For a CX transformation effort to go beyond the small and tactical, organizations need an executive in charge of leading the effort. Although these senior leaders go by various titles, the most common is still Chief Customer Officer (CCO).

That’s why I was immediately interested when Dell’s CCO Karen Quintos, and her Dell Technologies colleague Scott Bajtos, CCO at VMware, asked me to join them for a small get-together for senior CX leaders. The three of us had dinner in early November in New York with Claire Burns, CCO at MetLife; Lisa Margosian, CCO at Girl Scouts of the USA; Dayton Semerjian, General Manager Global Customer Success at CA Technologies; and Mark Weinstein, Senior Vice President & Global Head of Customer Engagement, Loyalty and Partnerships at Hilton.

One of the big themes we discussed was the importance of employee experience to customer experience. The group talked about the need to have:

  • A customer-centric mission for employees to rally around and articulate. My take: they nailed it on this one. For example, at USAA, every employee I’ve ever talked to can tell you they’re on a mission to improve the financial well-being of their members, and that “they do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.” That’s powerful, and it’s a huge reason why USAA is number one at CX in four financial services categories.
  • A focus on building empathy for customers among all employees, including back office staff. My take: Also spot on. Take Cleveland Clinic: they have employees from Finance, including the CFO, go on rounds with doctors so they can see them interacting with patients firsthand. That’s on top of a wealth of other empathy-building tactics, including a truly amazing video that never fails to impress no matter how many times I see it.
  • Creative ways to bring authentic voice of customer to all employees. My take: This is extremely helpful for aligning employees on what’s really going on. One way CA does this is by putting customer verbatim comments on a ticker that runs on their internal homepage, making sure to include “the good, the bad, and the ugly.” Here’s another idea: I recently attended a full-day event at the HQ of a manufacturer that put their customers, large and small, on stage with the request to “beat them up” on what they could do better. Counter to what you might expect, it was both energizing and insightful for the employees.

Thanks to Dell and VMWare for creating this opportunity! I’ll be writing more about my night as a guest at the CCO dinner party soon.