Following her appointment as Ogilvy UK’s first Chief Customer Officer, we catch up with Clare Lawson to find out more about her career at Ogilvy, the rise of the Chief Customer Officer and her predictions for customer engagement in 2019.

The number of Chief Customer Officers across all U.K. businesses has risen from 14 in 2014 to 90 last year. What do you think is behind the rise of the Chief Customer Officer role in agencies?

It’s a role that started client side. In tech and service businesses. Why? Well they identified that in fast paced industries there is a need to understand not if your clients or customers are satisfied with you right now, but what will be needed to keep them comfortable with the service they get from you now and 18+ months in the future.

The focus is on customer driven growth - it’s about understanding customers’ challenges and then helping the business grow in the direction that solves those challenges. That means understanding them now plus understanding the role for marketing at large across the next 2 - 3years.

It’s one thing knowing it but another thing internalizing it and making sure that the business delivers on it. Housing what clients want and how we deliver against that under one senior role, means that we keep evolving our capabilities to meet and beat our clients demands.

In an agency like Ogilvy that has brought all our capabilities together, it’s so important that we know what clients want and keep evolving our offering making investments and developments in the areas that are important to them in the future.

As Ogilvy's first Chief Customer Officer (CCO), what has your focus so far been?

The role is about supporting the organization in its ongoing transformation to customer centricity. As such the first 3 months (which will see me to the end of the year) have been focused on helping finalise our recent transition.

We’ve made some great hires – Lou Whitcombe as Head of Customer Engagement, and next year we will announce our head of PR. We’ve unearthed some amazing talent from within our business. Dickon Laws has become our Head of Experience Design, Dan Hocking our Head of Programme Management, Herdeep Natt our Head of Data Strategy, and Jon Tapper our Head of Advertising – to name a few, and sorry to those I’ve missed out!

We’ve also rebalanced Account Management and Programme Management to ensure we have a streamlined model to solve and service clients’ problems using any permutation of talent that best suits them.

You joined Ogilvy 15 years ago as an Account Manager. Tell us a bit about your path to Chief Customer Officer.

I joined Ogilvy 15 years ago as an Account Manager. I’m proud of that, I’ve had a career at Ogilvy not a job or a role, and it’s a career that has taken me in a number of different directions.

Client Service, New Business, a bit of Media and Consulting, then I worked on a proposal to bring our B2B business together and create a team / brand that would service them with the skills B2B brands need most. We acquired a B2B business and I was asked to be the joint MD of that unit and work through the acquisition and earn out. I then became the MD of OgilvyOne, and then moved to this role.

Michael Frohlich and I have been fortunate to have had rarified careers at Ogilvy and I think that’s something we need to help pay forward. That’s one of the reasons why we have a concept of everyone having a 'Major' and a 'Minor' as we move into our 360 world – for example, a 'Major' in Advertising but 'Minor' in Social, so that our talent can start to stretch their capabilities in that space, to open out new career paths. And our staff can tread any path they want. If you are willing to learn and put your heart and soul behind being the best you can be, the business can then take care of the rest.

Any advice for brands or agencies looking to invest in better understanding the customer experience? 

Our clients deserve the best end to end experience from the agency. That doesn't just mean a great relationship, it’s also about great thinking, great work, faultless delivery, great measurement to prove the value of their investment in their brand and with us.

But importantly, it’s great challenge to their ideas, and great problem solving to help them solve the challenges that they are starting to feel they will face in 2019 and beyond.

Too many agencies compartmentalize into ‘do they like us’ and ‘do they like our work’. That’s less than half the story, and it’s only fit for today.