Dear Growth Molecules:
How Do I Succeed as a Chief Customer Officer in My 1st 100 Days?
"Start your day asking yourself and your team “how are we earning the right for customer growth?” - Nikki Bishop, CCO
According to Gainsight, a Customer Success Software Company, 39% of companies now have a Chief Customer Officer (CCO). The position didn’t emerge until the birth of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) & records of the first people claiming this title did so in the late 1990s. The role has since gained traction and is now relatively common across industries as a way to emphasize the significance of customer experience and satisfaction.
If newly appointed to this position, you will be expected to impact the NRR (Net Revenue Retention) and GRR (Gross Revenue Retention) numbers in your first 100 days. Your C-Suite colleagues, your team, the cross-functional teams, and the board members are paying attention to these metrics closely.
Nikki and I, both having held this position, agree it is challenging. Nikki, as CCO at Seeq Corporation, and I as a CCO at Copper before launching Growth Molecules™. Today, I serve on several boards working with CCOs and have been at serial fractional CCO for companies including Chorus (now Zoominfo) and Givelify.
The Chief Customer Officer Council succinctly defines the charter of the roles as follows:
- Growing the customer base.
- Enhancing profitability.
- Increasing the strength of the customer base as an asset.
- Balancing the C-suite and Board of Directors with their traditional focus on cost-cutting and revenue growth.
The Most Common Blind Spots Include:
- Implementing process without understanding the product & customer
- Implementing technology without a defined customer journey
- Not investing in your team enablement
So how do you succeed in your first 100 days as a Chief Customer Officer? Here are four strategies to consider as you step into this prestigious role – you are the face of the company, and customers and the company are looking to you to optimize and scale the customer experience.
“Don’t get lost in the weeds.
Focus on the key customer and company deliverables.
Everything else is noise.”
- Emilia D’Anzica
A framework should be transparent & company-wide. It should tell a story about how you approach the assessment you will do in your first 30 days as a CCO. The three pillars you will seek to understand are the people in the organization and the customers you serve, the processes that have been built and what is missing, and the systems currently in place.
With a framework in place, you can report weekly on critical findings, why they matter, and how they align with the company vision. By the end of your first 30 days, you will have a comprehensive understanding of the following:
- What metrics are being leveraged to lead your customers?
- The organization you are serving.
- The pain points the product is seeking to address.
- The people in your organization, their skills, gaps, and opportunities to grow.
- The existing processes and the ones that need to be built (playbooks to scale, for example).
- The systems or tools the customer team uses and where there is an opportunity to optimize.
If you are in an early-stage company, likely, data doesn’t exist to make decisions, and the people in the organization may not be able to lead the customer confidently.
The findings through your framework assessment will allow you to identify gaps and build a road map by quarter. You can estimate costs to build a scalable organization, who you need to hire, and where you can reduce costs.
2. Build Team Spirit
Develop a mindset that focuses on achieving goals together. Companies perform better when they operate in teams rather than relying solely on individual efforts. You can’t do it alone to succeed as a leader, so creating a team that works well together and has diverse perspectives and skills will be helpful for problem-solving and decision-making.
Collaborative teams lead to more innovative and comprehensive solutions. Creating an environment where they are psychologically safe to share ideas and build upon each other’s contributions will enhance creativity and synergy. Teamwork will produce faster results than what individuals can achieve on their own.
While the initial assessment of all the work may seem daunting, teams can divide complex tasks into smaller, more manageable parts and allocate them among team members based on their strengths and expertise. It’s also important to note that your “team” consists of many stakeholders, both internal and external. It’s ok to get input from industry experts and consider them an essential part of your team. No one has all the answers, but collectively, everyone does.
Ensuring your team has a clear vision for the future will also enable faster business results. Make sure everyone knows not only where you are going but why they are going there. The emotional buy-in on the ‘why’ for a team is critical for team success. A team that is bought in on the “why” will be able to achieve faster and pivot efficiently as needed. You can’t overstate your “why.” Do it early and do it often.
