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Top 10 Take-aways from the CCO Forum

What we learnt at the Chief Customer Officer Forum

The Chief Customer Officer Forum is an “invitation-only un- conference” that we have run twice a year since 2004. It has forty cross-industry executive members who either own the customer or the experience. They share in-depth discussions of key customer trends and hear from business leaders such as CEOs, ex CEOs, board members and thought leaders. The meeting is run under Chatham House rules so we can’t name speakers or companies, though we can share some of the trends and opportunities they described at the most recent meeting. Here are our top ten takeaways from the meeting in October, which had a theme of, “Drivers of Innovation in the Customer Experience”.

1. The impact of diversity is quantifiable

This was illustrated in two forms. One speaker quoted a 2015 McKinsey study indicating that businesses with more diverse leadership teams and boards are 35% more likely to produce above average returns. A later speaker gave an impressive illustration of this, stating that they had to “get rid of the out of touch old men from the board”, before they could execute a strategy aligned to the changing needs of customers.

2. The pace of change is increasing, technologies inter link and disruptors can be disrupted

One key note speaker described the accelerating pace of what is being called the fourth industrial revolution. Later cases illustrated this. For example, a ten-year

old “shared economy business” is already concerned that its business model was threatened by new technologies such as driverless cars.

We also heard of “new technologies” interacting to create new source of value. For example, driverless cars may be “lifted” by drones to clear traffic blockages for a premium fee.

3. Data sharing is possible without breaking privacy and can monetise the value of data

Some companies have “cracked” the ability to share data to enable better targeted marketing, customer education or retail network planning. As 95% of data has been created in the last

two years, this will become more important. The best new data sharing platforms solve the problems of legal compliance and protecting customer privacy. This is interesting for both the private sector and government and will enable data trading market places. This could enable “monetisation” of data assets and seeing them as a balance sheet item for the first time.

4. The “speech-text” combination allows continuous contact driver tracking (at last)

A company that has enabled speech analytics on their calls, converts this speech to text in order to analyse and report what is driving contacts. For the first time, this provides continuous data on contact demand.

The crucial step was converting the speech to text so they could obtain the extra analytical power of text analytic tools to make sense of the call recordings. Today, they have the depth of data and analysis to work on the systemic demand reduction, that we have been talking about since, “The Best Service is No Service” was published in 2008.

5. Chat bots are here and now and they learn fast

Much has been written of chat bots as an automation mechanism that support digital sales and service at low cost. One case presentation demonstrated that a chat bot could be deployed in weeks with the right process. Then it could use artificial intelligence to raise its resolution rate and usefulness. We believe this could be an even faster learning curve if the organisation had done prior analysis of chat drivers and best practices with “manned chat”, that could be lifted into the automation.

6. Anything can be automated and digitised

Just when we thought that some processes could never be automated we heard about the new digital processes for mortgage and property settlements. Where processes used to take weeks suddenly we are talking about seconds.

These sorts of solutions also enable new possibilities, such as property being traded in the same way as stocks and shares.

7. New learning mechanisms become a source of competitive advantage

One speaker highlighted that our regulation and education systems are struggling to keep up with the rate of change. Skills like complex problem solving and critical thinking are essential to make sense of the rapid change in technology.

However, many education systems have not adapted to meet these new needs and therefore businesses may need to address this gap if they are to compete.

8. Mobile enabled continuous interactive experiences

There are now stadiums in the United states that have re-thought the experience with smart phones and interaction thereby changing the experience. These stadiums and their apps are already ticketless and interact with the customer throughout their visit to the stadium. These interactions include ordering food, purchasing without check outs, special offers and interacting with the score board. These technologies will soon translate to shopping centres and other experiences.

9. Customers must be given control

Another discussion recognised that customers now have more influence and control. With more product and price information at their finger-tips, public rating

sites and the ability to broadcast issues to millions, organisations can no longer ‘control’ customers in the same way. These discussions also concluded that organisations will have to maintain and use more data on customer preferences.

10. Methodologies need to be matched to the problem

“Agile” seems to be the method of the moment after lean and six sigma. This discussion identified that methods like agile have a place when there is uncertainty on what the technology solution should

look like. However, in contrast traditional waterfall IT methods are ideal when the solution is well defined. This seemed like a simple way to pick the right horse for the course.

Interested in the Chief Customer Officer Forum?

These points are fairly typical of the types of discussions we have at the Chief Customer Officer Forum, which hosts leaders in sales and service across many industry sectors. It is run as a not for profit with membership fees used to fund venues and speakers. Please get in touch if you think you might like to join by emailing to or calling Gillian on 0409 144 331. More details are at

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