SalesTech Star

The evolving role of Chief Customer Officers and their relationship with CMOs

The business landscape is continuously becoming customer-centric. Thus, being better than great at customer experience is pivotal. Studies show that one-third of consumers will walk away if they have one bad experience. There is a famous quote by American memoirist and poet Maya Angelou, which is extremely relatable to customer experience, “People will forget what you gave, and people will forget what you did, but they will forever remember how you made them feel.” It is important for businesses to act on that insight. The days of selling products, features, and prices are fading away. Today’s brands stand apart on customer experience metrics. According to a report by Forrester, there has been a remarkable 1,000 percent increase in the number of executives directly accountable for managing customer experience over the past five years.

Customer experience has so much value in life that when you give them one bad experience, they compare it with all the other similar experiences they have had in their lives. To keep pace with all this, companies are increasingly creating and evolving the role of Chief Customer Officer (CCO).

Traditionally, companies were just concerned with marketing, sales, product development, and revenue generation. These functions have their importance, with customer empathy taking center stage. CCO has gained prominence to ensure a positive customer journey at every point in time. They are at the forefront of championing customer-centric initiatives and fostering brand loyalty that can leverage data-driven insights.

The role of CCO’s crosses generic sales, marketing, and product function; it’s an all-together comprehensive role. The CCO is like the final authority for the customers.

Chief Customer Officers leading the way to strategic biz growth:

CCOs who embrace the capability undertake the responsibility to elevate the existing human experience. The role of CCO is not new, but the scope has drastically evolved. CCO is tied to organizational growth in the following important ways:

  • Long-term retention and sustainability: As it is always said, customer retention is more important and complicated than customer acquisition. Hence, the customer-centric thing isn’t a short-term phenomenon. CCO contributes the lion’s share of customer loyalty and trust. The CCO’s focus on retention strategies helps maximize the value each customer brings to the business.
  • Reduced Churn Rate: Chief Customer Officers (CCOs) are customer champions who wield data and strategic thinking to reduce churn. They delve into customer needs and pain points through research and data analysis. This not only reduces churn but also builds stability in the customer journey and overall sales funnel
  • Revenue Growth: CCOs are an important factor contributing directly to revenue growth. Happy, satisfied, and loyal customers are likely to repeat purchases and become brand advocates. This leads to increased sales through referrals. Additionally, CCOs leverage data to personalize marketing efforts and identify upselling or cross-selling opportunities. This data-driven approach leads to more effective customer interactions and, ultimately, increased revenue. Essentially, CCOs build a strong customer foundation that translates to sustainable and profitable growth for the company.
  • Competitive Advantage: An impeccable CCO can be a differentiator for the company in the cutthroat marketing landscape. CCOs create a unique value proposition that competitors might struggle to match. Moreover, personalizing marketing strategies not only retains the old customers but also fosters loyalty and helps acquire new ones. This way, they become a strategic weapon for the company, giving it a clear competitive advantage.

Read More: SalesTechStar Interview with Kevin Meeks, Chief Customer Officer at LivePerson

Operational role of CCOs:

In contemporary business operations, Chief Customer Officers (CCOs) wield direct influence over organizational dynamics. Their role and authority within a company’s structure can vary, tailored to the specific needs of the organization. While in some companies, CCOs may primarily align with sales and marketing teams, in others, particularly those centered around products or services, they may possess operational jurisdiction. Beyond mere operational oversight, CCOs serve as influential figures, shaping every intricate facet of the company’s operations.

When they are under operational authority, the role involves:

  • Revolve and realign activities around customer needs: Here, CCOs realign the activities and aspects as per the customer interaction with the sales and marketing teams.
  • Manage teams and budgets: Unlike their counterpart roles, CCOs in the operational role control hundreds of people and manage the entire budget factor of the organization
  • Adapts the changes quickly: Because they have direct control over the operations, they can change, adapt, or align the business process more closely as per the customer’s needs.
  • Alignment with Company Strategy: The CCO works with leadership to ensure the company strategy prioritizes customer needs. This can lead to operational changes that support a customer-centric approach.
  • Commercial responsibility for merger, acquisition, or expansion: When considering new markets or product expansions, the CCO can provide valuable customer insights. They can analyze customer data to identify potential customer segments, buying behaviors, and preferences in the target market. This information helps shape expansion strategies that cater to the needs of the new customer base

Relationship between CCO and CMO:

The Chief Customer Officer (CCO) and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) both possess deep insights into their customer base, laying a strong foundation for a synergistic partnership. Within this collaboration, the CMO concentrates on customer acquisition, while the CCO directs efforts toward retention, bolstering customer lifetime value (CLTV), and fostering brand advocacy.

