CCO-CIO Bonding Can Spur Customer Experience
In the last 5-6 years, there has been an increase in the number of companies having an executive leading customer experience efforts across a business unit or an entire organization. These executives, irrespective of whether they are known as Chief Customer Officers (CCOs) or by a different title, are in charge of designing, orchestrating and improving customer experiences across every customer interaction. In a recent interaction with CXOtoday, Tarun Sharma, Chief Customer Officer (CCO) at BMC Software discusses the importance of customer experience and what is expected as a CCO to boost customer experience in the enterprise.
- What is your role as Chief Customer Officer in an organization?
My primary role as the Chief Customer Officer, is to ensure that BMC Software’s customers are deriving the value from the software and services they purchased from us, through a series of very structured programs and a seamless after-sales experience.
- The customer is changing fast. Can you highlight any 2-3 areas where you see a drastic change in customer experience?
You’re absolutely right in your statement that the customer is changing fast. The digital experience is changing everything for the end users as well as the providers of the service. The first area that is being impacted heavily is the user experience. Instead of large monolithic applications delivering service on a laptop, people expect smaller, user-friendly services on their mobile and other connected devices. They expect the front-end to be intuitive and simple to use.
The second area that is being impacted is the scale requirement for the infrastructure to support these services. The agility in which the services need to be delivered is also changing dramatically. The third area is the shift from on premise infrastructure to a cloud-based infrastructure allowing consumers to pay-per-use. There are several other things our customers think about - such as security, availability, compliances, self-service, ability to build intelligence based on real-time data analytics, understand end-user sentiments etc. that is driving a huge change in what they expect out of enterprise software vendors like BMC Software.
- What are the 5 competencies companies would look for in a CCO? What are the challenges?
I believe that there are some key competencies that companies would look for:
a) The ability to become the customers voice of reason within the company and represent the customers pain points and opportunities to ensure that the company’s product and services portfolio are aligned to making the customer successful.
b) The ability to understand customer problems and apply technology solutions to help them succeed in a rapidly changing industry.
c) The ability to navigate through the company’s different organisations and get the right set of people on the customers digital initiatives and make them successful.
d) The ability to look for patterns across industries, identify common problems and include them in the company’s product and solution portfolio. The customers expect thought leadership and the company expects the CCO to be that thought leader.
e) The ability to influence the company’s culture to be more customer centric and ensure customer success is a priority. It is important that the entire team recognises that a customer is successful only when the business outcomes they were expecting are met.
While these five competencies seem like common sense, it requires serious leadership and influencing skills to align the various departments within the company and the customers to align to the customer success agenda. It is our job to ensure that the outcome is based on the customers’ business success and not the individual wins of different teams involved with the project.
- How closely does he have to work with CIO, CMO and others in the C-suite?
The CCO of an organisation has to work very closely with the C-suite on both sides – the customer and the company – to ensure that the business focus is never lost. The CCO has to ensure collaboration across departments in both organisations to ensure the right decisions are made through the journey of conceptualisation through adoption and not declare success prematurely. Our job is not done till we can go back to the business plan that was created during the sales process and ensure that those outcomes that were expected, are met. The customer CIO and the business leader are the most important stakeholders for the CCO.
- How is digital changing BMC Software’s landscape, especially as the company is looking at big data and analytics as an area of focus?
Companies that are more digitally advanced perform significantly better financially than companies that are less digitally mature. At BMC Software, our product portfolio is completely aligned towards Digital Transformation of the Enterprise. Since going private a couple of years ago, we have been able to invest significantly in new innovations, products and services to ensure that our portfolio remains at the cutting edge of technology.
We have been investing heavily in brand-new technology platforms for our market leading products like Remedy, TrueSight, Data Centre Automation, Workload automation and our mainframe products. These investments include not only managing big data infrastructure, but also the use of big data technologies in the new platforms. Our analytics is designed to allow our customers to get deep insights into their infrastructure to look for efficiencies and manage costs in an increasingly growing and complex IT infrastructure, both on the enterprise as well as their mainframe systems.
- How are you differentiating your offerings from that of your competitors, since everybody is taking the digital route?
BMC Software has always been the market leader in managing complex and heterogeneous IT systems. In order to get reliable digital services, it is important that the front-end is easy to use and the back-end is able to deal with the increasing number of transactions and data. It is a combination of consumerized IT on the front-end with the complexity abstracted away from the end user and a highly industrialised backend that can scale seamlessly while conforming to industry best practices and complying with the required industry regulations. Many of our competitors are good in one of those two areas. BMC Software is one of the pioneers to come up with solutions that address both these areas in tandem.
The other thing that we have been doing is verticalizing our solutions to be industry specific. For e.g. the needs of the banking sector for managing their IT infrastructure are very different from how a say, a Telco might be managing theirs. Knowing these requirements and addressing them in our solutions is a huge differentiator for BMC Software.
- What is your 3 key priorities as CCO in 2016?
The first and foremost of my priorities, is to ensure that our customers are highly successful as they transform from traditional businesses to digital enterprises.
My second priority is to ensure that our product roadmaps continually align with the industry trends that we are observing in the various geographies and industries we serve.
My third priority is to ensure that we have the best team of customer success executives that play the role of an advisor to our customer executives, so that the solutions we propose are the right ones for our customers. The customer success executives manage to a customer success plan that only declares victory when our customers agree, that the business outcomes they envisaged when buying our solutions, are achieved.
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