Chief Customer Officer: A Direct Competition to Chief Marketing Officer or a Resourceful Ally

In this write-up, we discuss whether CCO is a direct competitor of chief marketing officer or a resourceful ally.

Chief Customer Officer - A Direct Competition to Chief Marketing Officer
Chief Customer Officer - A Direct Competition to Chief Marketing Officer

This is undoubtedly the age of the customer. Being customer-driven and data-driven is important. A purchase decision is determined by customers- they will look at a positive experience over anything else. Customer experience is now a priority for any company. This is why more businesses are appointing Chief Customer officers to focus on customers.

As per Gartner, 90% of companies now have a CCO with customer experience and success as the core responsibility. However, some of the biggest brands are altering their teams to ensure that the CMO or chief marketing officer reports to the CCO or is being replaced by the CCO. In this blog, we attempt to understand evolution, its implications, and whether it will stick.

Chief customer officers are finding a place on the executive board of some top companies. This is an effort to become more customer-centric and remove internal silos and barriers that lead to fragmented performances. The CCO is more of a voice of the customer in all company decisions. This is quite similar to the role of the CMO (chief marketing officer).

Who can be called a Chief Customer Officer and what roles does he/she perform?

A chief customer officer is one who oversees the organization’s relationship with customers and engages in efforts to increase and elevate customer experiences in their journey. The responsibilities of the CCO include but are limited to-

  • Assessing and finding gaps in customer experience
  • Analyzing customer journey across touchpoints
  • Close customer experience gap between customer needs and organization
  • Lead customer-centric efforts and make sure the voice of customer is known and heard

Companies are now realizing that the key to growth is being customer centric. This is why the CMO role gained prominence to address what the customer wants and orchestrate the performance in the best way that can happen. This creates a conflict of interest in what both CMO and CCO do.

Should the CMO oversee customer experience?

In the traditional sense, customer experience and customer service were under the CMO or the chief digital officer. The increasing importance of customer success and customer experience has forced a power shift. The CMO’s work portfolio can now actually fall under the CCO. This is because of overlapping duties and responsibilities.

Customer experience teams would report to the CMO earlier. However, some professionals term it as a wrong approach. Marketing leaders do not understand the nuances of customer interaction, effortless communication, customer service, customer experience, and the basic knowledge of what customers want. This is why companies with a great brand presence may not have the best customer retention or customer experience.

A chief marketing officer leading customer experience needs to walk-in customers’ shoes, spot why they are frustrated, understand their pain point, find the right channel, and then address them. This is, however, often enveloped in their own set of duties and responsibilities they get caught up doing.

Should Chief Customer Officer oversee marketing chores? The unique skills of the CCO will help them pivot the company’s resources, tools, and investments in the best manner. A customer officer will be able to influence employees to drive interest in customer-centric terms. The CCO can investigate aspects of customer marketing and increase focus on customer service, improve interaction experiences, and lead growth.

What is next for the Chief Customer Officer?

The long-term future of the CCO is one that will blend customer experience and marketing. While the trend continues that marketing folks join as CCO- the responsibilities remain the same. CX is not only marketing- but it also involves a lot more than that.

Either case, the CCO is expected to work actively in the marketing segment as well. The role of a CCO is closer to the PR or public relations officer. A CCO can look at the customer’s journey in a full end-to-end manner. The customers will not be looked at as marketing channels alone. You can know the touchpoints, environment, customer education, and how the customer feels as a CCO.

The CCO also looks at increasing revenue and managing the expansion revenue. For example- If the CCO feels that the customer can benefit from an allied product, they can pitch the product via the customer success team. The customer officer is one who will look more broadly at various aspects- planning, operations, and strategy as compared to the CMO.

Jeanne Bliss, a customer chief with more than 20 years’ experience, had an interesting take on the matter. While speaking to an online publication, she mentioned how marketing has been focused on the brand process. The function has not connected all the dots to deliver what was promised in the traditional sense. She feels that the chief customer officer is not a threat to the CMO. Instead, they can work together to evolve from a competency and skills point. The CMO-CCO partnership is needed to deliver better products, increase revenue, and create long-lasting customers.

CMO+CCO= Great for the Company

As per Gartner, 81% of marketers expect to compete mostly based on CX. The difference between a CMO and CCO is thin. A CMO previously focused on procuring leads for the sales team. This has evolved to the CMO being in charge of growing brand awareness, retaining customers, meeting the bottom line, and ensuring the leads are fed as well. Partnering with the CCO will help understand the customer better and personalize customer interactions. CMOs need to look at CCOs as partners in their strategic responsibilities. The CMOs must not be threatened by the CCO. Instead, the CMO must accept the role and understand the importance of customer voice and customer feedback to offer the best experience. The CMO and CCO can work together to ensure customer loyalty is gained and hold more products.

CMO plus CCO can help improve customer delivery, ensure frontline interactions, and increase brand awareness. The CMO can influence the initial marketing process to make it more customer-centric. The CCO can ensure the customers are happy and satisfied with the performance of the product. Customer experience is about working on the same thing in a different manner. CX is now a growth engine that all companies are recognizing. Two C-suite executives for customer experience will ensure internal customer-centric behavior.

Bottom Line

The CCO must not be looked at as a threat to the CMO. Even if corporations like McDonald’s and Walmart replace the CMO with the CCO- we need to keep the final goal in mind. If marketing reinvents to become an account end-to-end customer-focused process, the CCO will be there to help. The CCO is a terrific addition to any business. However, rebranding alone is not enough. You need repositioning and customer-focused orientation as well.

In all, both roles need to assume greater responsibility for long-term customer retention and growth, engage more, and implement a customer-centric process in the company. As per a survey, only 22 percent of Fortune 100 companies had a CCO. This shows that the CCO is still an emerging role to drive revenue and customer loyalty.21

The CMO need not feel threatened with the CCO but needs to keep changing times and customer as the core value in the post-sales environment.

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