We’re all familiar with a wide variety of CXO positions, but how many of you have run into a CCO lately? Well it’s becoming more and more likely that you WILL run into one in organizations worldwide as the creation of Chief Customer Officer roles become a strategic move for organizations according to a recent Inc. Magazine article.
What IS a CCO? The Chief Customer Officer is the executive responsible in customer-centric companies for the total relationship with an organization’s customers. This position is intended to provide a single vision across all methods of customer contact. The strategic importance of CCOs has gradually grown since the 1990’s when the role was created and in some cases was just a symbolic way for organizations to say that they were customer-focused. Today, the CCO typically reports to the chief executive officer, and is potentially a member of the board of directors.
According to Curtis Bingham of the CCO Council, there are now over 500 CCO’s worldwide and the role is rapidly evolving.
CCOs are often responsible for influencing corporate activities of customer relations in the call center, sales, marketing, user interface, finance/billing. fulfillment and post-sale support. Sometimes they even may head up one of these functional areas, but still maintain a cross-functional focus.
One interesting example of this is a client of mine, Vendavo, where their new Sr. VP of Global Sales, Jennifer Maul, previously held the CCO role in the organization. Jennifer’s new role is “responsible for lifetime customer relationships, customer success, and growing the customer base”. As a result of the close relationship between those goals and the sales team, she now has a different title, but is still responsible for customer relationships as well as the sales function. This would indicate that customer retention and satisfaction is fundamental to Vendavo’s sales/growth strategy…that’s a good thing!
I’m encouraged by the increasing number of CCOs and the increased focus of organizations on how important customer relationships are to the bottom line. If you aren’t delivering/supporting your product or communicating with your customers in a way that meets their needs/expectations, it doesn’t matter how cool your product is…they will find someone else who is willing to make their experience easier and less painful.
To learn more about this evolving role, explore the CCO Council site. There are many tools there to help determine whether the time is right for your organization to create a CCO role and the success factors for doing so.
If you consult with organizations, you should understand more about this role and realize the important message your clients are sending if they have a CCO…it is a huge clue about their strategic focus and will give you insights about what is most important to them.
Please share any insights you have about this role and the challenges that companies may be having in implementing such a position.