Should The Chief Customer Officer Oversee Marketing?

Should The Chief Customer Officer Oversee Marketing?

There’s a trend happening related to Marketing and Customer Experience leadership. McDonald’s hired its first (CXO) Chief Experience officer, Manu Steijaert, to advocate for customers in every business decision across the customer journey. Similarly, Walmart hired Janey Whiteside. And, Volkswagon did the same, and more are following the path.


Is Chief Experience Officer (CXO) a short-term strategy?

It seems like the answer is no, as more brands are restructuring their marketing efforts and investing in customer experience for the long term to gain a competitive edge beyond price. CX leaders and I share our perspectives with Neil Davey at MyCustomer, which you can read below. I know one thing for sure: Customer Experience, Marketing, and all departments need to partner and collaborate a lot. SILOS DO NO ONE ANY GOOD! I’m interested to hear your perspective.

Originally posted >here.


Some of the world’s biggest brands are restructuring so that the marketing department reports to the company’s customer experience leader. After years of the chief marketing officer having ownership of CX, why is this shift happening now – and will it stick?

When McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski decided that he wanted the fast-food giant to become more customer-centric and reflect the way that modern consumers engage with his restaurants, he realized a big change was required.

Therefore, last month McDonald’s announced the creation of a new customer experience team, headed by the company’s first chief customer officer. But the devil was in the detail. Because in order to remove the internal barriers and silos that Kempczinski believes were leading to fragmented customer experiences, he also restructured the organization so that new CCO Manu Steijaert would have multiple teams reporting into him, including data analytics & digital customer engagement, global restaurant development & restaurant – and global marketing.

This structure, with marketing reporting into CX, is something of an emerging trend. A similar reshuffle at Walmart has chief customer officer Janey Whiteside overseeing the retail behemoth’s marketing department.

The news has been warmly welcomed in some quarters. Commenting on the news of McDonald’s restructure on LinkedIn, author, and keynote speaker Jason S Bradshaw said: “This is absolutely the way it should be. As the first Chief Customer Officer of Volkswagen Group Australia, the work got even better when I became the first Chief Customer & Marketing Officer … marketing is selling a brand promise – that has to be aligned to the Customer Experience delivered.”

And on the same thread, Mike Soldan, chief experience officer at Shmoop added: “We just moved Marketing into my org and the accuracy and effectiveness of our value prop has gone through the roof. No one knows what your customers want/need to hear more than the people that built and support the products and customers.”

Should the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) oversee customer experience?

Some were surprised by the move, however. Sandra De Zoysa, group chief customer officer at Dialog Axiata, notes: “This trend is rather intriguing to me personally. Traditionally, customer service and CX sell under the purview of the CMO and in more recent times, under the chief digital officer, where there is no CCO. However, to think that in the future these roles will be reversed and the CMO’s portfolio can actually fall within the CCO is a huge shift of power in the right direction. Wow!”

Indeed, historically customer experience has often reported to the CMO, rather than the other way around. And research from the CMO Council from earlier this year found that many senior business executives in large organizations believe it to be the role of their marketing department to have ownership of the customer experience. But many in CX circles believe that this is a flawed structure.

Chief customer service experience officer Alex Mead says: “This is by far the most common approach being taken by organizations, and from my perspective, it is completely wrong. Marketing leaders lack the understanding of the importance of slick, effortless, engaging customer interaction and service experiences, nor do they have the knowledge on how to deliver what modern-day customers want. That is why we often see companies with amazing brand & marketing experiences, losing their customers because of awful customer service experience journeys.

“If the CMO truly walks in their customers’ shoes, experiences painful multichannel customer contact designs observes the effect of missing/late deliveries, spots the huge frustration from customers that can’t easily ask a question across the channel they want, and in the way they want, AND THEN if they truly take the time to understand the customers’ pain points, and empower the right people to address them, then that can be used to positively influence the entire company’s brand and marketing strategy. But the reality is this is a very rare situation indeed.”

Should the Chief Customer Officer oversee Marketing?

Unsurprisingly, then, the CX community has welcomed the idea that the new structure could proliferate.

Speaker, author, and writer about Doing Customer Experience (CX) Right, Stacy Sherman, has spent her entire career in sales, marketing, and CX roles, and believes the growth in CXO roles and the resulting restructures will be a very positive thing for companies.

