Definition: A Chief Customer Officer builds relationships with customers, cultivates those relationships and grows social equity. He/she promotes a customer-centric culture in a company and removes obstacles within the company to customer satisfaction. Customer managers identify customers’ product needs, while brand managers supply products that fit those needs. In a P2P environment, such a reorganization is critical to success.
A further definition: an executive that provides the 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.
There are now more than 300 Chief Customer Officers in the world and perhaps hundreds more serving the same role but without the formal title. The role is evolving rapidly, and more CCOs are being appointed every month.
The CCO role is evolving into more of a “Chief Customer Strategy Officer,” focused primarily upon driving profitable customer strategy at all levels of the company with the express goal of acquiring, retaining, and serving the right customers for greater profits. It is no longer a “nice to have” designation; for many companies it is business critical and primary source of competitive advantage. In a telling about-face, many people have stopped complaining that a CCO is unnecessary because a company has a CMO. Instead, they are advocating an extreme position in which the CMO should be replaced with a CCO.(Source: chiefcustomerofficer.com)
In the world of the past (and present for many still), the product manager would use one-way mass marketing to push products to people. In the world of the future (and growing as a present-day reality), customer managers engage individual people or narrow segments in two way communications, building long-term relationships by promoting whichever of the company’s products a customer would value most at any given time. This is more similar to a B2B paradigm.
A customer manager is the ultimate expression of marketing (find out what the customer wants and fulfill the need) while the product (or brand) manager is more aligned with the traditional sellling mind-set (have product, find customer). Look for more movement in this area in the coming year at the enterprise level, even as companies of all sizes begin acknowledging the need for Community Managers (who are ideally aligned with their values). A major “IT” position in social business is Community Manager AND Chief Customer Officer.
(“To compete, companies must shift from pushing individual products to building long-term customer relationships.
The marketing department must be reinvented as a “customer department” that replaces the CMO with a chief customer officer, makes product and brand managers subservient to customer managers, and oversees customer-focused functions including R&D, customer service, market research, and CRM.
These changes shift the firm’s focus from product profitability to customer profitability, as measured by metrics such as customer lifetime value and customer equity. This organizational transformation will uproot entrenched interests and so must be driven from the top.” ~ Roland T. Rust, Christine Moorman and Gaurav Bhalla in Harvard Business Review, January-February 2010)
(“The key to business success, particularly in a down economy, is anticipating customer needs and continuously deepening customer relationships,” says Jeb Dasteel, CCO Council’s CCO of the Year 2009. “We’ve gotten really good at listening to customers, prioritizing feedback, and driving customer strategy at all levels.”)
(The average small/medium-biz CRM customer is 200 to 1000 employees. These are the organizations that Queener speaks of – the ones that need to understand and engage the social customer so badly.
“I don’t know if it’s a question of small vs large organizations,” he said. “Small [businesses] need to be scrappier; they don’t have the manpower.”
“When you have organizations of 200 to 1000 employees – the CIOs come from the business,” Queener said. “It’s all about moving fast-fast-fast.” ~ Brett Queener, SVP, Products, Salesforce)