The Chief Customer Officer


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In a recent post to the Net Promoter LinkedIn Community, the question was asked about whether companies today should have a chief customer officer. There was a time when I would have said absolutely yes, but my thinking has since evolved.

The customer and customer experience are owned by many functions across the business. The challenge with being the Chief Customer Officer (CCO) is, you don’t OWN the customer or the customer experience. In most cases, the CCO becomes a “coordinator” or governance body that drives actions across functions, regions, or business units. This person may have the attention of the CEO and carry a hammer to get organizations to cooperate, but they don’t often carry the operational responsibility to deliver customer experience improvements. Worse yet, they have the potential of being the complaints department, listening to the customer with an empathetic ear and trying to resolve issues.

I would rather see EVERYONE be the CCO, with strong leadership from the executive team and the CEO for driving improvements that increase loyalty. The executive team should be accountable for taking action and delivering results. If you want to assign an executive to drive this, consider expanding the responsibilities to include the customer experience and give this executive the resources they need to not only measure and monitor the experience but actually make the business improvements necessary to improve.

The key to success is to integrate the voice of the customer into every area of the business, hold your leadership team accountable for results, and evaluate your performance alongside your operational metrics. If your organization needs a CCO to accomplish this, then go for it. The only caution flag I would raise is that leaders in non-operational roles will have limited impact on driving improvements. Evaluate your own organization to determine the best way to integrate customer-centric behavior, and then decide whether you need a CCO.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Deborah Eastman
Deborah has spent her career with a passion for customer success. As the Chief Customer Officer at Satmetrix her responsibilities include thought leadership development, consulting, certification training, and continuous improvement of the Satmetrix experience. She is a frequent speaker and blogger on Net Promoter and Customer Experience.


  1. Deb, I agree with you in general. A few years ago I was invited to speak at an event in Europe and someone asked me about CCOs. I said then, and now, that I see it as an interim step, not a long-term career.

    However, that interim step might take a few years. If an organization is struggling to get a cross-functional focus on the customer, a properly empowered CCO could really help. An influential executive with a small staff could help facilitate the change necessary to, um, remove the need for that job!

    Because as the org matures in customer-centric management, it may find the CCO position isn’t needed any more. Because the CEO and the rest of the organization are working together and thus don’t need another executive to fill the gaps.

    My take is that a CCO probably will need 3-5 years in a big organization to get to the point where the job is no longer needed. Maybe not a long-term position, but a critical one nonetheless.

  2. Bob,

    I can’t disagree with your point of view. It basically establishing a cross functional PMO simliar to those used for large business process re-engineering projects. They are temporarity as part of a change management process.

    The question would be whether you want to appoint someone that you know is working themselves out of a job, or whether it’s best to have an empowered executive such as the CMO or VP of Customer Experience be the exec sponsor for the PMO?

    As with anything I find in this space – it depends. Organizations need to determine what works best in their culture to driving the desired change.


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