A Quote about the CCO Council from Curtis Bingham
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Conversations with the CCO: Overcoming Resistance in the First Year

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As we continue to look to 1st generation chief customer officers across the country to inform best practices, this Conversation features Peter Quinn, CCO for Infor and a veteran executive in the technology industry. He established the customer experience office for Lawson in 2008, going on to lead as its chief customer officer in 2009. He leads initiatives to enhance customer experience and loyalty and is responsible for building on Lawson’s customer-centric culture. We discussed the opposition he faced during his first year and the strategies he successfully employed to win credibility and collaboration.

Curtis Bingham: Why did you create the customer experience office?

Peter Quinn: From an external perspective, our intent was to be serious about delivering a superior customer experience worldwide. Our mission statement is to make our customers stronger, so the idea of delivering that was absolutely essential.

The internal intent was to balance the authority of the general manager. Management was driving the business by geography, with sales, support, services and marketing operating as silo functions in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. The strategic decision to market based on industry—not geography—meant that each global industry was set up with a GM who had full responsibilities for P&L and all the functions reporting in. As a result, they pretty much wanted to drive everything that happens. To counter that centralization of authority, the role of the chief customer officer was brought to the table, to ensure a consistent level of customer experience around the world and across all business units.

CB: I spoke with a company in a similar situation that went in the exact opposite direction. Rather than overcome the extreme resistance around bringing the function in-house for the sake of consistency, they disbanded the role equivalent to the chief customer officer and relegated that back out to the industry. What kinds of things worked to get people on board?

PQ: I leveraged those in the organization who were most open to developing a customer-centric culture and who were following the types of guidance, processes and procedures that we were proposing. I instituted a set of metrics or KPI across the company and started to make winners and losers very, very visible, like stack ranking over business units. The only thing those at the bottom end could do, realistically, was look at why the other teams did better and copy them. We did the same for teams within a functional group and all employees across the board, and recognized those doing really good jobs.

People want to play the game; they want to be winners. No one came banging on my door asking, “Why on earth did you put me last?” Rather, people were asking, “Can you help me get past that other business unit?” Using competition as a driver to get approved through respect rather than trying to drive an agenda was how we made it work in Lawson.

CB: Was overcoming the GM’s desire to drive and be accountable for their business units and their industry your biggest challenge or was there another in your first year?

PQ: That was certainly one of the biggest. The other big challenge was that everyone else in the company thought they knew how to do it better. We use Net Promoter Score, which has a lot of credibility, methodologies and process yet most people wanted to change it one way or another. It took a long time to get our companies to understand that to be successful you have to identify methodologies and processes and stick to them. Once you’ve implemented them you measure improvement.

CB: What do you think finally changed the flow? Was it just simply you holding on to the rod and resisting the efforts to derail the measurement process, or do you think there was something else that finally won over the holdouts?

PQ: There were two things. The most obvious is that time heals most ills and you just have to go through a timeline. The second thing is the establishment of trustworthy data. When you get to the point that no one is critical of the analysis or data points, when meetings begin with the assumption that the data and analyses being presented are correct, and therefore the purpose of the discussion is to discover how to move forward, that’s when you know you’ve had an enormous breakthrough.

We do our Net Promoter Scores twice a year. After 18 months we had run the score three times and it was as plain as the nose on everyone’s face that the results were very consistent; they weren’t bouncing up and down from survey to survey. We would segment by industry, geography, team—whatever—and time after time the scores showed the same picture. Leadership then recognized that its results were mapping onto our financial results, and actually giving us a heads up. That was a critical breakthrough.

CB: As you look back over your first two years, outside of getting the data right and everybody to agree that the methodologies in play are proven, what are the CCO’s top two or three priorities?

PQ: I don’t think there’s one answer that fits all, but from my perspective the CCO needs to own the voice of the customer, and to do that with data.

In my role I own user groups, customer councils, reference programs, survey methodologies, etc., and need to have the ability to present a unified holistic view of the voice of the customer directly to the executive team, and to expect response and action.

I’ve realized that in the future I need to do less, and focus more. I spent too much time looking at data, doing analysis across the board and feeding that back to our organization. Going forward, the lessons I learned are that I need to do more upfront segmentation, make sure I identify the critical areas of the new business and engage with it quickly.


"At SAVO, we are dedicated to our customers' success. We have organized our teams around it, developed programs to promote it, and we measure ourselves based on their success. I look forward to working with other members of the council to explore innovative ways to drive the imperative
of customer success to
the forefront of an
strategic initiatives."

Brian Study
SAVO Group