Today’s Chief Customer Officer, Tomorrow’s CEO!

A survey of ‘C’ Suite leaders reveals an incredible 90% anticipate the role of The Chief Customer Officer will increase in importance over the next 5 years.


66% say there is definite need for the role and, 56% believe the CCO will be the CEOs of tomorrow, indicating more traditional, senior marketing roles, may be a thing of the past.

The research, produced by ORESA Executive Search, follows a surge in industry hires where traditional, senior Marketing roles have been replaced in favour of Chief Customer Officers.

ORESA surveyed MDs, Founders, CEOs from the consumer & retail sector, to produce a report that explores how businesses are evolving through the hire of a CCO or Customer Director.  The findings proved interesting.

Last year, John Lewis made a dramatic shake up of their senior structure, abandoning the traditional Marketing Director role, moving Craig Inglis into a Customer Director position.   Meanwhile, Topshop Digital Director, Kate Walmsley, announced in January that she would be joining Warehouse as Customer Director.  Similarly, in February, River Island promoted marketing boss Josie Roscop to this new position.

Orlando Martins CEO and Founder of ORESA, says:

“Customers today are armed with more information, this means to be a market-leading consumer brand, companies need to differentiate, innovate and compete.

“Innovation does not apply only to systems but also an organisational design that enables operational excellence. This has led to organisations hiring Chief Customer Officers or Customer Directors.

“If customer experience is the key to competitive advantage then organisations must listen and address customer needs. One way to ensure that this happens, is to break down internal siloes and make a senior Director responsible. This is the purpose of the CCO.”

Speaking at an ORESA hosted debate, on the role, Susan Aubrey-Cound, Consultant and former Multichannel Development Director at Marks and Spencer, suggested:

“There are a lot of what I would call traditional marketers, still at the top and they’re doing a good job, but actually they’ve not got a broad enough skillset, so the only way to get around that is to create a different role.”

These new organisational structures have naturally raised questions, as businesses adapt to the changing environment.   Saga’s CMO Matt Atkinson commented:

“I think there are increasingly important changes to what a Marketer used to do versus what they need to do now. I don’t think the title does that, I think skills, clarity of the CEO, clarity of what this role enables versus what this role does, is important.”

Beth Butterwick CEO of Bonmarché and soon-to-be CEO of Karen Millen commented:

“It’s someone who understands consumer data.. and has the strategic horsepower to influence the entire organisation.”

However, on choosing not to call hire, Marketing Director Paul Kendrick, CCO, Beth says:

“we had other people in the business; buying and merchandising, retail, other functions that were also the champions of the customer.”

Martins concludes:

“It is important to recognize that a Chief Customer Officer is not a sticking plaster for a company’s customer experience problems.  

“If an organisation is considering hiring a CCO, it is for that business to clearly determine the role and remit based on their internal needs and strategic objectives.

Author: Editorial Team

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