What is a Chief Experience Officer?

In 2019, Mastercard added the Chief Experience Officer post to its C-suite. And here’s what Donald Chestnut, who filled this important role, had to say: 

“In my years in the agency industry, I’ve always believed that the experience is the brand—that brands are defined by the customer experiences they deliver.” 

Chestnut makes a crucial point. With the rise in digital interactions – on websites, social media, live chats, phone calls, and mobile – customers expect brands to create positive, personalized experiences.

Naturally, the challenge is a huge one and requires precise coordination between various business units. 

Enter the Chief Experience Officer (CXO), who is responsible for creating a seamless omnichannel experience. But that’s not all they do.

So, What’s the Role of a Chief Experience Officer?  

As is clear from the definition above, a CXO’s primary area of focus is customer experiences (CX), because unlike products and services that are tangible, experiences tend to be the real game-changer. They directly impact brand perception, which then massively affects revenue. 

But if you think you’re already doing a great job in terms of customer service, then here’s something you’re missing. CX and customer service are different

Customer experience is the sum total of a customer’s interaction with your brand across various channels. Whereas customer service is limited to assisting customers on using the product and ensuring they have a good buying experience. 

With this confusion out of the way, let’s discuss how a CXO achieves the lofty and complex goal of designing coherent CX. For starters, they have to don multiple hats. 

According to a framework published in the American Management Association’s journal, AMA Quarterly, a CXO plays the role of a catalyst, designer, orchestrator, and champion.

Four-fold role of a chief experience officer

CXO as a Catalyst: They have to spark creativity, excitement and energy among employees, and for a good reason. A study by Gallup found that employee engagement/experience influences customer experience. That’s because unengaged employees fall short of creating and sustaining great CX. So, what a CX does is champion employees’ perspectives

Employee engagement affects customer experience and business outcomes

In fact, according to research from MIT, companies with great employee experiences (i.e. low complexity, strong behavioral norms for collaboration, creativity, and empowerment), were more innovative and profitable and had higher levels of customer satisfaction. 

Simply put, a CXO makes companies prioritize employee experience (EX), as this goes a long way in creating an equally excellent customer experience. 

CXO as a Designer: The role of a designer is to be objective and consider themselves in the shoes of the customer in order to design incomparable experiences. And this is exactly where they work with everyone involved, especially the UX team. 

According to UX magazine, a CXO backs up and advocates for the UX team. And for that they must: 

  • Understand the users, business and technology.
  • Figure out how the product should grow to support the intended experiences.
  • Maintain an evolving plan of action to support and produce this output. 

CXO as an Orchestrator: Just like the conductor of an orchestra directs the performance of many musicians to create an incredibly impressive and cohesive piece of art, a CXO ensures everyone’s working together to achieve the same goal of staging perfect, coherent customer experiences. 

This orchestrating is an ongoing task for any CXO, as employees can easily sense whether CX is their company’s priority or not. If not, then delivering a memorable CX takes a backseat. Unfortunately, customers are quick to pick up on these cues and decide to move away towards other brands. And this is exactly where and why things can go downhill for companies. 

CXO as a Champion: A CXO knows that customers make or break brands, which is why they make sure every person in the company commits to this new perception: becoming more customer-centric. Once this is taken care of, customers/buyers/users will believe that they are indeed spending their hard-earned money and time with the right business.

However, at the same time, the CX has to think from the business point of view. They must balance the experience value required by customers with the economic value required by the business.

Why is a Chief Experience Officer Essential for Your Business?

Companies, whether they like it or not, tend to work in silos. Departments are often disconnected and doing their own work, unconcerned about how important it is to stay on the same page. 

But this silo mentality doesn’t come to life on its own. The conflicting leadership team is to blame. They battle it out at every chance they get and foster resentment against other department members. As a result, shared priorities take a backseat and creates blind spots. There’s limited collaboration and innovation, and business success takes a hit. 

Your company needs a Chief Experience Officer to break through the silo mentality. After all, marketing is more than running campaigns, selling your product, or achieving revenue goals. It’s also about, as you would have guessed by now, creating a unified vision, collaborating, sharing knowledge, and promoting a culture of thinking from customers’ points of view. 

And one person who knows which levers to pull and by how much is a CXO. Sitting right at the top they can, with the help of other C-suite executives, set the tone of a positive work environment

When hiring a CXO, look for the following skills:

Excellent Communication Skills:

A CXO must have exceptional communication skills, since the role requires them to make sure everyone’s au courant and on the same page. They should also be willing to help everyone understand the cross-functional role teams play in making any business a success. 

Data Analyzer:

Whether its analysis of user data or the competition’s strengths and weaknesses, CXOs should be able to spot trends and use that intelligence to create actionable strategies. 

Adapting and Optimizing:

Customer expectations change, which is why it’s important that a CXO is quick to spot them. And then, convince the C-suite and internal stakeholders to adapt and optimize experiences. In short, the CXO must know everything that needs getting done to keep the internal as well as external stakeholders happy.  

Conclusion

While the job title of a CXO might seem new, the responsibilities they manage aren’t. So make sure you have a CXO by your side. They are extremely important in helping you consistently accomplish the goal of keeping employees and customers happy.

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