Thursday, September 24, 2009

Why do companies need a Chief Customer Officer?

Oracle sent out a survey, and upon completion of the survey, I saw this video:

I'm going to ignore the content of the video, or of the survey, and just concentrate on Jeb Dasteel's title - Chief Customer Officer.

This wss the first time that I have encountered such a title. I know I'm not trendy, so perhaps this is a big trend that I've missed. And it turns out that I have missed it, although the trend is relatively recent in business terms. Predictive Consulting Group says the following:

Nearly six years ago when I first began to study the relatively unknown role of Chief Customer Officer (CCO), I found fewer than 20 in the world.

There are now 200+ officially-titled Chief Customer Officers in the world, and hundreds more with similar titles....

While the reasons are varied, CEOs hire a CCO for one of three primary reasons:

1. Address unresolved customer crises, including defecting customers and even lawsuits

2. Create competitive advantage by showing a critical commitment to customers

3. Retain existing customers and protect current revenue

Now one can argue that every person in a company should be dedicated to solving customer problems, but the CCO role allows someone to focus on that role. Would that person have an ombudsman-like role, perhaps? This article from 2000 (more than six years ago, by the way) says yes, but not in a complimentary way:

How the CCO fits into the organization and what this individual should do is obscure to most organizations. So why even think about the CCO? "The CCO is a powerful, descriptive name and a call to action," says Diorio. "It highlights a critical underlying business issue--customer-centricity--that, like Ford's quality imperative and other business issues in the past, will take several years to evolve." Meanwhile, the CCO will likely be a figurehead role. "IMT strategies sees the CCO as an ombudsman function with lots of symbolic value but as yet no real operational teeth."

Well, that was 2000, and now we're in 2009. The CCO job has evolved to the point where they are giving awards for the best CCO, and one of these was snagged by...Oracle's Jeb Dasteel.

Customer loyalty is the Holy Grail for many businesses, yet in most organizations, nobody is accountable for loyalty improvement in the executive suite.

“The key to business success, particularly in a down economy, is anticipating customer needs and continuously deepening customer relationships,” according to Jeb Dasteel, Chief Customer Officer (CCO) of Oracle, who was named the 2009 Chief Customer Officer of the Year last month at the first ever Chief Customer Officer Summit.

And remember how I said that perhaps everyone should champion the needs of the customer? Well, award-giver Curtis N. Bingham identified one company - not Oracle - that actually practices this:

“Unless you’re Disney where the customer is injected into the cultural DNA, you need someone to champion the customer cause. Otherwise, opportunities are squandered, customers leave, and innovation is squelched.”

Disney continues to emphasize this, with programs such as the Disney Institute:

Not only did Walt Disney re-define the world of entertainment, his legacy is found in a worldwide scope of motion pictures, Theme Parks, stage shows, books, magazines, television, merchandise, music, apparel, radio, resorts, a cruise line and more.

Of course, none of this would have been possible had he not also re-written the rules of business.

Walt Disney was, and will always remain, that rare breed: an artistic genius who, with the unflagging and essential support of his brother, Roy, created an effective organizational model and efficient work environment where employees were recognized for their achievements, encouraged to work as a team and, by striving for excellence, continually broke the confines of the status quo to surpass the expectations of the world....

Disney Institute remains the only professional development company where you will literally step into a "living laboratory" at Disney Theme Parks and Resorts for guided behind-the-scenes field experiences. Disney’s brand of business excellence is also being taught at locations across the U.S. and, to date, in more than 40 countries around the world.

We have inspired leaders to change not only their business practices, but also to examine their business issues in an entirely new light. Like them, you will find your organization has more in common with Disney than you ever imagined.


This raises the question - why do so few companies inject the customer into the cultural DNA? CNN identified six companies where customers come first, but they're all local companies. Can a company grow to the size of Disney and continue to claim a "customer first" strategy...and have people believe them?

Perhaps those companies may be found at the NACCM 7th annual Customers 1st Conference, which will take place in November of this year.

By the way, I would have subscribed to the OracleVideo account on YouTube, but I received the message "Your account has been permanently disabled." I'm not the only one; this happened to Jeff Pulver and (according to Bing) has happened to many other people. This is what they told me:

Hi empoprises,

Thanks for your email. Your "empoprises" account has been found to have
violated our Community Guidelines. Your account has now been terminated.
Please be aware that you are prohibited from accessing, possessing or
creating any other YouTube accounts.

YouTube staff review flagged videos 24 hours a day, seven days a week to
determine whether they violate our Community Guidelines. When a video or
account is brought to our attention we investigate and take action if

We are unable to provide specific detail regarding your account suspension
or your video's removal. For more information on our what we consider
inappropriate content or conduct while using YouTube, please visit our
Community Guidelines and Tips at and our Help Center article


The YouTube Team

Considering that I've only uploaded one video to YouTube in my entire life, and not with this account, I have a question - perhaps Google needs a CCO?

Picture source, license
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