Posted: Monday 31st July 2017 in Retail Strategy, Thought Leadership.

Depending which day of the week it is, you may be wondering whether your business urgently needs a Chief Customer Officer or a Chief Data Officer. Both roles are becoming increasingly more prevalent, but which will be an immediate game changer for your business? Business transformation led by a customer-service approach, or a data driven approach? This a difficult question to answer. Particularly in the context of the retail value chain; with import/export challenges, trading, logistics, global ecommerce, real-time advertising, and competitors. The answer will largely depend on the maturity of your company, the size of the opportunity, the business culture and the current infrastructure. Both roles, however, aim to utilize data to identify the best way to enhance the customer experience and improve customer lifetime value.

The reality is that retailers are feeling the pressure as customer journeys continue to increase in complexity. With cross-device cross-channel behavior, customers now expect a seamless multi touchpoint experience; from tablet, to physical store, to desktop, to mobile. Having a single customer view is a challenge, as most brands struggle to leverage the data which these complex journeys create, and fail to optimize their marketing spend. In addition, brands are having to fight harder for every pound spent by consumers. The Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) which records households’ plans for major purchases and their economic situation, is at its lowest point since 2014. No doubt the lingering impact of Brexit.


OECD Chart: Consumer confidence index (CCI), Amplitude adjusted, Long-term average = 100, Monthly, Jan 2014 – Jun 2017


The key to success is often a complete business transformation

We are seeing more pure online retailers opening physical stores, carving out their territory, and redefining the bricks and mortar landscape. Amazon is not the only brand leading the charge. In a move to solidify their online to offline customer journey, Missguided (the online fashion retailer) opened its second physical store in Bluewater shopping centre in Kent last month. Proving the point that retailers need to put the customer at the heart of their business processes, budget decisions, and advertising. Moving from pure online retailer to an omnichannel brand isn’t an easy process, it often requires a completely new way of working. These are the types of large-scale, customer-focused changes that a Chief Customer Officer can help to enable.


The Retail sector appoints the largest number of Chief Customer Officers

Source: Talecco report

According to the latest report by Talecco, 46% of all UK Chief Customer Officer roles have been created in the last 12 months and 63% of these newly created roles are in B2C markets. Whether it is true that businesses who have a Chief Customer Officer are outperforming their marketplace competition remains to be seen. Most commentators will agree that brands are struggling to engage with customers at a more personal level – in the right place, at the right time, with the right message – and there needs to be a strategic change from a senior leadership level downwards. Retailers are looking to the Chief Customer Officer to address this customer apathy.


More often than not, to have a successful customer first approach, it requires a complete business transformation and change in core processes. Chief Customer Officers need to be the voice of the customer, be creative, diplomatic, and have commercial acumen. Without these skills, even if you have the best intentions of being the customer champion, leveraging teams across a variety of business functions will be a challenge. Whether you currently employ a Chief Customer Officer, a Chief Data Officer, or neither, there are steps you can take to ensure you are on the road to customer success:


1. Meet with your customers, get them to test your products, understand how they think and what motivates them

2. Embrace customer feedback, and use this to improve all business functions and processes

3. Invite customers to take part in your branding and product decisions, and make improvements based on their suggestions

4. Use data to your advantage to make better strategic decisions around products, pricing, the length of promotions, and the timing of campaigns. Seek out additional data sources to reinforce your decisions and evaluate the ROI.

5. Continuously test, learn, iterate, and evaluate across all areas of the business from operations – to digital advertising – to in store.


To find out more about the Chief Customer Officer report by Talecco, download the report here.



1. OECD (2017), Consumer confidence index (CCI) (indicator). doi: 10.1787/46434d78-en (Accessed on 28 July 2017)

2. “Expert opinion: The online-to-offline trend will redefine retail”, Retail Week, June 2017

3. Missguided IRL – Part Two: Bluewater, Kent, June 2017

4. The UK Chief Customer Officer Report, Talecco, May 2017