How to achieve word of mouth on steroids

The landscape of customer service has fundamentally shifted. 80% of all buying decisions are now researched online, with customer reviews as the main source. It is truly word of mouth on steroids.

Other authors

One of our favourite authors, Brian Solis, has written about this extensively in “WTF” and “The end of business as usual“.  So has Guy Vaynerchuk in “The thank you economy”.

Social customer service

Our favourite book on CRM is “Social Customer Service.” 

Jeanne Bliss

And now there is “Chief Customer Service 2.0” by Jeanne Bliss. Jeanne Bliss is the Founder and President of CustomerBliss, and the Co-Founder of The Customer Experience Professionals Association.

She is one of the foremost experts on customer-centric leadership and the role of the Chief Customer Officer. A consultant and thought leader, Jeanne Bliss guides C-Suite and Chief Customer Officer clients around the world toward earning the right to business growth and prosperity, by improving customers’ lives.

Jeanne Bliss pioneered the role of the Chief Customer Officer, holding the first-ever CCO role at Lands’ End, Microsoft, Coldwell Banker and Allstate Corporations.

She takes a corporate perspective to the issue of particular large corporations becoming truly customer-centric, instead of just playing lip service.

Five core competencies

She has identified five core competencies

  1. Treat customers as the most precious asset
  2. Focus on providing an experience that is most desirable to the customer
  3. Listen to customers to learn how to improve that experience
  4. Make customer experience development as important as product development
  5. Sustain proactive customer leadership at all levels and in all areas

When these five competencies are embedded in the organisation with leadership behaviour, they are so clear that they become the work of the organisation.

Stating the obvious

In her view, a Chief Customer Officer (CCO) is successful when he or she can simplify how the organisation works together, to achieve customer-driven growth, engage the leadership team, and connect the work to a return on investment, grounded in caring about customers. To me, that sounds like stating the obvious

Not obvious for the big boys

However, in large corporations, it is not that obvious, and she gives the full roadmap to what she calls a customer-driven growth engine where you do achieve word of mouth on steroids. Large companies are defined by the project plan movement rather than customer life improvement. CEOs and boards want to be customer focused, but without an explicit connection to growth. Many consider the work to be:

  • A leap of faith
  • Expensive.
  • Deterrents to the “real” work.

Understanding the real numbers

They do not know how many new customers did you bring in this quarter, by volume and value (power of your acquisition engine); how many customers were lost this quarter, by volume and value (power of the experience and value perceived); how many increased their purchases; and how many reduced their level of engagement with you?

The key here is to express these outcomes in whole numbers, not retention rates, so the full impact is understood. These numbers represent the lives of customers joining or leaving your company.


They do not know  “WHY?”  Why did customers stay or leave, buy more or less, or actively use your products?

The customer journey

To be customer-centric, you need to understand the entire customer journey, Which is why you need a customer journey framework that will provide a disciplined one-company diagnosis into the reasons behind customer asset growth or loss.

The story of the client

You need to be able to tell the story of your customers’ experience based on feedback volunteered from customers as they interact with you, survey and social feedback, ethnography, and other sources of gathered input are assembled into one complete picture, presenting customer perception and value, stage by stage. Using as many sources you can, including social media. Creating a customer’s listening path, mapping all the touch points. Ultimately the job of a CCO is to be the company storyteller of your customers’ lives. And the trick is to make it human.


And believe it or not, it is very difficult to get that implemented. Silos, wrong metrics, wrong emphasis, wrong culture, wrong leadership.

Silos are a big thing

For example, billing is a challenging customer experience not just because of what the billing department does. Communications, sales, marketing, operations, IT, and billing all play a role in what the customer ultimately experiences. Customers experience a company across the operation, not down the silos.

Did we earn the right to customer growth?

What would change in your company if every executive meeting started with “Did we earn the right to customer growth?”  Embracing customers as assets shifts the attitude of leaders and ultimately the organisation, because the purpose is to earn the right to growth by improving the lives of customers. When you improve their lives, the high scores will follow.

It starts with the metrics (and assets)

  • Customer Asset Metric 1: New Customers; Volume and Value
  • Customer Asset Metric 2: Lost Customers; Volume and Value and Reasons WhyAdd a note
  • Customer Asset Metric 3: Do the Math; Net Growth or Loss of Your Customer
  • Customer Asset Metric 4: A Simple Set of Customer Behaviours Indicating Growth or Loss of Relationship

Customer asset metrics are needed to engage executive leadership in a customer-centric transformation. They become engaged in the conversation because of the simplicity of the metrics and their connection to earning the right to growth.

The map

Leaders who use the journey map to diagnose the experience and its impact on the growth or shrinkage of the customer asset are most successful. Ultimately your customer journey map becomes your business decision blueprint. And again stating the obvious, for this work to be successful, it must connect to leadership language and accountability and communication. Clarity of purpose is helpful too (duh!).

For example, billing is a challenging customer experience not just because of what the billing department does. Communications, sales, marketing, operations, IT, and billing all play a role in what the customer ultimately experiences. Customers experience a company across the operation, not down the silos.

And here is the kicker

It is about social media and experience reliability. You create customer growth when you deliver a reliable experience, and you will start earning the right to your customers’ story through word of mouth. There is a 300% revenue gain to be had by focusing on reliability versus the wow moments.

The moment of clarity

“Chief Customer Officer 2.0” reminds me of “The moment of clarity”. Give me that book anytime over this one. In my view the book is full of repetition (repeating the five principles over and over again), stating the obvious. Hated it.

Other reviews

I am obviously wrong as the book has gotten fantastic reviews. I guess, that if you are inside these large organisations, a roadmap like Jeanne Bliss gives in this book, is very useful. As an entrepreneur, this screams opportunity, as I am presuming that you are much closer to your customers, that you do use the right metrics, have the map and that your culture is truly customer-centric. If not, you need to read this book.

sensemaking cover


Sense making; morality, humanity, leadership and slow flow. A book about the 14 books about the impact and implications of technology on business and humanity.

Ron Immink

I help companies by developing an inspiring and clear future perspective, which creates better business models, higher productivity, more profit and a higher valuation. Best-selling author, speaker, writer.

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