I have been reading many articles about customer delight and how great customer experiences improve a company’s profitability and growth. I recently came across a trendy concept in business: having a Chief Advocacy Officer (CAO). A CAO is a senior (C-Level) executive who represents the customers interests. While initially appealing and backed by some of the best thinkers in the customer experience universe, the idea of having a C-level position to advocate on behalf of the customers’ interests is flawed.
The fundamental flaw in establishing a CAO position is that it implicitly allows everyone else in the organization not to think about the customer. If a company is going to consistently exceed customer expectations, everybody in the organization must focus on the customer. When there is a CAO, others in the organization feel that since the CAO is serving as the representative of the customer, they do not have to think about the user.
An additional flaw is that a CAO often becomes an adversary to other functions. Finance sees the CAO as somebody who is going to make demands that impact revenue. Design sees the CAO as somebody who is going to conflict with their vision. Marketing tries to avoid the CAO. While all of these functions would benefit from being customer driven, the insertion of a CAO creates a dynamic where the customer becomes an internal competitor.
The key to building a successful business is not putting one person in the role of customer advocate, but making everyone across all functions think as customer advocates. That is when you will truly delight your users and generate great loyalty and retention.
- While the idea of creating a Chief Advocacy Officer is appealing, it is a flawed concept that prevents a company from truly becoming customer driven.
- Rather than having one person or a team represent your customers’ interests, everyone in your organization should be building and marketing products to delight customers.
- A Chief Advocacy Officer also can create tensions between functional areas because they see the the role as a competing interest and not part of their success.