The CEO Should Be The Chief Experience Officer

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The CEO Should Be The Chief Experience Officer


Earlier this week, I was chatting with my friend, co-founder and CEO of HubSpot, Brian Halligan. We were doing one of our ad-hoc strategy sessions about the business, and working through some things.

After that conversation, as I was driving to a dinner meeting, an idea occurred to me. The phrase “Chief Executive Officer” doesn't convey much, if anything. There's a better way to describe the wrench

I will posit that in a technology company, the CEO should be the Chief Experience Officer.

If the CEO can make the following set of experiences amazing, by definition, she will make an amazing company.

1. Product Experience: What is the experience like using the product and getting value from it? Does it solve the problem simply? Does it make users happy, productive and hopeful when they're using it, or does it make them frustrated, angry, agitated and depressed?

2. Purchasing Experience: What is it like to go through the sales process and buy the product? Was it easy to figure out whether the product was the right fit? Was the pricing straight-forward? Was the buying process smooth without unnecessary steps and complexity?

3. Brand Experience: What is it like to interact with the company's brand? Does talking about the company with others ignite passion? What kind of emotions does it evoke? When people see the logo online or offline, what's the visceral reaction?

4. Support Experience: What is it like to receive support from the company? Do people dread having to call in and get help? When they do make contact, do they feel like the company cares not just about appeasing and pleasing — but that the actual problem is addressed?

5. Exit Experience: What is it like to leave the company, return the product, or cancel the subscription and no longer be a customer? Sometimes you can tell more about a company by how it treats customers on their way out, than on their way in.

6. Employee Experience: What's it like being recruited by the company? Working for the company? Being let go from the company? If you have a terrible employee experience, you will not attract the kinds of people that will make the customer experience amazing. It just doesn't work.

Notice that most of the above experiences are all about the customer. How does the customer experience the company? I think that's the primary set of experiences the CEO should worry about. The reason is simple, by improving the overall customer experience, everyone wins. Including the investors/shareholders (and yes, the CEO also needs to manage the shareholder experience too).

So, Don't just improve the product, improve the experience. This is one of the points I made in my Business of Software (2010) presentation (I think it was one of my better ones, full video and transcript available).

What do you think? Am I over-thinking the importance of the overall experience? Any lessons learned or tips on how to measure and improve the end-to-end experience?

Posted by Dharmesh Shah on Tue, Nov 15, 2011


Well put, I'm actually having a hard time referring to myself as CEO, seems more like a useless title at this point more than anything else. I really just want to champion the company I started, which means being involved in many facets of it's development. Thanks for the good reminder.

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 2:55 PM by Darren

That is great. I have used that title for the last year with my green house cleaning franchise Better Life Maids. A business really is beholden to the experiences they create for their clients, and their staff. Love this. 
Matthew Ricketts 
President/Chief Experience Officer 
Better Life Maids

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 2:56 PM by Matthew Ricketts

Dharmesh,I couldn't agree more that the touchpoints that create the brand in the market and the brand to the employees rolls up only to the CEO, so the CEO needs to own them completely. The CEO needs to do other things as well, but this is probably the most important area to get right in order to build a great company. 
Scott Maxwell 
OpenView Venture Partners

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 2:57 PM by Scott Maxwell

That was well written. You can't put the CEO's job any easier.

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 2:58 PM by Keith Shay

Excellent points. The experience is what provides value in today's hyper competitive environment and it allows selling stories to spread faster. 
I think of it as 'Astonishment Architecture'. To figure out what are the levels of expectations before, during and after a customer interaction or touch point and how do we totally exceed those expectations plus deliver surprise and delight.  
Of course, there are different levels of expected experiences for a 5-star hotel vs staying in a roadside motel. For example, I was in Maui last week and when the valets brought around my car they had mini water bottles loaded in there. That was cool and a nice touch but not astonishing. (Though it might have been at the roadside motel.) Now my friends who stayed next door at the Four Seasons told me there were people at the pool who sprayed them down with water mists and even massaged their feet at the beach. Nice! Now that's astonishing and worth spreading the story.

