Lately there’s been a lot of buzz around having a “chief customer officer.” I’m growing a bit tired of all the “chief” titles that are apparently in vogue, so I’m not stuck on the term. However, the idea of having an executive in charge of customer strategy makes sense.
While some of the reasons are obvious, I think it really comes down to two things: distractions and priorities.
In fact, at a recent forum we asked a group of customer strategists to identify the things that distract or derail their progress on implementing customer strategies? The following were common responses:
- Administrative process and approvals
- Unplanned budget cuts
- Company reorganization
- New senior leader – need to orient, “re-sell”
- Team members are reassigned
However, the most frequent responses were:
- Other job responsibilities take priority
- Another initiative “overshadows” customer strategy
Those two are the big issues. Most customer strategists juggle their duties with other responsibilities. What’s more, without the right discipline and infrastructure, customer strategy is something that is easily taken for granted. It’s just there and can easily be overshadowed by the corporate initiative du jour.
A chief customer officer (or whatever you want to call them) provides the ability to focus solely on customer strategies and work hard to make sure the organization’s customer strategy initiatives are widely known and an active part of the corporate culture.
P.S. At a Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum last summer Ginger Conlon, Editorial Director of 1 to 1 Media asked me and several other industry insiders about chief customer officers. Here is the video she posted.