What is a Chief Experience Officer? The Qualities to Hire the Best CXO to Lead Your Organization

Chief experience officer (CXO) looking at her computer and feeling productive

What is a chief experience officer, why do businesses need a CXO, and how should I hire the right one to lead my organization’s customer experience and employee experience programs? We’re answering these questions and more along with sharing a CXO job description template, too.

Connected experiences are a top priority for the most successful organizations across every industry — they use customer experience (CX) and employee experience (EX) programs in tandem to achieve business outcomes.

Organizations need the strategy to come from somewhere, though. And that’s where the chief experience officer (CXO) comes in. CXOs, which are also referred to as the chief customer officer (CCO) or the chief customer experience officer (CCXO), sit in the C-suite but their leadership permeates throughout an organization. After all, it’s frontline employees who interact with customers on a daily basis.

While the chief experience officer is a relatively new role, CXOs are quickly becoming a must-have for businesses. Harvard Business Review has made the case that every company needs a chief experience officer, and, according to 2020 Gartner data, nearly all organizations (90%) now have a CXO, CCO, or an equivalent role.

As your organization expands, the need for a chief experience officer at the helm increases significantly.

What Do Chief Experience Officers Do?

In today’s customer-focused business landscape, the role of chief experience officer is vital. Let’s break down what these key players do. They’re responsible for the following core functions.

Customer Representation

CXOs serve as the C-level executive responsible for bringing customer needs and perspectives into the C-suite. They ensure that the voice of the customer is heard at the highest levels of the organization.

Team Formation

They’re tasked with building a specialized customer experience team. This team often includes experts in analytics, design, and change management, all collaborating to improve customer experience.

Strategic Leadership

The CXO directs the company’s comprehensive customer experience strategy. They take actionable steps to translate plans into execution, driving the organization towards customer-centricity.

Monitoring Metrics

Key performance indicators, such as Net Promoter Score (NPS®) and customer satisfaction (CSAT), are not just data points for the CXO. They use these metrics to measure and improve customer experience continually.

Aligning with Business Goals 

The CXO doesn’t operate in isolation. They work to ensure that customer experience strategies not only improve customer satisfaction, but also contribute to broader business outcomes, such as revenue gains and cost savings.

Organizational Structure

The CXO role can differ across companies. In some businesses, a head of customer experience might report to another C-suite member, such as the CMO. In others, the CXO takes on a broader role, managing both customer and employee experience efforts.

Operational Responsibilities 

In some cases, the CXO role has expanded to oversee customer-facing operational teams and even parts of marketing. This showcases the evolving and multifaceted nature of the position.

In essence, a CXO is integral to ensuring a seamless and positive customer experience, while also driving key business results. They serve as the connecting point between the customer’s needs and the company’s overarching strategy.

4 Qualities That Make a Chief Experience Officer Successful

What is Customer Journey Management?

What sets successful CXOs apart from the rest? Bill Staikos, who held the role of Head of Customer Experience at Freddie Mac and Head of Customer Experience Analytics & Strategy at JPMorgan Chase & Co. and is now Senior Vice President, Executive Advisory at Medallia, shared the top qualities to look for in potential candidates.

Find someone who checks every box, and you’ll set your organization’s CX and EX efforts up for success.

#1. Influence skills

The CXO only has direct ownership of their individual function, but at the same time they’re tasked with changing the entire business, which is why being able to influence, persuade, and guide others is key to being effective.

“CXOs need to be able to influence not only others in the C-suite, but also the next layer down and be able to energize the broader organization around the importance of being customer-led,” says Staikos. “Frankly, that’s the one area where many CX leaders fall short. It’s the most important skill, but, in many cases, it’s a single point of failure.”

#2. Collaboration and partnership

CXOs typically need to be able to collaborate and foster strong partnerships with other C-level leaders, including the CFO, CMO, COO, and CHRO, in addition to the CEO. Working in partnership with these executives, the chief experience officer must understand each C-level leader’s objectives and business goals and use these insights to get their buy-in for company-wide experience efforts.

#3. The ability to operate in agile ways

Successful CXOs take agile practices and apply these ways of working to improve experiences within their organizations. This requires being able to quickly stand up cross-functional teams throughout the business to execute and iterate on experience initiatives to deliver on customer and employee needs.

#4. Being strategic

CXO innovators are evolving beyond measuring KPIs like CSAT and NPS and are instead tying their efforts to support the overall business strategy. Strategic thinking helps CXOs connect the dots between customer and employee experience and key business outcomes, across the board and at the individual C-level level. The CXO must use strategic thinking to align various C-suite members around CX and EX efforts.

