The Chief Customer Officer role is a relatively recent addition to the executive suite. As more and more companies recognize the critical role their post-sale organizations play in driving revenue growth and profitability, they are investing in leaders to oversee these functions. These leaders are expected to bring a wide range of skills to their roles.
If you are currently in a CCO or similar type of leadership role, this article highlights a set of skills that CEOs may expect you to bring to the table. If you aspire to this type of role in the future, it might give you ideas about the skills to develop as you progress in your career.
Here are 8 skills that Chief Customer Officers need:
The most senior customer facing leader is responsible for bringing the voice of your customers into the work of many teams across your company. While there may be many channels for collecting feedback and the data may be overwhelming and conflicting, the Chief Customer Officer should be leading the organization to gather, prioritize and clearly communicate the customer feedback and insights to the internal stakeholders. This person also should be comfortable interacting directly with executives at your customers.
The ability to tie back investment in post-sale operational teams to revenue growth and profitability is becoming a trend. CEOs understand intellectually the need to provide strong customer experiences in order to retain and grow customers. But it can be challenging to quantitatively measure ROI for the post-sale teams and resources. Chief Customer Officers should be laser focused on tracking, measuring, and communicating how their various organizations directly contribute to these metrics that drive enterprise valuation.
The CCO commonly has responsibility across functions including Professional Services, Support, Customer Success Management, Education, Service Operations and more. This creates many chances for siloed execution, miscommunication, and ineffective handoffs. The customer facing leader need to define and execute a strategy that delivers a well-designed, consistent experience as customers move across the various touchpoints in their end-to-end journey. They also need to establish internal operating mechanisms that foster coordination and teamwork between the leaders of each of their functional teams.
Deciding how to invest resources is one of the most important roles of a senior executive. Resource allocation includes not only financial resources (people, programs, etc.), but also the investment of leadership time. Chief Customer Officers need to be proficient in understanding how these investment decisions contributes to the delivery of expected outcomes of their organization. They also need to confidently make tradeoffs among various alternatives to achieve organizational goals.
The data available now to executives and teams can be overwhelming. Customer facing leaders need to be able to successfully make sense of the data from multiple channels and leverage it to deliver insights, make decisions, and inform investment tradeoffs. Another key skills is the ability to distill this information into the insights that are important to communicate to the rest of the executive team or the company. If the CCO doesn’t have strong analytical skills, invest in an analyst or leverage a resource from the finance organization.
The CCO is expected to lead an organization that is successfully executing today, while at the same time developing the team in a way that will support future needs. Depending on the size of your company, this can be an extremely challenging tradeoff. Focus on short-term results can make it difficult to put in place mechanisms that support long term people and management development. The customer facing executive should also be considering how the organization needs to evolve based on potential customer segmentation (ie. SMB, Midsize, Enterprise), alignment by product line, or by geography.
The Chief Customer Officer must be able to communicate the strategies, results and trends of their organization to the executive team in a clear, concise and impactful manner. They should be able to distill their message in a way that gives their CEO and other peers confidence in their ability to deliver the results expected from them. They should have a strong grasp of the challenges facing their organizations and a coherent plan for overcoming them. Because the Chief Customer Officer role is such a new one, it is often held by someone reporting to a CEO for the first time. In this case, it is important that the CEO share their own expectations for how they want information to be shared at the executive or board level.
The work of a CCO can feel never ending. The product leader might oversee the launch of a new product and the sales leader might achieve their yearly sales goal, but for a customer-facing executive, delivering on the changing needs of your customers is an ongoing body of work. These leaders oversee organizations that are constantly improving processes, building new playbooks, onboarding team members, and assessing the impact of new trends.
HelloCCO partners with CEOs, executive teams and Customer Success leaders to accelerate revenue growth, increase retention rates, expand product adoption, and delight customers. They bring decades of experience at leading customer-focused companies including Marketo, RingCentral and Intuit. Setup a 30 minute free action-oriented consultation today.