“I believe there is a trend happening and companies like McDonald’s and Walmart are paving the way. If you search on common job sites, you’ll see companies are hiring CX managers and related executive positions at a faster rate than ever before. That’s because a CXO has unique skills and training to guide a company’s direction and investments (tools, resources) that are in the best interest of customers. Likewise, a customer experience officer knows how to influence people to feel that they have a customer experience job, even when they don’t interact directly with customers. Without such a culture, loyalty goals can’t be achieved.

“I don’t see any negatives with CXO/CCO overseeing marketing, other than it will take time to gain believers and supporters.”

What do you think?

Let’s keep the conversations going. Join me on social media.

If you like this article, you may also enjoy:

What’s the Fate of the Chief Experience Officer (CXO) in reaction to Wallstreet Journal article. (ARTICLE)

How & Why the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) & CXO must partner closely together. (ARTICLE)

Is Customer Experience (CX) the NEW Marketing? (PODCAST):


What’s The Fate of A Customer Experience Officer (CXO)?

What’s The Fate of A Customer Experience Officer (CXO)?

A recent Wallstreet Journal article discusses the idea that some customer experience officers are aspiring to make their roles obsolete. Best Buy Co chief customer officer and executive, Allison Peterson, is quoted as saying: “My goal is to create an environment where we are so obsessed over the customer that a separate person or team doing it doesn’t need to exist.” While some leaders are raising doubt on the longevity of the role, people like myself believe the customer experience officer (CXO) job is increasing in importance and far from ending.


The Trend of Customer Experience Officer (CXO) Role

If you search on common job sites, you’ll see companies are hiring CX managers and related executive positions at a faster rate than ever before. The trend is rising and paving the way for change management. That’s because a CXO has unique skills and training to guide a company’s direction and investments (tools, resources) that are in the best interest of customers. Likewise, a customer experience officer knows how to influence people to feel that they have a customer experience job, even when they don’t interact directly with customers. Without such a culture, loyalty goals can’t be achieved.

Besides my observations, research indicates organizations are taking customer experience (CX) seriously by committing more resources and talent to the discipline. Gartner reveals:

In 2017, more than 35% of organizations lacked a chief experience officer (CXO) or chief customer officer (CCO) or equivalents, but in 2019, only 11% and 10% lacked one or the other role, respectively.

Gartner 2019 Customer Experience Management Survey

Golden Rule for Customer Experience Officer

A CXO can’t live on an island alone. Like any other executive position, collaboration and partnerships with every department are essential for positive changes to happen. CX needs to be methodical, intentional, consistent, and a shared passion; the same holds true for EX (employee experiences). You can’t have CX without great EX, which is why employee engagement and driving commitment to customer excellence is part of the CXO job and not a short-term strategy.

Conclusion: Will the Need For A Customer Experience Officer End?

I believe the answer is maybe when my kids have kids. We have a long way to go as technology advances and dehumanizes experiences. A CXO ensures that the Internet of Things (IOT), artificial intelligence (AI), and other ways of doing business enhance customer experiences, and not supersedes actions like sending a personalized handwritten letter. That’s irreplaceable.

For those who have a goal to become a CXO or in the job now, I give you a standing ovation because it’s not an easy career and requires a “high level of effort.”  There’s a lot of obstacles, yet it’s a leadership role that is so important not just for business but also for the greater good.

What are your thoughts? Do you think CXO and related leadership roles will go away at most organizations in the foreseeable future?

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What CX Skills Are Most Important & How To Achieve Them

What CX Skills Are Most Important & How To Achieve Them

What skills are needed to succeed in Customer Experience (CX)? A panel of professionals, including me, share our views about what is most valuable so that you can elevate your knowledge, gain Executive buy-in and hire the right people. I encourage you to get educated and build your CX skills as offered online at various universities.

The following article was originally posted on MyCustomer by Neil Davey. 

It is apparent that being able to build and sell a customer experience business case needs to be one of the core competencies for a CX leader. So with that in mind, we asked a group of CX leaders for their advice about the kinds of skills that customer experience professionals should focus on developing to support them in their efforts to keep their CX programs supported, valued, and funded.

