Commentary

Why CCOs Should Hold Keys To Customer Data

As companies make the push toward becoming more customer-centric, the role of the Chief Customer Officer (CCO) has gone from a rare sighting in the C-Suite to a common presence. With the development of the role, companies are weighing if it’s an opportunity to shift the traditional structure of their organizations to reinforce accountability to customer advocacy organization-wide.

While a reorganization may be helpful, they aren’t always necessary to ensure the customer is at the center of business decisions. Instead, companies should leave departments as is and offer the CCO and its customer experience organization full access to, and control of, customer-related data.

To understand why this is necessary, it’s first important to understand how the role of the CCO and its team gained traction in modern companies. When the customer support role was first developed, it was a siloed unit focused on engaging a company’s customer base to provide support for them. No other departments were expected to use the information garnered, nor were they encouraged to focus efforts on those customers’ wants / needs. From their perspective, that was the job of customer support.

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As the industry (and world) evolved and customers became more powerful, there was an epiphany that customer support had to permeate throughout the entire organization to increase customer loyalty retention, and profitability. With that realization, the customer experience became the primary focus of many organizations, and maintaining a customer-first mentality became table stakes. Thanks to this, customer experience teams and CCOs emerged to spearhead the customer-centric organization.

Now that we understand the relevance of the CCO and its organization, it’s easier to understand why granting them full access to customer data is so necessary. No matter your industry, what makes the customer experience so unique and challenging is that it’s made up of countless pieces of data: personal information, product usage, purchase frequency, etc. To effectively deliver a frictionless and enjoyable experience to every customer,  CCOs need continual access to any and all data that can help them create that for the customer.

In a truly customer-centric organization, the CCO will have the authority over all other departments to veto decisions if the customer base isn’t the first priority. Understanding the overall journey, as well as individual touchpoints and feedback, are what provide a holistic picture of the customer, and making that data available to the CCO ensures that all departments have access to meaningful feedback and profiles when needed.

For example, a CTO looking to implement new features and integrations into its company’s product could approach a CCO for insight into what customers want, need, and will benefit from. With access to companywide data, the CCO can tap information from multiple departments and triangulate it to share an informed — and accurate — recommendation.

Shifting and reorganizing departments to improve customer advocacy will be meaningless if information remains siloed  away from those who can make the most sense of it. Making data accessible to the people whose main responsibility it is to understand the customer is how companies can truly call themselves customer-centric.

2 comments about "Why CCOs Should Hold Keys To Customer Data".
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  1. Ron Kurtz from American Affluence Research Center, December 14, 2018 at 2:39 p.m.

    CCO's and the more cutomer centric organization? Are you serious? Everyone in an organization should be customer focused and the one leading this should be the CMO. Marketing is an activity that must start with an understanding of who the customer is and what they want. Every marketing course in college has started and ended with this premise. 

  2. Alan Dongle, December 14, 2018 at 8:25 p.m.

    That sounds like a marketing gimmick. And what would a CCO do with customer data? Does the CCO use machine learning or even simple analysis to find out what customers really want? Why they churn? How many people report to a CCO? How does CCO justify what revenues he/she bring in?Why should the CTO himself not have access to the same data and make technical decisions based on customer choices. I would imagine a large company with thousands of people with resources to spare opting for a CCO, not a mid tier company constrained of resources. I agree with the previous poster, a marketing team is a right fit for this.

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