GuidesCustomer researchWhat is a chief experience officer (CXO)? Definition, responsibilities

What is a chief experience officer (CXO)? Definition, responsibilities

Last updated

11 March 2023

Reviewed by

Miroslav Damyanov

As companies move to create a better customer experience across the board, a new seat at the table has been created for the Chief Experience Officer (CXO). This is a C-suite position that has taken on as vital a role as Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), Chief Information Officer (CIO), Chief Financial Officer (CFO), and other C_Os.

While the role continues to evolve and may vary from company to company, the CXO generally reports to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), and must communicate between all departments of a company to measure and enhance user experiences.

What a CXO does

A CXO's primary responsibility is to enhance the customer/user experience. Though that sounds simple enough, the role spans the process from the customer’s initial discovery of the company, purchasing a product or service, their experience after purchase, and then the customer's willingness to continue to engage with the company. 

In other words, the CXO needs to engage in every aspect of the business that affects the customer, from product design to marketing to customer support. 

Unlike a Chief Customer Officer, who primarily deals with issues once a customer is engaged, the CXO must be more forward-thinking and analytical to judge a customer's experience even before it begins. 

To accomplish that, the CXO must implement the collection of customer data to address each step of the customer journey: discovery, purchase, support, and call-center interactions. 

What are the priorities of a CXO?

The priorities of a CXO are to create valuable customer experiences across their entire company interaction, including:

  • Discovery

  • Engagement

  • Purchase

  • Product use 

Is the CEO higher than CXO?

Yes, a CXO generally reports to the CEO. 

The benefits of hiring a CXO

Because the CXO spans the various silos that often develop within companies, such as marketing, sales, support, and product design, the role of CXO helps the company maintain a broader view of the overall customer experience. The CXO is able to coalesce data from across departments to create strategies for improving the customer experience at each step in their journey.

Improving a customer's experience means they are likely to become repeat customers, and even brand ambassadors when they share their experience about a company with friends and colleagues. 

The role also alleviates pressure from the CEO and/or COO in serving as the only positions to take a broader view across the company. 

CXO vs. CMO

A CXO encompasses a vastly larger role than a Chief Marketing Officer, who only experiences part of the customer journey. A CMO focuses on engaging the customer and attracting them into the sales funnel. The CMO oversees this lead-generation role, with a vision of attracting both quantity and quality leads. 

The CMO, by nature, will have less input in terms of product development, sales, and support, which are all vital roles in the customer journey that would involve a CXO. 

CXO experience and skills

A CXO, ideally, will have more than a decade of experience with a company and have shown the ability to reach across departments and offer visionary skills. The ideal candidate will likely come from a marketing or sales background, but also have experience in product development or financial operations. 

The candidate should have excellent communication skills, especially the ability to listen, as they work across departments. 

Why every company should have a CXO

As customers have sought to take control of their buying journey, ensuring that they have a great experience becomes vital for any business to thrive. Having a C-level executive dedicated to improving customer experience brings these advantages:

Become more customer-centric

A customer-focused executive working across all departments creates a customer-centric culture that spreads throughout the company. This boosts buy-in from each department as they see how a customer-centric model helps them reach their goals. 

Deliver a consistent customer experience

Following the strategic plan set out by the CXO creates a consistent customer experience, from exploration to purchase to service. 

Improve customer retention

As a CXO monitors a customer’s experience, tracks feedback, and observes trends, the CXO will develop strategies to continue to improve customer satisfaction with the company and product, thereby enhancing customer retention

Refine the product roadmap

By coalescing data that reflects the customer's journey and experience, refining the product roadmap becomes easier and more consistent as changes can be made based on that wealth of data. 

Qualifications for a chief experience officer

The following are the general qualifications for a chief experience officer:

  • Education: A bachelor's or master's degree in marketing, public relations, communications, or business administration

  • Experience: At least a decade of experience as associates and VPs in customer-facing departments 

  • Communication skills: Must demonstrate excellent communication skills and listening ability

  • Visionary thinking: Creativity in problem-solving, decisiveness in decision-making, and vision beyond day-to-day duties

What makes a great CXO?

A great CXO offers excellent communication skills, a visionary outlook, and empathic abilities that allow the person to work across a company's silos to develop a strategic outlook that attracts buy-in from all key parties. 

How to become a CXO

For those interested in exploring the exciting new role of CXO, these steps will point you in the right direction:

Earn your bachelor's degree

Earn a bachelor's degree in marketing, communications, psychology or public relations. 

Learn how to use marketing channels

Marketing channels will teach you about the buyer's journey and make you more empathetic toward the customer. 

Further your education

Add a master's degree in business administration to gain a greater understanding of the business side. A future CXO should also explore courses or seminars in product development, sales, and customer support to ensure broad knowledge about each role impacted by the CXO. 

Gain experience

Starting in the marketing department will help you build a foundation of knowledge about customers and their journey. You also should explore roles in sales and customer support, as that will give you more opportunities to work face-to-face with customers to better understand their experience. 

Chief experience officer salary

According to Glassdoor, the average base salary for a CXO in the United States in 2023 is $145,293 with total compensation of $275,947. The pay range likely spans from $207,000 to $381,000 with a possible salary range of $160,000 to $502,000. 

The bottom line

A CXO is a new and evolving business role. Hiring one will ensure you have a strong change agent in your company who knows your customers better than anyone and who also understands your business goals to the core.

In short, the CXO will encourage cross-functional collaboration and empower customer-centric business culture through a visionary outlook and empathic abilities.

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