Hyper Focus on the Outside Perspective:
When you are so focused on your product and team, it is easy to forget the customer experience. A reminder I share with clients is to ‘think outside in, from your customer’s experience, not inside out.’ Before your 100-day reflection on what you have accomplished, you should know the following:
- The strengths of your team and where help is needed
- What data is available and what is missing to make decisions
- Your ideal customer profile
- How to segment and serve your customers
- What you need to implement from a process and systems perspective to scale while staying focused on the forecasted Net and Gross Revenue. We’ll dive into data next.
As a leader, you should meet at least three customers weekly. If you don’t understand the customer’s pain points, goals, and expectations of your product, you are not doing your job. Leverage the data you acquire from these conversations, the surveys your customers are answering, and the customers’ voices online when you are not in the room to lead.
3. Make Data-Led Decisions
Leveraging what you hear through the voice of the customer is only one element of how you succeed in your first 100 days. Gathering customer data by segment and cohort is essential as you scale your organization. You will want to work closely with your Finance team to review expected outcomes from the board. Your Chief Financial Officer should become your best friend. They are responsible for the budget and will have a say in how much is allocated for people, processes, and systems.
Leading with NRR and GRR as data points your team should focus on. The rest, NPS, CSAT, ENPS, Churn Risk, Logo Churn, Health Score, and many others, will all feed into the top two but stay focused on the north star metrics.
Putting It All Together
The first 100 days as a CCO are demanding and present an opportunity to establish a strong foundation and course for the company and the customer’s success. To thrive in this role, it is essential to prioritize several important elements.
- Understand the organization’s customer landscape, including their needs, preferences, and pain points. Understand these elements to lay the groundwork for impactful strategy development.
- Build relationships and collaborate with critical stakeholders cross-functionally to foster a customer-centric culture and enable cross-functional alignment.
- Develop a clear vision and strategy to enhance the customer experience while establishing measurable goals and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to ensure a focused and results-driven approach.
- Provide valuable guidance for strategic initiatives by leveraging data and analytics to drive insights and inform decision-making.
Continuous internal and external communication is key for building trust across your stakeholders, engaging your team, and illustrating the organization’s commitment to delivering exceptional customer impact. Focusing on these aspects during your initial 100 days as a CCO will lay a solid foundation for long-term success. Now it’s your turn to build the stage for a customer-centric transformation that will lead to durable growth.
- Attend CS100, by ClientSuccess.com, held annually in Utah. Details Here.
- Attend CxO Annual, by Gainsight. We attend yearly, and the learnings and connections made there last a lifetime. Details Here.
- Read The Chief Customer Success Officer Playbook, by Rod Chekras. Buy here.
- Contact Growth Molecules for coaching, training, and to help your organization protect and grow revenue. Let’s Talk!
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About The Authors:
About Nikki Bishop, CCO
Nikki Bishop, PE has over 22 years of experience in the technology and process industries, with roles in industrial data analytics, customer success, operations, application development, process control design, and digitalization. Before joining Seeq, Bishop served as SVP for the Digitalization Business Unit at Siemens Energy. She previously held multiple roles for both Siemens and Emerson, including Head of Global Field Service and Digital Operations, Director of Global Turnarounds, and Senior Applications Consultant.
Bishop holds a bachelor’s degree from Georgia Tech in chemical engineering and an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin and is a registered professional engineer. She is an active diversity and inclusion and STEM advocate.
Emilia D’Anzica, Founder & Managing Director
Emilia M. D’Anzica is the Founder and Managing Director of Growth Molecules, a management consulting firm focused on customer support and success. The company’s mission is to help organizations protect and grow revenue. Emilia is also on several advisory boards globally and an active contributor to the Forbes Council. She is a certified Court-Appointed Child Advocate (CASA) in Sonoma County.
As an early employee at several successful companies, Emilia has amassed over 20 years of customer experience as a serial leader of Customer Success teams ranging from Copper to Chorus (now Zoominfo) to WalkMe.
Emilia holds a BA from the University of British Columbia and an MBA with Honors from Saint Mary’s College of California. She is PMP and Scrum certified. Pressing ON as a Tech Mom is her first book.