What Is the Difference Between a CEO and CXO?

Understanding the distinct roles of a chief executive officer (CEO) and CXO helps to clarify how each contributes to a company’s success. While the CEO focuses on the overall management and direction of the company, the CXO concentrates on optimizing the customer and employee experience to align with the organization’s goals.

Let’s break down some of the key differences between CEOs and CXOs:

Scope of Responsibilities

The CEO is the top-tier executive responsible for the overall direction and success of the company. They focus on everything from strategy and operations to finance and human resources. The CXO, on the other hand, zeroes in on experience, either customer experience alone or a combination of CX and EX. They are responsible for defining and implementing an experience strategy that aligns with the company’s broader goals.

Decision-Making Power 

While both roles sit in the C-suite, the CEO generally has the final say in decisions that affect the entire company. The CXO often works closely with the CEO to inform those decisions, particularly when it relates to customer experience and satisfaction.

Team Management 

CEOs oversee the entire organization and all of its departments. CXOs, conversely, manage a more specialized team focused on customer and employee insights, analytics, and experience design.

Key Metrics 

CEOs keep an eye on a wide range of performance indicators, like profitability, market share, and growth rate. CXOs focus more on customer-related metrics, such as NPS® and CSAT.

Strategic Alignment 

The CEO sets the overall business strategy, while the CXO is responsible for a subset of that strategy, specifically concerning customer experience. The CXO’s role is to ensure customer experience aligns with — and enhances — the broader business objectives set by the CEO.

Business Goals 

CEOs are chiefly concerned with the bottom line, long-term growth, and shareholder value. CXOs, although they contribute to these goals, prioritize customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy, recognizing these elements as drivers of long-term success.

External vs. Internal Focus 

While the CEO is often engaged with stakeholders outside the company, such as investors and board members, the CXO tends to focus on internal operations, particularly those that directly affect the customer.

Hire for the CXO Position: The Chief Experience Officer Job Description — Template

Two senior leaders focused on digital experience discuss recent feedback on a tablet

Creating a job description is tricky, especially for a C-level executive like a CXO. We’ve made it simple, however, by creating a chief experience officer job description template that you can use.

Here are the key sections to include in your chief experience officer job description:

  • Objective for the chief experience officer job description
  • Key responsibilities of the chief experience officer
  • Required qualifications you’re looking for among potential CXO candidates
  • Qualities you want your next chief customer experience officer to possess

Now, we’ll explore each section so you can start building out a job description to hire for the CXO position.

Drafting the Objective for a Chief Experience Officer Role

In drafting the objective section, think about what’s unique to your business and what the chief experience officer is tasked with accomplishing. Below are a few areas to think about:

  • State the objective and purpose of the job
  • Be really clear about why you need this role — why now?
  • What impact do you want your CXO and CX team to have
  • Consider and include the business outcomes this role will be accountable for helping the team achieve (this will likely be different for every company)
  • Include specific metrics you expect this role to improve

Candidates will understand what the organization wants to accomplish and where the CXO fits into it all.

Here’s an example objective for a chief experience officer job description:

The three primary objectives of this new CXO position are to drive revenue, increase operational efficiencies while reducing operational costs, and strengthen the overall organizational culture.

You can certainly add more details, but discussing the objective in depth is better done during the interview phase.

Key Responsibilities to Include in a Chief Experience Officer Job Description

Responsibilities indicate what the CXO is accountable for. Be as accurate and detailed as possible in this section — it provides candidates with an idea of what to expect. You don’t want to surprise the person hired later on if their responsibilities are vastly different than what the job description laid out.

Here are sample responsibilities you can use for your CXO job description:

Oversee core customer experience efforts: Manage team functions, such as voice of the customer and analytics, design, change management, and potentially marketing, digital teams, and customer-facing operations, such as the contact center
Empower the workforce to make customer-led decisions by giving them the necessary tools, capabilities, and resources
Create a heightened level of awareness of customer and employee experiences and needs across leadership
Measure the impact of CX and EX: Keep track of metrics like NPS, CSAT, and employee engagement — whatever the organization’s KPIs of choice are — and tie these to business outcomes like revenue
Serve as an advocate for the customer and the workforce on specific initiatives and strategies throughout the organization

Candidates with experience should welcome the responsibilities they’re tasked with. It’s in their DNA to want to strategize, deliver, and analyze experiences that lead to business outcomes.

