Looking Ahead: The Chief Personalization Officer

Apryl Casale January 29, 2018
Looking Ahead: The Chief Personalization Officer

Personalization is the endgame of modern digital marketing. In an effort to compete with digital-first brands setting consumers’ expectations (e.g. Amazon, Google, Facebook), companies are committing their resources to a personalized marketing methodology. Toward that end, forward-thinking leaders are bringing the martech industry into another dimension, where true one-to-one engagement between brands and consumers is a constant. It’s within this unique convergence of digital marketing, advertising and customer care that the Chief Personalization Officer (CPO) will operate.

A search of LinkedIn for “Chief Personalization Officer” reveals 69 people associated with those keywords. We believe that this role will emerge as a strategic focus over the coming years, so it’s important to define the characteristics of a CPO, thus creating the mandate for the position.

The CPO succeeds in putting the “person first” in personalization at the core of a brand’s marketing, advertising and customer experience strategies, focusing on the next-best action for every consumer interaction. In a manner similar to the Chief Customer Experience Officer or the Chief Digital Officer, the CPO must work as a matrixed cross-functional leader, interfacing with every customer-facing function and back-office function to develop a brand’s personalization strategy and initiatives. The CPO serves as the chief storyteller for a brand, articulating strategy and story across all customer touchpoints for a true one-to-one level of engagement. A CPO must also oversee the organizational structure and tech stack as they relate to these efforts.  

> The Chief Personalization Officer serves as the chief storyteller for a brand, articulating strategy and story across all customer touchpoints for a true one-to-one level of engagement.

Following are 10 industry players who share the qualities of a Chief Personalization Officer and will likely be at the vanguard of establishing the job requirements that will lead to the creation of a CPO role within their companies.

1. Laura Alber — CEO at Williams-Sonoma, Inc.

Laura has been CEO of Williams-Sonoma since 2010. As Laura said in an interview with Total Retail, “Retail is both an art and a science; it’s the cycle of creativity and analysis. Our customers continue to evolve, and I’m excited about the challenge of constantly innovating in a way to better service our customers.” Using SundaySky’s SmartVideo platform, Williams-Sonoma has pursued personalized video as both a performance tactic and to support their brand strategy.  

2. Bridget Dolan — Vice President of Sephora Innovation Lab at SEPHORA

Bridget pioneered proprietary social media platforms for Sephora such as BeautyTalk, SephoraTV, The Glossy on Tumblr and Beauty Board. She heads up Sephora’s Innovation Lab, an initiative which combines digital and in-store experiences and puts customers at the forefront with such technologies like augmented reality

3. Nick Drake — Executive Vice President of Marketing & Experience at T-Mobile

Nick leads T-Mobile’s marketing, digital and product teams with a focus on customer experience and digital transformation. Nick wrote in a LinkedIn article that “by digitally enabling every customer experience, we’re able to cut through layers of complexity.”

4. Krisy Frankel — Executive Director of Customer Lifecycle Management at Cox Communications

Since joining Cox in 2009, Krisy’s person-first mindset has led to a consistent track record of delivering innovative customer marketing strategies, including integrated marketing programs and customer loyalty and engagement programs. A customer-centric innovator, Krisy helped spearhead a telecom industry first: a personalized video program to welcome, educate and engage new customers in the first few months of joining the Cox cable family (see below example). 


5. Luke Hagstrand — VP of CX Personalization at Comcast

Luke has been with Comcast since 2011 and was recently named VP of Personalization. He has a background in driving personalization strategies by leveraging big data services to make the customer experience the best possible product. Personalized video enables Comcast to communicate with subscribers about their billing statements to reduce churn, take cost out of customer service while driving digital adoption. 

6. Kevin Hofmann — President, Online & Chief Marketing Officer at The Home Depot

Kevin oversees all facets of The Home Depot’s digital and online efforts. Under his supervision, the brand emphasizes superior customer experience in the digital realm. Leveraging their treasure trove of customer data to deliver personalized messages to every consumer at every touchpoint is core, and the brand’s use of personalized video advertising makes Kevin a customer-centric leader in the retail sector. 

7. Ken Lain — VP of Sales and Service Operations at Verizon

Ken spearheads a customer engagement strategy founded on the premise of trust and transparency. He says a combination of customer data and analytics gives Verizon a complete 360-degree view of the customer — a fundamental requirement for a CPO. 

8. Alice Milligan — Chief Customer & Digital Experience Officer at Citi Cards

Alice drives all aspects of the customer experience across the Cards & Consumer business. According to Alice in an interview with Retail Customer Experience, “Leveraging data and information in the right way, at the right time, and in the right context helps provide value to our customers in that their experiences with us will be highly relevant, informative and, ideally, foster a deeper connection with the Citi brand.” The brand’s use of personalized video as a strategic enabler to drive digital adoption throughout the cardmember journey is a customer-centric priority (see below example). Read more about how Alice led Citi’s customer experience transformation in just two years. 


9. Jackie Talbot — Senior Director & Product Owner, Customer Care at Hilton Worldwide

Jackie works toward enabling true connected conversation with Hilton’s guests. Jackie was the former Senior Director of Personalization and led the brand’s personalized video initiative aimed at driving brand loyalty. She is a firm believer in “delivering the right message at the right time to the right person, when the person engages with the brand.”

10. Nick Jezarian — Media Director at Target

Nick has championed the analysis of customer data to learn individual media consumption habits, with an in-house studio that allows for greater nimbleness with its creative. 

Do you agree with my role responsibilities and requirements of the future Chief Personalization Officers? Who did I miss in my top ten list? Would love to hear your perspective in the comments below, or tweet to me @JimDicso.

Or looking to learn more? Download our ebook, The New Normal Of Customer Experience, As Told By 7 Industry Leaders.

The new normal of customer experience