CCOs’ focus on customer care improved agility

Going forward they plan to apply customer insights across the enterprise

Over the next few years, CCOs must branch out beyond customer care to drive business agility.

The COVD-19 pandemic profoundly disrupted customer needs and behavior. To meet customers’ evolving expectations, C-level leaders changed their strategies. Chief among these changes was a renewed focus on business agility: the strategic imperative to survive and thrive in challenging times.

To foster agility in the years ahead, most chief customer officers are focused on ensuring customer care is at the center of agile thinking. That’s according to a global survey of 200 C-level leaders conducted by ESI ThoughtLab.

However, their C-level peers are less convinced they should focus on customers when thinking about agility. If businesses are to succeed, the C-suite needs to align on a path forward.

Disagreement on customers

Almost all CCOs surveyed agree on a central premise: that the C-suite should put customers at the center when thinking about business agility.

Alarmingly, none of their C-suite counterparts share this conviction.

What explains this gap? It could have something to do with C-level leaders’ perceptions of their responsibilities. About 9 out of 10 CCOs say they are responsible for improving agility around customer satisfaction and service. For many, this includes providing them with flexible and agile experiences and developing agile call centers to meet their needs.

However, none of their C-level peers say they share these responsibilities.

CCOs branch out

Over the next one to two years, CCOs plan to take additional steps toward their goal of fostering organizational agility. For them, that means branching out beyond customer care.

Overall, CCOs are optimistic about the future.

As a whole, C-level leaders agree that a lack of investment in talent and hiring poses an extreme barrier to agility. In response, CCOs plan to expand their focus to include developing training programs. The percentage of CCOs who have committed to developing training programs over the next year or two is up a whopping 25 points over the share doing so now . In tandem, 13 percentage points more CCOs have committed to building immersive employee experiences. These are areas in which CCOs currently have limited responsibility.

[Read also: The secret to leadership success: fostering business agility]

To support these initiatives, a quarter of CCOs in the survey say they are planning to create new business models to drive growth as well as systems to reward performance against goals.

Platforms set CCOs up for success

CCOs are among the most bullish on the progress their organization will make on implementing a digital enterprise platform. Nearly half expect their business to build a platform that integrates multiple functions versus 13% of CEOs, 38% of CHROs, 58% of CIOs, and 23% of COOs.

A third of CCOs believe their organization should plan to create a global team that uses the digital enterprise platform to drive agility, a bit higher than the percentages of their CHRO and CIO peers. However, only 3% of CEOs and COOs agree.

Overall, CCOs are optimistic about the future. In the coming years, 68% look forward to improved employee engagement and 58% to increased customer satisfaction.

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