The following post is an excerpt from my book: Chief Customer Officer 2.0. Below, I share a “My Rock, My Story” snippet – which is one of many featured throughout the book. These stories come from CCOs who have faced numerous challenges, yet persevered in pushing their metaphorical “rock up the hill” by uniting their leadership teams, working through challenges, and ultimately achieving success in doing so.
In this “My Rock, My Story,” Tish Whitcraft shares how her experience as the CCO of OpenX demonstrates one of my 5 leadership competencies – #5: one-company accountability, leadership, and culture. The focus of this competency is that leaders must connect the silos and enable people to act.
CCO Stories: Give Your Team the Authority to Just Do It
Tish Whitcraft is Chief Customer Officer at OpenX, responsible for the partner experience and all revenue growth and retention. OpenX is a global leader in web and mobile advertising technology that optimizes the economic potential of digital media companies through advertising technology.
Tish: In a lot of organizations we put too many rules, policies, and frameworks in place, thinking that these will make a scalable experience. But a scalable experience occurs when we begin giving people the ability to make the right decisions. At OpenX, for example, we learned that we had to give account managers permission to make decisions to grow and scale the business.
One of the things we did was to simply begin having regular weekly meetings with account managers to enforce and go through specific customer issues they were having. We’d have them recommend what they thought should be done – and then give them the authority to just do it. Simple, right? But somewhere along the way someone didn’t give them permission to make decisions. So they thought that was a rule they had to follow; they stopped taking action and started asking first. And that got in the way of solving customer issues and creating value. It impeded growth and our ability to scale.
We also work deliberately to show customers that we have confidence in our own people and trust their decisions. We are always in meetings with customers – so we showcase their account manager as the one who owns the decisions on the account. If we make them get approval on everything – then the customer will see their account manager as a paper pusher they have to go around to get a decision.
Leadership, Accountability, and Culture
Tish and I share similar beliefs that the role of the CCO is to be committed to customer-driven growth by demonstrating it with actions and choices. As CCO, you work with the leadership team to build consistent behaviors and company engagement that will prove to the organization that leaders are united in identifying and improving customer priorities with the most impact. As you embark on this customer experience journey, you must take the time to listen and understand what’s going on with your customers and the employees charged with delivering an experience to them.
Kill any unnecessary rules that gets in the way of honoring employees and customers.
Would you like to assess how well you’re doing at enabling your leaders and making decisions to earn customer and employee growth? Take this Customer Culture Reality Check audit to see if you’re fostering a culture that builds passionate customer advocates.