Chief Data Officer, Chief Analytics Officer, Chief Digital Officer – over the last few years, we’ve seen the c-suite expand with many new job titles, and the Chief Customer Officer (CCO) is the latest addition.
From food giant MARS, to pharma titan Johnson & Johnson, to retail king Asda, a number of large organisations have brought on CCOs in the hopes of building better relationships with their customers and driving greater business value.
With CCOs solely focused on customer and prospect relationships they are uniquely positioned to obtain real feedback directly and insights they can share with other c-suite leaders to inform and reprioritise their business strategy around customer needs.
CCOs understand that customers no longer value brands exclusively based on their products – in today’s environment, customers evaluate their interactions across every touch point; they evaluate a brand’s values and how those align with their own, and they choose the one that offers a personalised omnichannel experience from a brand they can trust.
Ensuring that a customer-centric culture is embedded throughout an organisation can be a challenging task, particularly for large enterprises with multiple branches and offices. However, having a CCO in place to empower employees to operate with a customer-first mindset allows the organisation to optimise the customer experience, add a human touch, demonstrate trust and embrace customer-driven innovations that can provide a competitive edge.
Transforming the customer voice from passive to active
A key benefit that CCOs offer organisations is the ability to give customers a hand in shaping the company’s business strategy.
By bringing customers directly into the creative process or product development plans, customers become active co-creators of the company and will ultimately feel valued for their input.
Whether this is through testing prototypes in focus groups or obtaining feedback through online community forums, demonstrating to customers that their opinions are valued and actioned will create positive brand perceptions and strengthen a company’s brand equity.
Equally important, direct customer feedback allows the organisation to gain a host of new ideas on how to improve its product or better demonstrate its company values.
Instilling a customer-centric mindset throughout the organisation
However, opening up such direct channels of communication with customers and giving them such a level of power will require a dramatic change in mindset among other c-suite leaders; especially for those who are risk-averse.
The CCO is tasked with the challenge of unifying the way that the organisation views its customers, at both a management level and at the frontline level. As a member of the c-suite team, the CCO is well-placed to drive change from the top and explain to the other executives why customer relationships matter and how they should be handled.
Additionally, demonstrating this customer-centric mindset at a senior level sets a strong example for the rest of the organisation, particularly for employees in customer service or product development teams. Championing this behavioural change ensures that each team is working to the place customer needs at the heart of all activity; therefore driving business value.
Happy employees, happy customers
Having this customer-centric attitude is arguably most critical for employees who deal with customers directly. While CCOs have direct visibility and exposure to c-suite teams – and therefore face fewer obstacles in championing this behavioural change at the management level – CCOs must actively find opportunities to engage with staff at the grassroots level. This can be done through internal communications activities, from town halls and company-wide newsletters, to in-person focus groups where staff can share their experience and feelings on how customer interactions should be handled.
CCOs understand that when employees are satisfied with their job and employer, they are motivated to drive strong results and productivity, in turn benefiting the customer experience – obtaining direct feedback from customer-facing employees allows CCOs to identify, and rectify, sources of employee dissatisfaction; which drives employee satisfaction and productivity.
Using data-driven insights to optimise the customer experience
On the technical side, CCOs also possess the ability to create a single, holistic view of the customer profile. With the majority of customer interactions occurring through digital channels, CCOs have a wealth of customer data at their fingertips that can be used to create a 360-degree view of customers’ behaviours, attitudes, needs and pain points. By analysing this data, CCOs can understand how to optimise the customer journey and measure customer satisfaction across all touchpoints.
Equally, CCOs can use this information to identify any recurring customer issues or complaints that may be causing high churn rates, and flag these to customer support or product development teams to quickly rectify.
From using concrete data to optimise the customer experience and lay out the internal business strategy, to building brand equity by demonstrating to customers that their opinions are valued, CCOs are uniquely positioned to enact real change in the organisation. While consumer expectations will change and evolve over time, the customer-centric culture led by the CCO will endure by driving continuous optimisation of the customer experience and business priorities.