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THE customer is king. So some firms have started appointing chief customer officers (CCOs) to serve the king more attentively. These new additions to the (already crowded) C-suite are supposed to look at the business from the customer’s point of view. They try to focus on the entire “customer experience”, rather than on individual transactions.

An article by The Economist reflects on the matter, and refers to the book “Outside In” (Amazon) by Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine of Forrester Research, who observe that customers are growing more powerful.

“The internet makes it easier to shop around and share complaints with a wide audience. Yet poor service persists. Mr Manning and Ms Bodine have been asking customers about their experiences with American companies for years. In 2012 a third of the 160 firms they asked about were rated “poor” or “very poor”. Health insurers and cable companies fared worst.”

The article ends with this hilarious recommendation: “Phone a firm that has appointed a chief customer officer and see if you can reach a human being. If not, that CCO might as well be tossed from an executive-floor window, no doubt clutching his collection of ‘journey maps’ and ‘customer archetypes’.”