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How Long Before CCOs Expire?

I was reading a blog post that summarized a BusinessWeek article regarding CXO tenure article based on research by Spencer Stuart.

CXO Tenure

I think it is interesting that the CMO tenure trend actually increased to 26.8 months in 2007 from 23.2 months in 2006, reversing the slight decline from each of the 3 years prior. Could it be that the CMO role is maturing?

While all the data are not in yet, I’m seeing something similar with Chief Customer Officers (CCOs). The average tenure of the CCO seems to be about 18 months, with some notable exceptions on either side of the average.

According to the original article, the CMO role is said to suffer from three things:

  1. Poor definition of the role and expectations
  2. Inability to justify their existence and contribution
  3. Short-term focus overtakes them

The CCO role is suffering from some of the same issues as the CMO, namely that their role is ill-defined, most executives have no idea how to quantify the CCOs contribution to the bottom line, and many results take longer than 1-2 quarters to realize.

However, the most successful CCOs are addressing these issues.

  1. Some of the early CCOs expanded their role until it burst and they either burned out or were fired. Now, the notion that they have to own all customer-facing functions is being replaced by the need to own the customer-facing processes. The CCO can improve the customer experience by streamlining the customer-facing process without having direct reporting authority.
  2. CCOs are beginning to run their organizations using accepted metrics to quantify and justify their impact on customers and their organization. These include internally focused, “value captured” metrics such as satisfaction, renewals, churn, profitability, lifetime value, and interestingly, more “value provided” metrics such as customer estimates of improved business capability as a result of the business relationship.
  3. Performance metrics are increasingly tied to profitability. Those whose metrics don’t include profitability haven’t lasted long. As much as it is “the right thing to do”, pure customer delight doesn’t impress the CEO and the board.
  4. Balance between short- and long-term customer results is very difficult. While they may be given a 3-6 month “bye” to make changes, those that last the longest can prove they provided a near-term lift in revenue and profits while tracking towards the longer-term changes that are inevitable in a customer-centric journey.