpoint Management
Set of practices to reverse churn and drive cross-sells and up-sells. (mostly defensive plays)
- Customer Service: free-throws/kicks after fouls, bang-bang in baseball, Hail Mary in football, back-heel cut in soccer, buzzer beater in basketball, chicken wing in volleyball, repechage in rowing
- Customer Success: base coach in baseball, three-four defense in football, dime in basketball, six-two in volleyball
- CRM: first down plays and shoot the gap in football, half-volley in soccer, hand pass in hockey, run and gun in basketball, slog in cricket
- Customer-Centric Marketing: half court defense in basketball, double wing in football, left wing lock in hockey, opposite field hit in baseball
- Account Management: kickoff, fast break in basketball, hold the runner on or backdoor slider in baseball, roll shot in volleyball, run out of the gun in football
- Revenue Operations: quarterback sneak or zone blitz in football, slam dunk in basketball, spike in volleyball
B) Experience Management
Set of practices to engage customers as brand allies. (mostly offensive plays)
- Customer Loyalty: pooch punt or hurry-up or hitch route in football, cherry picking or dagger in basketball, squeeze play or pitchout in baseball, squib kick in soccer
- Digitalization: flat pass in rugby, dink or let serve in volleyball, intentional walk or punt in baseball, lateral in football, give and go in basketball
- VoC & Net Promoter System: pressing in soccer, scoop and score in football, down screen in basketball, grafting in cricket, pickoff in baseball, poke check in hockey
- Journey Mapping & CX Design: match-up zone defense in basketball, zone defense in soccer and hockey, zone runs in football, chest trap in soccer
C) Experience Leadership
Set of practices to prevent roadblocks to lifetime value growth. (all offensive plays)
- CX Issue Prevention: full court press in basketball, go route in football, yorker in cricket, shutout in baseball and soccer and hockey
- CX-Inspired Growth: coaching philosophy, team culture, preliminary depth chart, player development3
CCO Playbook Gap
We’ve all seen struggling sports teams with super strengths in the Touchpoint Management and Experience Management plays listed above, yet losing due to weaknesses in the Experience Leadership fundamentals.
Is your Experience Leadership in balance with Touchpoint Management and Experience Management?
Experience Leadership is a phrase I coined to represent company-wide alignment to core-growth customers’ expectations. A 1-to-1 ratio between customers’ realities versus expectations is a good experience. Delivering value in alignment to expectations is brand integrity.
Remember Peter Drucker’s wise observation: “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself.” This is the proper aim of customer experience efforts! Marketing and Sales are already responsible for revenue. What’s missing is governance of the gap between brand promise and what customers experience.
Misalignment creates waste and gaps that necessitate massive sunk costs in Touchpoint Management and Experience Management. Brand integrity gaps generate distrust! Trust is at the heart of every high-performing sports team. Do you want to get off the quick wins hamster wheel for a stronger guarantee of an enduring winning streak?
Here’s the foundation for elevating your Chief Customer Officer Playbook:
- TRUST is the organic key to desired customer behaviors that are addressed inorganically in Touchpoint Management and Experience Management.
- See the proof below: “Have you taken any of the following actions in relation to (a) companies that you do not trust? and (b) companies that you trust?”4
- Trust is stagnant. These 2016 and 2023 figures are the top 4 rating points on a 9-point scale for: “How much do you trust each type of business to do what is right?”5 The inverse is:
- 33% of people in 2023 do not trust family-owned businesses versus 34% in 2016
- 42% do not trust private businesses
- 45% do not trust public businesses versus 48% in 2016
- 50% do not trust state-owned businesses versus 54% in 2016
- With so much distrust of businesses, it’s no wonder huge investment is necessary in Touchpoint Management and Experience Management.
- Why is trust stagnant after 14 years of high CXM investment since the 2009 global economic downturn?
- Why is trust low after 30+ years since the earnest pursuit of customer retention began in 1990, spurred by Reichheld’s HBR article about customer lifetime value?6
- Consider the movie, Moneyball: “There is an epidemic failure within the game to understand what is really happening. . . . What I see is an imperfect understanding of where runs come from. Baseball thinking is medieval; they are asking all the wrong questions.”
