Positive customer and employee experiences are at the core of any successful brand. Without delivering experiences that add something meaningful to the lives of the buyer, and provide value and emotional reward, a brand is toast. Whether they’re B2B or B2C customers, now that these consumers can talk and share their experiences online 24/7, the customer experience is more important than ever.

Customer, buyer, and employee experiences drive a brand’s word of mouth reputation.

In today’s competitive marketplace, it’s a no brainer that brands need to deliver experiences that are remarkable and worthy of sharing. Yet small to large businesses that invest in research, product development, marketing, and the smart people to run the shows often fail to really feel and understand what the buyer experiences by physically walking in their shoes.

Do you regularly walk in your customer’s shoes?

Is your new product, offering, or company innovation a step ahead of a customer’s expectations?

Or do you spend your time reacting a disappointed customer experience?

I just read Chief Customer Officer 2.0: How to Build Your Customer-Driven Growth Engine (Wiley; hardcover; June 15, 2015) by Jeanne Bliss. I highly recommend it for any organization wanting to improve their customer experiences and to leverage those experiences for growth.

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Jeanne Bliss is an international expert on customer-centric experiences and was an early pioneer of the position of the Chief Customer Officer. Jeanne herself has held Chief Customer Officer positions at top companies including Lands’ End, Inc., Mazda Motor of America, Coldwell Banker Corporation, Allstate Corporation, and Microsoft Corporation. While her latest book Chief Customer Officer 2.0: How to Build Your Customer-Driven Growth Engine is geared toward large organizations with executive level leadership, the examples she cites come from diverse industries like retail, sports, healthcare, finance, automotive, and technology are in both profit and non profit sectors. More importantly, the ideas, methods, and exercises can apply to any size of business.

In a nutshell, the book shows organizations how to earn the right to grow by delivering stellar experiences, and how to create a chief customer leadership position to lead and drive these efforts.

Big takeaways for me include:

  • How to map your customer journey
  • The importance of buyer personas
  • How to build a customer listening path
  • Why a united customer-centric effort in your organization is not optional
  • To deliver amazing customer experiences you must walk in your customer’s shoes often

Specifically, Bliss provides readers with her engine for growth – five customer leadership competencies that connect to tell the story of customers’ lives as they traverse a business.

These leadership competencies include:

  1. Honor and Manage Customers as Assets. Know how many customers you are losing and gaining, and care about the “Why?” behind each metric.
  2. Align Around Experience. Give leaders a framework for guiding the work of the organization. Unite accountability around how customers experience the business, rather than leaders’ individual silos. Or in the case of smaller businesses, individual departments.
  3. Build a Customer Listening Path. Seek input from and understand the customer journey. Tell the story of customers’ lives.
  4. Proactive Experience Reliability and Innovation. Know where experiences are unreliable before customers tell you. Deliver consistent and desired experiences.
  5. Leadership, Accountability and Culture. Embed the five competencies by following specific tenets of leadership behavior. Give employees permission to model these behaviors as well.

This book is an excellent resource for managing the customer experience and building teams and leaders in charge. Whether your customer experience is lead by a Chief Customer Officer, a V.P., or a Customer Experience Director, if you are a smaller, emerging company, the book is filled with insight, practical steps, and detailed examples to fuel customer-driven growth.

Jeanne Bliss is the co-founder of the Customer Experience Professionals Association, established to advance the worldwide discipline of customer experience and customer experience practitioners. CXPA.org has many excellent resources to build your knowledge base and network in the Customer Experience profession. Along with events and online tools they offer a Customer Experience certification.

Other books by Jeanne Bliss include: Chief Customer Officer : Getting Past Lip Service to Passionate Action (2006), and I Love You More Than My Dog”: Five Decisions That Drive Extreme Customer Loyalty in Good Times and Bad (2011).