Definition

chief experience officer (CXO)

A chief experience officer (CXO) is an executive in the C-suite who ensures positive interactions with an organization's customers.

The CXO typically reports to the chief executive officer (CEO), chief operating officer (COO) or chief marketing officer (CMO).

What a CXO does

One of the primary goals of a CXO is to continually provide and improve a positive customer experience (CX). Chief experience officers communicate the value proposition -- as in what will make customers choose one company over others -- of the organization. They do this by using the customers' language and interacting with customers through their preferred communication channels.

A CXO typically has oversight of an entire customer journey. To accomplish this, creating a customer journey map is crucial. Customer journey maps are a diagram or multiple diagrams that depict the stages customers go through when interacting with a company. Customer journey maps are data-driven, can help create a positive interaction between companies and individuals, and can help predict the path of future customers.

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In the enterprise, the CXO oversees a team that monitors customer interactions and assures that the company is adequately responding to complaints, concerns and suggestions for improvement. Corporations interact with their customers through many avenues, including social media platforms and customer feedback forums; the CXO integrates these channels to ensure a smooth flow of usable information between the enterprise and its user base.

Because of the constant flow of usable information, the CXO consistently directs responses to user needs, which often involves employing data analytics teams to digest various forms of communication and customer information, as well as social media management software and teams. Many CXOs also rely on an executive dashboard to monitor these resources and extract customer intelligence useful to the business. CXOs may also lead digital transformation projects and ensure that user experience (UX) across customer-facing websites, apps and other technologies is consistent and positive.

Many CXOs handle both employee experience (EX) -- the interactions, perceptions and feelings that an employee has with a company, from recruitment to an exit interview -- and CX, with the intent of aligning the two initiatives. This aspect of the CXO role has become more crucial, as many experts agree that there is a strong link between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction.

CXO boss
In 2019, only 10% of companies did not have a CXO role.

The benefits of hiring a CXO

Without a CXO, an organization may not have a defined way to extend CX beyond care and support services. CXOs oversee the customer lifecycle, ensuring positive CX. Typically, a CXO is in charge of increasing customer and employee understanding, designing and delivering positive CX, prioritizing a customer's viewpoint in any decision-making processes and keeping track of key performance indicators (KPIs).

Hiring a CXO also represents an attempt to move toward a CX-centric company culture. Good CX requires many departments across the organization to be customer-focused, and CXOs work toward that goal. They align marketing, sales, customer success teams and the C-suite and break down silos that prevent good CX.

The evolution of a chief experience officer

CX is becoming a central focus for many organizations. As digital experiences and interactions rise, customers increasingly expect personalized experiences with brands.

The job title of chief experience officer is increasingly replacing that of the chief customer officer (CCO) and CMO in many organizations. The role of a CXO is generally broader than that of a CCO, especially when it comes to ensuring a positive experience of internal customers, such as employees, suppliers and vendors.

In 2020, almost 90% of organizations have a CXO, or CXO equivalent, according to Gartner. This is a significant increase from 2017, when more than 35% of companies did not have a CXO.

CXO vs. CMO

CX, not marketing, is becoming the main goal for many brands. This causes many companies to replace the CMO role with a CXO, which is often a rebranding rather than the firing and replacement of a CMO. Many organizations still have both CMO and CXO roles.

Traditionally, the CMO is responsible for driving marketing strategy, which includes understanding the company's position in the market, directing marketing campaigns and overseeing branding strategies.

The CXO drives the company's entire CX strategy. This involves mapping customer journeys, overseeing the customer success and customer service teams, and digging into customer data. The CXO is often responsible for improving employee experience and engagement, while a CMO is generally not. However, the roles of the CXO and CMO are overlapping, as CMOs are expected to have skill sets and tools that drive CX strategies.

CXO experience and skills

CXOs vary in experience and background. Often, a CXO has background in operations, marketing, sales, customer service or UX. Sometimes, a company hires a CXO from within when an employee has a particular interest in CX or is a brand champion.

CXOs should generally have the following traits:

  • superior communication and leadership skills
  • ability to manage people
  • big-picture thinker
  • problem-solving skills

CXOs often have a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or other master's degree, with proven experience in a managerial or executive role.

This was last updated in July 2020

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