Important Qualifications for a Chief Experience Officer Job Description

There are two main philosophical approaches as to what makes someone the most qualified to be a chief experience officer. Some leaders prefer hiring CXOs with business and operational experience and say the best candidates come from within the business. On the other hand, others prefer leaders who have risen through the ranks of the disciplines of CX or EX.

Depending on your company’s take on things, you’ll want to be sure to highlight your preferred qualifications here in this section of the chief experience officer job description.

The Pros & Cons of Hiring Someone with a General Business Background, a Leader from Within Another Function of the Business

If you decide to promote a marketing or operations leader, for instance, the benefits of doing so include that the employee may:

  • Have a deep understanding of how the business is run
  • Have more clear insight into how to tie CX strategies and metrics to financial outcomes
  • Have more respect from fellow C-level leaders based on the work they’ve already accomplished within the organization

Some disadvantages of promoting from within from another business area include that the employee may:

  • Be less familiar with CX practices, including capturing the voice of the customer, conducting journey mapping, and so forth
  • Have less expertise than their direct reports when it comes to CX best practices

The Pros & Cons of Hiring a CXO with a CX Background

The advantages of hiring someone with a more traditional CX background include that the employee will likely:

  • Have a better understanding of the full function and potential of CX and EX
  • Possess a deep understanding of customers and the workforce, and their needs, on a much deeper level than people coming from operational roles
  • Understand how different functions should work together to create value
  • Possess the fundamental skill of influence, having likely already partnered with teams horizontally in former CX roles

Some drawbacks of hiring a leader with a CX background instead of a broader business background include that the candidate may:

  • Have a more limited understanding of the broader business
  • May be more analytical and less flexible about CX processes and strategies

Only you, however, know whether your organization prefers someone with a general business background or a CX background to hire the best CXO based on your needs.

Must-Have Qualifications for a CXO Candidate

CXOs need experience. Not only since it’s a position in the C-suite but also because of the responsibilities they take on.

Here are some qualities to mention in the job description for candidates applying to become your CXO:

– Has an expert level of understanding of CX practices, including capturing the voice of the customer, conducting journey mapping, etc.
– Possesses a deep understanding of how the business is run
– Knows how to tie CX strategies and metrics to financial outcomes
– Possesses a deep understanding of customers and the workforce, and their needs
– Understands how to best collaborate with other teams to create value
– Has experience starting CX initiatives from scratch
– Has a proven track record of increasing CX metrics and delivering business results (ie. revenue, etc.)

Inexperienced candidates are unlikely to have the skill set required to be successful, so keep your eye on qualities that experienced CXOs typically bring to the table.

What Qualities to List in a Chief Experience Officer Job Description

As discussed above, there are a handful of important qualities to be sure to include as part of your job description.

We’re looking for a chief experience officer who:

– Is influential
– Is collaborative
– Is a strong partner
– Understands and applies agile methodology
– Has a strategic mindset

In addition to these five traits, Staikos shares that there are four key CXO archetypes (described below) and that the most successful CXOs are those who can embody all four archetypes and leverage these different approaches to be successful on the job.

We’re looking for a candidate who embodies all four of these CXO characteristics:

Practitioner: Brings an empathetic, human-centered design approach to their work
Technologist: Understands how technology enables better delivery of experiences for customers and the workforce
Data architect: Knows what data is needed to achieve success, create connected experiences, and partner with other business units
Futurist: Someone who is constantly curious about changes and shifts in demographics and psychographics and how these impact demand and different products and services

Between those qualities and characteristics, your organization should know exactly the type of person to seek in a chief experience officer.

Why the Chief Experience Officer Position is Important to Every Organization

CXOs are instrumental in helping improve CX and EX strategies and outcomes to boost revenue, operational efficiencies, and organizations’ overall culture.

When companies fall short of advancing effective customer and employee experience efforts that drive business outcomes, it’s often because there’s not a strong CXO in place with the authority to own and oversee the experience, unify customer experience and employee experience data, guide leadership on what efforts to prioritize, empower frontline teams with access to the CX insights needed to do their jobs better, and ensure alignment and accountability across functions.

Check out our guide — From Customer Experience to Connected Experience: The Executive’s Guide to Breaking Silos and Delivering Business Results — to see why enterprises across industries are relying on the power of the chief experience officer to drive revenue, reduce costs, and improve company culture.