Chief Customer Officers on the board rarer than rocking horse wotsit
New analysis by customer management consultancy PeopleTECH has revealed a lack of customer experience focus at a senior level amongst both FTSE 100 and FTSE AIM 100 companies.
Only 1% of FTSE companies have a chief customer officer (or equivalent) on the board, while a further 15% have someone on the board with a specific customer-focused remit. High-growth firms on the FTSE AIM 100 fared even worse – none of those have a chief customer officer (or equivalent) on the board and only 2% have someone on the board with a specific customer-focused remit.
Many organisations have predicted the increasing importance of customer experience, including a Gartner study that predicted by 2016, 89% of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience. Now we are in 2016, are brands doing enough at board level to ensure that providing a high quality customer experience is a priority for them?
“Customer experience is everything – if a brand is not delivering this then its customers will simply go elsewhere. It’s a conversation that must be happening at board level and it is worrying that so few FTSE 100 and FTSE AIM 100 companies don’t have someone on the board to make that conversation happen,” said Mike Hughes, MD, PeopleTECH. “Providing a good customer experience is the new battleground for brands and this starts with a commitment from the top. How can a company exhort its employees to put the customer first if there is no one at a leadership level taking personal responsibility for that?”
The PeopleTECH analysis also took in senior management teams (SMT) and executives committees. 11% of FTSE companies have a chief customer officer (or equivalent) on their SMT or executive committees, with an additional 12% having someone with a specific customer-focused remit. Just 2% of FTSE AIM 100 companies have a chief customer officer (or equivalent) on their SMT, with a further 5% having someone on the SMT with a specific customer-focused remit.
“Not having a chief customer officer on the board or even the senior management team, does not necessarily mean that organisation is not focused on providing a good customer experience,” continued Mike Hughes. “But the sheer lack of numbers doing so would suggest that many brands are happy to talk about customer experience but are less willing to commit senior resource to it.”
The analysis revealed just six FTSE companies that had a chief customer officer or equivalent on their board and on their SMT / executive committee: Direct Line Insurance Group plc, easyJet plc, International Consolidated Airlines Group SA, Lloyds Banking Group plc, Marks & Spencer Group plc and Severn Trent Plc. Only one firm – Smart Metering Systems pls – did so on the FTSE AIM 100.
“As high-growth companies scale so quickly, the customer experience is something that is often overlooked with so many other business priorities to address,” said Mike Hughes. “That’s why it is so important to have someone in a senior role to make sure that doesn’t happen, to keep reinforcing the importance of customer experience and to communicate the impact that it can have on the bottom line.”
“With many B2B firms on the FTSE 100, it’s also true that B2B firms have a different relationship with customers than their B2C counterparts, more complex and less immediate. That may have impacted the findings somewhat, but just because a firm sells to other businesses does not mean there should be a lack of senior focus on the customer experience.”
 PeopleTECH looked for job titles that contained the word ‘customer’, or role descriptions / biographies where it was clear that customer experience was a major part of the remit.