Outlook for the CXO Role

by Beverly Harvey

What You Need to Know Right Now to Level Up as a Chief Experience Officer

Customer experienceThe executive who oversees an organization’s customer experience may have one of many titles – Chief Client (or Customer) Officer, Executive Vice President of Customer Experience, Customer Experience Manager, Chief Marketing Officer, and more whimsical titles, such as Director of First Impressions, Creator of Opportunities, Chief Amazement Officer, and Happiness Advocate. This article refers to Chief Experience Officer, the common acronym for which is CXO. The role seems especially prevalent in the healthcare industry, in which it deals with the patient experience.

A Chief Experience Officer ensures a consistent and seamless end-to-end customer experience. The CXO identifies discrepancies between customer expectations and the actual experience, striving to eliminate those discrepancies.

A research study from the Experience Innovation Network, a part of Vocera, revealed that CXOs prioritize …

  • Experience improvement
  • Experience strategy
  • Compliments and complaints
  • Experience analysis
  • Friends, family, and VIPs
  • Quality/performance improvement

Perhaps surprisingly, many CXOs also scrutinize and cultivate the internal customer – the employee – based on the concept of what executive Frédéric Durand calls the “reciprocal relationship between the employee journey and the experience delivered to the customer.” Engaged employees are seen as key to providing optimal customer experiences.

Key Competencies for the CXO Role

The CXO is charged with delivering exceptional experiences that generate positive emotions and convenience for the customer.

In your career-marketing communications, showcase the competencies on this list you possess:

  • Obsessive customer-centrism and knowledge aimed at boosting customer loyalty, retention, and satisfaction.
  • Collaboration skills cultivated within a relationship-based culture.
  • Openness to customer feedback.
  • Customer advocacy.
  • The will to promote customer-centric culture internally.
  • Measurement and analytics skills for the components and outcomes of customer experience.
  • Creativity to introduce experience-improvement initiatives.
  • Strategy, leadership, and governance skills.

Level-Up Tips

A significant component of the CXO’s role is transformation to an experience-based customer-centric culture that goes well beyond customer service. Showing that you understand the need for this transformation and can successfully lead change will go a long way toward boosting your CXO journey.

Here are a few suggestions for those seeking to break into the CXO role, expand their horizons in an existing CXO role, or even rise beyond the CXO role:

  • Know that the deliverable should be more than just good customer service. In “The Roles of the Chief Experience Officer” in the American Management Association’s journal, AMA Quarterly, Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore note that experiences must be memorable. “CXOs must work to turn mundane interactions into engaging encounters so that customers cannot help but remember them—and tell others about the experiences they had,” the authors assert.
  • Deliver personalized customer experience. Pine and Gilmore suggest that “if you do not reach inside of people and engage their hearts and/or minds, then you have not offered a distinctive experience.”
  • Be an astute listener. Julie Larson, who left Microsoft in 2018 after a quarter of a century to become CXO at Qualtrics, has spent her career listening to customers. “The job,” Larson says, “starts with listening deeply to customers, employees, product users and the market’s response to the brand. All good leaders listen in their functional areas — some facing internally and some facing externally to stakeholders like Wall Street analysts. But in the C-suite, the role of the CXO is to listen to a variety of stakeholders, articulate their insights, and drive change at the highest level by asking the simple question: ‘What are we going to do about what we’ve heard?’”
  • Understand the five roles CXOs need to succeed: These roles, developed by Pine and Gilmore, include Catalyst, Designer, Orchestrator, Champion, and Guide. The Catalyst sparks energy, excitement, and action company-wide. The Designer forms the raw material of company capabilities into experience offerings. The Orchestrator aligns operational elements into a holistic theme that delights customers. The Champion advocates for the needs, wants, and desires of customers and ensures the company’s offerings create value on behalf of each customer. The Guide drives the organization’s transformation into a premier customer-experience organization.

CXO Trends to Watch

  • Robotic process automation opens up more time for the human touch. As Blake Morgan notes in Forbes, “when machines control the mundane tasks, humans have more time to dedicate to the uniquely human tasks, like strategy, creativity, innovation, problem solving, connecting with customers and developing a strong customer experience.”
  • The customer-experience role transcends the CXO: During a visit to Amazon, Morgan noticed “the entire company has a customer-experience mindset.” At customer-centric companies, all employees are tapped into how their work impacts customers. They are also empowered to help resolve customer issues.
  • Voice of the Customer takes center stage: “Voice of the Customer (VoC),” defined as your customer’s feedback about their experiences with and expectations for your products or services, focuses on customer needs, expectations, understandings, and product improvement. Writing in CSM: The Magazine for Customer Service Managers & Professionals, Stuart Dorman reveals that organizations are “leveraging their Voice of the Customer data to actually shape customer journeys and design experiences rather than just react to issues as they surface.”

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