What skills do CX managers deem to be of most importance?


1. Data, insight, and measurement skills

“If you don’t know the metrics or detail that is likely to turn heads and win support then your business case is liable to fail,” warns Iain O’Connor, senior manager for customer experience and insight at Aegon UK.

Collecting data, interpreting data, presenting data, and driving action from that data are all core skills required of today’s customer experience leaders. And nowhere is this more important than when it comes to selling your business case.

“Data savviness is essential,” emphasizes Stacy Sherman, Director of the customer experience & employee engagement at Schindler Elevator Corporation and founder of DoingCXRight®‬. “You’re more likely to gain executive support when including facts and figures to support your request for resources (time, money, human resources).”

Having the ability to define key success metrics and set performance goals, and then continually monitor KPIs, is crucial for customer experience managers. But it is made more difficult by the fact that there are so many metrics for them to consider.

To provide some steer, ContactBabel’s Steve Morrell surveyed customer experience leaders to find out what methods and metrics are most commonly being measured. Read his piece: The top CX measurement techniques – as ranked by CX leaders.

Elsewhere, Jim Tincher has provided a very useful list of CX metrics that deliver valuable insight. Read his piece: 10 customer experience KPIs that provide better insight than NPS.  Learn more also from Stacy Sherman about CX measurement.

Nina Jones, head of the advisor experience at Fidelity International, recommends that if you’re not particularly data-minded yourself, you should ally yourself with those within the organization that can provide that specialist support, while you develop those talents.

“I personally could not work my way around the detailed spreadsheet formulas if my life depended on it, but I always know the people who can in the organization and I know the problem I am looking to solve,” she says. “The customer experience team’s role is to put the customer/business problem on the table and help data teams come to conclusions to test out hypotheses.”

2. Communication skills

Excellent communication skills are regarded as a key skill amongst many of the CX managers we spoke with. Of course, communication is vital for CX leaders in their day-to-day work – as the head of the organization’s customer experience program you’ll not only need to galvanize and engage your own team but also inspire the entire organization to commit to a culture of customer-centricity.

But there’s no escaping the fact that communication skills are absolutely crucial to persuading any CX skeptics in the boardroom that your program is worth not only supporting but championing. And part of this is ensuring that you provide the right context.

Nina Jones emphasizes that CX leaders have access to an incredibly powerful message – they just need to ensure that they articulate it properly. This means not treating the CX program as something that operates in isolation but explaining how the organization and everyone in it are contributing to the customer experience.

She explains: “It is really important to understand that a customer experience team has a unique view of both the customer and the organization that no one else in the organization has! Therefore, the opportunity the customer experience team has, being the only function in the organization which sees both the customer and the organization, is uniquely powerful if harnessed in the right way!”

“Communication is vital,” agrees Iain O’Connor. “It’s important to have an ongoing two-way dialogue with senior leaders to understand how your proposal fits with business strategy and how to best position your CX ideas to give your business case the best chance of success.

He advises: “Different leaders can also have very different styles, so learn how senior leadership likes to see business cases presented and speak to others in your business who have successfully influenced the same audience in the past.”

While it’s easy to assume that communication skills are something that you’re just born with, many of the greatest communicators in the business world have worked long and hard to develop their talents – and you should too.

For that reason, MyCustomer published an article dedicated to the art of communication, sharing advice from a range of experts on how to become a better communicator, including models to help professionals develop their listening skills and self-confidence.

3. Financial/commercial understanding

Part of good communication is translating your message into a language that the different members of the board will understand. But there is one common language shared by all of those at the top table – finance.

“What I have found personally to be most effective is developing a more commercial understanding of the business alongside proficiency at data analytics and insight,” says Charlotte Dunsterville, chief consumer officer at Sure. “These go hand-in-hand as the data can and should be used to show a tangible and measurable approach to CX investment.

“I’ve also found that building a solid relationship with the CFO has paid dividends, as he has increased his understanding of the importance of CX to driving the business. I have understood the financial challenges better and learned how to present a case for investment that addresses both customer and financial angles. After all, customer experience people are by nature empathetic, so as we always do for customers it’s been a case of putting myself in someone else’s shoes internally and understanding their challenges.”