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 2:59 PM by Yanik Silver

Its all about the experience! Your company will be branded based on the experience that people have with your company. So how do you want to Brand your company? 
Today, as we know information spreads like wildfire. It doesn't take too many bad experiences in any one of those areas to give your company that brand. Make every customers experience with your company exceptional and and you will brand yourself as an exceptional company.

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 3:02 PM by Don Tarinelli

I love this post. It conveys all of the factors that I have been working towards with my company. I have been using the title Chief Experience Officer for over a year now and it is really a change agent for a company. It is all about the experience.

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 3:04 PM by C. Wesley Daniel

I believe your article is accurate and a long road of hard work. We are just beginning and find that your advice is superb. 
Mark Nejmeh 

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 3:07 PM by Mark Nejmeh

These are all consistent with my experiences as a venture backed CEO 10 years ago (and I assume are still true today). The thing that struck me (probably after we sold the company) was how much of my job involved "selling." Potential customers, VCs, Board members, recruits, my management team, etc. In hindsight, that would have been a skill to have had going in vs. on-the-job training. 

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 3:09 PM by Tim Huntley

Very well put. I made up the title Chief Imagineer for myself to avoid the CEO badge. 
I'm particularly impressed with point 5 re: the exit experience. With so much choice available to consumers today, the way you are treated on the way out could really be your brand's best long term reactivation and retention tool. Plus, my thoughts are very few folks put emphasis here - go the extra mile, it's never crowded. :-)

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 3:10 PM by Don Crow

Long time follower of and no question, I think you've nailed it. I think #5 and #6 are key aspects of the CEO role, and if done right contribute heavily to the first four experiences. 
Keep the insights coming! 
Terry Sydoryk 
Psyko Audio Labs

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 3:16 PM by Terry Sydoryk

Most companies fail at the purchasing experience. They are easy to find but too many fail to truly define their value proposition or help the purchaser actually connect the dots. Offering a trial period is simply not enough to demonstrate the real value and that's where Hubspot and other SaaS companies flourish.

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 3:20 PM by Chris Mutty

I recently went to an interview at Sportsman's Warehouse. I did not get the job, But it was by far the best class act, (customer service oriented), turn-down I have every received. It made me want to shop there from now on, and recommend them to my network. Most HR and hiring managers do not realize what an impact they can make on PR and Sales.

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 3:21 PM by Gary England

Dharmesh, Well said, but it well depends on the CEO or the founding teams intent. That is are they planning to organically grow the company vs. preparing for an exit. 
If its the earlier, the person handling the role must be true to the virtue of all the factors (with respect to all stakeholders you mention). But its easier said than done in this culture we have developed today here in the US. 
Independent Management Consultant 
Boston, MA

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 3:21 PM by Satish Mantripragada

This is exactly why startups succeed over large, well-established companies with more resources. The CEO's of large companies have no clue about these experiences, whereas the startup CEO lives them everyday.

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 3:23 PM by Mike ODonnell

I also hate the term "executive" officer. It seems dated and more class based than function. I think CEO's should get down in the fold and examine the larger levers of the company inch by inch.

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 3:34 PM by Ayan

Good definitions, from the customer-side. 
A CEO also needs, from the company-side, to be comfortable presenting to many people, both in public and on other communications, be confident and knolegeable about the product valuation proposition, have "gravitas", and know how to both fund-raise and make deals with potential partners for alpha-beta development costs. He/she needs to know when to negotiate the company exit, and their own exit. 

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 3:39 PM by kerry brown

So, as a Sr. User Experience Architect that can do all of the above. I take it I should be running a company?

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 3:40 PM by Tony

the title chief Executive should be Rights personality and have great Respected to Execution and co worker he has be man of justice,because without people have great respected you would chief Executive has respective form high level staff to downside staff that is CEO I will recommande

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 3:54 PM by Machuei Angoon

The A in MBA = Awesomeness ... The E in CEO = Experience... 
It's starting to sound like you're getting into a topic rut here. Wordplay with acronyms may be fun, but...

