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The Evolving Role of the Chief Customer Officer
The Evolving Role of the Chief Customer Officer

By Jennifer LeClaire
November 26, 2013 12:16PM

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While the activities a chief customer officer might engage in are legion, there are seven that are most common and important regardless of company size, industry, or chief customer role. Even if your company doesn’t have a chief customer officer, to become truly customer centric, an executive needs to be held accountable for customer activities.
 



There’s been a lot of talk about how to use IT (information technology) as a competitive advantage in the enterprise. But for all the focus on technology, there is also a growing movement focusing on traditional customer service. Sure, customer relationship management (CRM) technologies are part and parcel of the equation. But good, old-fashioned customer service is still at the root of success, and many customer-centric companies are adding a Chief Customer Officer to their C-level management team, ensuring the voice of customer is being heard in the C-suite.

Lacey Grey, a member of the Chief Customer Officer Council, says as competition heats up and customers become more demanding, companies need to strengthen their customer relationships to better understand future customer needs while also solidifying their current business.

“Some companies recognize the value of assigning accountability for customers to an executive, most often titled ‘chief customer officer’ or CCO, but given other names as well,” Grey wrote in a blog post. “The CCO or its equivalent is considered to be a company's ultimate customer authority and is driving customer strategy across the highest levels of his or her company.”

Different Titles, Same Functions

Of course, there are many different implementations of the CCO role. There are also many different titles for job functions that accomplish the same goals. Forrester Research, a marketing research firm, declared the rise of the CCO in Jan. 2011 and defined the CCO as “a top executive with the mandate and power to design, orchestrate, and improve customer experiences across every customer interaction.”

At that time, 44 percent of CCOs carried the CCO title. Another 23 percent were called “chief client officers” and 8 percent were known as “chief experience officers.” Nearly three years later, the CCO moniker -- or Chief Customer Officer -- is beginning to win out, as the industry makes clearer definitions around this executive’s primary contributions.

Another approach, which is also quite common, is for a Chief Marketing Officer or Chief Sales Officer to take ownership of managing the customer experience. Regardless of the exact title, the executive in charge needs to oversee key functions such as monitoring customer satisfaction, building customer loyalty, and developing customer engagement that ultimately results in increased sales and profitability.

Seven Common Accountabilities

The CCO Council has identified seven common accountabilities of CCOs based on research among its own membership. These include oversight of (1) customer-centric tactics, (2) customer experience management, (3) metrics and analytics related to customer-centricity, (4) a customer-centric culture or the evolution to one, (5) customer strategy, (6) understanding customer needs, and (7) building customer relationships.

While there are countless activities a CCO might engage in, "these seven appear to be the most common and important regardless of company size, industry, or definition of the CCO role,” Grey says. “Even if your company doesn’t have a CCO, to become truly customer centric and create sustainable competitive advantage, an executive needs to be held accountable for [customer facing] activities, at a minimum."

Does your company have a Chief Customer Officer or plans to hire one? If not, who takes responsibility for the customer experience, customer engagement, building loyalty and providing top quality service?
 

Tell Us What You Think
Comment:

Name:

Andre Heriot:

Posted: 2013-12-16 @ 12:37am PT
The team who oversee our customer management is split between direct customer contact and online customer provision – mostly because of the importance our online facilities play in customer relationship management.
Online is becoming increasingly important with the demand of customers to communicate issues on social media and use new platforms to rate products and service growing at an alarming rate. In order to satisfy the changing habits of modern consumers, any customer-centric personal, must harness, mediate and control such areas of customer engagement.

CRM like Maximizer (www.max.co.uk), allows you to carry out, what can be labour intensive work, in an easily automatable fashion.

Andrew Heriot
Head of Sales – EMEA
(www.max.co.uk)

Shep Hyken:

Posted: 2013-11-28 @ 7:08am PT
It is refreshing and exciting to see how the Chief Customer Officer’s role is evolving. What used to be the function of someone in charge of customer service, it now includes a number of important roles that include analytics, processes and more.

Thomas P.:

Posted: 2013-11-26 @ 5:54pm PT
Around this time last year, right before the holidays, our director of customer service was promoted to the title of Chief Customer Officer. It's been great for the service team to FINALLY have a voice in the C-Suite. We feel like we're finally being heard and more important, we're able to share input from customers -- both good and bad feedback -- almost directly with our CEO through our CCO. It's definitely a huge advantage for us as employees, for our customers, and for the company as a whole.

Sue:

Posted: 2013-11-26 @ 5:49pm PT
We're a mid-size technology company and our VP of Sales has traditionally been responsible for all of these functions, although I could see the benefit of having someone at the top level specifically focused on customer-centric issues. Let Sales focus on bringing in the business and the CCO oversee keeping existing customers happy and coming back for more.



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