NPS Blog

The ideal Customer Advocacy Officer: Balancing experience, credibility, resourcefulness and perseverance

Few decisions are as vital to a Net Promoter effort as choosing the person who runs it day to day. Bring in an arrogant, detached executive with limited ability to relate to front-line employees or one with flimsy experience but major entitlement, and the effort will be doomed. It’s not uncommon for a company to seek an outside expert—someone who has led a similar, successful transformation elsewhere. Hiring for experience alone, however, often results in missteps, false starts and distrust.

But when you appoint someone who has earned his or her colleagues’ trust, knows what it’s like in the service trenches and thinks like a customer, you can’t lose. This leader, whom we call the customer advocacy officer (CAO), serves not only as the customer’s voice inside the organization, but also as a guide for nervous, skeptical employees.

This infographic nicely sums up the key traits that can make a CAO successful.

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It also helps when this person has the humility and perseverance of Omar Hashem, chief customer officer of Saudi Arabia’s National Commercial Bank (NCB). Omar recently discussed with me the challenges he faces running the Net Promoter System of the largest bank in the Middle East. He brings vast experience in financial services and a keen understanding of Saudi Arabia’s population, half of which is under 25 and comfortable with all the technology that Millennials routinely use.

omar-hashem-120x113The bank’s early Net Promoter journey was rough. Colleagues questioned almost every aspect of the system. Omar knew he needed to listen with empathy—and push forward with some force. In fact, when faced with naysayers and obstacles, he often sought inspiration from the Pixar film Finding Nemo, one of his daughter’s favorite movies.

“I kept remembering a fish. Her name was Dory. And there was a scene where they went down deep in the dark. And Nemo’s so afraid,” Omar says. “And Dory just kept singing, and saying, ‘just keep swimming, just keep swimming.’ And that ran through my head through the whole setup period. I just had to keep telling myself, ‘There is light at the end of the tunnel, and you just need to keep swimming.’”

You can hear more about Omar’s story in our most recent Loyalty Insights brief, Who should run your Net Promoter System? We’ve also been the exploring the Customer Advocacy Office and the role it plays in recent Loyalty Insights briefs. You can find the last two here: The Essential Role of a Customer Advocacy Office and The Customer Advocacy Office: FAQs.

You can also listen to my discussion with Omar on iTunes or through the player below. Click here to browse more Net Promoter System podcasts.

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