As John Lewis promotes Craig Inglis to a Customer Director role, here are my thoughts on the rise of the customer director for Marketing Magazine. 

“I think that the rise of the customer director – or chief customer officer as they call them in the US – is long overdue in the UK. Customers in an omnichannel world have high expectations of brands. They expect propositions to be built around their needs and expect businesses to deliver this seamlessly across all channels.

The customer director’s job isn’t about ‘broadcasting’ to customers, it’s about making sure that the customer is at the heart of the business and that every element of the customer experience demonstrates this.

I do think it is part of a wider change: companies are realising that to continue growing in today’s market, they need to be fully focused on customers. Having a board-level executive with the mandate and the power to ensure that a business is centred around customers sends a pretty clear message to investors and colleagues alike.

Earlier this year, I heard Richard Thaler, co-author of the behavioural science classic, Nudge, describe to a London audience how he and his colleagues at Chicago Booth Business School were gearing up to train the next generation of chief customer officers, thinking about how to equip their MBA students with the customer skillsets they would need to operate at board level. This suggests to me that the roles of CCO and customer director are here to stay.

I don’t see the role as a fad, as long as customer directors are given the authority to reshape the proposition and ownership of the relevant operational levers to make it happen. I think without someone actively shaping the business around the customer, key elements of the customer experience risk falling into silos and crucial insights into customers can be diluted or lost.”

These comments were originally published in Marketing Magazine in September 2015 – click here to view Sara Spary’s full article.