Marketing extends beyond initial acquisition and transaction closures; it encompasses the sustained relationship with customers. Given that acquiring new customers can cost up to five times more than retaining existing ones, the onus of driving retention falls heavily on the CMO. In this context, the CCO plays a pivotal role in customer retention efforts, thereby alleviating the pressure on the CMO and concurrently amplifying prospects at the pipeline’s outset.

Collaborative approach to the flywheel:

CMO: Igniting the Flywheel

  • Brand Awareness and Attraction: The CMO spearheads marketing campaigns that build brand awareness, attract potential customers, and generate leads. Strong brand messaging and targeted campaigns are essential to initiating the flywheel’s spin.
  • Customer Acquisition: The CMO focuses on converting leads into paying customers through effective marketing strategies. This might involve nurturing leads, offering compelling promotions, and optimizing the sales funnel.

CCO: Keeping the Flywheel Spinning

  • Customer Satisfaction and Retention: The CCO takes center stage once a customer enters the flywheel. Their focus is on crafting a positive customer experience that fosters satisfaction and loyalty. This includes initiatives like efficient customer service, personalized interactions, and loyalty programs.
  • Reduced Churn: As said above the CCO works to minimize customer churn, ensuring customers remain engaged and continue using the product or service. This might involve proactive customer success programs, addressing customer pain points, and gathering feedback for continuous improvement.

The best collaborative tools that CCOs and CMOs can use to give insightful results:

Chief Customer Officers (CCOs) and Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) need a powerful arsenal of tools to gather insightful data and craft successful customer-centric strategies. Here’s a breakdown of the best collaborative tools for both leaders and how they can use them for even richer insights:

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems: CRMs like Salesforce or Zoho CRM centralize all customer interactions across touchpoints, providing a 360-degree view of customer behavior and preferences.
  • Customer Data Platforms (CDPs): Tools like Adobe CDP or Treasure Data go beyond CRMs. They unify data from various sources (websites, surveys, and social media) to create a holistic customer profile for deeper analysis.
  • Customer Experience (CX) Analytics Tools: These tools allow CCOs to segment customers, identify trends and pain points in their journeys, and measure the effectiveness of customer experience initiatives.
  • Voice of the Customer (VoC) Tools: Platforms like SurveyMonkey or InMoment facilitate gathering customer feedback through surveys, polls, and social media sentiment analysis.
  • Experience Management Tools: Tools like Qualtrics XM or WalkMe help visualize the customer journey across all touchpoints, pinpointing areas for improvement. Additionally, omni-channel management platforms ensure a consistent and positive customer experience across channels.
  • Marketing Automation Platforms (MAPs): Tools like HubSpot or Pardot automate marketing tasks, personalize campaigns, and track customer interactions across marketing channels (email, social media, website).
  • Web Analytics Tools: Platforms like Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics track website traffic, user behavior, and marketing campaign performance, providing valuable customer acquisition insights.
  • Social Listening Tools: Brandwatch or Sprout Social help CMOs monitor brand mentions, understand customer sentiment on social media, and identify emerging trends or areas of concern.
  • Marketing Attribution Tools: They help CMOs attribute revenue to specific marketing channels and campaigns, allowing them to optimize marketing spend and identify the most effective customer acquisition strategies.
  • Data Integration Platforms: These tools can help seamlessly integrate data from various sources (CRM, marketing automation platforms, and web analytics) into a central data warehouse for both CCOs and CMOs to access and analyze.
  • Business Intelligence (BI) Tools: Platforms like Tableau or Power BI allow both CMOs and CCOs to visualize and analyze customer data from across their respective toolsets, leading to even richer customer insights.

CCOs can potentially position themselves as valuable assets.

CCOs have their own challenges, like aligning with customer-centric strategies, integrating broader business objectives, and collaborating with marketing teams, but a promising approach can untangle the complex challenges and create a create a creative competitive edge for the company. By leveraging a customer-first ethos into the company’s culture and values, CCOs can sustain long-term success. Mastering customer journeys and customer experience are key factors to differentiate CCO as an inseparable factor of the business.

Read More: Product-led Growth Strategy: Lessons for SaaS Companies

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