Chief Customer Experience Officer: A Bad Idea

I’ve recently seen calls for the creation of a Chief Customer Experience Officer (one from Forrester Research and one at E-Volve-or-Die.com).

This is a terrible idea. Why? Because creating a CCEO position:

  • Is superfluous. Although the experts may have different definitions for what a “customer experience” is, I would hope that they would agree that it involves the interaction of a customer (or prospect) with a firm, its products, or marketing messages (print ad, web site, etc.). Many customer experience interactions are either demand cycle (including, but not limited to sales transactions) or customer service-related interactions. In most (if not all) medium- to large firms, there is already an executive in charge of the processes involved in providing these customer experiences.
  • Creates more problems than it solves. What should the CCEO’s budget be? Who’s pocket is it coming out of? (Oh, I suppose your firm has a ton of excess funds just waiting for deployment). Who’s going to report to the CCEO? Why? Why should the CCEO have a “seat at the table” (as some of the pundits have called for) and not somebody else not currently at the table?

I don’t doubt that at many firms the so-called “customer experience” is lacking and that existing functional executives aren’t customer-focused. But creating a new “chief” position doesn’t fix the problem.

This isn’t a new issue. In the late 90’s it was the Chief Knowledge Officer that the pundits were crying out for, and in the early 90’s, we heard the calls for the Chief Reengineering Czar. Few firms (outside of consulting firms) have these positions around today.

It’s not that firms don’t need to manage their knowledge, reengineer their processes, or create better customer experiences. It’s that the way to do it is through cross-functional (or cross-LOB) project teams with the leadership and involvement of today’s senior managers.

And it’s time for the pundits to realize that simply creating a box on the org chart doesn’t solve a firm’s problems.

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