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Does Your Company Need a Chief Customer Officer?
Does Your Company Need a Chief Customer Officer?

By Jennifer LeClaire
September 19, 2013 9:12AM

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Chief Customer Officers can provide the authoritative view of the customer to help shape corporate strategy. If your business needs to drive more profitable customer behavior, the time could be right to create a customer-centric culture and jump on the CCO bandwagon, with a focus on the voice of the customer and creating a great customer experience.
 



Type "Chief Customer Officer" (CCO) into Google and you'll get about 215,000 results in 0.15 seconds. A relatively new addition to the C-suite, chief customer officers are typically found in customer-centric companies and charged with driving strong relationships with the firm's customers.

The question is: Does your company need a CCO?

Rackspace Hosting, an open cloud hosting company, is one company that thinks the answer is yes. In September, the company hired Taylor Rhodes as its first-ever CCO to lead the firm's Enterprise, SMB and International divisions. He's responsible for the "Sales and Fanatical Support" organizations, worldwide.

Fanatical Support is a phrase that describes the hosting provider's extreme commitment to providing outstanding customer service. In fact, the company decided to appoint a CCO because providing high-end service is so key to the company's overall success.

Relentless Focus on Customers

Rackspace isn't the only tech player to add a CCO to its roster. Earlier this year, Lithium Technologies, a social customer experience company, created the role of senior vice president and CCO, and selected Misha Logvinov for the job. The goal was to build the company's "relentless focus on the long-term success of its global customers."

In his role as chief customer officer, Logvinov is responsible for helping orchestrate Lithium's entire customer value chain. He will partner with the worldwide sales and services organization to drive Lithium's core value of "taking customer success personally." Noteworthy is the fact that he was previously CIO.

"As Lithium continues to grow, our customers demand relentless focus on solving the cross-functional customer experience challenges they face with all technology providers" said Lithium president and CEO Rob Tarkoff. "Misha is a vigorous supporter and staunch advocate of our customers, and as a CIO he is an expert in streamlining internal systems and improving the overall customer success experience."

Weighing the Possibilities

But just because tech companies -- and others -- are going CCO, does that mean you should hop on this executive bandwagon? The recently created "Chief Customer Officer Council" offers a wealth of information that can help you decide if this type of role would help your organization.

For starters, it's still early. the CCO Council admits the role is still very new, poorly defined and often poorly understood by executives and customers alike. The first-ever CCO emerged in 1999: Jack Chambers at Texas New Mexico Power Company. There's no executive MBA program to equip a CCO, yet more than 500 professionals carry this title today.

"The CCO by definition is designed to drive customer and corporate strategy into the C-Suite and throughout the company," the CCO Council explains. "Because CCOs can provide the authoritative view of the customer, they are uniquely qualified to shape corporate strategy to guide the company in the coming years. As well, CCOs must be the authors of customer strategy to define customer portfolios, prioritize customer retention and acquisition efforts, create greater customer value, and increase loyalty."

C-Level Representation

So, the question remains, does your company need a CCO? The answer is likely to be yes.

If your business needs to drive more profitable customer behavior, the time could be right to create a more customer-centric culture and jump on the CCO bandwagon.

It's all about having representation at the C-level -- someone who can ensure the whole company is listening to and responsive to the voice of the customer. And, at the same time, ensuring a customer-centric approach that produces a great customer experience.
 

Tell Us What You Think
Comment:

Name:

Narender Kumar:

Posted: 2013-10-22 @ 11:23pm PT
Nice article

Michael Topalovich, CTO D:

Posted: 2013-09-24 @ 10:55am PT
The question is, if your company isn't customer-centric today, how is creating a new position going to fix things? The folks sitting in the C-suite today need to figure this out before bringing in an outsider to try and band-aid a broken culture. If the current executive team can't instill customer-centrism as a value, then maybe they'd be better off in new positions.

patmcgraw:

Posted: 2013-09-22 @ 12:13pm PT
Titles are misleading - but in the descriptions used in this article, my first question would be "What is the CMO doing?"



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