New trend: the ‘Chief Customer Officer’
In the past 10 years, the most undervalued person in a company undoubtedly was the customer. Customers are too often seen as a debit entry. Recently however there was a slight change in the attitude on the matter. A recent Forrester survey shows that more and more companies appoint a 'Chief Customer Officer'. These people have a senior level or management level in the company. Their responsibility is creating a good customer experience, the challenge being to obtain a better collaboration between different departments and business units. Dunkin' Donuts, Oracle and Allstate were amongst the first to create this function.
75% is a management member
The Forrester survey shows that 75% of the CCOs is a management member. I think this is an extremely good thing. In most management boards almost every stakeholder is represented by someone. The employees are represented by HR, the shareholder by the CEO or chairman, but who was representing the customer? The marketing manager? It may sound odd but a marketing manager will only rarely represent the customer. He represents the brand. However it is odd that your company’s main people (apart from the employees of course), your customers, are not officially represented within the management. But this is a very recent evolution. 55% of the CCOs have accepted the job in the past 12 months.
83% was appointed from an internal position
The good news is that 83% is found amongst the internal employees, since it is easier to gain good insights in different customer interactions when you know the company well. One will already be confronted with the positive and less positive aspects of one’s company. Furthermore I also think it is important that this person can identify him/herself with your company’s customers. After all, the trick will be to balance between defending the customer on the one hand and understanding your organisation’s limitations on the other hand.
Are they given enough power?
A change in senior management was often the base for introducing a CCO. Only in a minority of cases was it caused by a critical incident. This person’s success or failure is mainly linked with the power he/she has. An influential CCO is responsible for optimizing each touch point with a customer. That is where other people in the organization will have to adapt to new processes. Everybody realises that change might lead to resentment. The CCO’s communication skills and passion will determine the difference between success and failure.
Is this not very similar to the Conversation Manager?
When I read about the Forrester research, this description reminded me strongly of the new chapter of my book, the Conversation Manager. Together with the Marketingfacts community, we described his/her personality. However, I realize that a discussion often originates concerning the position of the Conversation Manager in an organisation. I am mainly to blame for this, since I mix the operational part and the managerial part too often in this chapter. The Forrester survey clearly refers to someone with strategic objectives. When we try to link this story with the Conversation Manager, it means that you end up with two types of Conversation Managers. The one is responsible for the operational aspect of the job and the other for the strategic aspect. This last function is very similar to Forrester’s description of the CCO.
I wonder what you think; I’m open to all feedback!