When I joined SAS nearly 32 years ago, I didn’t set out to be its first Chief Customer Officer (CCO). I made it here by setting small goals for myself over the years, sharing those goals and attaining them step by step.
It’s been a lot like training for a race or a long-distance swimming event. You start by getting to the pool three times a week, then aiming for five. You focus on refining your stroke, then increasing your speed. Then you work on going longer distances and improving endurance. All with a larger goal in mind: being the best you can be, making your health a priority or leaving your big brother in your wake on race day.
At SAS, I started by helping customers learn how to get the most value out of their SAS software in Technical Support. I loved working directly with our customers. I learned as much from them as they did from me. During my time in that role, as well as my next position as a trainer in Education, I always tried to share my experiences internally to enhance our software, improve our processes and deliver a better customer experience.
After several years training SAS users, I moved to Consulting. I found that what I had learned in Tech Support and Education applied in my new role, as well. I kept listening to our customers and tried to drive small, effective changes to improve our operations. When I had to make hard decisions, I always asked myself, “What’s best for SAS?” and “What’s best for our customers?” I always kept the goal of my division in mind: to implement software more consistently with a better margin while delivering a great customer experience.
Most recently, I saw the opportunity to unite the business units across SAS that focus on customer care and create an organization devoted to a similar goal.
Can you guess it? Delivering an exceptional customer experience.
The SAS Customer Engagement and Support division includes help desk associates, industry experts, writers and consultants. Yes, their roles are diverse, but their job is the same – to create a positive customer experience. I’ve found having a common goal can be a powerful uniting force.
Here are a few takeaways that might be helpful to others looking to drive change at their organizations:
- Don’t think internal structures have to stay in place. Breaking down barriers and bringing people together under a common goal is good for them and good for the business.
- Skills don’t have to stay in silos. Creating teams with different skill sets makes for stronger teams.
- If you see something that’s working well, find a way to capture and reproduce it. That’s when the efficiency of the organization will really take off.
It’s a privilege to lead the SAS Customer Engagement and Support organization. It’s made up of a lot of great people who set out every day thinking about more than themselves. They literally make it their job to help our customers succeed with SAS. And I’ve made it my job to help them succeed.
Learn more about my new role as CCO and what motivates me to put on my metaphorical goggles each morning in “On becoming a chief customer officer,” originally published in The Huffington Post.