Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Customer Agenda is the C-Suite Agenda

If growth is the CEO's key agenda than the CEO should be asking the company's management team, "what are we doing to address the Customer Agenda?" And should be developing a dashboard of key initiatives that support three imperatives and measure the impact on the business -- (1) OUTSIDE IN, (2) INSIDE OUT, and (3) DIGITIZATION.

1) Who is looking OUTSIDE IN and understanding how our customers see us and what they want from us? Are we developing a rich customer experience strategy? Have we implemented customer journey management? Do we have a guiding consistent brand narrative?

2) Are we turning our company INSIDE OUT and breaking down the silos between the different teams that are customer facing? How are we doing on collecting information, developing insights, and improving our ability to experiment? Do we know what the new business models will be that we need to organize our company's processes and people to serve?

3) Have we started enabling our products/services and delivery experiences through DIGITIZATION? Are we embedding sensors, instrumenting services, providing controls and integrating rich information? What partners are we connecting with in a stronger ecosystem? How will we develop the discipline to continuously innovate?

Does it make sense for every company to have a "Chief Customer Officer?" Not necessarily. But every company should have someone in that ROLE even if the title isn't needed. As Paul Hagen wrote for HBR:
...these individuals serve as top executives with the mandate and power to design, orchestrate, and improve customer experiences across the ever-more-complex range of customer interactions.
Customers now expect to be able to interact with our companies through any channel at any time to achieve any objective and have us know who they are, treat them consistently, and serve their needs fairly, efficiently, and ideally in a manner that surprises and delights. Meeting that expectation will require integrated customer experience connecting all of the functions in the enterprise that touch the customer: marketing, sales, service and even R&D and operations. Getting all of those separate teams and leaders to work together toward this goal has to be the CEO's agenda.