Recently there has been a huge increase in the creation of Chief Customer Officer (CCO) positions within organizations. In simplest terms, the Chief Customer Officer occupies the topmost position in a company’s Customer Success department. They are responsible for advocating for organization-wide customer experience initiatives that increase buyers’ lifetime value for their company.
If this opportunity sounds interesting, transitioning from a leadership position in Customer Success may be a promising career move.
A Chief Customer Officer reports directly to the CEO. They are typically responsible for instilling customer-centric values into the culture and operations of the business they work for. As a CCO, you are essentially an agent of change, and you advocate for the best outcome a customer can have from your company. You ensure that the mission to elevate the customer experience has complete buy-in from all teams and stakeholders within a business. In doing so, you also play a crucial part in a company’s revenue growth and customer retention rate.
The overarching goal of these two leadership positions is essentially the same: keeping customers happy and loyal. However, from this point, the responsibilities of each position diverge in terms of breadth of focus.
The VP of Customer Success is responsible for customer onboarding, building customer rapport, overseeing post-purchase follow-ups, and, basically, nurturing the customer relationship. They, along with the Customer Success team, are sharply focused on managing the experience a buyer has with a company over the complete customer lifespan. Through nurturing and engagement at various touchpoints, they help customers attain a positive outcome with a company’s products or services.
If the VP of Customer Success has a micro-focus on the customer experience, the Chief Customer Officer must view the customer journey with a much broader scope. As CCO, you encourage cross-company collaboration to deliver the highest value to customers. You build an enhanced view of the customer for your organization so that your company knows how to better serve them.
As a leader, you work internally to align departments behind customer satisfaction goals, and you act as a C-level representative for Customer Success. You also push for accountability from all teams that impact the customer experience by identifying gaps in the customer journey and designating key performance indicators (KPIs) and other specific metrics that determine success.
These two high-value leadership positions draw an impressive salary. According to Salary.com, the VP of Customer Success role pays an average salary of $262,055 in the United States. The same source indicates that compensation for a CCO can range between $192,900 and $271,700.
The events of 2020 and 2021 have allowed companies to clearly see the benefit of having strong relationships with customers. Those who invest in the customer experience can survive economic downturns while those who don’t, perish. Organizations worldwide are now motivated to enhance the customer journey which means the role of the Chief Customer Officer is in demand.
Typically, it’s easier to be hired into a new role from within a company. If there is currently no CCO position within your organization, the absence of the position presents the opportunity for you to advocate for its creation.
In your current position as VP of Customer Success, start developing goals and roadmaps that put your company on course to being more customer-centric. Maximize the ROI you’re able to capture in your current position, and with this evidence, make your interest known to C-Suite. You might also use this guide to learn what it takes to succeed as a Chief Customer Officer so that you can strengthen your case when you pitch the opportunity.
If the role already exists within your company and is already occupied, see if there might be any interest in cross-training or collaboration on projects that would allow you to gain greater insight from the current CCO. With this knowledge, use professional networking platforms like LinkedIn to search for openings outside your current company or to connect with hiring managers who may need a Chief Customer Officer in the near future.
10% of Fortune 500 companies and 22% of Fortune 100 companies now include the role of CCO in their business. Having a dedicated C-level advocate for the customer journey is still a relatively fresh idea which means demand is likely to continue to increase. This presents an incredible opportunity for ambitious Customer Success leaders who want to play a more significant role and work within an organization to unite teams and executives behind Customer Success goals.
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