The rise (and fall?) of the CCO.

I recently came across an interesting read from the Harvard Business Review which discusses ‘the rise of the Chief Customer Officer (CCO). The article starts by stating that “… these individuals serve as top executives with the mandate and power to design, orchestrate, and improve customer experiences across the ever-more-complex range of customer interactions.”

A key finding in the report highlights that “…It’s not just about fixing problems — it’s about accelerating growth. While some firms turn to a customer experience leader to fix issues that are creating legions of unhappy customers, most focus on the desire to accelerate growth, better integrate acquired companies, or shift priorities for a changing competitive environment. Sometimes it’s new leadership that spurs action, other times efforts percolating within companies capture executives’ attention.”

Excellent news for customers but in general where or where are these CCO’s hiding? Where are our knights in shining armour? Where are these saviours of the humble customer? Are they a minority species limited to large multinationals i.e. those organisations with very large customer bases?

Research carried out by the CCO Council (web link below) has shown that less than 10 percent of Fortune 500 companies have CCOs suggesting that most CCOs work for small to medium sized businesses (SMBs).

The title CCO appears to be a recent enough development, notwithstanding that the job itself and the accountability it holds may not be new. However, is it that the role of the CCO is currently in vogue and likely to fall out of favour in the short to medium term? In these times of severe austerity is there a potential for the role of the CCO to ‘crash and burn’ or take a nose dive into obscurity? Is this a luxury an organisation can afford, or more to the point, cannot afford to be without during these lean economic times?

Interesting times may lay ahead for those successful in securing the title (and job, of course) of CCO!

CCO’s … If you are out there please let us know either in person or by ensuring superior customer experience is achieved by your organisation.

The full HBR article can be viewed here.

View the COO Council website here.

PS: So as not to confuse the matter there are numerous roles that are referred to as CCO! Some are listed below.

Chief communications officer

Executive responsible for communications, public relations and/or public affairs

Chief commercial officer

Executive responsible for commercial strategy and development

Chief compliance officer

Executive responsible for compliance with regulatory requirements

Chief content officer

Executive responsible for content in broadcasting

Chief creative officer    

Creative director of advertising agency or similar

Chief cultural officer

Executive responsible for specific marketing and branding initiatives

Chief customer officer

Executive responsible for the total relationship with customers

Chief channel officer

Executive responsible for indirect revenue with a partner within an organization

Civilian Communications Officer

A position in the Central Communications Command of London’s Metropolitan Police Service

Call centre operator      

Hard working!

On hold? Hang up – we will call you back!

Innovation and IT, if the correct mix can be found, can yield substantial in-roads into providing good quality customer service. Recently I have come across the following service offered by a U.S. company that has the potential to improve customer service and loyalty at (what looks like) very little cost.

A new company, LucyPhone, is offering a solution whereby when put on hold, users can hang up, and are then called back when a customer service representative finally picks up.

What a customer experience that would be in contrast to the current “Your call is important to us. Please stay on the line and an agent will be with you shortly”. That message gets lost after a few minutes of unanswered holding. Frustration and annoyance generally sets in after a 5-10 minute hold. After 30 minutes or more of hold time all bets are off, that is if your customer has bothered to hang on the line.

In summary what this offering will do is:

  • Lucy will call you first then “patch” you through to the company.
  • Use the company’s phone menu just as you normally would. Get put on hold? Press ** and your phone will be disconnected but Lucy will stay on the line.
  • Once a live agent is on the line, Lucy will call you back immediately and connect you both. Get put on hold again, just press ** again!

While this service is currently available in the U.S. and Canada, wouldn’t it be good if other countries could be included? And the cost to the customer dialling – nothing, nil, zilch, nada.

Read more about this in a recent article in the New York Times (link).