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 3:55 PM by greg

I think is a great perspective to consider when evaluating both the role of the CEO and the intensely competitive environment that exists today. Empathy with respect to how customers perceive your company, your product, you brand and so on is so important in gaining a customer, but also developing loyalty. And it isn't just understanding the customer's perception, it is proactively addressing any areas of concern. It is also critical to treat your employees like you would want to be treated if you expect to get their full attention and long-term loyalty. While this addresses a key area of focus and is of considerable value, the role of the CEO also involves many additional areas not covered by the chief experience officer tag.

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 4:00 PM by Gary Rowe

I agree as far as that on selecting titles I have always thought that 'Chief Executive Officer' and 'Managing Director' are fairly bland and don't really say what the role implies: or at least they are implied rather than stated, but I haven't yet thought of a satisfactory replacement. 
'Chief Experience Officer' I'm probably less easy with. I wouldn't want to be called it at least. It implies that the CEO is either the 'only experienced' or at least 'the most experienced employee' in the company and there is not actually a need for that to be the case: indeed isn't it the CEO's role to bring on board, to empower and to engage those people with the experience (and other qualities) that they need. They then need to motivate and focus the collective delivery around a clearly defined and understood vision? 
Isn't 'vision' then more central to the role rather than 'experience'. But you could argue that a CEO needs more: they do need experience,vision, charisma, networks, knowledge, skills, confidence and personal drive etc.? 
Recently I defined 3 roles in this way: 
'A Manager': Someone who utilises the resources at their disposal to deliver prescribed functions on time, to budget and to agreed standards. 
'A Leader': Someone who inspires others to follow their dream 
'A revolutionary': An inspiring visionary who leads radical and widespread changes to accepted ideals or practices. Not just willing to rock the boat: a revolutionary sets out to. 
A CEO needs to be a leader, but a good one is revolutionary? 
I'd be interested in other peoples views on this theme.  

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 4:06 PM by Bob Campbell

Great points on the CEO. In any start ups, I can think of many definition for the "E" in CEO.  
I can think of few, such as Enthusiasm, Empowerment, Empathy, Expectations and Effectual. 
I like Chief Empowerment Officer.  
That will be it moving forward... well at least till I go through my last box of Business card. 
Did I mentioned "Economical" ...

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 4:10 PM by Michel

Nice post! Sounds like Steve Jobs' job description. But one major omission: Who's in charge of making a profit?  
Some people above question the term "executive." But remember, the "chief executive officer" executes the strategy of the board, which represents the stockholders--those who've put the money in.  
In the midst of all the astonishing products from Apple over the last decade, Jobs never forgot to make a lot of money.

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 4:10 PM by Mike Van Horn

A "CEO" is someone that can provide the vision and leadership on key business areas that affect profitability and cash flow of the company. 
Every thing else is mental gymnastics of how to define "E" and "O" and "C".  
Brijesh Kumar, Ph.D.  
Rapidsoft Systems, Inc.

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 4:26 PM by Brijesh Kumar, Ph.D.

I did enjoy your article but here's another perspective: 
Marketing is the art of 'customer orientation'. A marketeer sees customer orientation by having the right product in the right place at the right price etc as the be all and end all of a business.  
Financial planners see 'finances' as the pivotal aspect of a business. Businesses usually fold after all not through any lack of success but through cash-flow. 
Or you can value a company by its people: they are after all its most valuable (and expensive) asset. Managed well: employees will drive innovations, exceed customer expectations and enable the companies purpose and deliverables. 
Surely a CEO then leads and coordinates these three aspects of the business from a strategic perspective? 
In your article: 
Points 1 - 5 are marketing aims 
Point 6 is staff orientated 
Where's the money management? 

