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The year 2016 is quickly becoming the year of customer experience (CX). From analysts like Gartner to B2B thought leaders at the recent SiriusDecisions Summit, market experts are increasingly focused on the need to improve the end-to-end customer experience.

competing on customer experience - Gartner Research

One of those experts is Jeanne Bliss, the author of Chief Customer 2.0, founder of the consultancy CustomerBliss and co-founder of the Customer Experience Professionals Association. We partnered with her in the webinar The Rise of the Chief Customer Officer to learn more.

Tyler Douglas, chief sales and marketing officer at Vision Critical, co-presented with Bliss.

In her presentation, Bliss reveals the five customer experience competencies that chief customer officers (CCOs) and other business leaders need to nurture in their companies. Watch a recording of the webinar for a full account, or check out the highlights below.

  1. Treat your customers as assets.

word of mouth marketing

Given the power of word of mouth—both positive and negative—driving revenue and building your business isn’t possible without CX. According to Bliss, to “earn the right to growth,” companies must make their customers’ lives better.

The first step is to see customers for what they truly are: assets your business needs to nurture and manage. This requires measuring what Bliss calls the “net customer asset growth.” She recommends looking at both your new and lost customers and comparing the volume and value from both groups. This exercise provides the company with an objective measure of how well it’s managing customer relationships.

Don’t stop with traditional CX scores. Bliss says that honoring customers as assets means digging deeper and caring about the why of customer behavior.

  1. Align your business through customer experience mapping.

You can’t improve what you can’t see, so it’s important to go through the exercise of customer experience mapping to understand the stages involved in every customer’s buying process. Once a clearer idea of the customer journey is established, business executives must lead their teams to establish a code of conduct for CX. Doing this clarifies what the company will and will not do for customers.

Aligning the company around the customer experience by using a customer experience map is, in essence, about removing silos. It’s about moving towards what Bliss calls a “one-company” mentality that keeps the whole business accountable for CX initiatives.

  1. Unite sources of customer feedback by journey stage.

An important skill you need to improve CX is the ability to tell the story of your customers’ lives—who they are, what they’re interested in, and why your business matters to them. The best way to do that, according to Bliss, is to build what she calls a “listening path” that helps everyone in the company better understand the customer.

She recommends looking at the various sources of customer feedback and then tying them back to specific stages in the customer journey.

The point of this exercise is to build empathy for your customers and to immerse yourself in their lives.

  1. Take a proactive approach.

Don’t wait to hear complaints before you fix broken processes in the customer journey. Bliss advocates for a proactive approach in CX. Companies, according to Bliss, need to know about unreliable experiences before customers even raise them.

Bliss says companies must undergo an honest self-assessment and figure out their track record when it comes to providing a good experience. To discover potential problems, walk in your customer’s shoes and try your own products and services.

  1. Enable your employees to deliver great customer experiences.

The final competency to becoming customer-centric involves people you already know: your own employees. It’s the responsibility of the CCO to drive employee engagement and arm staff with the tools they need to deliver more value to customers.

Bliss also recommends building a “customer room”—a visualization of your company’s customer experience plan—to unite the entire workforce around the customer.

Final thoughts

Bliss leaves us with the realization that building a customer-centric and CX-focused enterprise doesn’t happen by accident. Business leaders who want to improve the experience of their customers must first build specific competencies. Consequently, CX pros who aspire to becoming chief customer officers need to master these competencies and learn how to inspire organizations to adopt them.

To hear more from Bliss, check out a recording of The Rise of the Chief Customer Officer and catch her in person at the 2016 Customer Intelligence Summit.

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Kelvin Claveria

Kelvin Claveria was the former Content Marketing Manager and was responsible for Vision Critical's blog and social media marketing program. Before joining Vision Critical's global marketing team, Kelvin worked at Dunn PR, a Vancouver-based public relations firm. His experience includes working with lifestyle, real estate, and non-profit clients to develop social media marketing and PR strategies. Kelvin has a Bachelor of Business Administration from SFU's Beedie School of Business.
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