The Rise of the Chief Customer Officer

Take a deep dive into the Chief Customer Officer role: What it looks like, the responsibilities and benefits of having a CCO and success stories.
Anthony Sochan
March 2, 2021

The Chief Customer Officer (CCO) is still a fairly fresh idea for a lot of companies. The concept of this role stems from giants like Amazon, who started putting the customer at the heart of their entire business. Thus, resulting in many decisions being customer-led and impactful. 

The CCO role can vary greatly from business to business, but at first glance, it can be seen as a traditional executive role that covers many angles: Operations, product, people & hiring, marketing, sales - sometimes as the core owner of those functions and other times as a key influencer. In this article, we’ll outline the role in more detail, the benefits of having a CCO and success stories. 

The role of a CCO 

A CCO will sit as a key role in the executive team, responsible for representing “the customer” across the business. The goal of the CCO is to increase the lifetime value and profitability of each customer. This involves (but isn’t limited to): 

  • Designing and constantly improving customer journeys.
  • Hiring and managing the customer experience team. 
  • Encouraging customer loyalty (including customer retention).
  • Creating training programmes and feedback surveys for customer satisfaction.
  • Promoting evidence-based and analytical methods for understanding customers.

A big part of these responsibilities involves collaborating with other departments. But, the CCO should lead on all projects that directly link to the above.

Why we’re seeing a rise in CCOs

The pandemic has only strengthened the need for a CCO. Ultimately, organizations need to put their customers first now more than ever before. But, the benefits of this role have actually been around for quite some time, they’ve just been underestimated and overlooked. 

There are two reasons your customers will return to your business: 

  1. It’s a good service or product that they liked. 
  2. They were expertly nurtured and supported through their experience with you.

 A great service relies on excellent customer satisfaction. A valuable product needs to meet customer demands and needs. A memorable experience comes from strategic customer journeys and a trained team. So, you can see that a customer-centric approach isn’t one to be ignored. A CMO can acquire the customers, a CCO should keep them and enhance their value. 

What organizations should look for in a CCO

  1. Be able to think like your customers: In the interview process, you’ll need to see proof that they know and understand your customers enough to think like them (notably, what would make them stick with or buy from your service or product). 
  2. Adaptability: Similar to your CMO and marketing team, the CCO should be always adapting to customer needs and demands. This requires creativity and out-of-the-box thinking to create a unique and better customer experience than your competitors.
  3. A leader: Customer experience is one of, if not, the most important element to get right (the real reason why a CCO is a good idea). So, you need a passionate and positive leader in your c suite to handle the training, hiring, maintenance and management of the customer team. 
  4. Analytically minded: Taking a data-driven approach to customers is key: this involves being metrics-driven and measuring things like; CAC/LTV, NPS, Churn. This also involves deeply understanding how customers are interacting with the business across all ends of the customer journey (AARRR). 
  5. Empathetic: Whilst the CCO role is a key driver of growth for a business, a high degree of customer empathy is required as this person must put the customer's needs ahead of the business. For example, they must voice their concern if a decision is made that may increase business profitability but disadvantage the customer. This empathy also translates into the brand, comms, creative and other areas where attribution modelling is not the “answer”.

Spotlight: GoCardless 

GoCardless is an organization going from strength to strength, helping businesses simplify their recurring payments. Their CCO, Pat Phelan, has been at the forefront of supporting their customers throughout the pandemic. Key strategies to take note from GoCardless: 

  • Build a variety of value pathways for customers.
  • Assign a customer success manager at the very start of every customer journey.
  • Constantly create new ways to engage and support your customers. 
  • Make sure your company values are represented in everything the customer sees and hears. 
  • Plan for the future and what your customers will want from you a year down the line.

If you want to know more about the CCO role and what it might look like in your business - get in touch.

Anthony Sochan

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