To give you an idea of the kinds of areas that it would be good to develop your understanding in, Peter Dorrington, founder of XMPlify Consulting has outlined the key commercial points that CX leaders need to bake into a business case for it to be successful.

  • Make a sound financial case – Use terms that business leaders are familiar with. Whilst essential, a positive ROI on its own is not enough
  • Quantify the benefits – Calculate the incremental benefits that a good CX program brings, in both the short- and the long-term.
  • Allocate true costs – ‘Average’ is not your friend: identify where costs are actually being incurred and how your CX program impacts them.

4. Relationship-building skills

“Whether you are promoting a product, service or new idea that changes a company culture to be more customer-centric, strong relationships skills are imperative,” says Stacy Sherman. “Leaders are more likely to say yes and adopt recommendations from people they like and trust.”

Another skill that is not just valuable for building the CX business case, but in the day-to-day of a customer experience leader’s role, the ability to build and maintain relationships with external stakeholders and internal cross-functional team members (services, sales, support, product development, QA, etc.), is invaluable.

“My personal reflection on this is that customer experience teams need to be really good at understanding the business and then being able to partner, partner, partner through building trust-based internal relationships,” says Nina Jones.

“A beautiful vision can be built, the data can be there to back it up, but if the organization does not trust and have strong relationships with the customer experience teams, then selling any business case will be limited in impact. Most of the time the customer experience team is asking the organization to change what they are doing, and in some cases, this change also comes with a cost. “Therefore, to encourage the c-suite that they want to make the change and carve out the budget, there needs to be trust and confidence in the team that are going to lead this change through.”

She continues: “I realize that I am basically selling internal change programs (teams need to change to produce better customer outcomes!), through building trusted relationships and then long-term partnering with internal stakeholders pretty much every working day! Some of the teams which need to change I have direct control over (this is the easier bit); others, I have no control over, so they need to build trust in me and my team and then be convinced. My mantra has always been that the customer experience team basically ‘owns everything and owns nothing’!”

Keith Gait, leader at The Customer Experience Foundation, and former customer services director at Stagecoach Bus, also notes that relationship-building across the organization not only helps to demonstrate the value of CX to others in the business, but it also allows customer experience professionals to gain a greater understanding and appreciation of other parts of the organization.

“We all have to develop greater awareness, understanding, and appreciation of the other functional areas of the business. They have to work together, we can’t just do CX in isolation,” he notes.

“The most successful people in the boardroom have a broad outlook, not a narrow functional mindset. This is how I believe CX leaders can best achieve the goals they say they want their companies to achieve. Be as interested in finance as the CFO, support the HRD on the development of the people strategy, make friends with the IT director, have an awareness of the Strategic challenges facing the organizations, and be seen as an influencing voice shaping that future. Do not sit in your CX bunker expecting everyone to come to you.”

MyCustomer has published an entire series on improving collaboration between customer-facing teams, so that’s a great starting point.

In addition to this, we have also written a piece sharing advice on how CX leaders can become better at all-around relation-building, and in particular building those all-important relationships within the organization, including how to develop trust and become more emotionally intelligent.

5. Resilience and determination

“Lastly, don’t be afraid to fail,” advises O’Connor. “As long as you take away the learnings and feedback you can use unsuccessful attempts to ensure you’re much more likely to succeed next time.”

Nina Jones adds: “Tenacity and resilience are almost non-negotiable skills for someone who cares about customer experience – as there is a lot to keep working through!”


Read more about how to get leadership buy-in to invest in CX resources and tools to deliver customer excellence.

Learn more about Stacy Sherman’s mentorship program to elevate your skills so that you are not talking but actually DOING CX RIGHT.

How To Secure Customer Experience Investment

How To Secure Customer Experience Investment

Getting Executive buy-in and budget for customer experience programs is not so easy when there are leaders at the top who don’t fully understand the true value of CX. MyCustomer interviewed me and other customer experience professionals to find out what we have learned and recommend to gain resources and investments to support CX goals. I’m sharing a copy of the original article in hopes that more people will learn and apply the key tactics shared.

How To Get Customer Experience Investment

 As we discovered in a previous article, a combination of factors has conspired to make the job of demonstrating the value of CX programs more important than ever for customer experience professionals.

