Brands no longer compete on the basis of price but rather, experience--and the most successful brands recognize that great customer experience doesn't happen by accident. It takes leadership. Enter the Chief Experience Office (CXO).
Why your executive team needs a brand experience director
5 Reasons to Hire
(Or Become) A CXO
Companies put “C’s” in front of executives’ names
to denote leadership of something that’s so mission
critical, it just has to be led with singular vision. It’s
important in a capital C, core-to-strategy kind of way.
We’re all pretty clear that the best-known “chiefs”
(CTOs, CFOs, CMOs, etc.) are empowered to lead
functions without which the company couldn’t be
successful—functions that can only be leveraged if led
with central purpose and clarity. We understand that
technology, finance, marketing and the other “c” areas
are important enough to be assigned to a leader rather
than dispersed across the organization, left open to
interpretation or chance. These are areas that we know
merit and require leadership.
The same is increasingly true of the new “C” in town:
Chief Experience Officer.
Experience—defined as the interactions between the
company and the people that make its business work—
is truly mission-critical, deserving the full power and
authority of a c-level owner. And “experience” covers
a lot of territory: how people shop for a brand’s
products, how they interact with the company to get
/25 Reasons to Hire (Or Become) A CXO
First off: what’s a CXO?
help or buy more, how the company distinguishes
itself through its behaviors and actions in the
marketplace. As those interactions have become
more complex, as customer journeys have become
subject to ever greater pressure and competition , as
technology has continued to fuel innovation as well
as fragmentation at the core of brand interactions,
it’s no surprise that companies are increasingly
hiring executives to own and champion experience.
Although companies have formerly thought of this
role as “Chief Customer Officer” , increasingly
they’re defining the function around experience,
which recognizes not only its strong relationship to
brand but also the huge role of internal culture and
employee engagement in customer experience.
Experience is simply too important to companies’
success to leave it to chance. Enter the CXO.
/35 Reasons to Hire (Or Become) A CXO
Case in point: nine out of ten consumers say that they choose
brands on the basis of the overall experience; six in ten say
they’ll pay more for a brand that offers a unique experience.
Better experience has been correlated to higher purchase intent,
decreased customer churn and greater word of mouth awareness.
Beyond preference, superior experience is correlated to
performance. Over a five-year period, companies with superior
experiences beat so-called “experience laggards”—and the S&P
500 Index—on stock performance.
It’s simple: CXOs help companies make more money (ka-ching!)
and have a big role to play moving forward.
Research as well as common sense
affirm that improving how people
experience your brand will increase
satisfaction and lead to more profitable
relationships on all sides.
Hire a CXO
because a better
/45 Reasons to Hire (Or Become) A CXO
Yet turning “saying” into “doing” is hard. It’s one thing to say in your
branding or above the line advertising that you make life easy for your
customers, and a different thing entirely to deliver on that promise across
every interaction. It takes leadership by someone who’s a true believer in
your brand as a verb.
Few companies can take for granted that they don’t need this kind of
leadership: there’s a huge gap between potential and actual performance
when it comes to experience. Bain & Company surveyed customers of 362
companies and found that although only 8% of customers described their
experiences as superior, 80% of the companies claimed to be at that level.
Experience is important, it’s hard and it needs champions.
“Actions speak louder than words” is
a truism that applies to brands as well
as people. However brilliant your brand
design, positioning and purpose, what does
it matter if your brand doesn’t behave as
promised? It has to. Because that’s what
people remember and act on (see reason
#1). Your brand is a verb, not a noun.
Hire a CXO
need a leader
/55 Reasons to Hire (Or Become) A CXO
One of the reasons you need
someone to “own” experience
is that currently, it’s likely that
everyone (and no one) does.
Think of customers calling into your call centers. To minimize
the number of unhappy incoming calls product people need to
deliver, marketing has to make achievable promises and the
billing department must provide accurate information in a user-
friendly way. To ensure that customers hang up happy, you need
your training team to teach staff to listen, your sales team to help
them convert more buyers and your marketing department to
give them tools to talk about current advertising and promotions.
Across everything, you need HR to build processes that reward
on-brand behaviors. And on top of all that, you need technology
so seamlessly integrated into the customer’s experience that
they don’t even notice it. That’s a lot to put together to create a
positive customer experience around the call center—and it’s just
one tiny piece of the customer experience.
