What is a Chief Customer Officer: Interview with Vala Afshar of Enterasys

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Creative Commons License photo credit: gxti

This is the fourteenth in the series of interviews with business leaders in the ‘customer’ space, leading authors, thought leaders and general all round good guys and gals, that I think that you will find interesting and helpful in growing your businesses.

Previously, in Customer complaints are great, I spoke to Michael Hill of ComplaintsRGreat (complaintsrgreat.com), a business that specialises in helping businesses manage customer complaints better.

Today, I wanted to introduce you to Vala Afshar, Chief Customer Officer for Enterasys, who I connected with on Twitter after he spotted my post: What else can you do with customer testimonials? and retreated it. Following that, I reached out to Vala being intrigues by his title: Chief Customer Officer and asked him if he’d like to be interviewed for the blog.

I was very pleased when he agreed. Our conversation covered a number of areas. Here are some of the highlights:

  • What is means to be a Chief Customer Officer?
  • The evolution of Enterasys into a customer focused business and what it took to achieve that.
  • Empowering employees to learn to lead without a title.
  • How they use good, qualified and well-paid engineers to handle client issues on the phone and consistently achieve a 94% 1st call resolution rate.
  • How being the best in your field does not necessarily mean that you need to be the biggest.
  • How people, process, innovation, structure and culture have been the five critical success factors to creating a customer centric business.
  • Balancing IQ and EQ is key to building better relationships with employees and customers.
  • How they measure ‘assists’ in customer issue resolution as a key KPI and measure of intra-team working and engagement.
  • Innovation is not just about technology, it’s also about people, process and culture.

About Vala (from Enterasys’ website)

Vala Afshar Enterasys

Vala Afshar is Chief Customer Officer for Enterasys Networks, a Siemens Enterprise Communications Company. Afshar is responsible for worldwide services operations and technical support functions including contact center operations, field engineering, support engineering and infrastructure technologies. Afshar and his team have successfully implemented an award winning (CRM Magazine Elite Services) cloud computing customer relationship management framework that enables Enterasys to use business and performance management analytics to achieve best-in-class customer satisfaction and employee retention. Enterasys’ strong technical service and support capabilities are recognized globally by customers, partners and industry analysts as a true company differentiator.

Afshar joined Cabletron in 1996 and has held a variety of increasingly senior-level management positions at both Cabletron and Enterasys. Previously, Afshar was Vice President Services, Vice President of System Quality Assurance, Solutions Engineering, and Worldwide Educational Services. Afshar earned a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts.

You can connect with Vala on Twitter here and check out Enterasys here.

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