There's a new breed of officer emerging in the marketplace. Whether you call them Chief Customer Officer, Customer Director or even Head of Customer, it's a role that spans a wide spectrum. Before we answer the question of what skills to look for in the Customer chief, let's take a look at what the role can be responsible for.
This varies significantly from organisation to organisation, at one extreme it's what used to be the Director/Head of Customer service managing all customer interactions from inbound call centres, a heavy emphasis on making sure queries and complaints (and sales in some cases) are effectively dealt with. This is an incredibly important role and working with those who are in that space, the way the customer ethos is incorporated and how customers are dealt with can make the difference between a long relationship or a very short and very often public denegration of the organisation, especially now with the prevalence of social media.
At the other end of the spectrum you have the Chief Customer Office / Director who sits on the board and is responsible for driving not only the Customer strategy but through this the product and service strategy for the organisation. There is an argument that maybe this should be the role of the CEO, but we will cover that another day!
So, in this vast spectrum of a seemingly newly formed role, what skills are we going to look for in the individual ? I could be tempted at this stage to go into all the Analytical, Strategic, commercial, marketing, digital and customer contact centre skills, but for me for me an understanding of these is a given. It's more fundamental than that. Anyone who is responsible for any aspect of the 'Customer' in any organisation has to have three things;
1) A high level of EQ (Emotional Quotient), empathy, understanding...call it what you will but the ability to relate to people and really understand their needs. They should be talking to, and understanding the pulse of the customer.
2) A service mentality, to serve the needs of the customer has to be their prime goal, working within the organisation they should be the 'champion' of the customer, always looking at how to improve the Service to their customers (whether B2C or B2B, or internal).
3) Finally for me, they have to be genuinely turned on by measures and metrics, both qualitative and quantitative. They need to have the ability to define what the real measures of customer satisfaction are for their organisation,and use the vast amount of information from the different channels available to create their own personal dashboard - this should be on the boards agenda so creating meaningful measures is critical. Am I expecting them to be statisticians ? Of course not, but analytical, absolutely!
Of course, in all of the above I am talking about a role designed around external customers. For another day again, I will delve the importance of the internal customer for an organisation and the changing shape of HR and back office operations.