Why the Chief Customer Officer should be the Leatherman on your company’s belt.


Share on LinkedIn

© Johan Botha, 2015
© Johan Botha, 2015

During a recent customer experience cultural intervention workshop my agency’s Customer Experience Interventionist asked the participants to name a brand they are not only loyal to, but love so much they will run into a burning building to save it!

This made me think. Which are the brands I love and with each interaction with their product, service or interaction experience that they love me back?

Which one will I save from among all my casual-affair brands, the flavour-of-the-month brands, the hip and upcoming start-up brands, and my longstanding-relationship brands?

To have a true love affair with a brand, there has to be trust, mutual respect, significance, a connection, and a sense of giving beyond oneself. The kind of endearing relationship where one hugs and makes up after falling out, a relationship that is playful and adventurous and where one never kisses and tells.

I ended up with a “fingers-on-one-hand” and “fingers-to-spare” short list.

My first #lovebrand and the inspiration for this article is the Leatherman Tool Group of Portland, Oregon, in the USA.

I have owned various models of their famous multitools and have not been without one clipped to my belt in almost 20 years. I use the product almost every day and besides the fact that I now feel naked without one on my belt, it makes me happy!

Now that you have the background, let’s return to the subject under discussion. In our interactions with various businesses in various industries in various countries, it is refreshing to see that an increasing number of companies are realising the importance of Customer Experience. For brands to survive to 2020 and beyond they will have to start paying closer attention to the needs, wants and will of their clients.

In a connected world, consumers are taking more and more control in their interactions with businesses and it has even been suggested that consumers are starting to own the brand they are loyal to when we look at their need for:

• Instant gratification
• Personal attention
• Control
• Choice
• Connectedness
• Super communication
• Evaluation and tracking
• Listening more to others.

Businesses that will survive will be the ones that listen, surrender control, create meaning, are better at the basics and solve problems for their customers.

Customer Experience is being added as a discussion point on more and more board agendas, but in many instances with disregard, ignorance and no true aptitude for investment ̶̶ operational, financial, human capital or otherwise.

Customer Experience is allocated to the inexperienced, the uneducated or the uninterested. When it is not mistaken for client service or complaints handling, it is positioned as either an IT or marketing staff function.

This is no job for an IT architect or a brand ambassador; designing a company network or bullshitting your clients during a TV ad campaign will not cut it. This is a very specialised intervention that needs to supersede organisational structure and line reporting.

The Chief Customer Officer (CCO) needs a seat in the boardroom, not to report, but to advise, support and delegate to each business silo regarding the importance of aligning client centricity.

Why should your CCO be the Leatherman for your company?

The CCO needs to bring the following multitool CX skills set with him or her:

The Blade

The blade is needed to cut through the company bullshit. It is vital that the CCO must speak the truth about client centricity and the importance of the customer to the survival of the company.

The Pliers
Often radical changes or adjustments are needed to fix client-centric atrocities inherited from the past or suggested for the future.

The Can Opener

This skill is to uncover and open the can of worms. Business needs to be reminded that it is there to solve a problem for its clients first and foremost and receives compensation as a result of that.

The File

Sometimes it is needed to smooth out and polish the edges to make experiences great. What a nifty skill to be able to identify and optimise client touchpoints!

The Saw
The most important skill to have is the ability to design and craft the perfect customer journey for your clients that will create or reignite the love affair with your brand.

The screwdriver set
Various shapes and sizes are needed to get the right fit. Attracting and engaging the right employees is not only key to creating moments of magic for your clients, but it is also the strength of the organisation as a structure.

The Bottle Opener
Uncap your employees to ignite and spark passion and creativity for your brand, with the people who promote, defend and live your brand daily ̶ not unlike opening a refreshing cold brew.

The Measuring Ruler
It is important to gather the correct data, analyse and interpret it objectively and scientifically. This will not only help to indicate how client centric a business is, but will be a way of measuring performance over time. Measurement allows for correction, improvement and, most important, celebration.

The only way, in my humble opinion, to improve your brand experience for your customers is to appoint a passionate CCO with the correct multitool CX skills set to help your business:

• Connect and reconnect with your customers.
• Conceive, conserve and continuously anticipate your consumers’ needs.
• Craft and continuously reinvent your customers’ experiences for your brand.
• Create and orchestrate your CX strategy.

Maybe then I will only end up with a “fingers-on-one-hand” and “fingers-to-spare” short list of brands I truly dislike!

Johan Botha
Johan wants to live in a world where customer and employee mindfulness is the driving force behind business. As a digital anthropologist, he has been applauded for being the heartbeat of the team that enables cultural change management across various client initiatives. When he is not managing projects, you can find him illuminating life through his photography. His next intervention is to contribute whole heartedly to Brandlove's social responsibility initiative during the next year.


  1. Hi Johan. Your article was forwarded to me by our distributor in Australia. I couldn’t agree more that creating satisfied, even delighted customers should the top priority of a business. I believe that warranty is a profit center, not a cost center. Tim Leatherman, inventor, co-founder, Leatherman Tool Group, Inc.

  2. Hello Tim,

    It is an honour and lifelong dream to connect with the inventor of the Leatherman. This is the moment of truth, where you care enough about me, your customer, to spend your time writing a message. What I am feeling now is a 100% consistent with every interaction I have daily with your product and with your brand when I deal with your local distributor, Awesome Tools, in South Africa.

    I hope I did your brand justice as one of me #lovebrands!


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here