Across all the teams that impact experience, the CXO needs to
function as the ultimate champion of collaboration to reach the
goal of a better brand experience.
Hire a CXO because
epic levels of
/65 Reasons to Hire (Or Become) A CXO
“Big data” is the buzzword du jour (case
in point: it was the subject of 112 million
blog posts in 2012 ). With good reason:
there’s immense power in marketers’
ability to gather and use information
about consumers’ purchasing and online
behaviors to design better experiences—
more relevant, more timely, more useful.
Do that, and you will see a return.
So it’s no surprise that there’s big growth in the big data sector: by
2017, CMOs are expected to spend more on IT than CIOs, and total
spend will reach $50 billion.
But data is only as big as its application. It’s of limited value if it’s not
actually applied. Information about consumers’ preferences and habits
that simply sits in spreadsheets is useless; information that just fuels
targeted ads can make the brand feel creepy and invasive. But using
that data to design better brand experiences? Brilliant.
Taking big data to this level—where it shapes experience—will require
effective collaborators and leaders (see #3 above) such as CXOs. Truly
leveraging big data in ways that drive better experiences—both by
input and by output—requires the kind of vision and purpose that an
experience champion can bring.
say big data ?
/75 Reasons to Hire (Or Become) A CXO
But short attention spans contradict the enduring commitment
needed to build a brand experience culture. And that’s where
CXOs come in.
It takes time to define how your brand should behave in the
marketplace. It takes time to audit and understand how your
brand is behaving across the touchpoints you already have.
It takes time to create experiences that connect your brand in
new ways. And it takes time to train (and retrain) your people to
deliver your brand as verb through their actions and across your
culture. All that requires an in-it-for-the-long-haul commitment to
put the brand experience in place—and then continue to measure,
improve and refresh over time.
Marketers have a reputation for falling
in love with “the next big thing”—
over and over again. No surprise
there, really, since to do our jobs well
(especially on the agency side) we
need to combine deep expertise with
passionate curiosity and an abiding
interest in being way ahead of what’s
already happening. That tends to
cultivate short attention spans.
Hire a CXO
/85 Reasons to Hire (Or Become) A CXO
Ironically, the most admired chiefs of experience never
had that title. But it’s not about the title—it’s about the
commitment to putting experience at the center. In the
category of “a rose by any other name would smell as
sweet”, these three experience champions’ impact
clearly shows what an experience leader can do for
Recall Apple’s foundational innovation in user-centered design. Remember Jobs’
near obsessive management of the details of experience—spanning product to
packaging to staff to advertising. The chief-iest Chief Experience Officer
in history, even without the title.
He turned coffee shops into a transformative third space yet has never taken
the Starbucks experience for granted—it’s in a perpetual state of tweaking,
with innovation across every touchpoint. Again, he’s the CEO, not the CXO,
but it’s clear he believes in the brand as verb.
The CXO hall of fame…
or, a rose by any other name.
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He’s called a “chief happiness officer”. But whatever his title, as CEO of
Zappos.com, he’s evangelized the importance of internal company culture
to external customer experience. It’s a simple premise but an authentically
delivered promise that truly differentiates the online retailer’s brand experience.
[Insert your name here]
It’s a big aspiration but a clear way to have a lasting impact on your
organization. Why not?
1. Admittedly, there is that lingering vogue for self-
consciously quirky c-level titles that dates back to the
first dot com go-go days (yes, we remember). In the
inimitable words of New York Times columnist Stuart
Elliott, “During the dot-com boom, titles like ‘marketing
sherpa’ were being handed out like cents-off coupons
for Swiffer at Safeway.” http://www.nytimes.
2. See our article on The Experience Journey: http://
3. Paul Hagen, “The Rise of the Chief Customer
Officer”, Harvard Business Review blog: http://blogs.
4. “Best Experience Brands: A Global Study by
Jack Morton” (2013): http://www.slideshare.net/
5. Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine, Outside In: The
Power of Putting the Customer at the Center of Your
6. Watermark Consulting Analysis of CXi and Stock
Performance, cited in Outside In.
7. Christopher Meyer and Andre Schwager,
“Understanding Customer Experience,” Harvard
Business Review (2007) http://hbr.org/2007/02/
8. IBM, “Tuning Into Big Data as the Buzz Gets
9. Laura McLellan, Gartner webinar, January 2012:
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