I first heard about Jeanne Bliss (@JeanneBliss) back in 2009 when I picked up my copy of “I Love You More Than My Dog” off of a bookshelf in a real brick-and-mortar store. The title grabbed my interest, but the ideas in the book grabbed my soul and I shared this book with you and anyone else who would listen.
The idea that by simply choosing powerfully you can impact your customers’ experience of your business has stayed with me all of this time. And, in the meantime, you can say that Jeanne and I became what I fondly call #PFF’s — Professional Friends Forever.
Jeanne Bliss Helps Big Companies Act Small
What you may not know about Jeanne is that she worked at Lands End for more than 20. It was there that she took on the role of “Chief Customer Officer”; being in charge of the customer’s ultimate experience with the organization. And, what’s even more interesting, is that her experience as chief customer officer for a variety of larger organizations such as Microsoft, Allstate, Mazda and others, inspired her next two books “Chief Customer Officer: Getting Past Lip Service to Passionate Action” and “I Love You More Than My Dog” — which I think is the penultimate small business book for customer experience.
In her newest book, “Chief Customer Officer 2.0: How to Build Your Customer Driven Growth Engine”, Jeanne takes her years of experience with both big and small business and breaks it down into five basic competencies that an organization of any size can master to create such a positive, memorable customer experience, that customers choose them and stay with them.
Yes, Even Small Businesses Can Use These Principles — Really
You may already know that I have a personal preference for books that are actionable for small business owners. There’s nothing wrong with books written about and for large corporations, they just aren’t a personal preference for me. So when I got my review copy — as a basic off-the-printer 8 ½ x 11 bound copy and started reading it, I thought I was going to cringe.
When I see chapter names like “Chief Customer Officer Role Clarity” and “Unite Leadership to Achieve Customer Driven Growth” and the recommendation to see customers as “Assets” — well … you get the picture. I thought it was all “corporatey” and that you wouldn’t really like it.
But this is where reading these book reviews pays off for you – because I knew Jeanne personally and I dug into the book. I mean the woman that wrote one of my favorite books on the planet can’t be wrong – right?
“Chief Customer Officer 2.0” for the Small Business Owner
I couldn’t hold this all in, so I talked to Jeanne and flat out asked her “How is a small business owner supposed to read this book and like it?” We don’t have Chief Customer Officers, we don’t have a team to pull together other than our trusted Me, Myself and I. So what’s this book got to do with us?!
You’ll be so glad I asked because what she told me made such sense that it completely changed how I experienced “Chief Customer Officer 2.0” and how you will too.
“No matter how big or small your business is, you can still rally around the customer experience. You can still understand the fundamental principle that it isn’t just about getting new customers in, it’s about keeping the customers you have. And instead of just looking at numbers in spreadsheets, In chapter two; “Achieve Customer Driven Growth” we came up with this marble exercise to visually show you exactly what was happening to your customer assets.”
Here’s the explanation from “Chief Customer Officer 2.0:”
“(W)e showed them two jars of marbles. One was filled with marbles that represented new customers, and another was filled to represent lost customers. The jar of “Lost customers” had more marbles. We were also able to figure in customer “value” to visually give an accurate depiction of the impact of having to refill the jar of marbles.”
The 5 Competencies Every Business Needs to Have to Get Chosen by Customers
In “Chief Customer Officer 2.0” Bliss outlines five competencies for putting the customer at the center of the organization:
Competency 1: Honor and Manage Customers as Assets: Instead of measuring success purely from data or financials. Look at why customers are leaving, their experience will move all the other metrics.
Competency 2: Align around Experience: Bliss’ philosophy is simple. Your purpose for being in business is to “Improve customers’ lives”. Do this by mapping out your customers’ journey.
Competency 3: Build a Customer Listening Path: Bliss talks about this from the perspective of “telling a story of the customers’ lives.” Again, there is this focus on individuals rather than data points. When leadership is united around the customers’ lives, you’ll get a much clearer perception and path to profit.
Competency 4: Proactive Experience, Reliability and Innovation: Your job is to know before customers tell you where experiences are unreliable.
“For example, in the automotive business, the test-drive experience is pivotal to the car-buying decision. But what most automakers measure is the end result — the number of units sold. They do not put rigor into building a reliable process for the drives o matter where or when they are requested. Many are not measuring actual operational performance at the dealership in delivering test-drive experience reliability.
Yet, the ability or inability for a customer to test-drive correlates directly to sales.”
Competency 5: Leadership Accountability and Culture: “Culture is the action not the words.” This competency encourages business owners to move beyond words to actions that everyone can understand and customers can experience.
Why Should You Read “Chief Customer Officer 2.0?”
I’m not going to lie. “Chief Customer Officer 2.0” is written for Customer leadership executives, CEOS and boards considering hiring a Chief Customer Officer, Chief Customer Officers and other corporate types. The language is a little corporatey and there are references to teams, CEOs, meetings and processes that you’ll currently don’t have if you run a business of less than a million dollars.
But there is gold in “Chief Customer Officer 2.0” for small business owners even if you don’t have a team, meetings or fancy systems. There is a deep philosophy, that if you take it on today — will help you attract and keep profitable customers.