Arise the new CEO: Chief eXperience Officer

Since the early days of the web, marketeers have espoused the merits of “managing customer experience” and how online it is only the “experience” that will differentiate companies as the web brings pricing transparency.

Certainly in the case of the latter issue, the rise of “comparison” sites has highlighted the fact that price alone can not be a long term strategy. Post the Internet bubble bursting the issue of customer experience has for many had to take a back seat while organizations strove cost cutting measures to remain profitable or even just to survive in the midst of recession.

However more recently it seems that customer experience is again getting more prominence and importance in organizations. I believe mobile has had a role to play in creating this renewed excitement with the apps showing “the art of the possible”: engaging user interfaces with greater usability.

It’s no surprise to see experience champions rallying their brethren troops to create their own community of professionals in the field. Founded by Bruce Temkin (previously an analyst at Forrester) , the CXPA (Customer experience Professionals Association) is a organization focused on creating standards and best practice in Customer Experience Management.

As a non profit organization it’s sponsors in Adobe, Microsoft and SAP. Whilst it is early days there are enough credible people involved to make this a success in an area which sorely requires standards.

But what really captured my attention this week was an announcement by US Insurance company Mass Mutual, appointing a Chief Customer Experience Officer, the remit of this role is to manage “central oversight of the end-to-end experience for MassMutual customers to ensure a consistent, favorable and efficient interaction across the organization”.

What’s interesting about this is that whilst most C level directors recognize the importance of customer experience, very few actually have someone in their company whose prime responsibility is managing customer experience.

So well done to Mass Mutual and hopefully we see many more similar appointments, in the meantime however the CXPA or someone of the same ilk needs to bring some much needed standards and best practices to a field crowded with self proclaimed “experts”.

Dharmesh Mistry is the CTO/COO of Edge IPK, a leading provider of front-end Web solutions. Within his blog, “Facing up to IT”, Dharmesh considers a number of technology issues, ranging from Web 2.0, SOA and Mobile platforms, and how these impact upon business. Having launched some of the very first online financial services in 1997, and since then delivering online solutions to over 30 FS organisations and pioneering Single Customer View (Lloyds Bank, 1989) and Multi Channel FS (Demonstrated in Tomorrow’s World in 99), Dharmesh can be considered a true veteran of both the Financial Services and Technology industries.