How to make every leader in your company a CCO and how to drive growth with service excellence

In this week's episode, Martin Schilling joins Matt and Simon in the pod booth to discuss the importance for every leader to become a Chief Customer Officer and best practices on how to drive growth with service excellence.

How to make every leader in your company a CCO and how to drive growth with service excellence


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Martin Schilling’s shares 15 best practices to drive growth with service excellence in his article.

Martin Schilling


Guest Speaker - Martin Schilling

Martin Schilling is a serial entrepreneur and has founded companies in Germany, Argentina and the Middle East. He is passionate about scaling purpose-driven tech companies to achieve unicorn status with one focus on customer experience and service operations.

He worked for McKinsey & Company and was Chief Operating Officer (COO) of N26, one of the largest FinTechs in Europe.

He believes that in our Anything as a service world, delivering great customer experiences will be the key to win the growth race – building great products alone will no longer suffice.

Connect with Martin on LinkedIn.

If you want to boost growth with service, try to make every person in your company your chief customer officer. Everybody needs to join forces and collaboratively optimise the customer experience. Leaving this to the service team alone is like running a four man relay race with three athletes missing, and good luck out running the competition that way.

Discussion Topics

  • As someone who is at the forefront of the CX Industry, what do you think are the most effective ways of measuring CX success?
  • NPS as a metric has some critics but the work you are doing with Bain and Co has certainly created some compelling insight into the links to business value – can you share some of your findings?
  • One theme you have talked about is around the importance for every leader in your team becoming a Chief Customer Officer in their own right, can you elaborate on this thinking a bit more for our listeners ?
  • What are the key building blocks to getting this to land in an organisation and what tips would you share to measuring the culture shift?
  • Is this framework relevant to established organisation or really just from start-up companies without the historical baggage?
  • What would be the key message you like our listeners to take away from this podcast?


Simon – Welcome to the CX chat with Matt and Simon, our podcast series on all things customer experience. Each week we talk about some of the hottest topics and biggest issues facing CX professionals right now. And we always invite special guests to join our discussions. For those of you don’t know me, my name is Simon Thorpe. And as ever, I’m joined by my colleague, Matthew Dyer. And if you haven’t listened before, we started the podcast as a way of, I suppose, learning about the industry that we love and to meet some interesting people along the way. So, you know, we never profess to be experts in all things, but we certainly have a great deal of passion for customer experience and a desire to keep learning. And, and as ever, we’d love to hear your feedback and suggestions for future content, thoughts, you may, you know, massively disagree with what we say on the podcast. I think the important thing is we’re trying to create a community so when please do get in touch and let us know. Matty, we’re both sweltering in our different residences. moments. How are you getting on this week?

Matt – I’m doing well. I’ve just been reflecting on the series really thinking about the different themes that we’ve covered slightly different from the first CDs, but still learning loads from the guests we’ve been having onto the podcast. It’s been great.

Simon – It really has. And I think on that topic of learning, we got an absolute cracker jack have an episode this week. We’ve both been super excited about this. Because joining the pod booth this week is well, this introduction that we’ve written is going to take some time because he’s done so much. But in essence, he is a scholar of customer experience, a serial entrepreneur, and startup exec with a phenomenal pedigree. So this kind of idea of learning from someone who has really kind of walked his walk is is absolutely, you know, at the forefront of what we’re talking about today. He started life in the world of what I would call suppose big thinking as the MD of the Decision Institute. Before moving to consultancy leaders McKinsey were focused on the help in companies scale with a focus on customer experience. And then there was the small matter of helping build one of the first app only banks N26 to unicorn status, something in the region of 3.2 billion valuation, which is just incredible. Here’s our first German guest is coming to us live from Berlin. A big welcome Dr. Martin Schilling. How are you, sir?

Martin – I’m very well. Hi, Simon, honoured to be with you.

Simon – Well, thank you for giving up your time, sir.

