The rise of the Chief Experience Officer: Who they are and how they are transforming businesses
By Frédéric Durand, CEO and founder of Diabolocom
In recent years a new role has emerged in a growing number of businesses: that of the Chief e(X)perience Officer (CXO). Otherwise known as the Customer Experience Director or the Customer Experience Manager (CXM), the CXO has a pivotal position within the organisation.
Their main responsibility?
To create customer-centric strategies which help companies to deliver an exceptional customer experience.
The growth of this role in today’s corporate hierarchy is not surprising. According to The Economist Intelligence Unit, 59% of companies see their turnover increase faster when they prioritise investment in the customer experience. Earlier this year, PwC announced its appointment of their first Chief Experience Officer, announcing that the role would “evolve the firm’s approach to business transformation by bringing in experience strategy, design, and user experience (UX) capabilities”.
Such a decision reflects how expert customer experience has become a real competitive tool for companies. Indeed, 90% of CEOs believe the customer has the greatest impact on their business. Companies who cannot meet consumer demands and exceed their expectations might find their number of existing, and potential customers, dwindling.
Job description of the CXO
In order to properly define the role and duties of the CXO, it is helpful to first consider what is meant by customer experience. The business consultancy, Wavestone, defines customer experience as the feelings consumers have, based on the accumulation of their total interactions with a company, represented by its employees, products, stores and websites, marketing campaigns, its values and its customer service centres.
Therefore, the scope of the CXO extends beyond a Customer Service Manager: as the spokesperson for the customer experience they are tasked with ensuring each aspect of the business contributes towards a positive engagement between the brand and the consumer.
Businesses are investing more than ever in customer relationship innovations and the efforts are beginning to bear fruit, as the latest Customer Satisfaction Index report demonstrates. The average scores for customer trust and effort with brands remains the same from the previous year, whilst the percentage of customers experiencing a problem has decreased from 13.1% to 12.8%. The report however does indicate that the gap between organisations who are upholding high customer satisfaction levels and those who are struggling to maintain a great customer experience is increasing. For companies today, a superior experience must deliver value, positive emotions and be convenient for the customer.
Disrupting business strategy
Similarly to how a Chief Digital Officer is responsible for their company’s digital transformation, the CXO must lead the company in becoming more customer-oriented, which might require disrupting some core structures within an organisation.
The CXO’s five main objectives are to:
1 – Promote the culture of customer orientation internally
2 – Develop knowledge and understanding of customers
3 – Implement targeted campaigns to increase customer loyalty, retention, and satisfaction
4 – Promote the customer perspective and make sure it is considered for all topics and projects of the organisation
5 – Measure all the factors that form the customer experience through various KPIs.
Wavestone further highlights in its report on the keys to a successful customer experience transformation that the role requires, “experience in quality assurance, operations or marketing. The Customer Experience Manager should fully understand the company issues and strategy, not just to give them greater legitimacy, but also, most importantly, so that they can identify areas for improvement in each department”.
The CXO is most valuable when an internal transformation is required, helping to drive better customer interactions and enhance the overall business performance. Consequently, an organisation’s need for a CXO depends on how customer-centric they already are. Amazon is one example of a company whose approach is founded upon expert customer understanding and management. If this notion already forms part of a company’s DNA and is rooted in its culture, organisation, and processes, the customer experience has no need for a champion.
Customer experience also means employee experience
The CXO is also not limited to the needs of customers. Another part of the CXO’s responsibility is to ensure an optimal experience for staff. Managed by HR, the employee experience is a reflection of the customer experience. The principle of Symmetry of Attention (a concept developed by the Académie du Service), suggests that there is a reciprocal relationship between the employee journey and the experience delivered to the customer. The satisfaction and well-being of employees is essential for guaranteeing customer satisfaction and turning those customers into brand ambassadors. As such it is important for the CXO to ensure that this symmetry is respected.
The CXO acts as an internal customer ambassador, creating a bridge between the company and its customers. They ensure that each department is unified in providing a seamless, high-quality experience for customers which leaves a lasting positive impact. The rise of the CXO reveals a growing awareness amongst executives that the customer experience must become central to the company’s culture, organisation and processes in order to drive customer retention and acquisition.