The C-suite is getting pretty full these days. You’ve got your CEO, of course, and then your CFO, COO, CTO, and probably a CIO. Maybe even a CISO, depending on your industry. But chances are there’s a key seat at the table remaining empty: one for the CCO.
What’s a CCO, you ask? It stands for “chief customer officer,” and if you don’t have one, don’t worry; you’re not alone. As of 2015, a mere 22 percent of Fortune 100 companies reported having a CCO on staff, and just 10 percent of Fortune 500 companies could say the same.
A CCO acts as an advocate for the customer — she isn’t just in charge of providing good service once a problem has emerged; she’s the voice of the customer within a company. A CCO tracks customers’ journeys and maps each interaction they have with the brand. Having an executive whose sole purpose is to develop relationships with customers and advocate for them helps brands positively shape product development, influence marketing campaigns that will appeal to the target audience, and provide solutions to incidents before customers even noticed a problem.
An increased focus on customers across industries has led more companies to lean on the CCO position to drive revenue, especially as more and more customers become put off by traditional advertising. Instead, customers are turning to a million of their closest friends online. Brands have to know their customers well, and one of the best ways is by having a role dedicated to cultivating that relationship.
The company Riot Games has made knowledge of its customer base a firm part of its brand’s foundation. The organization, which is behind the insanely popular online game “League of Legends,” is staffed solely by gamers — this means every single employee is familiar with the customer’s point of view.
Companies like MailChimp have also harnessed the power of customer favor. Co-founded by its CCO, the company is 100 percent bootstrapped, and it raked in a reported revenue of $400 million in 2016. Both its employee and customer satisfaction ratings are among the highest in the industry.
Here are three major fires a CCO can help put out (or prevent altogether):
1. Loss of revenue: In today’s economy, customer satisfaction can make all the difference. And it can also hugely affect your company’s revenue: Having satisfied clients can boost revenue by up to $1 billion, according to Forrester. And nearly four out of five respondents — a startling 79 percent — noted that they were less likely to buy from a brand a second time if their complaints were poorly handled.
Companies that fail to hire CCOs and tailor their efforts toward customer preferences risk huge revenue losses by alienating customers and failing to upsell existing customers. Only 39 percent of organizations report having an executive leading any type of customer-focused initiative, but those that emphasize the customer experience can boost customer satisfaction by a full 20 percent and cause revenue to increase by 15 percent. These same efforts can reduce costs by a potential 20 percent.
2. Consumer opinion shifts: Without a member of the C-suite focusing on customers, you’ll also fall behind when it comes to industry trends. Similarly, online reviews are more likely to fall by the wayside without a dedicated team.
To stay vigilant, Salesforce has fostered a group of dedicated customers who respond to 80 percent of customers’ online support inquiries. The company found that people who stayed active in Salesforce’s online community were found to spend double on its products; they were also 33 percent more likely to install a new product than those outside of the company’s online community.
3. Lack of internal alignment: CCOs are positioned to oversee and bring together the product development, IT, and customer care teams. Companies without a defined CCO often struggle to determine who should oversee the customer experience. In fact, 30 percent of marketers in the United States and United Kingdom surveyed by the software firm Calabrio indicated that this unclear jurisdiction is a key concern.
But clear ownership over this aspect of the business is likely to have a huge impact, as 52 percent of senior executives assert that customer experience is the most vital aspect of concern when seeking ways to gain a competitive advantage for their brands.
The role of CCO is still developing, but it’s no secret to savvy business leaders that it’s a crucial presence in any company that wants to move into the future. Combat these three major business fiascos proactively by ensuring you have the right executive in place.