If you're applying for a chief customer officer vacancy, here are some things to consider to ensure you ace the interview and understand the company's needs.
Are you considering applying for the role of Chief Customer Officer (CCO)? If so, you’ve probably already worked in customer experience leadership in some capacity, and have a reasonably clear concept of what an organisation is looking for in a CCO.
You may have a good idea of the kinds of questions you’ll be asked during your interview: your experience, philosophy, and the style of leadership you’ll bring to the organization, and are prepping for that. While you’re doing your research, look at these thought-provoking questions to get you thinking about the type of information you’ll want to glean from your interview.
Will you be supported in your CCO role?
If you’re like a lot of CCO candidates I’ve encountered and CCOs I’ve interviewed on my podcast, The Chief Customer Officer Human Duct Tape Show, you’re probably spending a lot of time preparing to answer the questions asked of you by the organization. But it’s also just as important that you prepare yourself to ask, “How will this organisation support me in the CCO role?”
As you’ll see in my list of questions below, customer experience transformation requires deep organizational changes in both thought and action. You’ll need a lot of resources, backing from leadership, and a willingness across the organisation to commit to ideas that upend existing practices. Before accepting a CCO position, you’ll want to be sure that the organisation is ready to approach customer experience in this new and comprehensive way.
Now, if the roles are reversed and you’re an organizational leader interviewing CCO candidates, reviewing this list will help you identify candidates who are truly prepared to dig into the work of improving customers’ lives. A candidate who has the experience and thoughtfulness to lead this transformative work should ask such high-level questions that you may begin to feel that you’re the one being interviewed! You want the interview process between organisational leadership and a strong CCO candidate should be a dialogue.
Interview questions every CCO candidate should ask
- Why this work now?
What has changed? Is the company in a place to take on this work? Are there any impending issues to overshadow your ability to focus on this work?
- Will you elevate customers as the asset of your business?
Moving focus to managing customers as assets requires a new view in how leaders define success for the organisation and in how they demand accountability to include strategic customer metrics.
- Will you drive one-company experience reliability?
Customer-driven growth requires a one-company approach to improving priority customer experiences. Will you be able to question processes that worked for individual silos but don’t work collectively for one-company customer driven growth?
- Will you develop the new skills required?
Are you open to re-evaluating the skill sets for people and positions? Are you prepared to reinforce the need for building one-company, cross-functional solutions for customer experiences? This means process and change management and communication skills.
- Is there a commitment to time and resources?
In the beginning, this is going to feel very much like new work layered onto existing work. Are you willing to commit resources from every part of the organisation to participate in this work?
- Does the CEO sign up to be a true partner?
Is this a key focus for you in decisions and actions? For example, if one of your best performers won’t participate in or support this work, what will you do? Will you hold people accountable when people push back and question the importance of this work?
- Is the C-suite in alignment?
Who are the advocates and who are the outliers and why?
- Will you insist on corporate patience?
Will you help everyone survive the chaos of the shift to “the new normal”? This means managing board expectations and redefinitions of success. It takes discipline not to back down when the pressures to move faster or revert to cost management sets in- and it will.
Want more resources to help you prepare for a position as chief customer officer? I suggest you check out this CCO Role category on the blog. Additionally, you may find this 10 Aptitudes of Successful CCOs, as a helpful checklist to ensure you’ll be ready for the job.
Good luck to all of those who are interested in being a CCO, it’s definitely a rewarding position!