Who Should Be Your Next Chief Customer Officer?

Is anybody actually ready for a Chief Customer Offer(CCO)? Perhaps not yet. But since it is agreed that companies cannot wait any more, the best temporary remedy is the CEO--if he has the vision for it. This short-term solution presents three major advantages: The CEO is sending a strong message to his internal and external audiences. Internally he is saying, This job is worth my time, while I personally organize the progressive training of the best person for the position. Under these conditions who would not want to be preselected for the job? Externally he shows the value to company stakeholders, because in the annual report he will carry both titles and explain them before naming the new CCO. Assuming that the CEO has the courage to send that signal, he is the best placed for designing the training to prepare who from within the company shows the most potential for becoming the CCO. Through his temporary experience as acting CCO, the CEO also will be able to assess the minimum budget required to make this position as powerful as it should be--in addition to offering a seat on the board. Let us now fast-forward a few months, look at the pool of potential applicants, and attempt to define a best-of-breed drawing of the CCO-elect: This executive will need a mix of the following attitudes and abilities: Attitudes
  • A strong intellectual curiosity, and an intense desire to serve.
  • Pragmatism, and a deep general business knowledge that allows her to know up to where one should fight for which clients.
  • The ability to gather all the corporate talent around a unifying goal.
  • The pleasure found in celebrating internally major victories, with the intention of creating success stories out of them. These will slowly become the base for the "legends" that newcomers to the company will hear about. Abilities
  • Previous experience in sales management--and channel management, when appropriate.
  • An understanding of how technology can truly enable the position.
  • Time spent passionately listening to tens of hours of communications between the customer care center agents and their clients.
  • An internal passage through applied R&D or marketing.
  • Experience in controllership, in organization reshuffling, and some exposure to international businesses. About the Author Etienne Castelli-Pochon is head of The Americas-Europe Management Advisers in Toronto. Contact him at ecp@ta-ema.com
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