The rise of the Chief Customer Officer (CCO)

chief customer officer (cco)

Socio-economic change and advances in technology have given rise to an empowered global customer. This new paradigm means that, to be a market-leading consumer brand, companies must differentiate, innovate and compete.

Innovation does not apply only to systems and models but also to having a customer-centric organisational design that enables robust strategic thinking and operational excellence. In some cases the need to innovate has led to the appointment of a Chief Customer Officer or Customer Director.

So what exactly is a Chief Customer Officer (CCO) ? What does it mean? Are they a CEO by default?

In light of the ambiguity that surrounds the role and the recent surge in high profile industry restructures and hires, including John Lewis, we surveyed senior leaders from the consumer sector including Fashion Retail and FMCG, to explore the background, the rationale, the role and the implications of appointing a CCO.

Why change is needed

As the consumer landscape changes, businesses must adapt to survive. The birth of the CCO, whilst traditionally associated with customer experience, is inextricably linked with the evolution of ecommerce. In our 2013 study ‘Today’s Ecommerce Talent’, we outlined the various talent models. However,

A growing voice recognised that:

  • Board and leadership structures were not delivering. Silo’ed single channel empires were delivering sales but not holistic experiences.
  • Marketing, brand, channel trading and data, insight and loyalty should be linked by a single vision.
  • Customer data should be used to drive insight, not just used as a trading tool.
  • The need to become storytelling brands that emotionally reach their customers.
  • The shift from insight backed brand marketing to metric based digital trading meant customers were connected but emotionally separated.
  • Customers were not getting the personalised propositions that met their needs and this was hampering business growth.

Most importantly organisations were waking up to the fact that they needed to listen to and truly address customer needs.

As Jeanne Bliss, author of Chief Customer Officer 2.0, said:

“To make customers the strategic core of the business, company leaders need to personally take on the job…”  As such, companies require a customer-focused director aligned to the mission.

Enter the CCO.

Research shows:

  • 90% of senior leaders told us that the role of the Chief Customer Officer will increase in the next 5 years
  • 66% of senior leaders told us that there is a definite need for the CCO.

As the role of the CCO becomes more prominent, questions are raised and organisational designs become more complex.

We will be sharing our CCO report paper shortly. The report will include key considerations and guidance following our “Decoding the Chief Customer Officer” debate at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel London.

The paper should be used as a guide for CEOs HRDs, MDs and Hiring Directors who are looking to address customer centricity as part of their strategy, or who are considering the hire of a CCO.

Download a copy of the report here.