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 4:29 PM by Bob Campbell

In many novel and "from the ground" startups the CEO is the Experience Officer as well. However, it becomes harder as the organization begins to address varying customers and markets. Yet, the CEO and the company should always attempt to "eat-their own dogfood" when it makes sense.

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 4:34 PM by Ralph

Hi Dharmesh, I have been carrying around the badge for the past 6 months and was been able to refresh some aspects of consumer experience but I clearly missed out on the exit experience, thanks for the useful article ! 
Sriraj Kota 
New Delhi 

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 5:12 PM by Sriraj Kota

Great article, I agree with the premise, on one condition: that we are not trying to push for the CEO who is older and has longer tenure in the industry than any of their employees. Some of the best CEOs are in their first job - started their company in college and this is all they've ever done. Let's not let the old guard try to kill this great scenario. Sometimes you get older just learn what you can't do. That's a mistake: our job is to change the world. Remember the crazy ones, who thought they could change the world. Startups don't always need "been there, done that" CEOs 

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 5:24 PM by Mark Brennan

Loved this article - The best learning takes place from an experiential perspective. Put yourself in the "others" shoe - whether the "other" is your client, customer, employee, etc. and see how that feels! You will get invaluable information.  
Thank you for this article! 

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 5:38 PM by Dr. Patty Ann Tublin

I'll be a contrarian in this conversation. I certainly get your point. But, the responsibility of the customer's experience is with the staff.  
As is pointed out by others, the CEO has many other responsibilities, most importantly producing shareholder return.  
Let's put the "e" for experience in staff titles and leave "executive" where it belongs in the CEO's title. 

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 5:51 PM by Bernie Borges

Clever use of word "she".

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 5:54 PM by Pete

Although I can not disagree with most of what is said I do think it is a bit over-thought. I think a company delivers this experience because it has a process to determine what a good customer experience will be (in the eyes of the customer) and then follows a process that effectively delivers that experience from development through customer use. A effective CEO has the knowledge and experience to lead the team to develop these processes and then consistently use them. Many CEO's these days often way to invested in delivering that experience themselves instead of leading the team to do so. A CEO is a leader and leaders help people see where they need to go (vision) and then help them get their. Just some thoughts .  
George Beardsley 

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 6:08 PM by George Beardsley

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posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 7:08 PM by sovong

I think Chief Executive Officer is not a bad title, doesn't the "executive" part refer to "execution" ? 
Execution of the business is very important. 
Having a Chief Experience Officer is also a good idea, you could call that the CXO perhaps. 

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 8:08 PM by Dobes

Enjoyed the read, and certainly a refreshing look. The experience seems to me to be more of an operational question. My expectation for the CEO has more to do with vision (creative problem solving), whereas the details of the experience worked out by a supporting operations team. Thanks for challenging the norm, and pushing us forward! 
Muhammad Kermalli 
~Wishing you success!

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 8:23 PM by Muhammad Kermalli

Great article, Dharmesh! I like the customer "experience" perspective. Although, I think the employee experience perspective is just as important. A challenge for most entrepreneurs is to transfer their passion and experience to employees. It is such a wonderful experience when positive vibes emanate from an entire company. To the contrary, what an awful experience it can be when employees bad-mouth "the boss" or the products.  
Thanks for a thought-provoking post!

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 9:00 PM by Michelle Giardino

Pretty nice article, was just relating it with my CEO and am very happy and proud to say my CEO does the same from day 1 he started the company.

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 9:23 PM by K Satish

Great article. I think so many large companies loose focus and are concerned solely with get the deal closed and then forget about their customer. It is the whole experience, a long-term relationship.

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 9:29 PM by Rachel Olsen

I appreciate the 'experience' component of the C-level executive and especially that you recognize the key stakeholders including customers and employees. As an entrepreneur, the daily experience factor for these connecting stakeholders is really the lifeblood of business and is not limited to technology. However, since technology pervades even successful non-technology local business, what IT professionals provide to us helps us engage our customers and other stakeholders more effectively.

