Why You Need a Customer Experience Officer

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Greg Verdino turned me on to a fantastic article about the rise of the Customer Experience Officer. The article rightly discusses the real trend of branding today — the comprehensive user experience.

By focusing on the comprehensive user experience, research shows brands strengthen return on investment (ROI).

The below chart shows the ROI impact for companies that focus on their total customer experience. Another recent study from RightNow shows that 86% of consumers would pay more for a better customer experience, and 89% of consumers began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience (hat tip: Social Enterprise Today).

CustomerExperience WatermarkConsulting
Source: Watermark Consulting

This data offers some justification to rethink corporate approaches toward customer interaction. Corporations and larger nonprofits need to consider the comprehensive experience, from start to finish.

I’m not a big advocate of yet another Chief title in the enterprise. Having a quality control method to view the entire experience does make sense to me. Companies should have experience cops who look for weaknesses in the modern brand experience so brands can better meet customers’ multichannel brand experience.

The Modern Brand Experience

Ducati maintains one of today’s best comprehensive brand experiences (Image by Factor-Art)

In today’s networked economy, brands build themselves through more than logos and value propositions.

While visuals and words matter, in reality, customer experiences range through a complex series of touches. It begins with an initial marketing touch or word of mouth referral. Then it extends to product packaging and the customer’s immediate purchase and after purchase experience. Finally, a complete experience concludes with post purchase customer service and follow up communications from a brand.

Some of these touches are brand created, some customer initiated, and others are generated by third-parties.

To be fair, many traditional different roles in the marketing department touch this user experience:

  • The product marketer engineers the customer experience from design to packaging to front-line marketing initiatives.
  • The classic PR professional serves as an ombudsman between brand and customers.
  • Customer service has an obvious and critical role after the sale.
  • And today’s community manager uses social technologies to directly interface with customers.

In most companies, these various customer touch points remain siloed.

In fact, silos exist within silos. This “meta siloization” prompted Gini Dietrich and me to write Marketing in the Round in hopes of fostering better functional integration across the marketing department.

The customer experience touches many parts of the enterprise. It defies siloization and even conventional approaches to breaking down silos. This presents challenges for executives who want to assign a task to a department.

Who Owns the Experience Cop?

Steve Jobs Eulogized on the Apple Website

The customer experience cop likely belongs within the CMO’s day-to-day management, but it’s not that easy. It’s something the lead executive needs to consider, too.

Steve Jobs has become a mercurial icon after death, criticized for his lack of heart and character.
Regardless of the person, Jobs was a fantastic CEO and part of his ability to succeed included delivering an outstanding, comprehensive user experience for Apple customers.

Apple delivers. From word of mouth rumor and product announcement to packaging and initial product use to post customer service and follow-up communications. Though some people love the Genius Bar, the post experience may be the one weak area depending on who you talk to and customer service ratings.

It’s no coincidence that Jobs spent time taking customer service calls, listening to complaints and issues. I’m sure these calls gave him direct insight into how customers experienced the Apple brand after the sale.

Really the entire company needs to be concerned with the customer experience. Without sales, repeat customers, the company does not exist.

Every person could and may touch customers in their daily lives.

Wherever the customer experience cop lives within the organization they are a trusted servant informing the entire company about how to improve and better itself.

To me, every executive in the company needs to support this person and whoever they report to. Silos, cultural focus and processes need to be examined deeply to ensure this experience cop gets the right attention.

Today’s companies can learn from Jobs and focus on what matters most: The customer experience and its cascading effect on financial performance and brand reputation.

How much focus do you think executives should place on the total customer experience?


  • I think the answer to your question is ” as much time as possible.” There are challenges, though. For smaller, growing companies, there are so many distractions, yet realizing a great total customer experience can aid and even accelerate growth. It takes discipline that most people just don’t have to maintain that focus in the face of so many distractions like finding new office space, raising capital, hiring good people, and actually getting the product out the door.

    •  I’m not sure I agree with that.  Great small companies also do one thing well.  That’s how they become big.  It’s the CEO’s job to make sure singular vision is maintained.

  • Amen. Experience matters, and it cannot be isolated or considered just reactive service. It needs to be proactively considered. Well said, Geoff.

  • Geoff: while I agree with you in concept, the term ‘cop’ is bothering me. “Cops” (with all the philosophy on ‘community policing’ aside) are really there to enforce laws that already exist, rather than point out where things could be better, changed, improved for the good of the public (in this case, customer). Rather, I look at the ‘CXO’ role more as a coach, cheerleader (maybe not ‘serious sounding’ enough?) – or even ombudsman (too snooty?) – helping to guide and encourage and advocate for better customer experiences, possibly creating new policies  with influence throughout every layer and division of the company. (All that said, maybe I’m just picking at the semantics …)  All in all, you make great points: since when any company forgets that their customers are their most valued asset, they’re veering dangerously off course.  

    • Part of this person’s job is to encourage discipline, and keep the company from losing focus. I am definitely open to other descriptors for that job.

    •  Hey Kellee:

      I changed the title to officer based on your feedback and the original post making the case for the CXO title.  Thank you for making me think about this!


  • Geoff: excellent post, I wholeheartedly agree the entire company needs to be concerned with customer experience.

    Relationships are the new currency in this (what I fondly call) “Customer Era”. True customer experience/success should be an organizational change, a new way of running a business. I recently read a Forrester report (http://ow.ly/bK2Sr and commented) that more than 90% of organizations are making Customer Experience/Customer Success a strategic priority.

    Siloing may be an obstacle but I hope to see a fully-integrated approach in more companies to come!

    Guy Nirpaz
    CEO and Founder of Totango

  • Business should not be build purely for profit. It should center on customer care. Good emphasis, Geoff! A company will never exist without the customers. Always value customer complaints and comments because it will surely help the company progress. The customer is always right because they are the one who are expert at product and brand diversity. 

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