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Chief experience officers, chief customer officers on rise

Since 2017, more CXOs and CCOs have shown up in Gartner's customer experience management survey. They don't always report to the CMO, but marketing's ownership of CX is growing.

During the past two years, organizations that invest in customer experience have created chief experience officer and chief customer officer roles to execute CX programs, according to Gartner research.

Chief experience officers (CXOs) and chief customer officers (CCOs) or their equivalents -- such as vice presidents -- report to different bosses in marketing, operations or even to the CEO, depending on the organization, according to the Gartner Customer Experience in Marketing survey conducted last summer. The final results of the survey were released last week.

CX as a whole is still in its "nascent" stage as organizations define what their particular experiences entail and how to map them to business objectives, said Gartner analyst Augie Ray. But compared with the same survey conducted in 2017, companies are spending more budget on CX, and tagging more C-level executives to oversee the programs.

About half the time, marketing staff manages the CX budget, compared with about a third in 2017. When marketing isn't managing CX budget initiatives, the responsibility falls to customer service, sales, operations and IT.

Chart describing chief customer officer and chief experience offices' rise to prominence

The chief experience officer tends to be more marketing-oriented, while the chief customer officer in some companies started in the sales division. But the lines are blurring:

  • 21% of organizations that budget for CX don't have either a , CCO or equivalent (such as a vice president of customer experience), down from 35% in 2017;
  • 46% of CXOs and 36% of CCOs report directly to the CEO, up from 30% and 29%, respectively, in 2017; and
  • 22% of CXOs and 36% of CCOs report to the CMO, up 15% and 18%, respectively from 2017 with the remainder typically reporting to the COO.

Similarities, differences between CXO and CCO

Gartner takes a narrower view of customer experience than some research organizations, defining it as the discipline of understanding and measuring what customers expect, which can include voice of the customer, journey mapping, user experience and defining customer personas.

The value of marketing efforts can be difficult to translate into bottom-line revenue. The rise of the chief experience officer and chief customer officer roles to manage CX initiatives represents one way to monitor it.

One of the problems is that a lot of organizations will only focus on sales, but all sorts of things cause sales to increase -- a good offer, a low price, convenience, lack of competition.
Augie RayAnalyst, Gartner

"One of the problems is that a lot of organizations will only focus on sales, but all sorts of things cause sales to increase -- a good offer, a low price, convenience, lack of competition," Ray said. Melding customer perception data, such as from surveys, with operational data that comes from sales transactions, can show which customers are driving sales.

Combining sales data and survey scores can also identify marketing efforts that may drive more revenue by satisfying customers with a low perception of a company's experience. Without adding CX data in the mix, "customer experience" focuses more on brand marketing or bottom-line business drivers than the customers themselves.

"What we want to know is, are the people who are scoring higher driving our business?" Ray said. "Are the people who score lower proving to be a drag on our business, and if so that suggests we need to focus on what's causing that drag."

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