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Rise of the CXO: do you need to hire one?

16th Nov 2017
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Another acronym. But an important one. It stands for “Chief Experience Officer,” and it is becoming an increasingly important position and function within any organisation that deals with the consumer/client and that has an employed staff.

Four years ago, the position of CXO was almost non-existent. But what businesses were beginning to recognise is that there was often a disconnect between their customers and their brand. As well, there was somewhat of a disconnect between employees and the company they were working for.

Enter the CXO – that person who could take responsibility for both external and internal “connectedness” with the brand.

It’s an important position.

Two Bases

Every company has two bases – its customer/clients and its employees. Ensuring that both have a great experience with the company is pretty critical. Unhappy customers means lowered sales and the potential for public criticism. Unhappy employees mean less productivity and higher turnover rates. Both come at a revenue cost.

If you are experiencing either or both of these situations, then it is time to think about acquiring a CXO to improve those experiences.

The CXO and Your External Base

In this function, the CXO is responsible for ensuring that each customer experience, from the point of first contact with your company, through the sales funnel, and after the sale, is seamless, enjoyable, and satisfactory through all phases. This may mean any or all of the following functions:

  • Ensuring that your website, your blog, and your social media presence are all “customer friendly” – that is, a consumer can receive the right information about your brand, can find reason to “connect” with your brand, and receive personalised support and service through the purchasing process.
  • Ensuring that your customer service before and after the sale is focused on customer satisfaction, and that any complaints or issues are immediately resolved.

In these capacities, the CXO must work closely with marketing, sales, and customer support functions of your company. The goal is to provide a seamless experience for each customer and to demonstrate to that customer that his/her needs are the top priority.

According to CV-Library, a UK based job board, “There is an increasing need for someone to oversee all functions of the marketing, sales, and customer service elements of a company, to ensure that these departments understand the importance of nurturing and serving customers and that they work collaboratively to guarantee customer satisfaction. Everyone, in short, needs to be on the same page, putting the customer first.”

In this capacity, the CXO may very well set up training and collaborative sessions with these departments, and monitor their activities so that modifications and corrections can be made.

The CXO and Your Internal Base

Your employees are also customers of a sort. They enter employment with you with expectations that they will have “job satisfaction.” Usually, this is a function of the HR department – on boarding, training, periodic job performance evaluation, and putting policies and practices in place that ensure employee satisfaction.

There are clues that all is not well – a high rate of absenteeism and turnover is probably the most common. But productivity issues also indicate that employees have little “connection” to the company.

The function of the CXO is to determine how and why connectedness is lost, usually by meeting with employees in a non-threatening environment, determining where the gaps are, and then putting activities in place to fill those gaps and gain employee satisfaction.

In this capacity, the CXO will work closely with the HR department to improve the work life of employees and help them to see that they are valued and important. This is an on-going effort. Recognising employees for the great job they do, providing incentives and bonuses for a job well done, and putting avenues in place for employees to freely express their issues and concerns are all a part of this function.

So, Do You Need a CXO?

Only you can evaluate the “state of affairs” of your company. Are your sales steadily increasing? Are current customers interacting with your brand positively? Are they recommending others to you? Are customer issues and complaints being resolved quickly? Are there positive feedback and comments about you on social media? If these things are lacking, you may want to consider adding a CSO.

Are your employees productive, free to voice concerns and issues, committed to the goals of your business, and staying? If not, you need to understand why and fix the problem. A CXO may be the answer.

Two Hats

CX’s have to wear two hats – they have to evaluate your relationship with both your external and internal bases and develop strategic plans to fix what is broken in your relationships with both of these groups. There is no college degree in CXO management. However, there are certain characteristics to look for when you seek such a person.

  • Background and experience must be in “people” functions. Sales, HR, customer service are all areas in which CXO’s have previously functioned
  • Outgoing and a high level of communication skills are key – are they listeners as much as talkers? Do they enjoy working with people more than with policies and procedures?
  • Do they take a collaborative approach to leadership? What are their previous successes in connecting with both of your bases?

It’s not easy to find this person. But if you can identify the gaps that you know you have, you can focus on those during the recruitment and selection process and determine which candidates can meet your needs.

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