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 newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

3 marketing mistakes to overcome when courting prospective customers

Marketing that urges respondents to ‘buy now’ is a little like asking someone to marry you on your first date. At any time, only 3 per cent of the market is looking for what you’re selling, so the chances of your date randomly being ‘The One’ is pretty slim.

Sabri Suby

Founder, King Kong

Why are we dubious about deep learning?

The prospect of deep learning gives those of us in the industry something to get really excited about, and something to be nervous about, at the same time.

Katja Forbes

Founder and chief, sfyte

Why you can’t afford to fail at CX in 2019

In 1976 Apple launched. The business would go on to change the game, setting the bar for customer experience (CX). Seamless customer experience and intuitive designs gave customers exactly what they wanted, making other service experiences pale in comparison.

Damian Kernahan

Founder and CEO, Proto Partners

Where does the claim that 2 million Australians have tested come from ? Anecdotal information suggests that this is way off the mark.

David Andersen

DNA-based marketing: The next big thing?

Read more

Thank you for the info , being part of a digital marketing agency in kerala , this proved handy and get to know with upcoming trends. htt...

Dotz Web Technologies

Predictions: 9 digital marketing trends for 2019

Read more

So who then is correct? The Research or The skilled Digital people.

Anene

Report reveals Australia faces digital skills shortage

Read more

The blogs are really appreciable and one can trust the knowledge and information provided in the writing.The article you do produce on a ...

Prince Arora

5 brand strategy lessons from Gelato Messina

Read more

Thanks for sharing! Meet the Softcrylic team at Adobe Summit 2019. This team works with a broad range of clients helping solve complex bu...

Anderw Hagel

What Richard Branson has to say about experience delivery, leadership and disruption

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in