The debate for the need of a Chief Customer Officer has been around for a while now. While some organizations have such a position in place, there is very little published evidence on how these roles tie into the larger organization. There are 3 clear reasons why such a position becomes a necessity:
- - Firstly, the CMO and CIO are at loggerheads, and need to talk more often. Marketing has been increasingly investing heavily in technology. Gartner made a prediction last year that CMOs will spend more on IT than CIOs by 2017. Industry Gurus have time and again stated that Marketing and IT have no choice but to get on the same page.While that is definitely the ideal scenario, it is harder to achieve in an organizational setup, simply because of the way the 2 KPIs are structured. While "Marketing" owns the brand and business growth, "IT" handles the task of keeping the business running optimally, and keeping costs low. The Chief Customer Officer, in many organizations, has begun to drive the "Customer" mandate and fill the gaps that often overlap these two functions.
- - Second, Marketing needs to reduce operational dependency on IT - for everything from the mundane to the extraordinary. In my conversations with retail marketers, I often get the sense that sometimes even basic reporting requirements from marketing can be in a "queue" of requests for IT/Systems, and that slows down analytics efforts. In an age marked by the cloud and big data analytics (and therefore super-fast response time to changing market trends), I am not sure if too many marketers will be willing to deal with this.
- - Third, there is a need for ONE function to be dedicated to the Customer. The Marketing function has traditionally owned the "brand", "marketing communication" (PR, Media Relations, etc.) and "campaigns and offers". While they are busy fulfilling these higher-level mandates at an organziational level, the voice of the customer (if at all there was one in Retail, a la B2B companies) gets missed out. There is a need for ONE position that is customer-centric, "listens" to customer and keeps an eye on Customer Engagement, across channels - Social, Mobile, Web, Store. And also across functions - Sales, Marketing and Customer Service. A consistent customer experience is half the battle-won!
The on-going "digital transformation of Marketing" is a customer-centric phenomenon, marked by concepts like Personalization, Targeting, Micro-Segmentation and 1:1 Marketing. Customer-centric organizations from sectors across Retail, Airline companies and banks are beginning to realize the importance. With Social, Local and Mobile dominating this transformation, "be where your customer is" seems to be the Mantra.
This obviates the need for a Chief Customer Officer who can straddle both the boats of Marketing and Technology with ease, and most importantly, is empathetic to the customer, understands her pain points and turn them into opportunities, through data and data-driven engagement.