7 Inhibitors to Customer Driven Growth

I made a mistake

7 Key Inhibitors

Jeanne Bliss is an expert on customer-centric leadership. Her new book Chief Customer Officer 2.0: How to Build Your Customer-Driven Growth Engine is a success roadmap for leaders wanting to build a customer-focused organization.  Jeanne pioneered the Chief Customer Officer position and has held the job for twenty years at Lands’ End, Allstate, Coldwell Banker, Mazda and Microsoft. She has led Customer Bliss since 2002 where she has consulted with some of the world’s largest companies.

With all of her experience and research, the very first thing I wanted to know was about the mistakes leaders are making.  She shared with me the 7 growth inhibitors companies are making again and again.


“Culture is the action, not the words.” -Jeanne Bliss


What mistakes are holding companies back from building a customer-driven organization?


Are You Making These Mistakes?

There are 7 key inhibitors that companies stumble over in trying to earn customer-driven growth:

1. Not having executives engaged in the effort.

Often executives will say that they want to focus on the customer experience, but they hand off the tasks to a department or area to work on it. It is hard to sustain this work without executive involvement driving the new prioritization, removing actions that are in the way, and giving people permission to work together.

2. Starting with a mantra, not an action plan.

Often companies decide that they want to get some early traction by telling everyone to “focus on customer experience.” What happens next is that people realize this is a big corporate priority and begin making plans, creating new scoreboards and taking action. A lot of action occurs, executives get a false-positive that change is occurring, but it eventually stalls out because the actions don’t add up to improve complete end-to-end customer experiences.

3. Not defining the customer experience and gaining alignment.

The most potent recurring use for the journey map is to guide work and discussions from the customer perspective. Without this framework to unite efforts, silo work continues to proliferate.

4. Not breaking the work into actionable pieces.

Don’t boil the ocean. Successful CCOs advocate prioritizing 5 to 10 priorities at a time. Following through until they are completely improved will earn the right to keep doing the work. Making this effort too large too fast is why it fails.

5. Focusing only on survey scores and not on customer growth.

The challenge of focusing mostly on survey scores it that the score is the motivator. And, a survey score is impacted by numerous factors, not all of which can be impacted by areas of the organization that are given the outcome metrics as their performance score.

6. Lack of clear communications and behaviors to model.

It’s not enough to do the work behind the scenes: the organization must be kept up to speed on actions, what these actions mean to them, and on successes. Leaders must emerge as constant communicators of why we are taking the actions we are. As new decisions are made that focus on customer experiences—people must be kept apprised of these decisions—and given permission to model this type of decision-making.


“Leaders must emerge as constant communicators of why we are taking the actions we are.” -Jeanne Bliss


7. Actions based on what people think versus what customers need.

Many companies, especially those long entrenched in their business, believe they know what customers need. Even when they do research, they make the research about “validating” their plans rather than beginning by being open-minded and asking the customers about their lives and what they need. This approach often compromises the outcome of new experiences invested in—and in some cases will backfire as the investment yields negative customer response.


Chief Customer Officer 2.0: How to Build Your Customer-Driven Growth Engine


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