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3 Professional Habits of a Successful Chief Customer Officer

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A “relatively new addition in the CxO hallway,” according to Wikipedia, the title “chief customer officer” (CCO) is gaining in popularity, according to Shep Hyken. Hyken is one of our “must-follows” on Twitter for customer service thought leadership.

Source: “Shep Hyken’s Customer Service Blog


What is a CCO?

Customer-centric companies hire or promote a CCO to help ensure that everything the company does is focused on the customer. From the front lines to behind the scenes, the CCO is responsible for creating and helping to implement a single vision for the organization’s relationship with its customers across all methods of customer contact, from customer service to customer experience (CX) and more.

Two main factors make a CCO’s job difficult:

  1. The role itself is new, meaning organizations are still nailing down expectations and authority. For example, in many organizations it’s unclear who in which departments will report to the CCO.
  2. It’s impossible to make meaningful headway in improving customer experience without intense cooperation and collaboration with at least a few other departments, especially sales, marketing, and customer service.

So what do successful CCOs do that others don’t? A successful chief customer officer keeps the following habits:

1. They focus on revenue

As CCO, making people “feel” better about your company’s brand is your first priority, but you must still narrow down which feelings about which aspects of your brand to focus on first. The best way to do that is to connect those feelings with revenue.

It’s a good idea to be continually deciding how you want to connect customer sentiment to business revenue so that upper management doesn’t feel like they need to make those decisions for you.

Not to mention, when you start to measure which changes have the biggest impact on money in versus money out, you’ll start getting a better idea about where to invest your time and money on the CX side.

To quantitatively measure the ROI of CX initiatives, first decide what you’re going to measure on the business side.

Which key performance indicators (KPIs) are impacted first and most when your customers feel better about your brand?

Loyalty could be one example. For instance, Heineken looked at its customer analytics and discovered that customers were four times less likely to switch to another brand if the service they received was good versus poor, according to Gartner’s “Supply Chain Brief: Heineken’s Journey to Improved Customer Service and Collaboration” (full content available to clients).

Some options for KPIs to monitor include:

  • Purchase amount
  • Purchase frequency
  • Number of calls to customer support
  • Loyalty
  • Product returns
  • Number of customer support tickets
  • Number of negative reviews or social media complaints

The KPIs you choose will have a lot to do with your industry, business model, and current challenges.

2. They remember to ABM: ‘Always be measuring’

After you decide which business KPIs you want to connect to your CX initiatives, you need to start measuring how your customers feel about your brand, right away.

Measuring customer sentiment immediately is crucial for a couple of reasons:

Establishing a baseline. To be able to show the ROI for your efforts, you must establish a baseline. Changing your policies, launching new products, implementing new accounting programs, etc. and then measuring how customers feel about your brand tells you how far you have to go, but it doesn’t tell you how well those improvements worked. In order to know how much your improvements are helping the brand, you’ve got to know how it was doing before you made changes.

Getting buy-in from other departments. Gathering data about customers can help you make inroads with other departments, including—and especially—marketing. Paul Farris and co-authors of “Marketing Metrics: The Definitive Guide to Measuring Marketing Performance” surveyed nearly 200 senior marketing managers and 71% say they find customer satisfaction metrics very useful.

So how do you find out how customers feel about your business?


First, you can run surveys, using survey software. Generic survey software, however, isn’t specifically made to measure customer satisfaction. It doesn’t offer the right question suggestions or advanced long-term reporting to run surveys such as Customer Effort Score (CES), Net Promoter Score (NPS), and Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) surveys.

(Learn more at “What Are CES, NPS, and CSAT? Understanding When to Use Which.”)

For those types of surveys, you need to use customer satisfaction survey software. Or, if you have surveying functionality built into your help desk software or customer service software, you can use that.

Listen to customers

There are several ways to do this. Try setting up feedback sessions with customers to better understand their expectations of and experiences with your brand.

You can also listen to your customers by learning what they’re saying about you online. Womply is reputation management software. It crawls the web looking for mentions of your brand on social media and reviews sites and lets you know automatically when a new comment or review appears.

Another example is Yotpo, which collects online reviews, notifying you when someone reviews your business on Yelp, Facebook, or other sites. It displays the reviews on a dashboard, so you can monitor and respond when appropriate.

Dashboard in Yotpo (Source:

Alternatively, you can set up Google Alerts or a similar tool to let you know when you’re mentioned on the web.

Lastly, you can create an online community for your customers where they can engage with each other about your brand and related issues using online community software such as Insightrix Communities.

3. They keep customer data connected

Just like not all feelings are created equal, not all customers are created equal, either. One key to getting the most bang for your CX buck is knowing which customers to spend your money on. Which means, of course, getting to know your customers.

Understanding your customers is the key to loyalty, and the key to gaining that understanding is data. Having a complete picture of each customer in one place makes this easier for everyone.

Any person who has ever made a purchase, opted in to receive emails, or created an account online should have a customer profile.

Each customer profile should include:

  • Contact information
  • Demographic information
  • Purchase history
  • Support contact history
  • Notes

Your CRM, POS software, eCommerce platform, web analytics, and email marketing software—in other words, all sources of customer data—should integrate with minimal manual effort. When that happens, information flows into and updates automatically in real time.

Once everything is connected, you can start segmenting your customers by attributes such as:

  • Most likely to become loyal
  • Most likely to churn
  • Most likely to become more profitable over time

Then, you can begin to experiment with targeting different segments with specific CX initiatives.

Just as with measuring customer sentiment, consolidating customer data will also help you make inroad with sales, marketing, and customer service to gain buy-in company-wide.

Having everything in one place means customer service agents, salespeople, and marketers know where to go to get important background information on customers and prospects, which helps them personalize every interaction. In addition, they’ll no longer have to waste time looking for data or asking customers for information your brand already has on hand.

Summary and key takeaways

Nailing down expectations and authority and gaining the trust and cooperation of other departments is no easy task. Especially for someone in a new role that’s not yet well-understood.

Hyken writes that a key challenge for the CCO is eliminating silos “with the goal of creating a unified company that is focused on the customer.”

One way to do that is to ask key stakeholders in your organization what they think will improve first and most with a better CX.

Luckily, these three habits will help you with both of those challenges, as well as your main challenge of making sure everything your company does remains focused on the customer.

If you haven’t already, check out our piece on how to quantitatively measure the ROI of CX initiatives and also “What Are CES, NPS, and CSAT? Understanding When to Use Which.”

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About the Author

Cathy Reisenwitz

Cathy Reisenwitz helps B2B software companies with their sales and marketing at Capterra. Her writing has appeared in The Week, Forbes, the Chicago Tribune, The Daily Beast, VICE Motherboard, Reason magazine, Talking Points Memo and other publications. She has been quoted by the New York Times Magazine and has been a columnist at Bitcoin Magazine. Her media appearances include Fox News and Al Jazeera America. If you're a B2B software company looking for more exposure, email Cathy at . To read more of her thoughts, follow her on Twitter.


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