A growing number of companies are installing a chief experience officer (CXO) into the C-suite, with responsibility for every facet of the customer journey. Harvard Business Review even makes the case that every company should have a CXO to oversee both customer experience and employee experience. But does your company need a chief experience officer?
A study by Zendesk, a leading customer service platform, found that “the factors that influence customer loyalty are owned across your sales, support, success, marketing, finance, and product organizations.”
But when the company asked respondents, “Which leader owns the customer experience at your company?” the results were mixed:
- 35 percent said the chief customer officer
- 25 percent said the chief operating officer
- 12 percent said the chief experience officer
- 11 percent said the chief marketing officer
- 8 percent said the chief innovation officer
- 5 percent said some other executive role
For the purposes of this discussion, we’re going to consider a chief customer officer and a chief experience officer one and the same and use only the nomenclature of chief experience officer or CXO.
So what exactly is the job description for a CXO, and how do companies set such a role up for success?
According to CEO Review, “The scope of the CXO extends beyond a Customer Service Manager: as the spokesperson for the customer experience they are tasked with ensuring each aspect of the business contributes towards a positive engagement between the brand and the consumer.”
The publication further spells out five main objectives of the role:
- Promote the culture of customer orientation internally
- Develop knowledge and understanding of customers
- Implement targeted campaigns to increase customer loyalty, retention, and satisfaction
- Promote the customer perspective and make sure it is considered for all topics and projects of the organization
- Measure all the factors that form the customer experience through various KPIs [Key Performance Indicators]
Kurt Schroeder is the CXO at Avtex Solutions, a leading full-service customer experience solution provider. He described his role as follows:
I wake up every morning and I think about, “How do we continually improve and deliver a better experience for our customers?”
Why is that even important? I’m a firm believer that we live in a world where everything is about the experience. We live in the Experience Economy. . . .
If you don’t have someone who is thinking about that day-in, day-out, at night, when they’re sleeping, when they’re waking, when they’re eating, then I think you’re lagging behind. You’re missing a great opportunity.
So, what do I do when I get here in the morning? I think about, “What are the areas of our organization and the experience that we’re rendering to our customers, that we really need to improve and make better and create differentiation in the market?”
Schroeder added that for a CXO to consider the entirety of the customer journey, he or she must focus on four facets: “find more customers, win more customers, keep more customers and do more for those customers.”
Tom Karinshak is the CXO at Comcast, a company that added chairs with the word “Customer” on them to executive offices and conference rooms as a constant reminder to remember the customer with every business decision.
“My job is to make sure that we put the customer at the center of everything that we go and do,” Karinshak said in an interview, citing tactical implementations, strategic planning, systems, policies and processes as examples.
Of equal importance, Karinshak added, is the employee experience.
“We can’t have great customer experience without a great employee experience, or vice versa, and so we spend equal rigor on both sides of that equation,” he said.
Many companies struggle with the question of whether customer experience should fall under a single department or whether it should be “everyone’s job.” Both methods have their challenges; a single department runs the risk of becoming an unwelcome intruder into everyone else’s business (think auditors or government regulators), while making CX everyone’s job can result in it actually being no one’s job because it’s no one’s top priority.
In my corporate experience helping employees set goals, I found that unless a goal equated to a minimum of 20 percent of the annual evaluation, it usually didn’t get done. So, if customer experience is less than 20 percent of anyone’s goals, it probably won’t be a priority.
At Comcast, a hybrid model of the two approaches has worked successfully.
“It’s how people are held accountable from an overall performance perspective; it truly is everyone’s job everywhere across the organization,” Karinshak said. “But what we [the CX team] do is intensify the focus, set the strategy, support the coordination, make sure that there is alignment across all of the functions and all the channels so that it is a completely coordinated, aligned, coherent, consistent approach to the customer experience across the company.”
At Benco Dental, the largest privately-owned dental supplies and equipment distributor in the United States, Larry Cohen took on the role of “chief customer advocate” when he transitioned the day-to-day operations of the company to his two sons.
“It makes a big difference for the customers when they can get a Cohen on the phone, someone who’s an owner, someone who can take their side and move mountains to get things done for customers,” said Larry’s son Chuck, managing director at Benco Dental. “He gets calls all the time. Sometimes he ends up yelling at people within the organization saying, ‘How can we not take care of this customer?’ Boy oh boy, that really gets people’s attention. But having Larry as the chief customer advocate has been a terrific move for the organization and our customers.”
This post is an excerpt from The Experience Maker: How To Create Remarkable Experiences That Your Customers Can’t Wait To Share, which is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BulkBooks.com, and more. (Some links may be affiliate links, which means this site receives a very small percentage of each sale but the buyer’s cost is not affected.)