Matt – It’s great to have you on Martin, I read a really interesting piece you wrote, titled Raising Unicorns with a Spirit of the Pioneers. And someone asked a really good question in that. Do you think Europe has the ability to create the next Google or Facebook? What are your thoughts? I know it’s a difficult question to answer first stop. But,

Martin – You know, one, one topic which always inspires me when thinking about pioneers in a particular European pioneers as We all know we Europeans have been quite strong pioneers in the last centuries, is about thinking big. So I think what we really need is to think big. And, you know, yes, we kind of in Europe have not won the race in the in the consumer getting into the business. But I deeply believe we need to create the next Facebook Google, here in Europe in the next 10 years. So I would love to encourage everybody who’s listening to this, follow their dreams for the entrepreneurial greens and aim higher.

Simon – Well, absolutely. Let’s, let’s hope we can come through. Before we get into the meat of the podcast conversation today, Martin, I also wanted to ask you a question, because I get asked this a lot. I do a lot of work in in customer insights and customer expectation. And as someone who has worked and travelled the world and with the focus on customer experience, what in your view are the big kind of global differences in customer expectation? I mean, are the cliches real? And or, you know, what’s your thoughts on that?

Martin – So you mean customer expectations different to the global regions?

Simon – Yeah, exactly. I mean, is it is it true that the the kind of the American audiences and customers tend to like a different level of customer experience to maybe other continents or countries or do you see much variation from when you travel?

Martin – You know, in my impression, the last decades has shown a really strong conversion of expectations across regions and in areas globally, particularly due to digitization and there will be curious presence of the digital services so everybody who are most in at least in the developing world and developed in them yeah, rich white and that sense? love to have service levels like Amazon or Apple So, you know this this kind of immediate response. Very personalised, very tech driven. That’s more my my impression that we see more strong conversion of expectations

Simon – It’s interesting. Yeah, I’d like I’d love to do some analysis on the on those those kind of expectations and how they’ve changed.

Matt – I spent a bit of time in Asia and had a similar sort of experience. I think in a way they’re kind of more hyper connected and the experience is more Apple, Google, Europe’s obviously catching up in America is obviously getting there as well. So it’d be interesting to watch.

Simon – Indeed. So let’s chaps. So let’s get on with today’s podcast theme. And it’s a beauty and this is actually come from from some some work that you’re doing at the moment, Martin, and I believe so this is what we’re going to be talking about today really is how to make every leader in your company, a chief customer officer, and how to drive growth with service excellence. So that this kind of theme and context that you’re working on at the moment Martin Can you give us a bit more detail before we get into into into firing some questions at each other ?

Martin – Yeah sure. Look so I’m currently doing some research and and insights generation with Bain and company on how to spur growth in in scale ups and startups and in particular with service. And one of the key themes we are researching is how you bring the customer experience mindsets to the breadth of your organisation. And when you think about it, Chief I don’t I personally don’t like too much the title chief customer officer, because what happens if you name someone in your executive team chief customer officer, you delegate the responsibility for great customer experience to one of your executives, or one of the divisions and I believe this is not right. I believe everybody in your company needs to jump in to make the customer experience great. So we add product into tech, lead operations, your marketing team, your people, team, your legal team, we everybody needs to jump in. And there is only one person in the executive team who could be your chief customer officer. And that’s the CEO.

Simon – And with well, you make a very valid point. Actually, it was interesting with the last podcast we did was the first time we’ve actually mentioned the word, Chief customer officer. And it’s not something that we’ve, we’ve we’ve particularly covered, and I just wonder whether, I mean, you made a good point that if you if you focus on that one person, you’re kind of relinquishing that that need to spread customer centricity across the different people across the business, but are you in Are you in favour of this as a kind of first step, you know, organisations, you know, starting to, I don’t know, leave an empty seat at the top table or, you know, that sort of I don’t know if, you know, symbolism that some businesses are starting to undertake.

Martin – Yeah, you know, this is a very good point. So as far as an object basis indeed is doing this as a symbol as a ritual, to bring customer experience to the forefront. The interesting thing My colleagues and I have seen, in particular, in scaled up companies is that everybody claims that customer experience is the key thing to follow. So marketing says number of new users per month or product says, We are fully focused on customer experience, because the usage rates matter. Your operations team says the contacts for customers matter. This is why we focus on the customer. So you have essentially a cacophony of voices in your company. And I very much believe if you bring the customer experience to the forefront, for example, with Net Promoter Score is one of your primary objective. This really makes a difference. And you see research on this as well, right? So companies who are industry leaders in NPS compared to standard NPS companies grow twice as much on average. So there is really a real business reason for putting customer experience at the centre of your efforts.

