Beyoncé and Jay Z
Can two powerful execs — the CMO and CCO — work together as well as Beyoncé and Jay Z? PHOTO: Maegan Tintari/Global Panorama

You’re the chief marketing officer of a large or mid-sized company. 

You love being a CMO and the varied, ever-broader responsibilities of nurturing a brand. Life is good.

Then one day, the company joins the growing list of organizations moving a new executive into the C-suite: a chief customer officer. 

You’ve read articles about how the CCO position has come into vogue as a way to retain and grow profitable customers. Sounds great.

But you’re also aware that the relatively new role has suffered from an unclear definition and lack of understanding at some companies. 

And, frankly, some of the CCO’s duties sound a bit like that of the CMO, whose influence has grown in recent years to encompass a wide swath of the customer lifecycle in the digitally disrupted marketplace.

So is the CCO friend or foe?

CMO + CCO = Better Together

The answer is the CMO and CCO are not only logical friends but a power couple — each essential leaders individually, equally awesome as one another, but even more potent when they take on the world together.

Like any relationship, however, the CMO-CCO partnership may take some work in the beginning to create a cohesive, fruitful bond. 

The starting point should be recognizing that both executives share big goals — increasing revenue, delivering better products and engendering more profitable and longer-lasting customers. Then it’s a matter of zeroing in on the synergies to meet it.

For any CMOs still having doubts about that new CCO down the hall, here are three things to remember:

CMO + CCO = A Natural Fit

The CMO’s role has evolved in recent years thanks to new technologies that equip marketing organizations with the data to better understand customer behavior and create a seamless digital experience across the customer lifecycle. 

This example of “knowledge is power” is a reason that many chief marketing officers and heads of sales have worked more collaboratively in the pre-sales environment. The same should hold true for CMOs and CCOs post sale.

For example, CMOs have championed the use of marketing automation technology to track and measure a user’s behavior on a website or what they did with an email and choose responses based on what the data shows. 

The CMO can help the CCO use the same techniques to market to customers with the same intelligence and creativity as to prospects.

The CMO also should embrace working with the CCO to take the same marketing tone, style and voice that the company has carefully cultivated and extended to customer retention and growth efforts. 

  • Are messages and activities aligned? 
  • Do customers receive, say, a newsletter that seems disjointed from the company’s other marketing? 

The CMO can help the CCO tell a powerful story and encourage a brand crush among prospects and customers alike.

CCOs, meanwhile, can aid the CMO in better understanding customers’ needs and challenges so he or she can create digital experiences that truly reflect the marketplace.

Having a CCO Is Good for the CMO

The CMO of yesterday focused squarely on feeding leads to sales.

The modern CMO is charged with a broader range of responsibilities in not only generating leads but in growing brand awareness, impacting the bottom line, retaining customers and turning them into the company’s biggest advocates.

To remain vital as a CMO in this new model, you need relevancy in the post-sales environment. You need to be asking yourself: How do I partner with this CCO who will need to simultaneously personalize and automate more customer interactions?

CMOs should look at the CCO’s arrival as a tremendous opportunity. Here is a C-level executive who will partner with you on delivering on the brand promise!

Think of Yourself as a Pioneer

Despite all the buzz about the rise of the CCO, only 22 percent of the Fortune 100 had one in 2014, according to a CCO Council survey.

And in day-to-day practice, many businesses still market far more in pre-sales than in post. 

In some cases, companies think of customer marketing as programs that leverage the voice of the customer to influence purchase behaviors — including customer references and case studies, rather than as a strategic, coordinated set of activities designed to help customers realize the value of what they’ve purchased and compel them to want to be brand advocates.

By locking arms with the CCO, CMOs can be at the forefront of a cool new approach to driving revenue and customer loyalty.

So, you see, the CCO is far from a threat to the CMO but an amazing opportunity.