A chief experience officer (CXO), sometimes referred to as a chief customer officer (CCO), is a high-level manager who focuses on customer happiness. While the CXO often exclusively focuses on the customer, the role can also include employee experience. From this perspective, employee experience and customer experience reinforce each other.
In many ways, this role marries product design and customer service with the goal of keeping customer satisfaction high during each stage of the customer lifecycle. CXOs typically have a background in marketing, operations, sales, customer experience, or user experience.
What does a CXO do?
According to Harvard Business Review, having a good experience makes a customer five times more likely to recommend a company. A chief experience officer monitors customer happiness, designs tools and systems that put the customer first, and champions the customer’s perspective. For example, General Motor’s CXO, Donald Chesnut is the bridge between customer service and product development with a role in everything from the company’s e-commerce strategy to its mobile app.
A CXO typically oversees customer service teams, designers, developers, and researchers, among others. Cross-functional collaboration is important to this role. Best Buy’s CCO Allison Peterson has implemented many changes at the company, including rolling out customer experience tools and insights and establishing a team of employees skilled in human-centered design. The designers create new processes and work with retail leadership on implementation. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic when stores closed, the designers created and rolled out a curbside pickup process within two days.
Will CXOs put themselves out of a job?
Some people believe—and hope—that by making customer satisfaction a top priority for all levels and departments within a company, CXOs and CCOs will put themselves out of a job. Best Buy’s Peterson told The Wall Street Journal that her goal is to put customer happiness at the core of the company’s organizational culture so a separate person or team focused on customer experience will no longer be necessary. This is exactly what happened to the chief digital officer role. As high-level managers took on more digital responsibilities, the need for a dedicated chief digital officer declined.
Regardless, the chief experience officers are in high demand. According to a survey by Gartner Inc., the number of companies with a CXO or equivalent is on the rise, suggesting the customer experience is becoming a greater priority.
In the Classroom
This article can be used to discuss levels of management (Chapter 6: The Nature of Management).
- What is a CXO responsible for?
- Do you think the CXO role is valuable? Why or why not?
- Do you think CXOs will put themselves out of a job?
This article was developed with the support of Kelsey Reddick for and under the direction of O.C. Ferrell and Linda Ferrell.
Denise Lee Yohn, "Why Every Company Needs a Chief Experience Officer," Harvard Business Review, June 13, 2019, https://hbr.org/2019/06/why-every-company-needs-a-chief-experience-officer
Katie Deighton, "Some Chief Experience Officers Want to Make Their Jobs Disappear," The Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/some-chief-experience-officers-want-to-make-their-jobs-disappear-11624456801
Madison Aichele, "What Exactly Does a Chief Experience Officer (CXO) Do?" Simplr, August 13, 2021, https://www.simplr.ai/learn/what-does-a-chief-experience-officer-cxo-do