Forrester's CX Forum - CCO's and Things that Make You Go "HMM"

Forrester Research's recent Customer Experience Forum in NYC just ended..  I wasn't able to attend due to a recent deluge of travel and client obligations, so I was keenly interested in hearing the outputs of the forum, so I've been reviewing some notes and key takeaways from the Twitter hashtag #cxp11.

You might find the notes from Harley Manning's session on "The Rise Of The Chief Customer Officer" somewhat interesting.  Harley is the Vice President and Research Director at Forrester.  Here are the raw notes from the Forrester website:
  • On average, chief customer officers (CCOs) have been in their jobs for two years or less time.
  • Very few have backgrounds in customer experience. Instead, they have backgrounds as general managers, marketers, and sales leaders.
  • CCOs are heavily concentrated in the business services, IT, and financial services industries, although you can find them in many other industries, as well.
  • The majority of them sit on the executive management team at their firms, and they are highly likely to report to the chief executive officer (CEO) or the head of a line of business.
  • They spend their time evangelizing customer experience, creating a shared understanding of customers, defining customer metrics, breaking down organizational barriers, building a customer-centric culture, and demonstrating a long term financial impact.
My first reaction?   HM!  I can't help but wonder how someone with no background in CX can tangibly, meaningfully and action-ably evangelize CX beyond the use of hype and buzzwords..... much less build a CX focused culture inside an organization. 

My next reaction?  Questioning.  Why didn't this presentation cover the hiring criteria the companies had for these positions? Boy, that would have been insightful!  I'd like to know how these companies define the criteria that qualify a candidate as a potentially strong CCO -- quantitatively and qualitatively!

My next reaction?  Perplexed.  Why aren't companies aren't appointing more CCO's who have a background managing the SERVICE END of customer management.  We can argue that sales is a front-line arena -- but there's no mention of CCO's coming out of SERVICE-CENTERED arms of business.   Wouldn't that be a natural approach, if service is truly critical to creating great experience.

My final thought?  Challenging.   Why we aren't appointing CCO's to positions who have an understanding of Customer Experience management --- or in this technical age, at least experience with Information and Interaction Design or even Human Factors?  Are they that hard to find?  Is this a failure in leadership's understanding of the critical nature of such skills?  Is it an inability to FIND people with these skills PLUS a mature understanding of business and industry? 

Filing this under "Things that make you go 'hmmm'." 

You can find Forrester's Key Takeaways here.


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I’m Leigh Durst, a 20 year veteran in business, operations, customer strategy, ecommerce, digital & social media and marketing. Simply put, I’m a strategist that helps companies (start-up to blue chip) achieve business shift, create more compelling online and offline experiences. I also write, speak and teach about experience design and next-generation business. I’m a futurist, visionary, strategist, doer and connector with a passion for people and helping others. When I’m not on the road, you’ll find me in the San Francisco bay area, working, beaching it and hanging out with my family and dog.


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