Matt – So from your perspective, Martin, what do you think, I guess is the most effective way of measuring it isn’t just NPS or other metrics. You know, there are many metrics in terms of customer experience, and obviously there many other metrics in terms of the overall primary business objectives. But the nice thing about the NPS, and at least in According to my experience is it’s very encompassing in your whole team. So this if you look at, for example, first contact resolution or the CSAT, the customer satisfaction score. These are metrics associated with a service team. Yeah, we can durations, so it’s kind of the machinery of the company, then your product team would say, yeah, it’s nothing to do with me, you know, but the NPS it’s, it’s a broader metric, which really you can put in an executive team Discussion How you doing in your key customer journeys. That’s why I believe it’s a good way of looking at customer experience.

Simon – And I think it’s probably fair to say, Martin that NPS over the years has had some critics, but it’s, I mean, there’s no question it’s the universal customer measure now, isn’t it that’s adopted on a worldwide scale, but some of the research and we should say for those that don’t know and correct me if I’m wrong, Bain and company are the the kind of authors of NPS but you know, Fred Rochelle was part of Bain and is that right Martin? Have I got that correct?

Martin – Yeah, exactly. Bain been published this recently or originally in the beginning of the 2000s.

Simon – Yeah. So so you know, who better to be you know, the proper, you know, architects of of NPS but, but I suppose my question is, you’re seeing through this research and Bain have released some of this previously, the the kind of business value and the connected you know, business growth that businesses can see when they are high performing  through NPS. And I just I just wondered if you could share some of those findings.

Martin – Let me first talk about the etiquette. I think NPS has been a bit oversold. But you’re totally right. Right. Yeah. So it’s not the only metric which really projects your growth trajectory. So it’s one of the metrics you can use. I wouldn’t oversell it. But research clearly shows if you look, as at the NPS, your promoters, so the customers who recommend you frequently to friends and family, they have a larger share of wallet, they obviously we can recommend you much and then stay with you much longer than the detractors and having an leading NPS score lets your company grow twice as much compared to standard industry companies. So that’s that’s very clear from from the research side.

Simon – Do you think you know, one of my problems with NPS and I think when used correctly, it has phenomenal merits, but I think there’s a real challenge. I certainly see this in the UK in the lack of governance, around MPs. So, so, you know, lots of companies have locked into MPs has been the significant score. But then I find there’s, you know, they’re, they’re measuring it in all, you know, all number of variation ways. And, you know, quite often through cherry picked, or, you know, Agent led surveys or, you know, different ways that could be could add bias to the numbers or the scoring is out of kilter. And it’s all really just a chase a score. And I think NPS as a, as a measure, if done correctly, for the right reasons can be phenomenally useful. But I think because others are trying to gamify it rather than use it for the right reasons. That’s where the criticism comes. Do you have a view on that Martin?

Martin – Yeah, very right. Absolutely agree. So look, first, if it only matters if you do this on our customer journey basis, I think that’s very clear. So your executive team and the whole company needs to have five to seven key customer journeys super clear. And for these, you want to measure the NPS. And then, in particular for scale up companies or startups scaleups. Grow, you know, two times three times per year. It’s a tremendous challenge to align this Barsky growing organisations on one path. And in particular in these situations in consumer business in particular, you can use the NPS on a journey basis as one way of aligning your teams. And for example, I’m a strong fan of autonomous teams working with very key objectives. And you know, that’s something like the Spotify model, where we have developers and marketing people operations together in one team, give them very clear objectives, and then they very autonomously steer the development of a product and the customer experience around it. And for these teams, I believe this is one metrics which is to breath

Matt – That’s interesting. I’ve been just listening to a few things that you’ve said Martin regarding I guess getting people to be seen as chief customer officers and driving growth through service all sounds quite difficult to achieve, I guess from your experience, what you think are the key building blocks to Landis in the organisations and then you can kind of share with them the listeners around the the cultural shift aspect.