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 9:34 PM by Ruth Nuckols Cox

It is very famously said, Experience is not what happens with you, it is what you do with what happens to you. 
So, sharing experiences with colleagues and peers, without an iota of doubt, makes tremendous sense. 
I would only add that it would be really far more useful if the thought-process - what, how, why, what next - of (during and after) the particular event is also shared. 
Well, when all is said and done,sharing of experience can be easily said than done. One needs right opportunity, right audience, right format, right technique and right attitude!!

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 9:36 PM by Ashok Vaishnav

Dharmesh - another excellent post. I totally agree.

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 9:37 PM by David Skok

Thanks, Dharmesh. This is on point! Down to earth and actionable!

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 10:12 PM by Steven Radney

Thanks for this info. I will certainly re-think for my new business.  
Infact i also like the title "The CEO Should Be The Chief Experience Officer". It sounds innovative to me with the shown image.  

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 10:27 PM by Jyoti Sharma

Hi Dharmesh 
Excellent points for becoming an excellent CEO.  
I noticed in this article you particularly concentrated on the customer front and mentioned that CEO that provide excellent customer experience will make an amazing company. And I totally agree with that. 
In addition to these what are your view point on CEO having a through understanding of the backend processes (like procurement, supply chain etc.). Are these as vital as customer experience? 

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 10:27 PM by Mukesh

we often tend to forget about taking good care of our VENDORS, while making the delightful experience for customers, employees, stake holders etc. Vendors are the backbone of any business enterprise and they must be given due attention in our efforts to make the Experience Delightful for them too.

posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 11:40 PM by Dharmender

I think this is a great article. So many CEOs do not experience the outputs from their own companies and have quite a different perspective of what their company offers than their customers. The CEO should also insist that all his/her top team do the same = lead by example

posted on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 12:51 AM by John Murphy

You are right. 
But in addition to all that you have mentioned. A person should have the experience and authority to execute the strategy borne out of all these attributes. 
Hence the title Chief Executive Officer is apt and appropriate. 
You will find my article  
"The CEO's Shakespearian Dilemma"

posted on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 1:15 AM by Shyamsunder Panchavati

Cool Dharmesh, quite impressive.  
I always like your blog and your videos, always help to boost the energy.  
Keep it up. 

posted on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 1:38 AM by Kaushal Sharma

It is a great idea for Founders and Presidents of start-ups to understand the roles they play. It's not by titles that a start-up grows but by the experience you've got. if they remember that they are not the only one in the business then they will seek ways to differentiate themselves by offering exceptional products and services. Then they will become exceptional Chief Experience Officers.

posted on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 2:36 AM by

Well said Dharmesh, as a CEO you would need to be a champion of many things.  
You highlighted one of the priorities = customer but as some comment pointed out you need to do the same for other stakeholder (eg. employees) too.  
As you know Tony Hsieh of Zappos took his CEO role to the next level - selling happiness for all - I think there is a parallel in what he is doing.  
My two cents. Keep up the good posting CEO - chief enhancing officer.

posted on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 2:39 AM by Denny

All good and correct. 
Just a footnote, reminder, alert, that we should not make the same mistake as some may be doing in stating that only real tech-techies can be funded to run startup companies.  
The CEO should indeed be the Chief EXPERIENCE Officer and must also run the company with a broad knowledge of accounting, marketing, fabrication, logistics, sales strategies, supply chain and more. She or he cannot just delegate by handing off to those they will have chosen with such care for their expertise and experience, the CEO must have a "foot in the mud" know3ledge and understanding of all these areas as well. 
I am not contending your view at all - just want to add my feeling that all these things have to be there for the result to be a thriving, living, creative and rewarding result. 
Experience rules the roost, just that there must be a well maintained roost! 
Good business 

posted on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 5:39 AM by Roger Ellman

