How is the in-store retail customer experience evolving?
American retailers appear to be facing a crisis. Brands like JC Penney, American Apparel, and Sears are all closing stores and customers there...
McKinsey published some excellent research recently that focused on the large number of companies now advertising for a Chief Customer Officer (CCO). In fact, it appears to be an executive trend; but why is it becoming essential for companies to have a CCO on the board?
I think Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, started the trend many years ago. Bezos always added an empty chair at executive meetings and told the participants that this chair was for their customers. Although it was a metaphorical device, as opposed to a real executive at the table, it no doubt shaped the way they discussed how to treat customers just by having them pretend one was in the room.
Now though, the traditional marketing and technology functions are merging in many companies. Company executives are trying to find how they can unify all customer-related activities inside their organisation. Creating a CCO to oversee these activities is a first step.
This change in the way that companies are structured is yet another effect created by the way customers behave today, and how their demands are filtering back and changing the behaviour of organisations. What we are really seeing is the changing customer journey redefining how companies communicate with and sell to their customers.
Consider the traditional customer journey: the marketing or advertising team would create awareness of products. The sales team would sell the products. The customer service team would offer any post-sale support that is needed. Now, that linear journey looks extremely dated. Customers learn about products from social networks, friends, family, and reviews, not just advertising. They want to interact with brands before, during, and after sales. Customers are now engaging all the time.
This more complex customer journey has created an environment where your customer service team, marketing team, sales team, technology team, etc., all need to be working closely together. Some companies have blended customer service and marketing, giving more power to the marketing director, but I believe the CCO approach is better. All company functions that interact in some way with customers need to be managed together.
What do you think of the CCO concept? Leave a comment below and let me know, or get in touch on LinkedIn.