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The following is a guest blog post from CX expert Jeanne Bliss. To hear more from Jeanne and learn the five core competencies of customer-centric companies, watch the webinar The Rise of the Chief Customer Officer.

I recently got back from speaking at a conference where I met with many CMOs of the worlds’ largest companies. Customer experience is a priority to all.

The question we discussed was the following: could the discipline and competencies required to lead a company through a customer experience transformation be led from marketing, by the CMO? In other words, can the CMO also be the chief customer officer (CCO)?

The answer is yes, however...

The reason for this answer is because customer experience is a shift in how a company will and will not grow. It affects leadership, operations, how people are hired and how the company goes to market.

There are many successful CMOs who take on the dual role of change agent inside the organization to transform the business—essentially the CCO duties. Pacific Gas & Electric’s Laurie Giammona is both the CCO and CMO. At Walgreen’s, Graham Atkinson held both roles, as does Heather Carroll Cox at Citi.

What these leaders did to be successful was to deliberately expand their skill set, the knowledge of their teams and their reach beyond traditional marketing tasks of brand building and shaping. They reached within the organization to do the following:

  • Establish relationships with leaders across the organization
  • Translate the brand to operationally relevant actions aligned to the customer journey
  • Unite leaders in changing behavior, language and how they hold people accountable
  • Become operationally relevant and facilitate change
CMO to CCO Skills Expansion Required

When the CMO is also the CCO, their personal skill set must expand to include skills that may not be organic to marketing leadership skills traditionally developed. That is why the answer to that question above is “yes, however…”

The expansion of the CMO and their teams needs to expand to include:

  • Executive leadership
  • Team alignment
  • Change management
  • Customer experience design
  • Culture change
  • Process and operational engagement
  • Company communication and engagement
  • Uniting company accountability to improving customers' lives
  • Translating and facilitating one-company improvements

Beyond these skills, what we find is that the most effective CMO/CCO leaders are deeply engrained in the operation and frequently run a portion of the operation. This gives them their relevance and ability to scale the work across the organization—and the credibility as they work across the leadership team to make change to the operation. If you haven’t lived the work to run the operation, there can be some resistance as many have experienced.


With increasing clarity, the role of the CCO is being understood as a C-suite partner working with the leadership team to enable decisions and operational execution of an experience that earns customer-driven growth. As more CMOs seek to solidify their role in this important work, they will need to expand their skill set and that of their teams to ensure their place as leaders of their company’s customer experience transformation.

This article first appeared on and is republished with permission. 

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