Chief Customer Officer vs Chief Operating Officer: The Differences

Published on November 2nd, 2023


As customer experience grows increasingly important, more companies are appointing Chief Customer Officers (CCOs) to their executive teams. This pivotal role is dedicated to understanding customers and driving superior experiences.

However, the CCO position is often confused with the more established Chief Operating Officer (COO) role. While there is some overlap, there are key differences between these C-suite leaders. 

In this article, let's examine COO vs CCO and how their responsibilities compare.

Defining the Chief Customer Officer Role

Chief Customer Officer is an executive fully devoted to the customer lifecycle. The CCO builds company-wide strategies for attracting, engaging, and retaining customers. They oversee areas like marketing, customer service, success, and experience to nurture relationships and loyalty. 

Common CCO responsibilities include:

The CCO role aims to align the entire organization around delivering positive experiences. They ensure the customer remains the core focus of operations, products, and innovations.

Also read: How to Hire a Chief Customer Success Officer

Defining the Chief Operating Officer Role 

In contrast, the Chief Operating Officer is focused on executing business strategy and managing day-to-day operations. The COO oversees the production and delivery of products and services. 

Typical COO responsibilities include:

  • Driving operational efficiency and excellence 
  • Providing company-wide leadership for operations 
  • Accountability for performance metrics and KPIs
  • Overseeing research, technology, manufacturing, and supply chain
  • Coordinating operations across business units and functions
  • Implementing operational strategies to support growth

The COO concentrates on streamlining and scaling internal capabilities, resources, and systems. Their goal is to maximize performance and profitability through operations.

Comparison: Chief Customer Officer vs Chief Operating Officer (COO vs CCO)

AspectChief Customer Officer (CCO)Chief Operating Officer (COO)
Primary FocusCustomer experience and satisfactionOperational efficiency and effectiveness
  • Customer experience strategy
  • Customer Advocacy
  • Data analysis and insights
  • Cross-functional collaboration
  • Retention and loyalty programs
  • Operational efficiency and optimization
  • Strategic planning and execution
  • Risk management and mitigation
  • Team leadership and direction
  • Technology and innovation
Role EvolutionA relatively new role evolved from the need for a customer-centric focus in organizationsA traditional role with historical roots in optimizing internal processes
Metrics of Success
  • Customer satisfaction scores
  • Retention rates
  • Customer loyalty
  • Operational efficiency improvements
  • Cost reductions
  • Successful execution of strategic plans
Interdepartmental CollaborationCollaborates to infuse customer-centricity throughout the organizationCollaborates to streamline internal processes and align with strategic goals

Key Differences Between COO vs CCO

While COO vs CCO both senior executives, there are some notable differences between the roles:

  • Focus: CCOs are externally focused on customers while COOs are internally focused on operations.
  • Scope: CCOs oversee ‘post-sale’ customer experience while COOs manage ‘pre-sale’ operations and production. 
  • Expertise: CCOs possess customer psychology and marketing skills. COOs possess operational and technical know-how.
  • Priorities: CCOs drive loyalty, retention, and satisfaction. COOs drive efficiency, scale, and execution. 
  • Metrics: CCOs measure NPS and CSAT. COOs measure capacity, revenue, and profitability.  
  • Vision: CCOs set a strategic customer experience vision. COOs enable strategy through operationalization. 

There are very distinct orientations between the two roles. However, the CCO and COO must align to collectively achieve business success.

Collaborative Goals for COOs vs CCOs

Although their focuses differ, the COO vs CCO should collaborate closely on shared goals:

  • Ensuring excellent end-to-end customer experiences. This requires aligning operations to the customer journey.
  • Driving business growth through retention and acquisition. This requires balancing customer needs with operational capabilities.
  • Enabling innovation. This requires using customer insights to develop new offerings.
  • Increasing efficiency while maintaining quality experiences. This requires optimizing operations without sacrificing customer needs.

The CCO acts as the ‘voice of the customer’ while the COO represents operational realities. By partnering together, the two can take a holistic approach to grow the business.

The Evolving Role of the CCO

As consumers increasingly demand great experiences, customer obsession is moving up the strategic ladder. More companies are adopting dedicated CCOs to lead customer focus through business transformations. 

According to Forbes, the number of Fortune 500 CCOs increased by 80% from 2017 to 2020. Looking forward, the prominence of CCOs will likely continue rising across industries. Combined with savvy COO counterparts, CCOs have the opportunity to spearhead major competitive advantages through customer experience.

CCOs and COOs play very different but equally critical roles. CCOs bring the customer to the forefront while COOs optimize behind-the-scenes capabilities. By understanding these complementary executives, companies can align leadership around customers and operations to drive success.

EasySource simplifies hiring for Chief Customer Officer (CCO) and Chief Operating Officer (COO) roles with its candidate discovery, screening, and engagement modules. The candidate discovery module swiftly identifies qualified candidates based on specific job requirements, streamlining the initial search process. Meanwhile, the candidate screening module efficiently evaluates candidate qualifications, ensuring they align with organizational needs and culture. 

Lastly, the candidate engagement module facilitates seamless communication and interaction with potential hires, fostering a positive candidate experience and enhancing recruitment outcomes. Together, these features empower recruiters to efficiently source, screen, and engage top talent for CCO and COO positions, expediting the hiring process while ensuring quality hires.





As a technical content writer and social media strategist, Soujanya develops and manages strategies at HireQuotient. With strong technical background and years of experience in content management, she looks for opportunities to flourish in the digital space. Soujanya is also a dance fanatic and believes in spreading light!

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