While working on a research project on Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs), I noticed that out of the Fortune 250 companies, 151 do not have a customer representative at the executive table (someone with either marketing or customer in their title). Of those 151 companies, 45 had a Chief Communications Officer on the senior leadership team.
Granted, many Fortune 250 companies are holding companies, with CMOs or other customer champions in the various business units. But not having a customer advocate at the most senior executive level, and instead having a company spokesperson at the table is troublesome.
So, what is the problem?
Imagine for a second what the discussions at the executive table might be like, when all you have are financial, operations, HR, legal, IT, and external communications representatives. What do you think the tone would be?
I think it is fair to say that the tone of the conversation would be very company-centric. It would be about OUR finances, OUR IT infrastructure, OUR people, what WE should say in the marketplace and things like that. And if they are holding companies, this is what they would want the business units to report back on — thus creating an inside-out culture.
So what needs to happen?
Companies need to create outside-in cultures — with someone at the most senior executive table representing the voice of the customer.
Customers are no longer listening to companies — instead they make their buying decisions based on recommendations from peers and colleagues. They also do not tolerate any dissonance between the company’s internal cultural values and the brand values. And they expect consistency in the customer experience throughout all channels and over time.
You cannot create those conditions when the HR, IT, Finance, Operations, Communications, and Legal functions are not true “partners” with the company’s customer advocate.
Let me know what you think.