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Chief Customer Officer - Who's That?

The Chief Customer Officer (CCO), an executive level position, is a relatively new title in the business world. The role emphasizes attention to customer needs and expectations in a more organized way than it has been done ever before. The CCO bridges the gap between businesses and their customers, production and products.

The CCO’s responsibilities include:

  • Gaining understanding of customer interests, values and desires through research conducted with a variety of categories and criteria. There’s an increasing use of blogs, twitter and other social media tools for these purposes.
  • Identifying specific customer segments and predicting their needs and behavior.
  • Creating customer value metrics in order to gain customer insight. CCOs also measure customer satisfaction and loyalty on a frequent basis.
  • Analyzing customer complaints and influencing various customer touchpoints like IVR, call centers, point of sale (POS), etc.

Due to shift in focus from just customer satisfaction to customer loyalty, the CCO role is vital to develop and implement customer strategy. Typically the CCO needs the power that cuts across different organizational departments.

How Hiring CCO Helps?

Most companies simply pay tokenism to the customer-centric approach; it is the CCO who tells them what exactly the culture of customer-centrism involves. The CCO emphasizes on the human angle in the enterprise.

How can one forget the customer next-door, asking for a product in a specific colour, a different design and yet another kind of performance ability! The gap between what companies think about customers and what they really want leads to a certain frustration or pain in the customer. The ability to understand this frustration or pain and providing a remedy is the responsibility of the CCO. The company that hires a CCO saves enormous amount of time and energy that can be lost because of the production of an outdated product.

A company’s success, its trustworthiness and customer range all gain by the services provided by the CCO. While revenue growth and cost effectiveness are the usual topics that most departments of a company focus on, the CCO reminds them all that the genuine and constant concern should be for the customer.

The CCO can motivate customer culture, encourage profitable customer behavior and even motivate organizations and co-workers towards these goals, by encouraging everyone to give out honest opinions. However the company’s structure, goals, agendas, resources and past successes should be taken into consideration by the CCO.

There are hardly any successful companies in the business world today that have achieved success without a customer-centric approach. Sun Microsystems, SAP, Unica, Monster to mention a few, are known to actively follow a customer-centric philosophy and have pro-active CCOs who have revolutionized their functioning. 

Talking of “demand chain” which is an overarching business philosophy that puts the customer at the centre, Curtis N. Bingham, President of The Predictive Consulting Group sees the movement companies make in the chain as being, from nothing less than ‘customer disdain’ to ‘customer centrism’. He says that in the first stage “Customers are viewed as unrealistic and demanding people who get in the way of interesting work” while in the last stage “Customer pain drives all products and services”.

A CCO is an invaluable and unique position in the business world, and hence aspirants for this position should necessarily possess these qualities: 

  • Good listening, effective communication and observational skills.
  • Friendly demeanor and pleasant appearance.
  • Patience, Perseverance and an eye for detail.
  • A high energy and enthusiasm.
  • Good networking skills and sufficient influence within the organization.

The CCO should espouse a level of generality that takes care of all these several aspects: market sensing, aiding marketing, aiding sales, managing existing customer relationships while gaining new ones, and influencing the services and maintenance sectors.

People with experience in customer services, sales and promotions are known to make good CCOs. These executives can be judged both for their problem-identification and problem-solving capabilities. A good CCO simply knows who wants to buy what, why and when, so that companies can produce just such products!

 

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