Magazine article CRM Magazine

CRM Claims the Corner Office: Customers Now Have a Champion on the Executive Team: The Chief Customer Officer. CRM Magazine Reveals the Success Strategies of Three of These New Leaders

Magazine article CRM Magazine

CRM Claims the Corner Office: Customers Now Have a Champion on the Executive Team: The Chief Customer Officer. CRM Magazine Reveals the Success Strategies of Three of These New Leaders

Article excerpt


Today, as organizations increasingly recognize the value of being customer-centric, the role of chief customer officer (CCO) is appearing on more and more executive teams.

"Each year we're seeing an increasing number of CCOs being added to corporate organizational structures, because we now have a means to measure the return on such a position," says Liz Roche, vice president and practice lead for CRM at META Group. Roche started looking at chief customer officers back in 1999, and had just a short list of "live" CCOs in 2001. "People have been talking about it for a long time," she says. Now they're taking action.

Today such organizations as Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines, Hershey Foods, Kellogg, Nautilus, and Sears all have chief customer officers.

To be successful a CCO must be an executive voice for the customer and report directly to the CEO. According to Roche, CCOs will ensure that managers and executives in an organization view CRM as critical. "The CCO will be a horizontal overlay and will own the framework for how different customer segments are treated," Roche says. "They will serve as a rallying point for the customer as a design point, as opposed to a line of business or department."


Too often, Roche says, CCOs are set up to fail because they're not given actual responsibilities and spheres of authority. In a 2004 IBM Business Consulting Services study, "CRM Done Right," organizations where managers view CRM as useful, but not critical, to doing business receive a negative 37 percent correlation to success. The study also reports that organizations have a 25 percent to 60 percent chance of success when corporate owns CRM, which Roche equates to a CCO position.

"When CRM is viewed as critical, there is a positive 76 percent correlation to success," Roche says. "I bet if you go back and look at the culture of successful companies and how they view the CCO role, they've come to view it as critical to their way of life."

Campbell Soup Company, Colorado Springs Utilities, and The Evercare Company are three organizations that strongly believe in the power of the CCO role. These CCOs' success strategies, and the positive results their efforts have had on their firms and customers, follow.

Denise Morrison


"Campbell's Valuing Customers. Customers Valuing Campbell's."

The framed value statement graces the wall of Campbell Soup Company's New Jersey headquarters, and illustrates the firm's focus on customers.

Another sign of Campbell's customer commitment is the CCO role. CEO Douglas Conant created the chief customer officer position in 2001 as one of his first hires for the executive leadership team. CCO Denise Morrison came on board in 2003 from a general management background at Kraft, and reports directly to Conant.

Morrison has five focus areas: She leads the global sales function to deliver Campbell's sales and profit plan; fosters a culture that is consumer-centered and customer-focused; creates functional excellence that includes customer intimacy and operations excellence; attracts and develops the best sales talent; and develops customer industry relations.

"We are in an era of fragmented consumers and consolidated retailers, so the degree [to which] we can collaborate with our customers at multiple levels in the company is really important," Morrison says. "Having a CCO puts you in a better position to set that in motion."

The CCO has to be out speaking with customers and the industry about key initiatives, according to Morrison. The Global Sales Leadership Team is one way Campbell stays connected to its customers. Morrison's reports represent 20 global sales forces, which conduct joint business planning with customers.

Campbell also brings customers in to meet with marketing associates, to learn of new products, and to try new recipes in the test kitchen using Campbell's products. …

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