Martin – Yeah, sure. So look, I think there are four key building blocks to drive growth with service. So the first building block is focus in the sense is what are your customer experience objectives are top priority for your executive team and we just talked about this. That’s essentially the first thing you need to put in place and holistic NPS management on a customer journey basis. That’s one. Then second, the second building block is around prevent, are you preventing product driven customer issues before they are arise, the whole discussion around best service is no service as on the sense you don’t want to have too many contacts, which are problem driven. So usually that it’s bad product, bad process or bad communication you want to eliminate these kind of contacts. The third building block is enabling and enable your customers to self serve in the digital channels in particular, some of the topics and we can elaborate in depth is currently the machine learning based chatbots IVR is FAQs on all the classics here around and the fourth building block, probably most complicated and yeah, service professionals know this. How can you create a life service which is available to resolve why creating from time to time, moments of service delights. So that’s these are the four I believe major building blocks, which you need to put in place to drive growth of service.

Matt – Who do you think are doing the moments of delight well at the moment, because that’s the To be very hard to achieve.

Martin – Yes, it’s very hard to achieve. And it’s very difficult to do this at scale. You know, this is the discussion, you know that the classical reflects of a service organisation is really you want to wow the customer. That’s difficult and that’s costly. What is a very good approach and that is to do this to enable your team to do this on an occasional basis and then heavily celebrate this. Yeah, we call this as customer service or marketing initiatives. So new bank in Brazil, that’s a new bank in Brazil is doing this outstandingly I believe, so they enable their service representatives, for example, to call a cab for a customer who has a need, and then they try that these stories, go on social media and celebrate these. So this is this is how you could do it. And the interesting thing here is you need to be super process proficient. So you In six sigma type standardised processes Yeah, you really need to standardise your process but at the same time you need to allow enough flexibility for each service representative to create from time to time a moment of service delight.

Simon – So Martin on the topic of customer delight we’ve it’s interesting i mean i totally buy into what you’re saying but we’ve had a few guests on of late who’ve argued that for some companies aiming for customer delight might be a stretch too far and not you know the investment that they need to get to delighting customers won’t necessarily be something that can get anyone necessarily give them the returns, what they’re aiming for, and and what some of our previous guests have said is actually we should be looking at consistently decent or good levels of service. And if you know if we could try and just get an equilibrium of and level good service that would be all right that would be a you know, a plateau that that customers could deal with, you’re arguing for for customer delight. And I just wonder whether and you know, the environment or the sector or the type of business that you’re in, whether it you know, whether it has a bearing.

Martin – Yes. And so the important thing I am arguing not for moments of delight escape, because this is indeed very costly in a fully agreed to, to your other experts who said aim for consistency first, suddenly, right. What I discovered is that if you set up a system, where you occasionally enable your service teams to delight customers, and then really put this on social media, this is a very intelligent way of, you know, being really consistent at scale and draw art, but from time to time have this moment of denied which you really put out on on social media and combine it.

Simon – I get you that makes a lot of sense. Makes a lot of sense. And do you think Martin I’ll give you an example I’ve just been in, I’ve just been struggling for the last 12, 13 days without an internet connection, which, in a household with two young kids is just a living nightmare. And, and I’m not, I’m not gonna name and shame the company, because actually, every time I spoke to them, you know, the agents and the field repair people that came to my home, were absolutely brilliant. I mean, just really, you know, empathetic and good. But the problem was that their technologies just fundamentally did not work from end, you know, start to end, you know, they didn’t talk to each other, there was, you know, a real kind of siloing effect to the technology. And I just wonder whether some of some of these approaches that you’re talking about how important I mean, I’m sure we’re gonna say probably both, but where’s the problem in the current kind of customer experience world, is it a technology problem or is it a people problem?