Whether it be the difficult trading conditions creating a squeeze on resources and budgets, or the concept of customer experience management becoming less seductive to the c-suite, or even the CX profession finding itself distracted by the trivial instead of the operational, boardrooms are less willing to support CX programs unless they are convinced by their ROI.

We spoke to a cohort of customer experience professionals to find out what they have learned about demonstrating CX value to company leadership during their careers so that we can glean insights into how to win hearts and minds in the c-suite.

But be warned – some bosses are easier to convince than others. As Stacy Sherman, Director of Customer Experience & Employee Engagement at Schindler Elevator Corporation, notes: “Not all leaders understand the importance of investing in customer experience resources, tools, and platforms. That’s because measuring culture, employee engagement, customer loyalty, and related KPIs are not as easy as counting eCommerce sales or retail transactions!”

For these CX skeptics, it can be necessary to build confidence and trust through an incremental approach. Iain O’Connor, senior manager for customer experience and insight at Aegon UK notes: “It’s important to build trust and belief amongst senior leadership and depending on your starting point that may mean starting small with quick wins to show what can be achieved and the impact CX improvements can have on customers but also on internal engagement and culture.”

Sherman agrees: “I recommend you gain buy-in through pilot programs and show impacts in small ways (quantitatively and qualitatively) to then ultimately grow and scale your customer experience programs.”

The power of storytelling

Nina Jones, head of advisor experience at Fidelity International, is another advocate of using qualitative and quantitative demonstrations to generate confidence in customer experience programs. “From my perspective, it is a combination of both qualitative and quantitative data which a customer experience team needs to have to be successful with senior leaders,” she explains. “It is a pure classic play to convince both the right and left-brain people… there are those senior executives who will gladly come with me on an emotional journey if I tell them a really good story; there are others who are only interested in hearing the whole story if it is based in cold, hard facts!”

Nina continues: “Looking back, most of my career has been in engineering-centric organizations, so this led me to always have my data and metrics available and known, as the culture within engineering organizations is naturally data-centric. Whichever job I am in, I always need to have a data analyst or data insight team close to me, so that I am able to prove or disprove my own theories before I even think about stepping into a board room to present a case.

“However, I have also realized that even the most hardened CEOs also love a good story, as they are, at the end of the day human beings! So, by making sure I have all of the compelling data and metrics, the key is then to play it into a compelling story where a CEO or the c-suite are able to rationally and emotionally engage with the experience that the investment is going to make better.”

Keith Gait, leader at The Customer Experience Foundation, and former customer services director at Stagecoach Bus, believes that storytelling allows customer experience managers to bring data alive and show a journey.

“Bring the issues to life with real life examples of failings within the business that hit hard,” he advises. “In my last organization I showed a 15-year-old boy being verbally abused and then put at risk by an employee to demonstrate the issues with front line culture and management behaviors that had been recorded by a member of the public. These are difficult to argue with. Share verbatims. Then demonstrate the financial impact this has on the business. At one company I worked with, we were able to show that every 1% of churn affected revenue by £10milllion, and that churn was directly caused by CSAT.

“Then show the journey of how you go from the baseline to the improvement outcome, whatever that may be, and the staging posts along the way. The key here is to try and show the metrics that will be tracked. It’s not always easy to show direct financial improvement, but we can show many proxy measures that we know will increase the bottom line.”

Customer feedback

Charlotte Dunsterville, chief consumer officer at Sure, is in regular contact with the c-suite to discuss customer experience opportunities and challenges. And to maintain buy-in and foster enthusiasm in ongoing CX investment, she ensures that leadership is privy to direct customer feedback that is collected.

“We have a comprehensive program of customer insight taking in relational and transactional surveys alongside a really engaged panel of our customers who are keen to give us feedback and get involved in ideas for new product launches, how our customer journeys are working, and input on our customer service,” she explains.

“I regularly present direct customer feedback to the senior team so that senior leaders are aware of the pain points, and we also use an automated platform internally to gather employee feedback and understand what we are getting right and what we could still improve for staff. In fact, we treat the customer and employee feedback very similarly with an ongoing loop of feedback, taking action and checking back in.

The approach I’ve found most useful to justify investment is to make sure that senior leaders are close to the feedback.

