Modern businesses have been making the chief customer officer or CCO a staple in their lineups. Ten percent of Fortune 500 companies have included this role in their business, making it a total of 22 percent for those within the Fortune 100. One annual study reports that established brands are hiring C-level professionals to be responsible for improving the company-customer relationship and resolving their customer issues. Creating more profitable customers is also part of their job scope.
For those who are unfamiliar with the position, what is a chief customer officer? How exactly do they help a business grow and what kind of growth will they provide for the company?
What is a CCO?
By definition, the CCO is in charge of cultivating deeper relationships with the brand’s customers so that the rest are able to gain a better understanding of their customers. MarketingWeek editor Ruth Mortimer observes that this position signals how more companies are tying the marketing division “more firmly to the wider business performance” particularly through anchoring it “more firmly to the bottom line.”
This also means businesses are prioritizing their customers at a much higher level compared to before. The empowered customer wants to be seen as a brand partner and having a CCO keeps the organization under a customer-centric mindset. There needs to be someone in charge as a customer-centric organization has to be highly collaborative, according to Christine Crandell of Forbes. This collaboration will enable the brand to deliver what she describes as consistent, meaningful experiences and relationships. Customers are even more accessible thanks to social media and the Internet, so companies have to work on the points Crandell points out: “enterprise-wide transparency, proactive feedback, information sharing, and ideation and communication patterns that transcend hierarchal organization structures so teams can respond to customer expectations and quickly resolve issues.”
The CCO is in charge of leading the teams that will engage these customers. It is his or her job to train the members to listen to the customers concerns, understand what they want, and use that information to create the experience they seek in the brand. This job isn’t limited to marketing but cuts across sales, creative, product developers, and other teams within the company. While the COO handles operations and the CFO manages the money, the CCO leads all the customer-related teams towards earning the trust of customers and advocating for their needs. It’s also been observed that sales and marketing teams tend to work on different goals. The CCO will be the one to align and merge these goals together to ensure better company growth,
The CCO’s goal is to not just increase and improve customer-centricity. He or she also has to ensure that profit-related actions and growth within the organization is also aligned with what the customer is seeking from the company.
The CCO’s Rise to the Top
An EY survey reports that 73% of CCOs are confident that using customer feedback will help develop the business. This is much higher than the 58% of chief marketing officers and 68% of chief security officers in the same survey.
Understanding the customer is no longer limited to the sales or marketing department alone. IT has knowledge on the online customer response, while operations can also contribute to how the company’s processes can improve how the product or service is delivered to the customers. The CCO brings together all these concerns and more, along with accelerating growth within these departments and the entire company as a whole with the customer they serve in mind.
An example is how the Boeing Training and Flight Services division decided to reorganize according to the customer to drive company growth. According to CCO Roei Ganzarski, they realized that they needed to be more focused on their customers than ever before in order to continue growing successfully. Before the reorganization, each department was only focused on its internal goals. The finance teams were collecting payments, operations only taking care of products and services, while sales and business development teams were only fulfilling short-term revenue goals. Not one team aligned any of its goals to the customers’ holistic perspective. Ganzarski saw how the company had to change the culture so they could serve who fuels the business in the first place: their customers.
Other companies have the CCO manage the customer experience team directly and then take on an advisory or change management role for the rest of the organization. They are more focused on training and improving the customer experience team in their direct roles. But their involvement in executive management enables them to redirect long-term company goals, strategies, priorities, and budgets. In terms of growth, there are CCOs who have been promoted to chief operations officer (COO), chief executive, or as a president of a business unit. Those who have sales, marketing, finance, and customer related experience should consider gunning for this position if it’s available in their company
For businesses that have yet to have a CCO, they need to set the stage internally before hiring or promoting someone from within. If a company is considering having a CCO, it’s important for CEOs to establish an environment for them to thrive in. According to the Harvard Business Review, the CCO would need three preconditions within a company to enable overall success: a portfolio of successful projects that enable buy-in and cultural maturity in the organization, a strategic mandate that will differentiate according to customer experience, and the executive management team’s uniform understanding of what the position will accomplish for the business.
If you need to discuss customer related matters, you could tap the knowledge of Infinit-O’s customer service experts at Infinit Contact. Just like a CCO, Infinit-O understands how important customer service is in driving and increasing growth within your business. This Philippine-based company provides a variety of contact center outsourcing solutions for your customers, from inbound and outbound services to social media and even back office processing. Your customer’s needs are considered across channels and your CCO could align cost-cutting goals by outsourcing these services to an affordable but reliable company like Infinit-O.