Am a long time follower of onstartups, this post like all your other posts, is spot on. 
Startup founders like me at times lose focus as we have a lot on the plate, this post is a great reminder. 
Thanks again 

posted on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 5:43 AM by Raj Mohan

nice one. and it seems like that any CEo should know his product and his people very much. 
Vivek patel 

posted on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 6:41 AM by Vivek

A fluffed reverberation of the obvious; nothing really stands out in this article…pretty much, or “should be” common practice to an organization and leadership. Does provide valid concerns, though I would be curious to see the other side of this single-sided approach to ideas, i.e. the questions are asked, but not really balanced with examples or approaches. Define and give scenarios of amazing...don’t just Willy Wonka your audience to death. Possibly a metric for amazing? Thanks for sharing!

posted on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 7:46 AM by Daniel Cora

I agree with all ponts but can somebody explain me 6th point. i find hard to understand the point

posted on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 8:26 AM by ritz

I agree that making sure the customer enjoys a "high touch" experience with a great product is essential to building a sustainably profitable company. When you look at companies that win the Malcolm Baldridge Award like Ritz Carlton (2 time winner) you can see the value of a large and loyal customer base. 
However, the CEO is responsible for all facets of the business, of which customer experience is only one. 

posted on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 8:39 AM by Tina Kerkam

This is an interesting and worthwhile take on a long-standing problem. Two principal comments: 
(1) I submit that your use of the word /experience/ should apply to many (if not all) of the organization's employees, contractors, suppliers, etc. Traditionally this onus has fallen to the Product Management and to the Marketing organizations. The Product Manager is, in many senses, the chief executive of a business (the offer) that the firm presents to its clientele; this individual must be a leader and manager in order to orchestrate/conduct the resources necessary to delight the customer, to achieve the promise in the business plan.  
From this perspective, one can derive the insight that the startup is usually a one-product organization with hopes and expectations to grow to a multi-product firm, and that, as a one-product (or one offer or one solution or one experience) entity, its product management function and its traditional chief executive function are nearly congruent. 
The big change comes when other products are developed and launched and the product manager of the initial offer must compete against other products' managers for internal resources. 
(2) Your headline made me think of experience as in track record and history and battle scars. That's one of the principal things I try to bring to clients in my "transitional CEO" practice -- to share with them the result of my decades of scars without them having to go through them in real time, one by one, burning resources.  
Thus, I (and many others similarly situated) bring to the party the net of having been there, done that -- and can help the current team not make the mistakes i have made or witnessed before.  
So we bring "experience" to the firm and enable it to to learn quickly from what has gone before in order to facilitate more-rapid, -efficient, and -successful delivery of the customer experience than otherwise achievable. 
Good points made above about the spirit and passion of the fresh and spunky and determined-to-succeed CEO, but let's remember that many venture firms see that one of their principal value propositions is to provide "adult supervision" to the startup firm which may be long on passion and technology-solution, but short on capital and management expertise.  
Note that within the venture firm market, there is a spectrum -- from those that specialize in lots of supervision and a little capital ... to a little supervision and a lot of capital. Some folks see firms like Cisco, 3Com (RIP), and Google as examples of the latter, where all they want is for someone else to work out the idea, then they buy it but don't really care about the implementation. 
Thanks for your thoughts.

posted on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 8:59 AM by Michael Bloom

To me it all comes down to one very simple concept: Love your neighbor as yourself. If you treat your customers, employees, vendors, and your community how YOU want to be treated, you'll have a great company.

posted on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 9:43 AM by Krista Moon

As someone who actually worked their way "up" through the ranks to the role I hold today, I second your remarks. I think too often, the CEO has either moved laterally from another organization, or is brought into an organization without experiencing being an "end user".  
The experience of working with ANY organization is very different, depending on whether you are viewing it from the inside or the outside. From inside, we tend to justify our actions, assuming how the customer/client will react. There is also the risk that we will not give our actions or decisions the "customer weight" they deserve, because it is too easy to accept a lessor customer value if it is in-line with an action or decision we support.  
I think your advise is right on the money. We must work to keep our products and services something that the "end user" finds valuable; and there is no better place to begin that message, and make it part of the organization's culture than from the top of the org. chart.  
Nice article.

