Customer experience should be a board level conversation
No one would argue that providing a good customer experience is of huge importance in this era of the empowered consumer. That’s why so many organisations are investing so heavily in customer experience and that’s why roles such as Chief Customer Officer (CCO) are becoming more widely seen.
Customer experience needs to begin at the top and brands are appointing the right people to inform the customer experience across their company. Or so you would think. We recently conducted research into all companies on the FTSE 100 and FTSE AIM 100 and it revealed a worrying lack of senior focus on the customer experience.
The CCO on the board
We searched each company board and senior management team, looking for job titles such as for Chief Customer Officer. If someone did not have this, but their biography mentioned customer experience as a significant part of their role, that made the cut.
The job title is in some ways a red herring. Our analysis showed that while just 1% of FTSE companies have a Chief Customer Officer, a further 15% do have someone on the board with a specific customer-focused remit, but without that reflected in the job title.
What is important is that that individual has a complete focus on the customer experience, has a direct line to contact centres, social media teams and marketing, and also has the experience and gravitas to bring any learnings to the board and get them listened to.
This is why it is so important to have someone focused on the customer at a senior level:
The customer experience is a complex and complicated thing
Providing a good customer experience is a complex combination of people, processes and technology. It doesn’t just happen, and needs someone to drive it forward at all times.
CX depends on employee engagement
An organisation’s employees are a significant part of delivering a good customer experience. If your customer-facing employees aren’t engaged, then the customer experience will inevitably suffer. And to keep employees engaged needs someone leading from the front and demonstrating that customer experience is a senior priority.
It’s too important to leave it to chance
Customer experience is growing in importance all the time, and can have a true impact on the bottom line. To not have someone responsible for this at a senior level is an oversight, and one that shouldn’t really be happening in 2016.
Our research exercise wasn’t 100% scientific, and of course an organisation without a Chief Customer Officer on the board (or senior management team) can still offer a first-class customer experience. But with just one firm out of the 200 analysed having a board member with a customer-focused job title, it does surely indicate a general lack of senior focus on this hugely important business discipline.
Are brands doing enough at board level to ensure that providing a high quality customer experience is a priority for them? Not just yet, but expect this to change over the next 18 months, with more and more brands adding a CCO to the board.
Mike Hughes is MD at PeopleTECH and one of the UK’s foremost customer experience experts, having worked for and consulted companies such Thomas Cook, BskyB and France Telecom on how best to deliver a first-class experience to their customers.