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Giving Your Customers a Seat at the Table


Who is responsible for customer experience in your company? Some companies answer this question by pointing to the head of Sales and Marketing.  Others describe a more distributed model of managing customer experience with Operations, Sales, Marketing, and other functions all sharing ownership.  Increasingly, however, companies are naming a dedicated C-level leader: the Chief Customer Officer  (CCO).  Over the last two-plus years, a number of companies (e.g. Philips, FedEx, SAP, Oracle, Panasonic) have decided that appointing a CCO is the most effective way to drive customer acquisition, satisfaction, retention, and profitability.

Paul Hagan of Forrester Research recently wrote articles for the Harvard Business Review and Forbes on the recent increase in companies appointing CCOs.  This trend is clearly a recent one.  Based on the research from Forrester, more than 80% of CCOs have held the job for less than two years and 55% had held the job for less than one year.  The CCO Council also makes the point that the role is new to many organizations and, as a result, poorly understood.

Everything I’ve read on this topic seems to be consistent in one point: irrespective of what title is used, companies will be most successful when someone is empowered and responsible for:

  • Creating a driving a customer strategy
  • Driving customer-centric culture and balancing the traditional focus of the C-suite on cutting costs and increasing revenue
  • Interpreting customer feedback and driving change the closes the gap between customer expectations and actual experience
  • Driving long-term customer profitability

It is my view that this is especially important in the BPO space, where the service provider’s customers have outsourced business functions critical to the success of the customers’ business and where relationships with customers tend to last for years. 

How has your company addressed these issues? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.



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