posted on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 9:56 AM by Becky Downard

I think when a company is small this is EXACTLY what the CEO is and should be. If he is not how can he guide the company. However, as the company grows it becomes more important to find others to become the experience experts as one person cannot do it all!

posted on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 11:01 AM by Janon Otto CEO Shear Madness Franchising LLC

Loved your post! Keep up the great work. 
There is so much much opportunity for owners/CEO's of businesses/start ups to create great experiences for every internal and external customer and percolate this to every "touch point" in thier organization. Too often we see companies where the CEO has this vision of grandiose and creating "Astonishment" and the employees do not believe in his/her vision. So, the Chief Experience Officer must map out the "Experience" and continually reinterate it to all.

posted on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 11:32 AM by Mark Arathoon

I like the Chief Experience Officer, or the Chief Enchantment Officer (a la Guy Kawasaki). Thanks for a thought provoking article.

posted on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 1:57 PM by Andrea Fuentes

If all CEOs were aware, and trained, that their job is 100% in creating the experience (IMHO brand stewardship captures the sentiment also) the world would be teeming with Steve Jobses, Howard Schultzes and Phil Knights...and what a beautiful world it would be. Great addition to the evolving nature of what business is. Bravo.

posted on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 4:54 PM by Thorsten Hoins

I have a bit of a different perspective that I hope will be helpful. Considering that this is a site for entrepreneurs, relatively few CEO's are true entrepreneurs.  
The title Chief EXECUTIVE Officer indicates the primary job is to execute the mission of the organization under the direction of the Board or various advisers. It is a role that requires leadership development to effectively inspire the experiences you describe.  
True entrepreneurs are very hands on with everything in their organizations. They take it personally because the company is their baby, and every customer is part of their personal success and freedom to continue to create and bring new ideas to fruition. It sounds to me like the experiences you describe are a better fit for the entrepreneur than the CEO. Very few CEO's are entrepreneurial at heart. 
Most technology companies I have experienced have been started by entrepreneurs, not CEO's. I would almost say that the proper term would be Chief Entrepreneurial Officer, but this would be a contradiction in terms with the differences between CEO's and entrepreneurs.

posted on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 8:24 PM by Mack Arrington, PCC

Yr views resonates with my blogpost below 
Soul is left to someone else , CEOs r focusing on BODY of Business.

posted on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 11:02 PM by sunil

Customer Service Is Not a Department, Its your Company

posted on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 11:04 PM by sunil

Interesting perspective Dharmesh. I can see that a small change in focus (i.e. building a product vs. building a kick-ass experience through the product) can lead to large scale outcome differences. As a CEO, I find myself doing a lot of what you've mentioned.

posted on Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 7:06 PM by Snehal

Thank you Dharmesh, 
Early in the article you state that you would suggest that "Chief Experience Officer" is for a Technology Company. 
I would like to suggest that a Great Experience in all the categories you have discussed be something critical for most if not all companies. 
I cannot imagine a situation where a Business of any kind would not be concerned with a Great Customer experience for a Product of Service and inclusive of internal/external working experience for every one involved with delivering the product or service.

posted on Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 10:47 PM by Shahin Enayati

This is very well encapsulated. These bullet items should be the ABCs and motto of any company or start ups. The role of a CEO indeed should be about satisfying the customers the products or services are targeting that in return satisfy the share holders and the executive board. Perhaps, we have lost our way but it's always been about being customercentric. How else does a company thrive? 

posted on Saturday, November 19, 2011 at 2:54 PM by Karl Cadet

5 Ways to Offer Attention & Win Trust { Both are Extremely Scarce }

posted on Sunday, November 20, 2011 at 3:45 AM by sunil

Nice article. I would tend to agree with Shahin Enayati in that post where this goes across boundaries to other types of companies. I see it working for mine as well as my wife's business.  
I especially like the part about the exit process. When customers are complete with me or my product do they leave that experience feeling good or a bad taste left due to my lack of interaction, support, or any number of reasons. This action speaks volumes when it comes to 'word of mouth' advertising.