“So, in summary, the approach I’ve found most useful to justify investment is to make sure that senior leaders are close to the feedback, understand the pain points, and then it’s actually the c-suite leading the charge to improve the experience rather than it being justified by a specialist team. Win-win!”

Patricia Sanchez Diaz, head of customer experience at Centrica, is another advocate for the combination of data and storytelling as a device to demonstrate value but believes that CX professionals, in general, need to work their data harder through analytics.

“One of the fundamental gaps in CX teams is their ability to link improvements or innovation to business strategic targets and to measure it,” she argues. “CX makes sense if it brings value to the business. Often CX teams go about saying that when you bring value to the customer they return, spend more, and therefore the ROI increases – but that needs to be empirically proven.

“CX teams don’t do analytics in many cases – and that’s a mistake. Storytelling + CX analytics that will be the formula to generate funding.”

Proving ROI in a customer-centric, not company-centric way

In a recent article on MyCustomer, Gartner’s Augie Ray warns that one of the main pitfalls customer experience leaders must avoid when demonstrating CX program ROI, is to focus on monetary returns.

By trying to demonstrate how much money the business is making from CX initiatives, it is adopting a company-centric approach, instead of a customer-centric one, he suggests. CX leaders should be demonstrating what they get by improving customers and their relationship with the brand, rather than probing how much money can be extracted from them or how much costs can be reduced to lift short-term income.

He explains: “CX leaders must answer the ROI question in a way that doesn’t merely turn CX into another strategy for lowering costs or lifting acquisition. Instead, leaders need an approach that demonstrates how the company profits when customer expectations are understood, their needs are met, and their relationships strengthened.”

Ray recommends that the way to keep the focus on the customer while still demonstrating the ROI opportunity to business leaders is to follow three steps:

  • Step one: Start with data on customer perception. The starting point is to make sure you have customer-sourced information about customer perception. This is typically derived through Voice of the Customer (VoC) surveys asking questions about customer satisfaction (CSAT), customer effort score (CES), or net promoter score (NPS).
  • Step two: Combine and analyze your VoC and operational data. The next step in the process is to find and use operational and financial data at the customer level. Most typically, CX leaders will seek to collect and import data on retention, sales growth, number of products acquired, cost to serve, or referral volume. Once you combine the VoC scores provided by customers and the financial or business data of those same customers, you can begin to analyze the differences in business and financial value associated with customers who are satisfied versus dissatisfied.
  • Step three: Get the right data to the right people. Research demonstrates that organizations drive more customer-centric decision-making by showing leaders why being customer-centric is in their own best interest and not merely in the best interests of the entire firm. For example, you might show digital leaders that highly satisfied customers are more likely to trust, adopt and engage with the company’s digital platforms. By analyzing the relationship between customer satisfaction scores and a variety of business metrics, CX leaders can show the ROI of CX in terms of the outcomes for which each leader is responsible.

Ray concludes: “You’ll note that this approach keeps the focus on the customer – their perception and satisfaction with your products and services. We are not merely calculating how much the company can make or save from a given CX effort but instead proving why lifting CSAT, CES, and NPS scores benefit the organization’s growth, margin, and bottom line. By taking this approach, we keep the focus on the customer while demonstrating that customer satisfaction is a business driver worth investment.”

Final advice

But a final word of advice – be prepared for your attempts to demonstrate value go awry. And if your presentation to the board doesn’t go according to plan, don’t give in!

As Nina Jones notes: “Board meetings do not always go as you may have planned even with your most bulletproof business case! However, in my experience ‘no’ doesn’t mean’ no’ most of the time. It usually means, ‘you haven’t convinced me yet’…therefore, from a personal approach perspective, there is a need for customer experience leaders and teams to have bucket loads of tenacity and resilience to be able to dust themselves down, have a good wash up to truly understand what was being said in the room, get back on the horse, regroup and go again!

“Keep the faith that if it is the right thing to do, it may need a couple of goes! I have personally been working on a program for 12 months now with a bulletproof business case and we have still not got everything we need! We will though, I am determined as it is the right thing to do! One thing about a really long protracted decision-making cycle, it provides the opportunity to ensure the business case is, indeed as robust as you think it is!”