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How are chief customer officers impacting experiences?

11th Mar 2013

Whether called Chief Customer Officers (CCOs) or something else, Forrester is reporting an increase in the number of executives accountable for customer experience efforts. But who are they, what’s their role and how are they helping shape the customer experience?

At the beginning of 2013, Forrester identified 730 CCOs that serve as customers’ top advocates at both B2C and B2B companies. As in the past, ‘chief customer officer’ remains the most popular title for this type of executive and is now used by 45% of the senior leaders that were studied, up notably from last year's 30% figure.

To discover what these CCOs have in common, analyst Paul Hagen reviewed data for those holding the position in more than 200 companies for his new report How Chief Customer Officers Orchestrate Experiences. He profiled them as having/being:

A tenure of two years or fewer: Most CCOs are relatively new to their positions, which Forrester attributes to the emerging nature of this role. According to the study, 44% of CCOs have spent two years or fewer in their current jobs but whilst new to the role, 56% were promoted from within the firm.

A diverse and senior background: In contrast to 2012, CCOs with past experience in operations, quality, or business process edged out those with division president or general manager positions.

A member of the executive leadership team: A full 85% of the CCOs sit on the executive management team within their companies, up from just more than 50% in 2012. More than half of those we looked at report directly to the chief executive officer (CEO).

Belonging to companies with various sized revenues: Similar to 2012, 15% of the CCOs researched work in very large companies with revenues of $20bn or more, and another 21% are in large companies with revenues of $5bn to less than $20bn.

Software firms leading the pack: Firms in a wide range of industries have CCOs, but we found these executives most frequently in the software, professional services, and financial services industries.

So, growing both in number and influence, what should CCOs do to make the most of this opportunity? Hagen says new CCOs can make big customer experience improvements that lead to profits when they create end-to-end accountability for customer experience; design experiences rather than processes; and shift culture.

But it's important to note these executives are not a silver bullet for a company's customer experience problems, says Hagen. CEOs considering a CCO should establish three preconditions for success: a strategic mandate; cultural maturity; and a viable position with the clout and tools to change the way a firm operates.

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