The CCO Career Path: How to Successfully Translate Your CX Skills Across Industries

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In my Daily Dose video series, I explore the topics that chief customer officers must grapple with on a daily basis. Join me as I discuss what I’ve learned over the course of my 35-year career, so that you can more effectively do the work that needs to be done.

The following is a lightly edited transcript of the video below.



I was having a conversation with somebody the other day, who is what I call a “perennial customer experience officer.” Now what’s interesting about this is—and I want you to think about your career path as you’re moving across your business—if you really are focused on leading customer transformation, it is transferable from industry to industry.

A lot of people think they need to stay in their vertical lane. And what I’m here to tell you is, as someone who’s done it—I moved from a catalog company, to a car company to insurance, to real estate, to technology—the key though is getting the fundamentals down early. And the fundamentals are a few things.

#1: Are you able to unite the C-suite?

Number one, are you able to unite the C-suite of your organization? A lot of times people don’t realize that their role is about uniting the C-suite to do a couple things:

  1. Create one version of the truth: where are you today?
  2. Create one version of the talk track: how would you describe and define the business of the business? And how do you consistently drive accountability?
  3. How do you unite that leadership team to reward people consistently and to have a consistent way that you raise the organization?

So that’s the first thing that’s foundational, and a real need if you’re going to really want to move from one industry to another.

#2. Muck in and learn the business.

The second thing is: how you get that dirt under your fingernails as you’re learning a business. If you think that you can move an industry without knowing an industry, then you’re always going to be looking looked at as like an outsider.

One of my guests, for example—as he was moving from one industry to another, where he moved from financial services to hospitality—he went into the stores, he took orders, he waited on tables, he was in the back of the store, in the front of the store. And that gave him his credibility chops.

So you need to earn your credibility chops. You need to be egoless and humble, and to build those relationships with people, but also learn the business and give yourself enough time to learn the business.

#3. Develop foundational skills to lead change management.

The third thing is to have the foundational skill set to lead change management and also to embed the change of the organization, so it transforms from doing one-off projects to telling the story of customers lives.

I call these “Five Competencies” in my Chief Customer Officer 2.0 book, but you may have your own set. But if you don’t have those down, the work won’t be transferable.

Three critical skills to your roadmap as a CX leader

And those three things:



  • The ability to unite the leadership team, create one version of the truth with them, and a path of accountability and language
  • Get your fingernails dirty and prove to the organization that you want to focus and learn their business
  • Have a set of transferable skills of how you will lead this work and how you will transform the business

Those three things put together will give you the roadmap, the skill set, and most importantly, the leadership and change management chops to move from one industry to another.

Many people have done it. You can look on my podcast, there’s a lot of people who are now those perennial leaders and you can be one to if you want to be.

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