- The lesson for Chief Customer Officers is about consistency and trust (undervalued practices rather than undervalued players): asking the right questions to align all team members enterprise-wide for consistent wins.
- Contrary to unpredictability as the goal of sports game plans — keeping competitors off balance2 — predictability is the goal of the customer experience game.
Ultimately, maximum customer lifetime value is the CCO Playbook vision. This is congruent with investors’ expectations of maximizing business value. In sports teams, maximum lifetime value is pursued with every player, every game, for the entire team, and for fans, sponsors, and investors. Experience Leadership prevents costly issues by engaging every work group across the company as a “team sport” of coordination, collaboration, and lifetime value mindset. Consistency nurtures trust, which strengthens relationships, which are a prerequisite to maximum customer lifetime value.
Chief Customer Officers can spend less and generate far more value by focusing primarily on Experience Leadership. Instead of creating a CXM empire:
- Position a smaller CXM core team as facilitators of everyone across your enterprise to use customer insights as guidelines for doing their job right, preventing issues for customers in the first place. (“Enterprise” = corporation, non-profit, or government agency.)
- Make it your mission to collect Expectations VoC and share it in timely, tailored, actionable and compelling ways with everyone who is developing a growth plan, re-engineering a process or organization, containing costs, targeting customer segments, and setting rituals (reviews, approvals, agendas, templates, recognition, development, compensation, succession, etc.). Help them incorporate Expectations VoC into all of these endeavors.
CCO Playbook Assessment
Rate yourself on a 5-point scale, with 5 = absolutely:
- Does your CEO see your CCO playbook as pivotal to the success of your enterprise?
- Are your strategy, playbook, and game plans guided jointly by the Chief Customer Officer (team sport coach), Chief Executive Officer (team sport General Manager), and Board of Directors (team sport owner)?
- Do your customer experience strategy and corporate strategy go hand-in-hand, accordingly?
- Are your CX statistics reflective of this?
- Is your offensive playbook as strong as your defensive playbook, and vice versa?
- Are your strategy and game plans reducing remedial costs to serve customers?
- Have you assessed your strategies and game plans for what’s hindering or helping customer trust?
- Do you have a game plan and play chart for every aspect of the end-to-end customer experience?
- Are your assisting (and insisting) every team member across your enterprise to do their part toward almost-automatic CX excellence as their way of life?
From your answers to these questions, you are probably seeing a need to delve further into this analogy. This is the first of a 5-part series: there is likely to be huge learning ahead as we continue to explore what makes a world-class Chief Customer Officer Playbook.
- Customer Experience Leaders Can Learn from Baseball
- 23 Customer Experience Practices You Should Stop in 2023
- 6 CX Spirit Animals for Today’s CX Imperative of Trust
- Easy Keys to Lifetime Value Mindset
- Will 2021 Be the Year of CX as North Star?
1Why Playbooks are a MUST for Successful Continuous Improvement, Nancy Bach.
2Football 101: The Playbook and Game Plan, BloggingTheBoys.com
3Football Coaching Development: How to Get the Most Out of Your Off Season, ProStyleSpreadOffense.com
42023 Edelman Trust Barometer, Edelman.com
52016 Edelman Trust Barometer, Edelman.com
6Zero Defections: Quality Comes to Services, Harvard Business Review
Sports Glossary, SportsLingo.com
Football Plays, RookieRoad.com
Images licensed to ClearAction Continuum by Shutterstock.
Much as I support your CCO CX playbook concepts and ideas – and I agree with just about all of them, especially the essential priority of building and sustaining trust – I’d encourage more active inclusion of an authentic, transparent stakeholder-centric culture and set of processes, where ALL employees, not just those on the front line, are considered key contributing and value-creating assets.
A few years ago, I co-developed a playbook for helping make that happen: https://webcdn.ultimatesoftware.com/static/pdf/whitepapers/Employee-Experience-Playbook.pdf?from=hcm-hot-topics
I appreciate your read-through and comment, Michael. Indeed, this IS ALL-EMPLOYEES-IN, no exceptions.
