It seems that these days, an ever-growing number of C-suite titles exist. As a company, we support CDOs, CAOs, CROs, CLOs and CCOs. But there are CISOs, CPOs, CHOs (Chief Happiness Officers!) and many more that seem to pop up every now and then.
I’m certainly not trivialising C-level roles. They are important but there is the argument that these roles need to be rationalised and need to add genuine value to organisations.
No one can deny, then, that the growth of the Chief Customer Officer makes a lot of commercial sense. Every organisation has customers – whether they’re consumers, other businesses or citizens. These customers are the lifeblood of the business. Products are developed for them. Processes are improved for them. Channels are developed to communicate with them.
So, why are CCOs becoming more prevalent now? Surely a role that, at a very senior level, looked after the customer experience should have been entrenched years, or even decades, ago?
During my research for our inaugural Chief Customer Officer Europe event, I specifically asked this question of the CCOs I spoke to. I wanted to know if adding the Chief moniker to the title was to modernise it or to give it more clout. And why hadn’t it been in use long before.
As I dug deeper, it became obvious that the role of the CCO was to break-down silos, improve processes and ultimately retain and acquire customers.
The Growing Power of the Customer
The (unanimous) answer – the voice of the customer is more powerful now than it’s ever been. In an instant, a customer can share positive or negative feedback on a company’s service or product to hundreds, if not thousands, of people. And, if the feedback is particularly funny/interesting/creative, it could go viral and be viewed by millions of people within days.
Someone needs to take control of the customer journey and experience. And they need to be visible and accountable. And so we witness the rise of the Chief Customer Officer.
If you are wondering how many CCOs actually exist across Europe, I’ve got a fairly accurate answer for you: it’s 321.
In my view, that’s a significant number albeit a small fraction of the actual number of companies that exist in Europe.
Not Just a Feel Good Factor – It’s Strategic
It’s believable that 321 CCOs exist to manage the experience of their organisations’ customers. But is it just about ensuring that customers don’t complain? I had a very targeted question on this: is your role, as the CCO, to manage the fluffy, feel good factor that customers like about companies?
The answer was a resounding, NO! The role of the CCO is seen as a tactical and strategic role that drives customer-centricity across the entire business. Through the seniority bestowed upon the CCO, he/she is able to break-down silos that exist across business departments, and their processes, to ensure that the customer receives a seamless and enjoyable experience.
Ok, but that sounds like a lot of work to achieve the same fluffy, feel good outcome.
CCOs Will Rise Even Higher But…
If we’re honest with ourselves, companies want their customers to have great experiences so that they make more money out of them. They retain them, sell more to them and, if they’re really good, they refer their friends and family (or other businesses in a B2B environment).
As I dug deeper it became obvious that the role of the CCO was to break-down silos, improve processes and ultimately retain and acquire customers.
Many of the CCOs interviewed came from Marketing, Sales and Business Development roles. They didn’t come from the traditional Customer Service roles within their businesses. Their clear-cut commercial drive and experience meant they were the best fit for the role.
One might argue that the Chief Customer Officer should be called the Chief Revenue Officer. And this is happening. More so in the US than in Europe but there are examples, in Europe, of CROs who effectively do the same role as the CCO – perhaps they’re just a bit more forthcoming with their objective.
In a business world where customers can change between service providers more easily than ever before, the CCO will play an increasingly critical role in ensuring that the whole organisation is working towards the same customer experience.
The rise of the CCO is unstoppable and no doubt it will continue at a rapid rate BUT it is important to understand what their role truly entails and continue to deliver the demands of that role.
Join us at Chief Customer Officer Europe this June in London. For more information, visit coriniumintelligence.com/chiefcustomerofficereurope
By Craig Steward:
Craig Steward is Corinium’s Managing Director for EMEA responsible for developing Corinium’s C-level forums and roundtables across the region. Contact Craig at firstname.lastname@example.org