Many companies are shifting from a focus on pure “marketing” to a focus on “experience,” a more overarching term that encompasses the perceptions, communications, and interactions of a company with its customers (and, often, its employees). The Chief Experience Officer is a crucial part of this structure. Could a CXO career be right for you? Here’s what you need to know.
What Does a CXO Do?
It’s right there in the name: a Chief Experience Officer is the C-suite executive whose job it is to ensure a positive customer experience and connect customer experience with the business’s needs as a whole. Their primary objectives are to understand business strategy, seamlessly meld customer experience strategy with the business’s overall needs, continually communicate with customers, oversee how customers will interact with the company, and work to find ways to consistently build and improve to create the most positive and valuable experience.
A Chief Experience Officer will be responsible for the team that most directly hears from customers, meaning that the CXO is the one who ensures that the company is appropriately hearing, prioritizing, incorporating, and responding to feedback, both positive and negative. This may entail any number of techniques and strategies, and CXOs should be keeping up to date with the best practices in their industries to ensure that feedback data is being appropriately monitored and analyzed to extract useful, actionable information.
It’s also important to note that, in some companies, a CXO will also oversee employee experience as well as customer experience. Both focus on perception and feeling, requiring a CXO to have a solid grasp on how to measure these, interpret that data, and put it into action. A CXO should understand the significant link between employee and customer experiences and be able to balance and connect the two in a broader strategy. All of this, of course, then must also be in sync with an understanding of the overall business strategy, in order to successfully transform to a more customer-centric operation.
What Skills Should a CXO Have?
Like other C-suite executives, a Chief Experience Officer needs to have the skills and experience to bring together a large amount of input, synthesize it, and create a strategy for how to move forward and make improvements. In the case of a CXO, they should bring an understanding of customer data, excellent communication and problem-solving skills, and experience with moving from small details up through large-scale planning. A CXO is likely to have overlapping skills in marketing, branding, and management, along with a background in customer and/or user experience.
Business acumen is crucial in all of this; in fact, it is one of the most important (and yet, least-discussed) skills that a CXO candidate requires. A successful CXO must draw on knowledge about the marketplace, big-picture thinking, and financial decision-making, among other skills, in order to develop a customer experience plan that aligns with the business needs. Without these skills, a CXO may find themselves adrift, with a disconnect between their ideal plans and what the business actually needs, leading to frustrations all around. In order to produce excellent results, a CXO should be able to synthesize their skills and observations to create and implement a CX strategy that aligns with the business strategy.
Why Hire a CXO?
In many ways, a focus on customer experience has taken over for more traditional marketing. A Chief Experience Officer can be that person to bring together new and old ideas and customer and employee experiences into a single, overarching vision, rather than assigning all of these tasks to different people and different divisions. Creating an overall experience is crucial for a company’s success, and placing a CXO in charge of mapping out and implementing it allows for big-picture thinking where all the pieces work together in harmony.
A CXO can and should align the values of the company across the board, including both customer and employee experience, to ensure a smooth process that produces great results and satisfied people within the company and among the customer base, while always keeping in sync with the bigger-picture strategy. Without a CXO heading up these efforts, they may get tangled up in bureaucracy or conflicting ideas; with a CXO, all of these efforts are entwined in a single strategy to build connections and engagement, improve understanding, and create an overall positive experience and reputation.
Is CXO a Career Path for You?
Chief Experience Officers are relatively new, so you may not have as much of a knowledge base to use to decide if this is a job you would want to pursue. Instead, try considering some of the following questions:
• Are you a big-picture thinker?
• Do you find yourself looking for ways to improve everywhere?
• Are you passionate about championing a brand on all levels?
• Do you care deeply about creating positive interactions with your company?
• Do you excel at synthesizing a range of information into a single, cohesive strategy?
• Are you a top-notch communicator and leader?
• Are you willing to listen to feedback and learn from others?
If these descriptions sound like you, then a career as a Chief Experience Officer may be right for you. CXOs need to have a passion for creating – and continually improving – customer and employee experiences. That means listening to a lot of input, analyzing it to draw useful conclusions, and figuring out ways to turn those conclusions into concrete steps. It’s highly collaborative, challenging, and creative, but if those adjectives appeal to you, then a CXO career might be in your future.
About the Author
Christopher Rios is a Founding Member of Blue Rock Search. He has over twenty-five years in Hospitality and Executive Search and leads the Blue Rock CX practice. His desire and passion to deliver an exceptional and engaging Client and Candidate Experience has led him to his current role as Chief Experience Officer. He has over fifteen years of hospitality experience as an executive chef and has been recruiting executive and senior-level talent in Customer Experience, HR, and Hospitality for over a decade.
In his capacity as CXO, Chris oversees the retained CX Executive Search practice, which specializes in the identification, assessment, recruitment, and onboarding of executive-level CX leaders and their teams inclusive of Leaders across all Experience Disciplines (Patient, Digital, User, Employee, etc.), Customer Success, Care & Support, Contact/Call Centers, Professional and Managed Services, VOC/VOE as well as Insights and Analytics.