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CNBC has a piece about how "a big focus in the C-suites of many of the world’s largest corporations has been the creation of a new executive rank: Chief Customer Officer.

"Over the past few quarters, companies across the economic spectrum — from McDonald’s, CVS Health, Under Armour and Walgreens to wholesale grocer United Natural Foods — have added the top job to help the boardroom better stay in touch with a rapidly changing landscape of the consumer … it’s being seen as critical to make one senior person responsible for influencing employees across the organization to become more tuned into customer wants."

The story notes that "the role of a chief customer officer, who reports directly to the CEO, can be defined differently across industries and vary greatly from one organization to another. Typically the post is some amalgamation of marketing, branding and maybe sales, with digital and data being the roadmap. The rise of mobile computing led to a wave of chief digital officers who were responsible for the digital interactions with customers."

CNBC says that "ninety percent of 401 companies said their company employed a chief experience officer, according to Gartner’s 2019 Customer Experience Management Study, which was up from 61% in 2017. Gartner expects the number to be higher today."

KC's View:

I guess this is a good thing, in that it represents a shift in orientation - and, if done right, a breaking down of silos - that makes sense.  But it also sort of avoids the larger question, which is why any business that has customers wouldn't make their happiness and satisfaction - not to mention the quality of their experience - central to everybody's job?

The CNBC story makes the point that this isn't exactly a new phenomenon, that companies long have talked about the importance of making customers a priority.  Witness this classic United Airlines commercial from more than three decades ago:

(Digressive thought:  How great is it to hear the voiceover by Gene Hackman, who is long retired from performing but sorely missed?)

The rise of a technology-centric technology, while it can improve communication, doesn't always heighten real connections between businesses and their customers.  I think that we sometimes labor under the delusion that businesses and customers are better connected than ever, but how many retailers, for example, can name their 10, 20, 30 best customers?

So let me throw out a challenge, perfect for this time of year.  If you are a retailer, whether you are running a business with a thousand stores or one, that you want to know who your 20 (or pick another number - that's up to you) best customers are … and then, once you have names and email addresses, reach out to those people and say hello, say "happy holidays," ask if there is anything you can do for them, and make sure they know that they can contact you via email anytime they have a problem.  And then, tell your store managers and maybe even department managers to do the same thing.

This takes the notion of being customer-centric from being abstract to being tangible.  You're gonna blow some people away … and in the end, I would argue, it is going to be even better for you than it is going to be for them.