Martin – So this nicely circles back to the building blocks we have just discussed, right? So this is why I talk about For holistic building blocks when you want to drive growth with service, focusing alone on service, that’s what you just experienced is just not enough, you know, leave customer experience to the service team alone is like running a four man relay race with three athletes missing out on the competition like that. Yeah, that’s why I talked about these four building blocks. So it’s about bringing custom experience to the forefront and then to building block to make sure that you avoid product issues in the sense of best services and all service. So what you were just referring to is a technology failure. And you need to have obviously a strong technology organisation which invests heavily in maintenance of existing products, so that customer issues do not occur in first place.

Matt – I was just going to say Martin just from your perspective, obviously from a startup is probably easier to execute so far. Then I guess our listeners who are working in legacy organisations and are really struggling to kind of land this type of approach, what would you recommend to them to enable them to leverage that the framework you’ve put forward?

Martin – Yeah, it’s a good question. And I need to clearly say my focus is on scale ups and in startups, so making kind of small companies grow very, very fast for unicorns. So this, these lessons do not necessarily all apply to big corporations. So, what I was seeing or what I am seeing is that companies who try to instil the culture of startups or even, you know, do some spin offs in you know, non corporate environment can do really well. We see this here as well in Germany, for example, with a couple of telecommunication companies, so really to not trying to move the dinosaur but rather, you know, Hetch Hetch a new animal and the rather be a gazelle. And then using this to Yeah, delight your customers are these great, great, great service and experience.

Simon – What’s the difference? Do you think in a kind of mentality between a startup and a kind of legacy business? I mean, that this this idea of, of kind of putting customer centricity at the heart of what you do, and I guess it’s much harder in a legacy business where you’ve got, you know, systems and processes and issues, but but surely, the kind of fundamentals remain the same.

Martin – Look at these three differences, what I observed so the first sense of urgency building a startup is like jumping from a cliff and building the plane on the way down yeah. In a big corporations you all into corporations, you always have to want to how can I as executive instil a sense of urgency, this usually is not so difficult in a scalable startup because everybody knows if you do not get more funding, you simply Got business. Yeah. So that’s all of the sense of urgency is clearly there. That’s one difference. The second difference is clearly, startups can be tech from scratch from a clean sheet. This is super attractive, you know that many of the large corporations have technology stacks, which are decades old. And if a startup can directly start within tech stack in the cloud, obviously, super, super important. And then that’s something now circling back to the beginning of this podcast. Startups like to think big, and I really like this, you know, there is this, you know, it’s often criticised that way, you know, so there is this words, revolutionising and, you know, we, we do not open the laptop with it’s not about saving the words. But this kind of thinking is inspirational for many employees for particular, more young employees. That’s what we see at least. And you then usually not achieve, you know, saving the world but you achieve a lot. So, this ambition level is probably a third thing, which really is different in a scale up.

Simon – I’m intrigued to know whether you think with customers when so I’m going to reframe this we’ve talked to actually on these, this very podcast Martin a lot about the disruptor brands that come in and, and change the world, on a on the industry and and very quickly and change customer expectations. So I’m thinking of the Ubers I’m thinking of the, the, you know, the Airbnb is, you know, your, your company N26 you know, those, those sorts of brands really shake everything up for people and make it really difficult for all of the other companies that have all of a sudden got to start, you know, keeping pace with this newscast changing customer expectation. My question is, when you’re only doing one thing and you’re trying to nail it and do it really well. And, you know, I guess you can kind of build some of these foundations in but do you find that startups when they start to diversify, and branch into the kind of more marketplace model of doing, you know more things, and maybe systems have to start being more complicated and, you know, you know, environments get bigger and you know, teams get, you know, you know, more unwieldy, is it harder to try and maintain that genesis of customer experience being at the heart of everything?

Martin – So first the expectation is not the rising expectation terms of customer experience is not only driven by the new offers of scale ups, I believe scale ups and startups are an answer to a change in the ecosystem. So for example, in in finance, after the financial crisis, trust in big incumbent banks was and is shaken. And millennials ate from them say I’d rather go visit the dentist then go into a bank branch. Yeah. So the the offer of the scale up and startups is is a response to a change in the ecosystem. And then obviously they might regret this. And yes to your question it when a startup diversifies in different markets, it gets more challenging to, you know, have at least the same standard of customer experience within one country to another. And we see this as one in Europe, various times that startups try to internationalise open new markets, and then retreat from these markets in 2016. The UK is, for example, a good example when 36 went out again of the market. So you know, this the same challenges as the big corporations have when they go global apply to startups as well.

