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Chief customer officer

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Title: Chief customer officer  
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Subject: Mavenlink, Nepal–Britain Treaty of 1923, Corporate title
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Chief customer officer

A chief customer officer (CCO) is the executive responsible in customer-centric companies for the total relationship with an organization’s customers. This position is relatively new addition in the CxO hallway, and was developed to provide a single vision across all methods of customer contact. The CCO is often responsible for influencing corporate activities of customer relations in the call centre, sales, marketing, user interface, finance (billing), fulfillment and post-sale support. The CCO typically reports to the chief executive officer, and is potentially a member of the board of directors.

Chief Customer Officers may be known by many titles; however, according to the Chief Customer Officer Council, the CCO is properly defined as "an executive who provides the comprehensive and authoritative view of the customer and creates corporate and customer strategy at the highest levels of the company to maximize customer acquisition, retention, and profitability." The Chief Customer Officer Council is the only member-led peer-advisory network offering unparalleled insight and assistance into the critical issues facing CCOs.

Today's customer requires access in many forms of media to meet their preferences and lifestyle, such as traditional voice agent, outsourced/offshored voice agent, automated voice (interactive voice response or IVR), Email, traditional mail, web chat, web collaboration, web co-browse, text, point of presence (PoP) such as sales register or kiosk, faxes, etc.

A consistent customer experience across all methods of access is required by customers, who often choose to change vendors if they do not get the support they require to meet their expectations. Consistency and accessibility of the customer experience have become an essential component to winning competition for customers as companies realize the financial benefit of customer satisfaction as its proportionate relationship to loyalty and profitability.

The Chief Customer Officer Council has documented that there are approximately 450 executives worldwide with the CCO title or having comparable authority and responsibilities under a different title. While growing steadily from fewer than 30 in 2003, CCOs are the newest, and by far the smallest, component of the C-suite. With an average tenure of just 29 months, the chief customer officer has the shortest lifespan among all C-suite executives, according to research conducted in 2010 by the Chief Customer Officer Council.

Because the CCO role is still so new, there is as yet no executive MBA program or even a Harvard Business Review treatise about becoming a CCO. Jeanne Bliss, who was the Chief Customer Officer for Lands' End, Microsoft, Mazda, Coldwell Banker and Allstate Corporations has written a book called "Chief Customer Officer" that she wrote as a field guide, based on her twenty five years' experience in the role. Over 50% of all new CCO's read this book.

The role, however, requires more education, understanding and awareness of its benefits and challenges among the C-suite, throughout the business and with customers. The CCO Council find that a number of CCOs still have to explain what their role is when they hand over their business card to customers.

While not a requirement that the CCO be a board-level position, to be effective, the Chief Customer Officer Council advises that the CCO must be one of the senior-most executives of the company. Chief Customer Officers typically report directly to the CEO, although there are some exceptions.

A 2009 study of over 860 corporate executives revealed that companies that had increased their investment in customer experience management over the previous three years reported higher customer referral rates and customer satisfaction (Strativity Group, 2009).[1]


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Further reading

  • Bingham, Curtis, founder and executive director of the Chief Customer Officer Council. Classifying Chief Customer Officers
  • Bliss, Jeanne. Chief Customer Officer: Getting Past Lip Service to Passionate Action.
  • Schumpeter, "The magic of good service", The Economist, 22 September 2012 [1]
  • Blog by Jeanne Bliss that provides learning from work in coaching CCO's into their positions since 2006
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