Mar 2 2023

Signs your Chief Customer Officer isn’t scaling

This is the third post in the series. The first one When to hire your first CCO is here and What does Great Look Like in a CCO is here).

Although we think of scaling issues as primarily startup issues, any company can face scaleup issues for example, through a merger or acquisition that changes your landscape immediately. Nowhere is a scaling issue felt more deeply than in the company-customer relationship and there are several signs that I use to quickly figure out whether the Chief Customer Officer is up to the task, or even ahead of the game, in scaling.

 A CCO who isn’t scaling well past the startup stage is someone who typically throws bodies at things like support instead of making processes more automated or efficient.  This is true of other functions I’ve written about in other parts of Startup CXO (accounting, for example), but it’s particularly important in Customer Success. As a company scales and takes on more customers the support burden can get out of hand. This is especially true if the product team spends their time and effort building more new features and functions rather than automating internal tools or sunsetting old product modules. Before you know it you have a support team that is spending lots of time on legacy systems or products as well as learning new products. And while sometimes, sure, it may make sense to open up a massive support location offshore, that may be just a less expensive way of avoiding a process redesign or system implementation. Your CCO should be looking far enough ahead to begin thinking early about the amount of support required and working to develop systems and processes that solve the problem, not thinking about how many new hires they need to keep up.

A second sign that your CCO isn’t scaling is if they fail to specialize the service organization as it grows. Just as a startup scales from its founding team as generalists, capable of pitching in on everything, to more specialized roles running different functional areas, Chief Customer Officers have to grow their teams by increasingly specializing roles. It’s easy to get stuck in a pattern of hiring and training expensive generalists because they’re really good, and they don’t require a lot of training.  It’s much harder to break a role down into two or three smaller roles, figure out how to career path existing generalists into the more specialized roles, and redesign systems and processes to execute better and more efficiently. The CCO who can look at all the parts and see where to create specialists will be much more effective at scaling.

(You can find this post on the Bolster Blog here)