Simon – Yeah, do you, ehat’s your what’s your take on on the kind of evolution of customer experience? Do you think you know, we’re in this this kind of really challenging environment at the moment where, you know, huge amounts of jobs are on the line. Businesses have made record lows because it’s locked down in the pandemic Do you expect from your kind of you know, worldview that customer experience will remain as important as it was for businesses or do you expect to shift backwards or forwards? What what’s your view Martin?

Martin – Yeah, I believe customer experience will matter more in the future than in particular in markets where the entry barriers now go lower. Again, example from from fintechs. It has been more difficult to create fintechs five years ago than now, due to banking as a service. A couple of other things. It’s relatively easy not to launch a credit card or you know, launch an account. So, the the competition in several of the key markets in which startups thrive is increasing. So then the differentiation factor, the experience will actually matter more. So for example, in the in the FinTech market, Five to six years ago, you just had to open you know, one of the new accounts where you can open a bank account in eight minutes, such as revolute or N26. And then you already had a very compelling value proposition compared to your income and bank. This has changed. So now the bar has risen. And it’s easier to do this to create a FinTech. So now the fintechs will thrive. And this applies to other industries as well. Who really excel in the customer experience. And one interesting thing, in particular for tech companies. So the experience is usually great if you stay on the green flow as if you were kind of a stand up case if everything goes well, in your app or on the web, or good experience is great. But as soon as you fall off of this and go into the so called yellow or red flow, with some somehow you need a process which what hasn’t been defined, suddenly the experience really, really is bad. So the not so ripe start ups and scale ups phase a lot of changes whether suddenly customers recognise oops, if I’m one of these, you know, strange edge cases, maybe my old and common. The old operation is is indeed a better choice.

Matt – Yeah, that’s interesting, Martin, unfortunately, we could listen to you all day. I think some of the insight you’ve given has been brilliant. I think, if I was going to kind of do a start up and maintain Halo brand, I think I would definitely be coming to you for some advice. And I guess as a last question to you, for our listeners, what would be the key message you’d like our listeners to take away from this podcast, they could kind of embed into their startup or business.

Martin – So the key for me is if you want to boost growth, with service, try to make every people in your company, your chief customer officer. Everybody needs to join forces and collaboratively optimise the customer experience. Leave this to the service team alone is like running a four man relay race with three athletes missing, and good luck out running the competition that way.

Simon – That’s a brilliant analogy, I think we’re gonna have to use that as the as the key pull quote from from this podcast. Martin as as Matt said, we could listen to you all day. But sadly, we gonna have to come to an end of this particular episode. And so so Martin, you’re working, as you said with Bain and co on on some some research and some work which I believe will be making its way out into the public domain in the not too distant future. Is that right?

Martin – Yes correctly. So we talked about four building blocks and if your listeners are interesting to to hear some and read some of in depth about this, in particular, the practices around this we’ve built around this four building blocks 15 practices to drive growth with service, you can download this for my entire profile and love to get feedback.

Simon – Fantastic. Well, we will most definitely be putting your LinkedIn and details as part of the social profile of this podcast. And I, for me, I would strongly recommend if you get some time and have a look at some of Martin’s other pieces. He’s a prolific writer and makes an awful lot of sense. And he’s actually a really, really well worth spending some time and having read so. So yes, we’ll put those details in. And, Martin, thank you so much for giving up your time. And our first guest from from over in Germany, which we’re thrilled about. Have you enjoyed it?

Martin – Thanks Simon and Matt, a pleasure to be with you.

Simon – Thank you ever so much indeed. Matty brilliant one. We were looking forward to it and did not disappoint.

Matt – Not at all brilliant session.

Simon – Great stuff. Well as ever, thank you ever so much for tuning in. And we love having you you spend time with us. But for now, stay safe. Thanks again and we will see you next time. Goodbye.


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