A Chief Customer Officer

I just got an announcement from a company that has just added the position of Chief Customer Officer to their executive team.   That is, in my opinion, an unfortunate decision.  Don't get me wrong:  I think customers are very important.  But thinking that the way to give customers more attention is by adding a CCO to the executive team, displays a poor understanding of how one manages a modern organization.  It reflects a functional or departmental, or soloed way of thinking.

Who do you imagine reporting to the CCO?  What exactly do they imagine the CCO doing?  At best, one imagines the CCO conducting survey's of customer satisfaction, and then making pleas at executive meetings for a more customer focused way of thinking about problems.  It is, in other words, a way to increase the number of CxOs without any real responsibilities — to increase the number of cooks in the kitchen shouting advice to the head chief — and to increase the confusion as to how to solve problems.

The way to get better customer service is to create Value Chain Managers.  Assuming that the organization is of modest size, and really only has one value chain — that involves making and selling Widgets — then one creates someone who is responsible for managing the Widget creating and selling process from beginning to end.  And the end of such a process is satisfied customers.  And stepping back from that is a study of the customer buying process, and an effort to make that process as easy on the customer as possible.  And stepping back from a great customer buying process is a business process interface that supports the great customer buying process, etc.   If one person is responsible for assuring that the whole value chain is run as smoothly as possible, then assigning someone to just be responsible for the Customer is redundant.  Or at best, its a specialized role that reports the head of the Value Chain, and doesn't raise to the CxO level.

Most organizations are already too specialized, and adding one more position to focus on one more isolated thing isn't helpful.  Companies need people who can see things as a whole and work to assure that all the parts work together for an optimum outcome.


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