A Quote about the CCO Council from Curtis Bingham
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Curtis on…CCO Authority: 2. Borrowed Authority

Curtis N. Bingham, Founder and Executive Director of the Chief Customer Officer Council, explains the authority that a CCO derives from the extent to which the CEO champions customer centricity.

Transcript for Curtis on...CCO Authority: 2. Borrowed Authority

Here's a question for you. Who is your greatest champion in your company? Who opens doors and paves the way for you? If that person were to leave tomorrow, what would happen to your job or your role within the company?

If you think your job might be at risk, then, you have significant borrowed authority, which is the topic for this segment. Many CCOs find themselves (as they've come into a new position) with the positional authority that we talked about previously or the influential authority based on title or their position in the organizational hierarchy. This is valuable but it's static, as we talked about previously.

Borrowed authority, on the other hand, is the strong, vocal, and very visible support of the CEO. Let's face it. When the CCO speaks, everyone pays attention. If the CEO champions customer centricity, it creates a halo effect over the CCO and enables that chief customer officer to have much greater influence over the rest of the organization. If the chief customer officer is known to speak for the CEO when it comes to matters of the customer, everybody is going to listen.

Borrowed authority is especially strong and especially necessary in the early days of the appointment of the CCO. It's almost imperative. One of the key success criteria for a chief customer officer is to have the significant borrowed authority; part of the reason for this is that any culture naturally resists change.

The need for this borrowed authority is huge to overcome the organizational inertia that exists that many times must be changed in order to become more customer-centric and put the customers at the center of the organization.

Despite starting strong, sometimes, the borrowed authority wanes over time. In the early days of the CCO appointment, the CEO and everybody else is jumping on the bandwagon, beating the drum of customer centricity.

However, as time goes on, another flavor of the month may crop up. The CEO’s interest may wane or he or she may be overwhelmed with other priorities, and the amount of air time that customer centricity gets may wane; and with that comes, sometimes, a very significant drop-off in the borrowed authority that a CCO may have.

It's very critical to heavily leverage borrowed authority in the early days of the chief customer officer’s tenure. It's important to use this halo effect, if you will, to gain momentum very quickly to make culture change as quickly and rapidly as you can, and to burn some of the bridges behind you so that there's no way to go back to the way that things were before this new focus on customer centricity.

One of the biggest things to focus on is using this borrowed authority to help gain earned authority which, by far, is the most powerful and longest-lasting form of authority that we'll talk about next.


"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