Creating and Defining the Role of Chief Customer Officer

For many companies today, the appointment of a Chief Customer Officer (CCO) is a new addition to the C-suite. And with new roles come new challenges. It’s not enough to simply be close to customers. No one articulates this undertaking better than Jose Vergara, CCO at McKesson Medical Imaging.

Charles Trevail

CEO at C Space

The below is based on the fifth episode of the Outside In podcast, which you can listen to here.

For many companies today, the appointment of a Chief Customer Officer (CCO) is a new addition to the C-suite. And my frequent meetings with CCOs confirm this; many haven’t taken over the role, they’re charged with creating and defining it.

We’ll likely see this trend continue. As of 2014, just 22% of Fortune 100 companies had appointed a CCO, according to a Chief Customer Officer Council study. That number appears to be growing. Last year alone, new CCOs were appointed at companies like Pizza HutSAS, and Lowe’s.

With new roles come new challenges. For CCOs, one of the biggest is to dispel common misconceptions about the notion, and treatment within the business, of customer centricity. It’s not enough to be close to customers. A CCO must define how the business will draw from the inspiration of customers to transform company culture, differentiate against competitors, and grow.

No one articulated this undertaking better than Jose Vergara, CCO at McKesson Medical Imaging, part of McKesson Technology solutions. McKesson, a leading global player in healthcare information technology, medical supplies, and pharmaceutical distribution services, is the biggest company you’ve never heard of. With more than 76,000 employees worldwide, it ranks fifth on the Fortune 500.

I had the chance to interview Jose for the latest episode of Outside Ina customer centricity podcast.

Customer Success is Company Success

Jose approaches his role as CCO in a refreshing way. Rather than focusing on what’s good for the business as it relates to customers (in his case, health care organizations and physicians), Jose focuses on partnering with customers to enable and nurture their own success. “That’s the reason we embarked on this journey of customer success and customer experience. We not only sell products and tangible systems and solutions but we also offer a partnership. The reason that customers are doing business with us is because we’re becoming their partners in their own success.”

The healthcare space is getting increasingly more complex: government regulations, the Affordable Care Act, and the transition from fee-for-service to value-based care. “This is challenging our customers more and more,” Jose says, “so we need to understand what makes them successful, not only clinically but also in their business, and align our company to help them achieve their goals. We look at our success through the eyes of our customers. That’s how we’ll be successful.”

Turning Customer Relationships into Business Strategy

CCOs should play an active part when creating the company’s strategy to ensure continued growth and the achievement of other business goals. In this way, CCOs are needs alchemists – blending strategy, execution, and cultural transformation into the customer centricity mix.

Jose acknowledges that “a blurring between products” in all industries has increased consumer choice and furthered competition. But it’s those heavily commoditized industries that have the most to gain from – and should therefore have the most interest in – becoming customer centric.

“It’s more about the relationship you have with customers…the partnership that you establish with them than the products themselves,” Jose advises. In a global marketplace where commoditization and disruption are becoming the rule rather than the exception, that’s a critical point.

In talking with Jose, it’s clear that the role of the CCO is about much more than being the official customer champion of the C-suite. It’s a position of great strategy, complexity, and influence. In the years ahead, as sure as customers will change, so too will the role change. As Jose sees it, “I think it’s an evolution.”

You may be interested in:

Beth Comstock: An Outsider Inside

Beth Comstock: An Outsider Inside Subscribe to the Outside In podcast: As Beth Comstock sees it, most companies simply aren’t ready for the massive change happening in the world. After nearly three decades in senior leadership roles at GE and NBC...

Is Optimism Dead?

Is Optimism Dead? As we approach 2020, the future feels less certain than ever for customers. So that’s why we’ve launched Life as a Customer, a window into the worlds of 700 customers, powered by C Space. We share our first findings in this article......

Customer Experience Lessons Retailers Can Learn From the World’s Best Companies

Customer Experience Lessons Retailers Can Learn From the World’s Best Companies

by Rieva Lesonsky
Small Business Trends

How can your retail store deliver a best-in-class customer experience? Learn from the best, that’s how. Global customer agency C Space recently released its report on the best customer experiences of 2018, and retailers dominated the top companies on the list. Nine of the top 25 companies were retailers: Trader Joe’s, L.L. Bean, Nordstrom, Amazon, Costco, REI, Bath & Body Works, Sephora and Aldi.

Best Agency Above £20m and Best Place to Work: C Space

Best Agency Above £20m and Best Place to Work: C Space

by Katie McQuater
Research Live

At the 2018 MRS Research Live Awards, C Space was awarded Best Agency with a turnover above £20m and was also named Best Place to Work.

Rita Gunther McGrath: What’s Next for Strategy?

Rita Gunther McGrath: What’s Next for Strategy? Subscribe to the Outside In podcast: Author and Columbia Business School Professor Rita Gunther McGrath is a world-renowned expert on strategy, innovation, and growth. Her work has been a beacon for companies...

The physical brand

The physical brand Our physical experience with a brand is the brand. In our digital world, physical is disruptive. Daniel Sills is the producer of Outside In, a podcast that explores changes in business and consumer behavior and...

What being the number one supermarket really means

What being the number one supermarket really means

by Richie Jones (C Space)
Research Live

After a week of retail results, C Space’s Richie Jones looks at the changing landscape for the supermarkets and how it’ll take more than mergers to keep Sainsbury’s on top.

How millennials are disrupting healthcare — and how to change benefits because of it

How millennials are disrupting healthcare — and how to change benefits because of it

by Hannah Walker
Employee Benefit News

More than half (56%) of millennials visited a doctor’s office in the past year, compared to three-quarters (73%) of non-millennials, according to a survey from C Space Health.

Mike Sepso: ‘Esports are a New Layer of Sports’

Mike Sepso: ‘Esports are a New Layer of Sports’ Subscribe to the Outside In podcast: From Asia to the Americas, there are 320+ million esports fans around the world -- and the audience is expected to double by 2020. But the professional sport of...

Kohl’s is improving store performance by equipping managers with real-time customer data

Kohl’s is improving store performance by equipping managers with real-time customer data

by Hilary Milnes
Digiday

Customer data is going right down to the store level at Kohl’s, where the company is using it to serve managers action items around how to better drive sales in their stores. “These functional developments are becoming table stakes — that’s what everyone in retail is competing on,” said Bill Alberti, chief client officer at customer agency C Space.