Several months ago, we wrote a post about the emergence of the Chief Customer Officer – a fairly new C-level role that was created to oversee a company’s customer service department, including customer service managers and their teams, as well as drive strategy across the organization for the customer experience. This role has picked up a lot of speed in the last few years. According to a study by Gartner , 90% of organizations have a CCO or similar role. Alternative titles are Chief Client Officer, Vice President of Customer Experience and – our favorite – Chief Experience Officer. We favor this title because it implies that the overall internal, as well as external, customer experience is a vital part of a company’s longevity, hence the need for a C-level executive to manage it.
If your business is considering adding this role to your C-suite or if you have already created this role and are looking for the right candidate to fill it, congratulations – you made an incredibly wise choice! Making the choice is just the beginning – you need just the right individual for this role, so this isn’t a position to be filled overnight. While you search for the right person, hiring an interim Chief Experience Officer could be a beneficial, and immediate, solution for your business right now.
Why Hire an Interim Executive?
There are several reasons why a company decides to hire an interim executive. The most common reason is the temporary replacement of an executive who has left the company or the temporary filling of a newly created position until a long-term hire can be found. An interim executive knows how to jump right into the role to ensure that operations run smoothly and, after a period of observation, can even suggest improvements and help hire a long-term executive for the position. However, in some cases an interim executive is needed when a company is in a crisis such as:
- Consistent negative feedback from customers
- An online reputation crisis as a result of point #1
- High employee turnover
- Trouble recruiting quality talent
- Low employee morale and engagement
- Management issues
- A significant drop in sales
- KPIs not being met
If your business has any of these issues, the danger is that the problems can not only compound but spiral out of control. With the dawning of our digital age and ability for both customers and employees to share their experience about a company, there is not a moment to waste! Time is of the essence if a business in this situation is to be turned around and saved.
Even if your business is not in a crisis, hiring an interim executive with customer service expertise will prevent a crisis like these from happening, since their overall role is to help create, or build upon existing systems and processes that ensure an outstanding customer experience.
The Role of the Chief Experience Officer
Let’s look at specific tasks and the roadmap typically followed by the Chief Experience Officer – as outlined by the Chief Customer Officer Council – and the ways in which it will benefit your organization:
1. Customer service strategy – The creation (or improvement) and execution of an internal and external customer service strategy that aligns with the company’s overall business strategy is a necessary first step.
2. Culture management – The company culture will be improved or modified to fulfill the customer service strategy so that it is customer-centric on all levels and across all departments.
3. Customer data analysis – The collection and analysis of customer data from all touch points along their journey provides a lot of insight into the customer experience and the greatest opportunities for improvement.
4. Customer relationship development – The nurturing of customer relationships and really knowing the customers enables even greater customer insight and understanding, which helps further solidify them.
5. Customer base leverage – Once customer relationships are positive and on solid ground, they can be leveraged for customer referral and customer marketing campaigns and programs.
6. New customer acquisition – Really knowing and nurturing a customer base makes it possible to come up with creative ways to acquire new customers with similar attributes, characteristics, pain points and needs.
7. Product and service innovation – Last but not least, a customer-centric organization stays competitive by continuously improving and modifying products and services to meet the ever-changing needs of customers.
Bottom line – An interim Chief Experience Officer is the answer if your company doesn’t currently have one, but you know and understand the importance of this role. An individual in this role has the expertise, experience and management skills needed to communicate effectively across all divisions and levels and bring about a unified vision that focuses on the customer – who, as we know, is the key to your lasting success.