“Experience Leadership is a phrase I coined to represent company-wide alignment to core-growth customers’ expectations.” That’s certainly not limited to customer-facing people, which is never something I’ve talked about.
“In sports teams, maximum lifetime value is pursued with every player, every game, for the entire team, and for fans, sponsors, and investors. Experience Leadership prevents costly issues by engaging every work group across the company as a “team sport” of coordination, collaboration, and lifetime value mindset.” It’s a pity these phrases are not highlighted as blockquotes to clobber over the head that ALL EMPLOYEE INVOLVEMENT is exactly my point of this entire article.
Consider the CX (and eventual financial) fiascos of SVB, US Bank, Wells Fargo, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Toys R Us, etc. In every case, a pivotal decision that was inconsistent with lifetime value maximization was made by an individual or small group (both customer-facing and non-customer-facing). Therefore, CCOs need to broaden their charter to emphasize Experience Leadership as all-in prevention of CX issues.
Please see this detailed outline: Customer Experience Leaders Can Learn from Baseball
and accompanying diagram:
All: don’t miss the key take-away in the 3 paragraphs above the Assessment:
“Chief Customer Officers can spend less and generate far more value by focusing primarily on Experience Leadership. Instead of creating a CXM empire:”
“Position a smaller CXM core team as facilitators of everyone across your enterprise to use customer insights as guidelines for doing their job right, preventing issues for customers in the first place. (“Enterprise” = corporation, non-profit, or government agency.)”
“Make it your mission to collect Expectations VoC and share it in timely, tailored, actionable and compelling ways with everyone who is developing a growth plan, re-engineering a process or organization, containing costs, targeting customer segments, and setting rituals (reviews, approvals, agendas, templates, recognition, development, compensation, succession, etc.). Help them incorporate Expectations VoC into all of these endeavors.”
That’s the core of Experience Leadership . . . what are some additional analogies for this in team sports?
Lynn, thank you for a well-researched and cogent analysis of the realities of CCOs. Playbooks are essential, and those linked to CX strategy even more so.
I had the privilege of leading a CX function at a company that was undergoing a major shift to core-growth customers. The key to success there would have been a strategy that was clear for each customer segment, with tactics to move customers into growth positions or out. Leadership from the C-Suite here is essential.
The trick for CX leaders is to win (because you typically aren’t given) a seat at the table when discussing and planning these strategies. I believe that’s why we are seeing more CCOs come from within the business vs. externally. They’ve already been at the table—witness Nationwide’s CX program. That’s why I would re-order your list above and move #3 to #1.
Thanks for sharing such good information to consider!
Shelly Chandler, CCXP
CX Leader and Strategist
As you suggest, let’s flip the playbook (C, B, A) to emphasize first and foremost Experience Leadership: preventing issues via company-wide alignment to customers. To get there, instill trust as top priority in internal interactions if you want to stand out externally as the top brand to trust.
There are 3 levels of CX Improvement:
#1: Prevent occurrence of issues (this is highest ROI: almost-automatic CX excellence: Experience Leadership — not a program, but rather, instilling customer-centered business management as THE way of life)
#2: Stop recurrence of prevalent issues (this is where the big CX $$$ is: a gift that keeps on giving: CX Annuities-focused Experience Management)
#3: Resolve instances of issues (this is a hamster wheel of Touchpoint Management costs that expands as your customer base expands — but it must be done VERY WELL because at this point customers are on the verge of disengaging or engaging more)
To get the seat at the table, redirect executive focus to CX Annuities: #2 and #3 will free-up massive budget from #3 to avoid the need for shrinkflation and inflation and layoffs in most cases, free-up budget from value rescuing to value creating, and free-up customers from the pebbles in their shoes so they can do more in their life or business and therefore more with your brand. Focus on CX Annuities is the doorway to increasing trust and brand integrity, resilient relationship strength, lifetime value maximization, and impressive financial gains in every P&L and support function. That’s what we did when I led CX transformation company-wide.
You have a CMO, CRO, CSO, CIO, CDO already . . . so, your CCO and your core CX team are best positioned as brand integrity champions.