How Software AG's chief customer officer is pushing the engagement envelope

As the CCO becomes more prevalent at the highest level in the boardroom, we speak to Software AG's own customer chief about the role

The chief customer officer (CCO) is becoming more prevalent than ever at the highest level in the boardroom.

A recent study by the CCO Council revealed 22 per cent of Fortune 100 companies already have a CCO on board, and 10 per cent of Fortune 500 companies have adopted the role.

It’s not surprising such a role is gaining ground. The democratisation of information afforded by the Internet, along with the proliferation of social media channels, has given customers never-before-seen leverage with businesses. As a consequence, customer experience is increasingly at the heart of corporate value.

In response, companies are seeing the need for a new role to own the whole customer lifecycle. Moreover, the role of the CCOs is not just about fixing problems, but about accelerating growth.

Chief customer officers and similarly titled executives occupy a unique position from which to leverage customer and organisational insights in making strategic decisions, creating value, and inspiring groups of people inside and outside their companies, the CCO Council report found. They are ultimately responsible for customer retention, satisfaction, loyalty and engagement, stated goals for virtually every company doing business today.

“It’s important for a CCO to not look at customers in a silo, and not to interact with customers in a silo,” Software AG CCO, Eric Duffaut, told CMO. “An important thing to consider is that you can manage the entire end-to-end interaction with customers and focus on value creation. The only way you can do that is to make sure you have the full chain in command.”


Founded in 1969, Software AG is an enterprise software company with more than 10,000 enterprise customers across 70 countries. Duffaut joined as CCO in September 2014, and has since led the vendor towards greater customer centricity and connectivity.

For Duffaut, a CCO needs to align the company’s compensation plan to the goals the business wants to achieve. At Software AG, customer satisfaction is an integral part of the compensation plan, he said.

“What gets measured is aligned with your metrics, your performance measures and what you set out to achieve,” he said. “So if you want to walk the talk, you have to understand the key to customer success is and should be the ultimate goal.”

Being truly customer-centric is completely different to a traditional product-centric company, Duffaut said.

“If you’re just a product company, you’re very inside, rather than outside, centric,” he explained. “You need to make sure you align your organisation to continually seek and understand what your customers want to do. After all, we want to show that we’re not just a product, but an enabler of innovation. So the level of engagement with the customer should be completely different than just a transactional type of relationship.”

Duffaut said Software AG has devised a mobile app product called VIP customer, targeted to its top 100 customers at pilot phase, that enables customers to connect with its teams at the highest level, including at board level.

“This way, you can bring the customer inside the company, and make them one with the community, which again gives better insights and another level of connection,” he said. “This is where I think digital brings us to tighter integration, two-way communication and a constant dialogue with customers to have that partnership.”

A/NZ VP of Software AG, James Wooster, said since Duffaut joined the company as CCO, the business has spent a lot more time with its customers.

“In Australia, we’ve built tighter relationships, and to some extent, by asking really simple questions to the customer, such as ‘what are you really trying to achieve’ and ‘how do you measure success’,” Wooster said. “By doing those things, you build a level of intimacy where ultimately you become the honest broker and advisor to their business, and less of a software company just trying to sell a licence.”

Wooster said it is also important to get people to understand how to measure customer satisfaction. This, in turn, will trigger great change to the communications plan.

“It’s about delivering the customer benefits and value, so we can continue to build that relationship moving forward,” he added.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+: google.com/+CmoAu

Join the CMO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Supporting Association

Blog Posts

Top tips to uncovering consumer insights for business innovation

An in-depth understanding of consumers sits at the heart of what we all need to do, but we know it’s not always easy to uncover insights that will unlock a true innovation opportunity.

Matt Whale

Managing director, How To Impact

Is your customer experience program suffering bright shiny object syndrome?

You may have heard of ‘bright shiny object syndrome’. The term is used to describe new initiatives undertaken by organisations that either lack a strategic approach, or suffer from a failure to effectively implement.

Leveraging technology to stand out in the sea of sameness

The technology I'm talking about here is data and marketing automation. Current digital marketing methodology, much as it is practiced at Bluewolf, dictates the need for a strategy that does four things: Finds the right audience, uses the right channel, delivers the right content, and does all of that at the right time.

Eric Berridge

CEO and co-founder of Bluewolf, an IBM Company

Lead Management is very important part of the process. For anyone running Facebook Lead Ads I would recommend using this service.Get your...

Dirk Lo

How this fintech startup is improving content marketing and lead generation

Read more

I am agreeing with Mr. Tyron Hayes that a measured test-and-learn approach could be missing opportunities to not only better engage custo...

brunson5862@mail.ru

CMO interview: How Curtin University’s marketing chief is using test and learn to cope with complexity

Read more

Excellent!

Dr Sadasivan,US

Shakespeare shows data and creativity aren’t Montagues and Capulets

Read more

Great article! Agreed with all... Matthew Lerner, Deeps De Silva... When a company has a great product that solves customers needs, a gre...

James Tyler

Why marketers are embracing growth hacking techniques

Read more

Very good article, Social media analytics helps in problem identification. They can serve as an early warning system for negative custome...

BizVinu

Four ways to use social media to boost customer loyalty

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in