COMMENTARY

2022: The death of the CXO

Sept. 20, 2017

Photo: iStock.com

By Glenn Shoosmith, CEO, BookingBug

The world is rife with examples of poor customer service, and it seems to be getting worse. Some retailers couldn't get customer experience more wrong if they were taking part in some kind of anti-service contest.

This isn't just a problem for retailers though; companies of all shapes and sizes still struggle. In fact airlines seem particularly bad at it. Take Air Canada for example, which bumped an unaccompanied child from a flight and then left him to sleep alone on an airport floor overnight.

How did we get here? It's a problem of scale and vision. Companies are dealing with far more customers today than they ever did before, and haven't adapted to cope.

Having a customer czar to come forth and take responsibility for the mess we've created sounded like an excellent fix for a while, with Forrester predicting it would become commonplace across businesses in no time.

It was only after we spoke to their lead analyst that he told us something drastically different, predicting the role of the CXO could almost disappear entirely in just five years.

Why the change in rhetoric?

Many CXOs have had a purely decorative role in the past couple of months because companies made the mistake of appointing a figurehead with no real power, simply to tick a box and keep shareholders happy. There was no ‘CX Strategy' alongside this new agent for change and nobody to push the necessary initiatives through either.

Couple this with some other rife causes that I'll outline next and you get quite a generous picture of CXO's dwindling popularity and why it's only set to decrease while, ironically, customer experience becomes more and more important to businesses across the US.

Reason #1: A one-man band

Putting a single person in charge of the customer experience may sound easy, but that alone won't solve the problem.

The truth is, good CX is rooted in every single department of a company — everyone must fight under the same flag when it comes to improving the client's expectations.

Customer service agents lead the fight here, of course, but the initiative also involves marketing, sales and support departments. They each get to see a part of the customer's journey through the company, and understand the buyer's concerns, aspirations and needs. They can feed this data back to product design, which can then tailor its product to meet the customer's needs.

If any one of these teams fails in its commitment to the customer, it ripples through the entire organization and eventually degrades the customer experience. The CXO's power is ultimately muted — they can advise, but not dictate, regardless of their stellar interpersonal skills.

Reason #2: A new way of thinking

Creating a customer-centric culture within a company involves changing it from the inside out, and means transforming various disciplines in the organization that may be used to doing things a certain way.

The problem today is that most companies haven't typically gathered customer analytics data from across the business. The Dimension Data survey found that less than half (48 percent) of companies had customer analytics solutions in place.

This lack of visibility doesn't always stem disinterest. Companies are comprised of different technology systems, bought from outside and developed internally over time. They're often disconnected and unable to exchange data. They are data silos that must be integrated.

Once retailers have a 360-degree view of their customers, they then need to unify their communications. Customers are increasingly expecting to talk to companies across different channels, depending on their demographic.

Companies need to find the underlying cause of their poor CX and then work their way up- treating only the symptoms is counterproductive and wasteful.

Reason #3: A new balance of power

Hiring a new person to deal with issues that are deeply ingrained in your company's management layers will challenge and threaten the roles of those who created those layers, namely the CEO or the COO. As Sam Stern, principal analyst at Forrester shared:

"Both the CEO and the COO of the company are now putting more focus on CX than ever. People are finally realizing that any serious matters or implementations related to CX have to come from the top of the organization in order to be properly enforced."

If you want your company to achieve that state-of-the-art customer experience which gives you the competitive advantage you need, it only makes sense to call out your senior managers, the people who are most knowledgeable of each of the departments' internal structure. They've seen the business at its best and guided it through its worst — no CXO can balance that.

It might take a while, yes, but it's a small price to pay to get where you need, and to keep the customers happy in the meantime.

See you in 2022.


Topics: Consumer Behavior, CRM, Customer Experience, Customer Service, Marketing


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