What a Great Chief Experience Officer Can Do For Your Business
Tell me if you’ve heard this one: Everyone in your company is responsible for the customer experience. From customer-facing roles like sales and marketing to behind-the-scenes engineers, accountants, and user experience designers, your entire organization exists to serve the customer in some way.
That’s true. But if everyone is in charge…then no one is.
Enter the Chief Experience Officer or CXO. Their role is designed to champion the customer throughout their journey with your business, from their first interaction with the company through renewal and beyond. They work cross-functionally with team members across the organization to create the best possible customer experience at every single touchpoint.
To find out more about what CXOs do, and why you should consider hiring one for your team, we turned to our very own CXO here at CEO Coaching International: Saari Gardner. Here’s what every CEO should know about how CXOs can help business growth:
Why Customer Success Matters for Business Success
Today’s buyers have more power than ever before. They expect a personalized, curated experience that makes their lives easier, whether that’s how they chat with a customer support representative or what payment methods you offer to make a purchase.
The idea of customer success or customer experience as a business discipline didn’t emerge until the mid-aughts, which saw technology companies start to break down silos between marketing, sales, and support teams to improve KPIs like net promoter score, customer satisfaction, and customer retention.
Net promoter score, or NPS, is a popular way for businesses to assess how satisfied and loyal their customers are. It starts with a survey asking customers on a scale of 1-10 whether they would recommend your business to a friend or colleague. Your percentage of “promoters” (those who rate you at 9 or 10) minus your “detractors” (those who rate you at 0-6) is your final score.
But NPS is just one metric to evaluate your customer experience. “Net promoter score is one of many loyalty and satisfaction metrics available, but it’s not actionable in and of itself, because it’s a lagging indicator,” says Saari Gardner, CXO at CEO Coaching International. “You have to think about customer success like you would a health indicator like resting heart rate or your BMI. You want to find those leading activities that build customer empathy and loyalty, and that’s what the customer experience team does.”
What Good Chief Experience Officers Do
A Chief Experience Officer gives your customers a seat at the table. “A Chief Experience Officer represents the company’s customers, and what their needs, preferences, and expectations are,” says Saari. “It’s about foundationally prioritizing the customer within your organization, raising your customer IQ and level of empathy.”
While every function does touch the customer journey in some way, creating a separate team specifically for customers prioritizes the details that may get missed in handoffs between departments. It also allows for right-sizing decisions against what’s best for the client and the business, not just what’s best for the business.
Says Saari, “You’re not just thinking about customer service, but for finance, for example, when you send an invoice, what does it look like? How does the customer receive it and is it easy to read? Does it reinforce your value? That’s the level of detail that we look at.”
According to Saari, a great CXO has three goals:
- Creating an organization-wide understanding of the customer: Customer success builds a voice of the customer program that helps with customer understanding for every decision throughout the organization.
- Removing internal friction to enable a great customer experience: The foundation of customer experience is the employee experience. The easier it is to get your job done, the easier it will be to help the customer achieve their goal.
- Close the gaps in delivering a great customer experience: Above all, a CXO wants to make the customer experience the best it can be.
CXOs regularly face headwinds changing company culture to better the customer experience. A great Chief Experience Officer is adept at cross-functional change management and has the resilience to keep pushing even after their ideas get knocked down, with data to back it up.
“The CXO is a good member of the team because they’re going to marry that customer understanding with what makes the organization run smoothly,” says Saari. “They’re concerned with what’s happening behind the scenes just as much as what the customer sees, from how a person greets the customer when they come into the store to how call center employees log into the phone system. It’s their job to improve the experience for everyone.”
Should You Hire a Chief Experience Officer?
Prioritizing the customer in your organization sounds like a great idea, but is it right for you? Says Saari, “Not every organization needs it. If you just want a customer feedback program, then you don’t need a CXO, for example. But I think the farther away the founder or CEO gets from the day-to-day of their customers, the easier it is to leave them out of key decisions that eventually impact the bottom line. I think CEOs need to ask themselves, who in the organization owns the customer?”
If you have an individual or team already responsible for the customer experience, ensure that they have enough impact and influence to make change throughout your organization—and that either their team or another team is also paying attention to the employee experience, too.
“It’s a lot harder to have traction without the same attention spent on your employees,” says Saari. “And if you’re stuck in a short-term mindset, where you’re going to prioritize revenue over everything else, then you may not be ready to focus on the full customer experience.”
Ultimately, hiring a Chief Experience Officer depends on your vision for the company as a CEO. If you want to bring the customer experience to the forefront—and improve your retention and loyalty—then it may be time to tap a CXO’s expertise. Says Saari, “This person is going to fundamentally fix the root causes of friction for the customer, not just what feels good. What you’re doing from a customer experience standpoint has to line up with your company’s brand, vision, and goals. And that’s where they’re so valuable.”
Thinking more deeply about your customer experience? Chat with one of our experts for a complimentary session >
About CEO Coaching International
CEO Coaching International works with CEOs and their leadership teams to achieve extraordinary results quarter after quarter, year after year. Known globally for its success in coaching growth-focused entrepreneurs to meaningful exits, CEO Coaching International has coached more than 1,000 CEOs and entrepreneurs in more than 60 countries and 45 industries. The coaches at CEO Coaching International are former CEOs, presidents, or executives who have made BIG happen. The firm’s coaches have led double-digit sales and profit growth in businesses ranging in size from startups to over $10 billion, and many are founders that have led their companies through successful eight, nine, and ten-figure exits. Companies working with CEO Coaching International for two years or more have experienced an average EBITDA CAGR of 53.5% during their time as a client, more than three times the U.S. average, and a revenue CAGR of 26.2%, nearly twice the U.S. average.