Who's Your CXO?: Ensuring your Customers are Treated Right

Who's Your CXO?: Ensuring your Customers are Treated Right

Over the past several years, one of the most often-discussed topics continues to be: Who is in charge of your brand's customer?

I am not talking about your call center, customer service reps, or customer support. Regardless of your company's size or business model, someone in your organization has to be in charge of the customer experience and all that goes with it. That someone should not be the president, CEO, or owner, but someone who reports directly to them. We have heads of operations, marketing, sales, and human resources, but our second biggest asset (after our employees) is our customer. How happy they are is determined by the customer experience we deliver. Until recently, the vast majority of companies did not have anyone in charge of the entire brand's customer experience. If you are a mid-sized to large company, you may want to consider creating a position such as chief experience officer (CXO) or chief customer officer (CCO).

  • CXO/CCO: the fastest-growing C-Suite position. "More and more companies are reconfiguring their C-suites to accommodate a new kind of chief: the chief of customers." That statement, from a 2012 article in Inc. magazine, highlighted the growing importance of customer relationships in maintaining a business's competitive advantage. "Ownership of the customer has become just as important as, if not more important than, operations," said John Abele, a global managing partner at executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles, in that article.
  • What should a CXO/CCO be responsible for? This person should be an executive who provides a comprehensive and authoritative view of the customer and creates corporate and customer strategy at the highest levels of the company to maximize customer acquisition, retention, and profitability. They should influence strategies of all areas of the business that affect the customer, and ensure the service strategies are built around--and for--the customer. This person needs to hold all other executives accountable for how their decisions will ultimately affect the customer. For instance, if a brand is considering a reduction in staff or their hours to help the bottom line in the short term, the CXO or CCO will need to ensure that the long-term ramifications on the overall customer experience are worth it. That isn't easy unless the CEO and other top execs invest the person in that position with the proper authority. To maintain that type of authority, there must be key metrics--such as retention rates, average ticket, cost of turnover, and customer referrals that demonstrate the investment, decisions, and, ultimately ROI, are warranted.
  • What does a CXO/CCO look like? One of the biggest mistakes I have seen companies make is hiring, promoting, or delegating the CXO/CCO position to people who have no genuine hospitality characteristics. This person has to live and breathe hospitality--internally, externally, and in all areas of their life. They must be passionate about the customer experience and the customer, have an extremely high service aptitude, and live world-class hospitality personally and professionally. It is much better to leave the position vacant than to fill it with a mismatched person.
  • CXO/CCO job description. In my book What's the Secret? I focus on what a CXO or CCO's job description could look like. This position and title would be to oversee the company's most important function: the satisfaction of their customers and the future direction of the organization's customer service evolution. The CXO/CCO should be responsible for:
  • Ensuring that service is one of the company's hiring standards
  • Developing and marketing the company's Service Vision
  • Ensuring the equal representation of the experiential component along with the other five (physical, atmosphere, functional, technical, and operational)
  • Creation and evolution of the company's customer experience cycle and nonnegotiable standards
  • Service of new and existing employees
  • Implementation and execution of these standards
  • Service recovery training and systems to ensure the organization is zero-risk
  • Creating an above-and-beyond legacy
  • Measurement and accountability of customer experience
  • Customer eXperience Executive Academy. The rapid growth of the CXO and CCO positions in businesses today creates two difficult challenges: 1) Who is the right person?; and 2) Once you find the right person, how do you prepare them for the position? There are not college degrees in customer experience, not even minors, or, in most cases, classes. Yet this new generation of executives needs the proper customer service training to lead an entire company's experience and all the components that go along with that responsibility. As a result of this demand, educational resources like the Customer eXperience Executive Academy have been created so companies from all over the world can send their customer service leaders for comprehensive training and certification on all the facets and responsibilities that fall under customer experience.

Is it time for you to have a dedicated CXO or CCO running your organization's customer experience?

John R. DiJulius III, author of The Customer Service Revolution, is president of The DiJulius Group, a customer service consulting firm that works with companies including Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, Ritz-Carlton, Nestle, PwC, Lexus, and many more. Call him at 216-839-1430 or email info@thedijuliusgroup.com.

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