The Rise, and Flutter, of the Chief Customer Officer

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Corporate leaders are beginning to recognize that the lines have blurred between the brand and the customer experience. This revelation is prompting a growing number of companies to establish a Chief Customer Officer (CCO) role and bring a more unified approach to customer centricity. According to The 2014 CCO Study conducted by the Chief Customer Officer Council, 22 percent of Fortune 100 companies have adopted the role. While that's an impressive milestone, it's clear that the industry is still early days in establishing a CCO position. Indeed, just 10 percent of the Fortune 500 and 6.7 percent of the Fortune 1000 have embraced the role, according to the CCO study.
Customer Strategy

Corporate leaders are beginning to recognize that the lines have blurred between the brand and the customer experience. This revelation is prompting a growing number of companies to establish a Chief Customer Officer (CCO) role and bring a more unified approach to customer centricity. According to The 2014 CCO Study conducted by the Chief Customer Officer Council, 22 percent of Fortune 100 companies have adopted the role. While that's an impressive milestone, it's clear that the industry is still early days in establishing a CCO position. Indeed, just 10 percent of the Fortune 500 and 6.7 percent of the Fortune 1000 have embraced the role, according to the CCO study. I spoke last week to Paul Hagen, former principal of the customer experience group at Forrester Research who is now the senior principal and head of customer experience & innovation strategy at West Monroe Partners for his take as to why so many companies have been slow to adopt the role and other trends he's seeing in this area.

As Hagen sees it, many companies that haven't acted to create a CCO role continue to struggle with defining just what the customer experience is. Another reason many companies have been slow to install a CCO is that those companies that have been laggards in implementing customer-centric practices have also struggled with determining the ROI of customer experience. In addition, some companies see the CEO as the organization's customer champion, so why create yet another C-level position?

These are all valid points. But as Hagen also notes, those companies that have created a CCO role recognize the distinction between the roles and responsibilities of both the CEO and the CMO and why there's a void that the CCO needs to fill.

"The CMO has a lot of control over the brand but they don't own the brand experience and where it happens," says Hagen. "With a CCO, you now have someone who is accountable for the customer experience."

The CCO is also more focused on designing customer experiences, for helping managers and employees to gain a holistic view of the customer, and for overseeing how the customer experience is being measured across the organization.

I'm not an advocate for adding new titles simply because they sound customer-friendly. Meanwhile, many companies are still struggling to figure out whether the CMO or someone else should be responsible for the customer experience. But for many of those companies that have made this demarcation and have created distinct responsibilities for the CCO, there are strong benefits that can be extended both to customers and to the company.

EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION