Executive marketing teams around the world have been adding and experimenting with new roles to respond to a quickly-changing marketing landscape. One of the newest positions to gain traction is the Chief Customer Officer. The CCO role is still evolving and has yet to develop established responsibilities across the board. But if your brand relies on a best-in-class customer experience for its competitive advantage, a Chief Customer Officer executive search may be just what your business needs to keep up with constantly changing customer expectations.
Last year the CCO Council’s Annual Chief Customer Officer Study identified the role of CCO as quickly turning into “a staple of modern business” with 22% of Fortune 100 companies and 10% of Fortune 500 companies having a dedicated CCO or similar role on board already.
Here’s how Founder and Executive Director of CCO Council, Curtis Bingham explains the trend: “With accessibility and the consistency of customer experience in mind, many companies have turned to creating a chief customer officer (CCO) position in the C-Suite. This still-emerging and evolving role can be defined as: ‘the executive responsible for the total relationship with an organization’s customers’.”
But why does the “customer” need a dedicated executive overseer? The importance of a customer-oriented mindset is nothing new for many organizations, and we’ve made it this far without needing a CCO; those responsibilities have been handled by the CMO and delegated to the rest of the executive team as needed.
CEO and author Daniel Newman offers a few reasons the customer experience has become even more critical recently:
- Customers equate brands with experiences. From customer service to the digital journey to retail ambiance to the product itself, our association with a brand is based on how it makes us feel. For example, Apple users stick with the brand despite the products costing three times more than other similar products, despite comparable performance and capabilities. That’s because Apple values the customer experience and people respond accordingly. They are willing to pay a premium for customer service, product integration, and an excellent retail experience. Similarly, going to our favorite clothing retailer connects with us in a unique way.
- Customers are more demanding than ever. Marketing research has discovered that it takes 12 positive experiences to repair the damage caused by a single unresolved negative one. Consumers are too busy to give brands multiple opportunities of redemption, and in an increasingly competitive environment they can afford to be picky. Even one negative experience is enough to lose a customer forever because people now are less tolerant toward poor encounters than ever before.
- Bad customer reviews spread like wildfire. People are unlikely to forget a bad customer experience. An interesting statistic that illustrates this it that Americans tend to mention a remarkably good brand experience to an average of 9 people, but will share a bad one with 16 people. Perhaps the only thing worse than a bad experience is a mediocre one that won’t be remembered at all.
- Angry customers can damage your brand name. Consumers have universally been empowered with digital megaphones that can voice their complaints to the world in an instant. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos hammered home the point when he said, “If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell six friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.” Today it’s commonplace for an angry customer to spew venom on the Internet after a bad experience, whether through their Facebook status, or posts on the brand’s social media pages, review sites, or other forums. This can spell disaster for a brand’s image. Once those words have been published online, they’re there forever.
Changing the Rules of the Game
Today consumers are more empowered than they have ever been, and they are increasingly seeking an active involvement with brands they want to trust and be associated with. As it turns out, customer-centric marketing involves more than just knowing your customers. And as such, the marketing department’s job has evolved from promoting what customers should buy to a much broader role: interacting with customers, engaging them, listening to them, creating better experiences for them, earning their trust, and building a relationship that leads to advocacy and ultimately better lifetime value.
But in many businesses, these varying functions and responsibilities are owned and influenced by different teams in different departments: advertising, product management, sales, customer service, IT, branding and more. Without a unifying strategy that aligns them all towards a common goal, your customer experience can never become exceptional.
Some well-integrated and exceptionally-managed companies may already be in a position where all these moving parts are working in concert, but most lack that sort of synchronicity. When a business struggles with cross-department collaboration and alignment, a Chief Customer Officer executive search can bring in someone to create that strategy and ensure all the various parties are working together in the best common interest of the customer.
Customer relationship expert Brad Cleveland explains the situations where a CCO is most effective:
video from BradCleveland.com
Operating just a step beneath the CMO and in close partnership with other executive stakeholders, CCOs can improve a customer experience not because they have a better understanding of the customer, but because their role touches upon customer relations on more than one level. In a recent survey conducted for EY, 73% of CCOs were confident in adding value by “using customer feedback to help develop the business” compared to 58% of CMOs, and 68% of CSOs. Moreover, sales and marketing teams have historically been at odds due to different and sometimes competing goals. The CCO, with distinct functions of multiple teams, can bridge the gap between marketing and rival divisions like sales and IT.
Reaching Beyond Sales and Marketing
The customer is no longer “owned” by any particular department, but rather shared between various key business verticals. As one-to-one conversations are becoming more and more important, it is paramount that the customer is represented at the highest level of the organization by an advocate who understands their needs and perspectives. Someone needs to be responsible for making sure that customers and employees are engaged in the organization and connected to communities and areas of the business where the goals of customer satisfaction and retention can be met. For organizations that don’t already have this kind of executive presence, a Chief Customer Officer recruitment can be one way to break down the silos to align the company’s goals with the customer’s needs.
Additional Reading on Chief Customer Officer Recruitment
Does Customer Experience Need a 911 Call?
Customer experience has a direct impact on loyalty. That impact isn’t always positive. Too much email that’s impersonal or irrelevant—that’s a marketing-driven customer experience that could lead to churn. Spot-on targeting with contextually relevant messaging can surprise and delight customers and get them to stay longer, buy more, and advocate. More
How to Make Customer Experience Strategy Integral to Corporate Strategy
Is customer experience management in your company (a) a subset of corporate strategy, (b) unrelated to corporate strategy, or (c) a determinant of corporate strategy? This question was asked in the ClearAction Annual Business-to-Business Customer Experience Management Best Practices Study. And the findings were significant: when the answer was “c”, the company tended to have stronger business results attributed to customer experience management (CXM), as well as more holistic CXM practices. More