‘Putting the customer at the heart of everything we do’ is not a new strategy. After all most businesses fully understand that satisfied customers are more likely to stay longer, spend more and tell their friends.
What is new, however, is the growing number of companies now creating an executive position that has responsibility for the customer – namely the Chief Customer Officer or CCO.
CCO: an emerging force
Wikipedia defines a CCO as “the executive responsible in customer-centric companies for the total relationship with an organization’s customers”. However, what that means can vary immensely as the role remains very new to the business world. Recent research we undertook on the market highlighted numerous findings to reinforce this point including:
- In 2014 there were only 14 CCOs in the UK
- Today there just under 100, representing a seven-fold increase in three years
- 46% of the roles in the UK were created in the last 12 months alone
- Over 50% of businesses hire people from outside their organisation as they cannot find the right skills for the role internally
How do I hire a CCO?
If you are one of the many companies are now seriously considering hiring a CCO, we have identified that there are two key issues that need you need to think about:
- Firstly, from an internal perspective, how good are you and how great do you want to be?
- Secondly, as a consequence of this, what kind of CCO do you need to hire?
In this blog we will be addressing the first question, focusing on the importance of identifying what kind of company you are. Please read “How to Hire a CCO Part 2” for thoughts on the second question.
Maturity: Why is it important and how do you define it?
To answer the question of “how good are you, and how great do you want to be?” we need to think about maturity, i.e.:
1. How mature are you as a company today?
2. How mature do you want to be?
3. How quickly do you want to get there?
The first thing to do is start with a definition. Over the past few years we have analysed a multitude of companies to develop a model that shows how businesses differ in terms of maturity towards their customers. Our research has established five main maturity levels that businesses can use to get a sense of their position. These levels are described as follows:
Basic: There may be a vision to become a customer-led organisation but there is little or no understanding of how to deliver against this. Capabilities are spread across teams, leading to a lack of coordination.
Emergent: The business has measurements in place and is actively pursuing programmes across channels. There may be specific areas that are taking the lead (e.g. digital transformation)
Repeatable: There is CX leadership in the business, decisions are driven based on insight and there is a more customer-focused culture emerging
Integrated: The customer is a strategic priority. Insight, design and delivery are all coordinated and strongly linked to the values and behaviours of the culture
Fundamental: The corporate strategy is the customer. Human-centered design drives all decision-making and the brand is seen in the market as a world-class leader.
No business entirely fits into one specific level of maturity (organisations are far too complex for that). However, by asking the right questions about specific areas of your operations today, you can gain a strong understanding of how mature your business really is. By then articulating your strategic vision, you can develop a good view of where you want to be tomorrow?
How fast do you really want to go?
The biggest issue you face is actually about speed. Before launching into a substantial programme of change, it is critical that you take a long, hard look at just how much risk you want to accept, what level of change you are willing to take, how much investment you want to make, and how quickly you believe that this change can be completed in.
The importance of this cannot be under-stated. We have heard too many anecdotal comments by frustrated CCO’s that have been sold a vision during the recruitment process, only to find that on arrival that their actual role has very little to do with the promises that were made.
Sell the wrong vision and you can drag your business back 1-2 years. Create a true view of what you want to achieve and you can accelerate positive change. Ultimately, be really honest when responding to these questions, and then be very pragmatic about considering the consequences of your answers.
Once equipped with this information, you are ready to work out what type of Chief Customer Officer best fits the ambitions you have and the speed at which you need to change. The details of this individual are discussed in Part 2 of this blog.
If you are interested in knowing more about how to understand the maturity of your business or have any general questions in this space, please click get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to have a free copy of our UK report on the Rise of the Chief Customer Officer in the UK, please click here.
Talecco.com has been set-up as the dedicated talent and resourcing business for the Customer Function. We run one of the largest and most active Chief Customer Officers communities globally and provide both talent and consulting support for companies focused in this space.