posted on Monday, November 21, 2011 at 1:36 PM by John

O-K-A-Y....In finally get it!!! Dharmesh, what you just said doesn't just apply to technology and/or a tangible product but service-related business as well.'s not enough to attempt to train and develop others to do what they need to do where organizations are concerned but we have to make the experience of achieving those things simple, customer (internal customers as well)centric, and supportive. 
And all this time I thought everyone else were was me! Sigh...

posted on Monday, November 21, 2011 at 4:30 PM by Kimetta Coleman

Hello Dharmesh 
I've just come across your LinkedIn profile and blog site - how could I have missed it with so many members! And I can see why - words of common sense and groundedness in a world where it can be easy to drown in information overload. I particularly like the way you use your imagination - what else could the E in CEO stand for! 
Keep them coming... 
Jeremy Devlin-Thorp

posted on Tuesday, November 22, 2011 at 2:27 AM by Jeremy Devlin-Thorp

"Am I over-thinking the importance of the overall experience?" - NEVER! Great to see other people placing value upon the experience out with the service design world. If you're looking for people to help start ups with their 'experience' service designers are the people for the

posted on Tuesday, November 22, 2011 at 12:54 PM by Christina

5 Customer Experience Scenarios !!!! Take Your Pick

posted on Tuesday, November 22, 2011 at 11:45 PM by Sunil Gandhi

Well said Dharmesh 
As head of talent acquisition and development, point # 5 resonates a lot with me.  
I like the focus on 'experience'- It is especially a great reminder to the leadership teams of big global organizations like mine that the customer experience is at the heart of anything and everything we do.  
In bigger organizations, we tend to get buried and only think about internal customers, which sometimes takes us away from our 'real' customers. 
Thanks for sharing! 

posted on Thursday, November 24, 2011 at 8:49 AM by Gunjan

If you think about it, no one epitomized the role of a chief "experience" officer more than Steve Jobs.

posted on Saturday, November 26, 2011 at 12:56 PM by Tony Kelsey

nice post..keep it on

posted on Thursday, December 01, 2011 at 8:40 AM by mahmod

A great post Dharmesh

posted on Thursday, December 01, 2011 at 8:55 AM by Muhammad Ovais

For some of the history of the role of the Chief Experience Officer, perspectives on the role (and who should occupy it), etc., see: 
- Impact of the role of the Chief Customer Officer
- Hail to the Chief!
- The Chief Experience Officer

posted on Thursday, December 01, 2011 at 9:00 AM by Richard Anderson

funny problem with that is the company would never get anything done and would go out of business instantly. It's a proven fact that direct sales and customer satisfaction is far more important than user experience. UE is probably about a 4th or 5th in terms of driving revenue

posted on Friday, December 02, 2011 at 4:26 PM by harpoonflyby

Two comments: 
1) A brand to a customer is defined by a summation of all their "moments of truth" in experiencing a product or service. A "moment of truth" is any customer interception point. Beginning from the first perception of an ad or reference through all dealings with a company, exchange of payments, receipt of product or service, etc. Each and every intersection point either deposits or withdraws from brand equity, and consistency is what counts. 
2) My goal is not to satisfy the customer, but to ASTOUND the customer by delivering more than he/she expects each and every time.

posted on Saturday, December 10, 2011 at 10:34 AM by Cathleen Colehour


posted on Sunday, December 11, 2011 at 6:18 AM by Jessie 
let's make your form building and information work easy and better.

posted on Tuesday, December 13, 2011 at 2:54 AM by Jessie

In our efforts to adjust differences of opinion we should be free from intolerance of passion, and our judgements should be unmoved by alluring phrases and unvexed by selfish interests.

posted on Tuesday, December 13, 2011 at 11:24 PM by Gemstone Beads

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