What Does a Chief Customer Officer Need to Be Successful?

January 5th, 2017

By Lisa Harmer, VP, Partner Marketing

 

The role of Chief Customer Officer or Chief Experience Officer is still relatively new, and enterprise businesses are struggling to understand the role itself, and the roadmap to success.

According to the Chief Customer Officer Council, only 35 of the Fortune 500 companies have a CCO at all, and the average tenure for CCOs is just just over 29 months. Those are some scary statistics for customer experience professionals—even more so considering the daunting role that a CCO must play in uniting all customer-centric initiatives across large, complex organizations and driving a mind-shift in the way every person on the team embraces the customer experience.

So where do you start?

A recent Forbes article, “Why Your Company Needs a Chief Customer Officer,” which was co-authored by McKinsey & Company, not only made the case that now is the time for businesses to add a CCO to the C-level executive team, but also provided a roadmap for success in the role. Considering that McKinsey’s research shows that “improving experiences along the customer journey—which is defined as a series of interactions with a brand to achieve something—can boost revenue by up to 15 percent and increase customer satisfaction by 20 percent, while at the same time lowering the cost of serving customers (through automation, for example) by as much as 20 percent,” we thought it would be valuable to examine their recommendations.

First, the article suggests that the role of the CCO is to ensure that everyone, from CEO to frontline employees, are aligned in their understanding of the customer experience. By bringing the customer to life through storytelling or immersive experiences, team members at all levels become more engaged and invested.

InMoment’s Erich Dietz offered some suggestions on how to start this process in a white paper called “The Art of the Possible.” Dietz asks, “When was the last time you used your own product or service? Took a call in your contact center? Visited your own website? Used your mobile app? Sat down with a customer to understand how they use and view your product? Listened to a frontline employee about the customer experience and how it could be improved?” Listening to customer stories is very powerful for people at all levels of the organization, and innovative feedback options like live video can further help bring the stories to life. “People thrive on connections with real people. For any narrative to speak to us, we must meet and believe in the characters of the story,” says Dave Carruthers of VoxPopMe.

The next recommendation is to include customers in the creation or service process. Of course, in order to do this you need to ensure that you have a myriad of ways to listen to your customers and engage them in your business in effective ways.

Next, harnessing the power of your employees is critical. According to McKinsey, “Nowhere is obsessing about customer experience more critical than for workers on the front lines.” But how do you collect feedback from thousands of sources, zero in on the actionable data, and then empower the organization to act? Voice of Employee programs are a good place to start and, when done properly, can elicit high-impact results. Dr. Paul Warner, Ph.D., [title] notes, “It’s no surprise that employees who are invested in the experience of their individual customers not only create a better experience but engender loyal brand advocates.”

Finally, data, data, data. It is critical that the CCO has visibility into a wide range of data sets, both structured and unstructured, from multiple sources that provide insights into every step of the customer journey. According to the Forbes article, “Having a 360-degree view of the customer paves the way for measuring customer satisfaction across all touchpoints along the customer journey, which McKinsey has found is 30 percent more predictive of overall customer satisfaction than for the quality of each individual interaction.” 

But having the data is just the beginning. The CCO must also be able to identify trends and anomalies as well as specific customer experience issues that must be resolved case by case. Technology solutions like InMoment are able to provide data and actionable insights in real-time for all of the journey touchpoints. Armed with that information, the CCO is empowered to drive change across the organization that impacts the business in positive ways.

Dietz says that data is also important because CCOs always need to keep the company’s strategic business objectives at the forefront of everything they do, rather than skipping those and just focusing on CX. “A mistake I have seen is when CCO’s disassociate themselves somewhat with the overarching corporate objectives and just tackle CX in a silo. It’s much more effective to stay focused on the corporate objectives, and then figure out how the CX team can have the greatest impact. Then you start working the issues across the organization all the way to the front lines—using data as your guide—to ensure that everyone in the organization is clear on how they can maximize their impact on the customer experience, and in turn how that impacts the overarching objectives. That’s a critical key to a CCO’s success.”

The Chief Customer Officer role is evolving and expanding, as is the practice of customer experience in general. With the right focus, strategy, and tools, CCOs will be better equipped to deliver results—and hopefully extend that 29-month average tenure!