We are firmly in the age of the customer. When making a purchase decision, customers now prioritize promises of positive experiences over price. With continuous research showing the impact of customer experience (CX) on the bottom line, a new role emerged to help enterprises step up their CX game – the Chief Customer Officer (CCO).
Gartner found that over 90% of enterprises now employ a CCO or executives with similar responsibilities. This role can be known by many other names, such as Chief Customer Experience Officer and Chief Experience Officer (CXO), according to Harvard Business Review. But what does a Chief Customer Officer do?
In this post, we take a closer look at this relatively new executive position. We also dive into their responsibilities and the challenges they face, and how they can equip their team to deliver on their vision of improving the customer experience.
What is a chief customer officer?
Pinning down a Chief Customer Officer job description can be tricky. Their tasks and responsibilities can vary based on the organization. But overall:
A Chief Customer Officer oversees an organization's entire relationship with its customers and drive efforts to assess and elevate experiences at each touchpoint across the customer journey.
What does a Chief Customer Officer do?
CCOs are a C-Suite member who focuses on building, growing, and nurturing relationships with customers as soon as they convert and become customers.
They are primarily focused on the following:
Assess and identify gaps in the customer experience at any touchpoint across the customer journey.
Generate a complete view of the customer, including their needs, expectations, and perceptions of their experiences with the company, and communicate these insights to other C-Suite members.
Lead the organization’s customer-centric initiatives and support front-line employees to provide exceptional CX.
Drive CX optimization efforts on all channels and ensure the voice of the customer is heard in the board room.
Close the customer experience gap between how well organizations think they are providing superior CX and what their customers actually think.
This executive can drive efforts to survey and gather insights about their customers and their experiences to help them act today (e.g., close the loop on bad experiences), and generate a roadmap for how they can elevate these experiences for future customers.
The CCO’s focus is on building and growing customer relationships. As such, some of the key KPIs they focus on can include:
Net Revenue Retention The amount of revenue generated (or lost) from your existing customer base within a given time. That takes into account upsells to higher tiers or cross-selling to leverage any of your other offerings.
KPIs for a CCO
Customer Retention Rate: The percentage of customers who remain with your enterprise within a given time.
Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): The average amount of revenue that an organization can expect to generate from each customer.
Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) and Advocacy (NPS): Increasing and maintaining customer happiness with their offerings and, in their ability to address their needs, elevating their chances to recommend their offerings to others.
Why are companies turning to CCOs?
The importance of exceptional customer experience cannot be understated. Technology and easier access to information has shifted the power to customers, increasing their expectations for great experiences.
Consider these findings:
81% of marketers expect to compete mostly (or entirely) based on CX. (Source: Gartner)
CX drives over two-thirds of customer loyalty, outperforming brand and price combined. (Gartner)
Experience-driven businesses see almost 2x higher YoY growth in customer retention, repeat purchase rates, and customer lifetime value than other companies. (Source: Forrester and Adobe)
32% of customers stop doing business with a brand they love after only one bad experience. (Source: PwC)
71% of people recommend a product or service because they received a “great experience.” (Source: Convince & Convert Consulting)
65% of all consumers find a positive experience with a brand to be more influential than great advertising. (Source: PwC)
Companies that invest in employee experience are 4x more profitable than those that don’t. (Source: Harvard Business Review)
CX’s undeniable impact on the bottom line and the need to keep up with ever-evolving expectations has required organizations to prioritize CX and re-examine their organizational structure as a result.
Where do Chief Customer Officers fit in the organizational structure?
As more companies shift their focus towards CX, where CCOs fall within the org chart appears to be evolving.
The ongoing debate on “who owns the Customer Experience” may be contributing to this, with Marketing often being mentioned. Although, in recent years, and with increased needs to understand and elevate experiences across the entire customer journey, the scope of the CCO’s role is expanding. As a result, they are increasingly becoming their own branch in the org chart, with 36% now reporting directly to the CEO, according to Gartner.
Who reports to Chief Customer Officer? Again, this is dependent on each organization. CX is the result of a company’s efforts across all of its departments. However, the CCO’s influence should reach across all departments, customer-facing or not, especially teams focused on the post-purchase experience, such as:
Customer support and contact center
On-boarding and training of customers
What are the challenges of a CCO?
With enterprises’ growing focus on CX, the rise in demand for someone to oversee organization-wide customer-centric initiatives was only natural. However, the CCO is a relatively new C-suite member, which comes with challenges to overcome so they can best perform their duties.
Educating key stakeholders on their responsibilities: CEOs must clearly communicate with other C-suite members the organizations’ CX-related goals, and the CCO’s role and responsibilities in elevating these experiences. Also, the need for a strong partnership and collaboration between the different departments and the CCO must be stated.
Getting clear objectives and processes: Despite most brands now employing a CCO or an equivalent, there is some debate on the value of placing a specific individual in this role. To surpass this hurdle, CEOs must set precise objectives and help create tangible processes for CCOs to achieve to reinforce their role within the organization, and ensure they don’t become a mere figurehead.
Keeping everyone honest about the expectation gap: A Bain study found that while 80% of businesses felt they were delivering superior customer experience, only 8% agreed with that sentiment. It’s a CCO’s responsibility to be transparent and inform key stakeholders if their organization is not currently meeting customers’ expectations, and pinpoint where there are gleaning holes in the customer experience.
Tools to help Chief Customer Officers and their teams achieve their goal
A CCO must have a solid understanding of their customers. As well, they must be able to assess their experiences with the company at each touchpoint, empower teams with the tools they need to deliver positive CX, and have the insights to generate a roadmap to elevate experiences across the customer journey.
Emplifi's mission is to give CCOs and their team the tools to do so.
Customer engagement CRM that provides a centralized interface for agents to answer customer questions and solve problems through traditional and digital channels
Intuitive and accessible survey tools to assess customer needs, expectations, preferences, and perceptions of their experiences
Powerful email automation to help customer service agents significantly reduce handle times
AI-driven digital self-service chatbot that empowers customers to help themselves and quickly escalate to a live agent when needed
Proven social media marketing and management solutions that makes sense of the millions of conversations taking place on social media and flags key posts that require attention so you can act right away
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on astutesolutions.com. Any statistics or statements included in this article were current at the time of original publication.