Why You Need a Chief Engagement Officer

Who is the most important person in your business? I hope you answered the customer or client? That’s right … you can take anyone out of your company and you will survive, but if the customer(s) is not there, you have a hobby, not a business.

So if the customer is the most important person, why aren’t you forming an organization around their wants, needs, and desires? Why don’t you have a point person responsible for all interactions with that imperative individual(s)? A person who is responsible for attracting them, building trust with them, selling to them, developing brand loyalty, and building a relation so rich that your customers will both rally for and defend your brand.

That is the role of the Chief Engagement Officer. Think of all the touch points that potential and existing customers have with your company. If we look at your organization today, the role and the responsibility of a Chief Engagement Officer is part marketing, sales, billing, and customer service.

Time for Chief Engagement OfficerNow you can say all the touch points I have defined and all the areas of responsibility I have listed have been in place for 100 years. So why do we need a Chief Engagement Officer now? The answer is simple. There has been one dramatic aspect that has changed the way business is done. That is the evolution and now ubiquitous nature of our digital world.

Digital technologies and cultural adoption uses have flipped the playing field completely whether you like it or not. The customer has far greater control of a brand position and reputation than the company behind the brand. There is no more making pretend this is not so and denying it. If you are, your business will soon be dead.

I recently read through an excellent presentation by David Meerman Scott titled, “The New Rules of Selling.” David details how buying behavior and actual purchasing has changed. Before they go into the car dealer, for example, they already have researched and have decided what they want to purchase. From my perspective, this means that engagement and proliferation of valuable information are paramount. The Chief Engagement Officer needs to manage all aspects of content, communication, customer service, and motivating loyal customers to advocate on behalf of the brand. I have come to the conclusion that marketing is the new sales. At bit confusing, yes, but think about it. You need to put valued information in front of your target audience to help them make buying decisions. This information and stories come from both your company and your existing audience.

As I mentioned in the beginning, “There has been one dramatic element that has changed the way business is done.” Similarly, Meerman Scott rightfully declares, “Now BUYERS are in charge of relationships they choose to do business with.” And given this reality, companies don’t require a head of sales, marketing, and customer support. They must have a Chief Engagement Officer that covers the entire gamut.

Now I know you can look me up on LinkedIn or see my bio here on my blog and see that I am the Chief Engagement Officer at Social Steve Consulting. Sure, you can easily say, “Oh Social Steve, that is so self serving to write an article covering Why You Need a Chief Engagement Officer.” But think about this … I have been a marketing executive for 20 years. I have my own consulting practice. I could have given myself any title. But I am a Chief Engagement Officer because the responsibilities that go with that title are driven by the needs of brands through out the world. Customer behavior and current business environment dictate needs to change organizational leadership structure. And organizations require a new type of leader if they really want to win customers and spawn word of mouth marketing. How much longer can brands continue to be stagnant and avoid organizational changes that must happen to drive success?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve



Filed under behavior, brand communication, brands, change management, company organization, customer service, marketing, sales, Social Steve, SocialSteve

6 responses to “Why You Need a Chief Engagement Officer

  1. Hi Steve,

    An interesting view! But I’m afraid I would disagree. I don’t support the idea ‘engagement’ should be delegated to any one official. Especially not to a ‘Chief’. Organizations in a 3.0 society can only prosper if engagement is the responsibility of everyone at the firm. In earlier times organizations made similar unsuccessful efforts when degelating ‘quality’ or ‘communications’ to specialized officials.
    We have to re-think our businesses and create structures and cultures that really embrace clients. To the very core of our organizations. Not delegate engagement to one individual. As if everyone else should go on with their work (which is..?) and the Chief Engagement Officer should wonder about clients on his own.

    • Peter – thanks for joining the conversation. I agree with you that so many within the organization must engage with customers and clients. This should not be left to solely the Chief Engagement Officer but rather the Chief Engagement Officer is responsible for orchestrating the engagement of a large force of employees from different disciplines.
      Best, Steve

  2. Jim Matorin

    Steve: You are ahead of the curve on this one.

    Peter: I think you make a valid point, but for companies to thrive in a 3.0 society, they are going to have to become social, change their cultures which means one of the starting points is to break down the silos and get employees to collaborate which based on what I am reading, is not happening. Will it happen. I am optimistic, but a good starting point would be a Chief Engagement Officier to at least give a company a voice. I know because I am a Ghost Chief Engagement Offcier for a company that has too many silos and is stagnant socially.

  3. I like the idea of a Chief Engagement Officer, but I am having a hard time with having two CEO’s. I am currently the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of my company and wouldn’t want to confuse our internal or external stakeholders. I would love to hear your thoughts.


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