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A “Chief Consumer Officer” is merely a weak “Chief Customer Officer”

I recently received a phone call from David Goetzl of MediaPost asking what I thought about IBM’s recently released report suggesting that each major company should have a “Chief Consumer Officer” and how this would relate to the Chief Customer Officer role that I’ve written about on my consulting website, www.predictiveconsulting.com. 

David wrote:

IN RESPONSE TO THE “CONSUMER-IN-CONTROL” movement, IBM’s media-consulting arm recommends that “old media” companies create a Chief Consumer Officer post to ensure that the wills and whims of the target audience remain critical in all content decisions. If the traditional business model has been driven by “pushing” content at consumers, the CCO would work to maintain a focus on a “pull” strategy, in which consumer tastes would play a more prominent role in product development.

This may sound like a neat, nifty, new role for her organizations to adopt.  However, the “Chief Consumer Officer” is really a weak stepsister to the “Chief Customer Officer“.

The Chief Customer Officer is responsible for bringing the voice of the customer into the boardroom to ensure that the needs, goals, and desires of the customers are reflected in the strategies of the company.  An effective Chief Customer Officer will establish “Customer Insight Conduits” or customer listening posts at every interaction point with the company as well as across all channels where customers are speaking about the company.  This includes YouTube, social bookmarking sites such as Digg & del.icio.us, user forums, etc. 

Consequently, a “Chief Consumer Officer” will be focused on small, narrow piece of the “Chief Customer Officer’s” overall goal of gathering customer feedback, making sense of it, and driving corporate strategy.  For companies considering implementing a “Chief Consumer Officer”, don’t waste your time.  Focus your efforts on installing a “Chief Customer Officer” instead so that you gain the whole picture of your customers rather than a small, narrow view of your customers.