How a Chief Customer Officer Makes Your Customer Success Organization More Productive

See how a Chief Customer Officer can optimize the customer experience and take CS organizations to new heights of collaboration and productivity.

Updated as of September 2022.

Chief Customer Officer, Chief Customer Success Officer, Chief Experience Officer—no matter which way you spin it, the role’s rise in popularity, especially in the world of B2B SaaS, is undeniable. In fact, 10% of Fortune 500 companies and 22% of Fortune 100 companies now include the role in their business. But why? And does your organization need to consider hiring one? We’ll dive into those details throughout this blog, but first, let’s start with what a Chief Customer Officer (CCO) is. 

So, what is a Chief Customer Officer? In short, a CCO is an executive-level role dedicated to optimizing the customer experience and the processes associated with that experience. They oversee their organization’s relationship with its customers, driving efforts to evaluate and enhance the customer experience at every touchpoint throughout the customer journey. CCOs ensure that their CS teams are well equipped with the necessary resources to ensure teams are properly trained and enabled to collaborate better with other departments. Ultimately, a Chief Customer Officer can create the strategy and processes needed to enhance the customer journey and experience and take CS organizations to new heights of collaboration and productivity.

What does a Chief Customer Officer do?

Creating a customer-centric culture, advocating for resources and training to maximize productivity, and driving top-line revenue growth by collaborating with existing customers are the primary goals of a CCO. These goals are sought after to improve current organizational processes and the customer experience all together, but to reach those goals, CCOs have to create initiatives from what already exists in their organization. Below lists out some ways CCOs can start to build out such initiatives. 

Improving the Customer Experience

Build an enhanced view of the customer: To ensure employee productivity and unify how all employees view customers, a CCO should produce a complete picture of the customer by identifying their needs, expectations, and perceptions of their experiences with the company. 

Identify gaps: Assess and identify gaps in the customer experience at every touchpoint throughout the customer journey. CS orgs can improve their productivity levels by leveraging this knowledge to develop data-driven solutions to close these gaps.

Collaborate on Initiatives with Customers

Lead customer-centric initiatives: Act as the executive stakeholder for the customer experience, proactively leading a company’s customer-centric initiatives, and, most importantly, enabling opportunities for collaboration between customers and front-line employees to provide exceptional customer experiences. 

Drive optimization and consistency: Help drive consistent customer experiences at scale across all channels—both digital and physical.

Increase CS Productivity

CS Hires: CCOs should identify a combination of nontraditional skills and traits when hiring new CS team members. By doing so, orgs can identify which new hire competencies are fostering productivity and cross-collaboration amongst the team and other departments. 

Get the rest of the organization on the same page: Level set the organization and close the delivery gap—how does the organization think they are doing in terms of the customer experience compared to actual customer sentiment? It’s also the CCOs’ responsibility to effectively manage expectations around what the C-Suite wants and what is operationally possible on the front line.

Prove out the financial benefits: To prove out the financial benefits of investing in the customer experience, the CCO is ultimately responsible for the top-line growth within the existing customer base.

Why Hire a Chief Customer Officer?

Suppose your company has goals around establishing a collaborative, customer-centric culture, building a productive product roadmap, improving the customer experience, reducing churn, and increasing retention. In that case, hiring a Chief Customer Officer may be a natural next step. But before you post the job to your hiring board, keep reading to understand just how a CCO can help your organization achieve these goals. 

Building a Customer-Centric and Productive Culture

A Chief Customer Officer will collaborate with departments across the organization, from sales to marketing to product, to build a customer-centric culture that not only fosters productivity but helps shape a higher-quality product. An example of this is driving efforts for CS teams to gather extensive insights and customer feedback, and leveraging tactics like surveying to better understand customers and their experiences. In doing so, product and marketing teams alike can eliminate the guesswork around what current and future customers want, and use this data to make changes and productive improvements for their respective initiatives. For product, this could mean reprioritizing the product roadmap. For marketing, this could mean putting customer stories at the center of their growth strategy. 

Elevating and Standardizing the Customer Experience

It’s not just about creating world-class customer experiences; it’s about the ability to repeat those experiences at scale for every customer, every time. An impactful CCO will be able to spearhead efforts that aim to standardize the customer experience. An initiative that exemplifies this is playbooks. Creating best practice playbooks for every customer touchpoint throughout the customer lifecycle is a productive way to drive brand value and enable Customer Success Managers on the front line to deliver standardized experiences. It will also allow for continuous optimizations as your product evolves. Best-in-class CCOs and Customer Success teams can take this a step further by leveraging automation to maximize their team’s bandwidth and automate tedious and repetitive tasks.

Putting the Product Roadmap First

Perhaps one of the biggest problems a CCO can solve is helping to prioritize the product roadmap. A successful product roadmap prioritizes the needs of current and future customers—and there is no better way to obtain this information than from the customer themselves. A Chief Customer Officer can push a product organization to gather and analyze feedback from its existing customer base. Product teams can then leverage this data productively and efficiently for decisions about the product roadmap. The CCO will also be there to ensure that the roadmap is backed by real customer data and feedback, therefore aligning product roadmap goals with what customers actually want, as opposed to what product teams want, or rather, what they think the customer wants. Another sign of a great product roadmap is that it is structured enough to meet the business's goals, and flexible enough to adapt as the needs and wants of customers inevitably evolve.

Gaining Business, Customer, and Organizational Value from a CCO Hire

A great Chief Customer Officer will not only productively gain the most value possible from relationships with existing customers, they'll also be a driving force behind improving those relationships ten-fold by way of creating a customer-centric culture. Putting customer experience at the forefront will establish healthy relationships with current customers and in turn stabilize revenue growth through improved retention rates and expansion revenue. Having a CCO focus on honing particular traits and skills with new hires, providing organizational-wide training and resources, and instilling a productive and collaborative work culture for their CS teams generates transformative value on an individual, team, and department level. So if after reading this post, you think a Chief Customer Officer is justified in your organization, and there can be real value added from this type of c-suite hire, check out our guide to setting a Chief Customer Officer up for success.

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