To gain the advantage in today's competitive market, brands must work to understand the customer experience. By understanding each individual's journey, companies can then integrate relevant insights and evolving strategies to create an atmosphere that nurtures relationships. But, as businesses begin to recognize the need to "walk in the customer's shoes" and develop an inside-out approach, an increasing number of organizations are appointing chief customer officers (CCOs) to ensure that the customer experience is considered by all departments throughout the organizational hierarchy. In many instances, the CCO has helped companies differentiate themselves from competitors by implementing new business architectures grounded in delivering value to customers.
However, as with all emerging roles, there are numerous questions that arise when it comes to aligning the CCO's priorities with the overall organization. To explore precisely what the CCO role has to offer and how these executives can bring new opportunities to their company, we spoke with Gary Edwards, CCO at Empathica, who highlights the importance of these leaders and their future in the corporate landscape:
1to1 Media: Why is the CCO becoming so important to organizations?
Gary Edwards: As brands place greater emphasis on the customer experience, the CCO will become a driving force in restructuring company values to better serve customer needs. Executives in the CCO position help brands reorganize company culture around the customer - a necessary strategy for companies who wish to advance market growth. Those who hone in on customer-focused objectives improve their customer relationships, increase customer retention and attract new customers. The CCO helps businesses refocus efforts on customer engagement and satisfaction. Because a large part of the CCO role is immersion in the customer experience, CCOs use the same media and channels as customers to gain a complete understanding of each step of the customer journey. By applying this hands-on experience to business objectives, the CCO brings the customer's voice to the forefront of the brand.
1to1: What is it like to walk in the shoes of the customer? What unique insights does this bring to any given company?
GE: The CCO mirrors the customer experience as best as possible, and therefore understands and empathizes with each step of the customer journey. Part and parcel of understanding this customer experience is using the same media and channels that customers use. The CCO understands the frustration of trying to find the shoe department in a poorly laid out store, or has experienced a mobile website that is difficult to navigate. By understanding the customer journey, brands can quickly identify where they are failing to meet or exceed customer expectations, as well as help identify the key drivers of loyalty on which to focus, ways to change staff behavior, and how to leverage brand advocates when working towards improving overall experience.
1to1: Why are some currently arguing that the CCO might inevitably replace the CIO? Will this happen in the near future?
GE: Formerly, the CIO played an important role in handling and implementing new technology and operational efficiencies related to technology. But more and more, infrastructure led services are moving outside of the traditional data center. As the infrastructure of corporate services shifts to outsourced, cloud-based systems and prioritizes the customer experience, the CIO becomes less relevant to the executive suite. In addition, employees have become increasingly connected within businesses. The growth of mobile technologies like tablets and smartphones have out-evolved the traditional corporate desktop, and cloud-based services allow employees to work from virtually anywhere. The increasing self-sufficiency of employees reduces the need for the infrastructure that CIOs provide.