The development of the data-driven marketer has advanced marketing beyond branding to include customer experience and revenue growth. Marketers should first solve the consumer data conundrum before they can prosper in their role.
It’s easy for some CMOs to feel isolated in their never-ending effort to improve customer service. At times, it appears as if the marketing department and the leadership are speaking a different language, with one side attempting to serve the customer and the other focusing on stakeholders and financials. After all, providing the best possible service to a customer is one half of the value creation question; the other half is doing so profitably.
This cannot and should not be the case. It is no longer the sole responsibility of the marketer to care for the customer, even in the age of customer-centricity. No matter what their individual targets are, the whole c-suite, the board, and everyone in-between should have the customer at the forefront of their minds.
Customer-centricity should be at the objective of the organization, and it should pervade every area, from operations to marketing, sales, management, legal, and compliance.
However, educating the board on the business benefits of customer-centricity is part of the CMO’s shifting role. At the board level, a strong focus on the customer can, and typically does, end up being beneficial for the company and its shareholders.
It’s time to brush up on skills
As a result, with customer centricities increasingly taking the top spot on board and executive agendas, companies are left with an inconvenient question: How many boards and executive teams genuinely have the required amount of experience on customer-centricity? According to industry experts, the actual figure is much lower. This poses a significant problem for the CMO, who will struggle to communicate the value of customer-centricity. Simply said, customer centricity can significantly boost profitability, and is crucial that executives upgrade their expertise in this area.
Fortunately, there are a few things that businesses can do to close the gap without having to entirely reshuffle the board of directors.
When the CMO and the board meet, it’s critical that everyone be on the same page about current performance, any restraints that may be preventing the company from reaching its full potential, and any risks and possibilities related to customer-centricity.
Defending against miscommunication
Despite the best intentions, there is still a lot of miscommunication between CMOs and board members. Board members may claim that expansion is one of their top strategic priorities, but at the same time they believe it is someone else’s responsibility. However, it should be clear that if it is critical to the company’s success, it is the board’s responsibility. If board members want to keep a business running smoothly, and they feel marketing is the key to doing so, they should learn to speak the CMO’s language and play their game.
Here are some questions that board members might want to ask the marketing team: What significant changes have they observed in consumer behavior? What positioning and behavior changes have they noticed among competitors? What are they doing to make their marketing and sales expenses more efficient? How is marketing tracking versus budget and preceding period (MOM, QOQ, and YOY)? What expertise and skills will they require to carry out their strategy?
Businesses are expected to discuss P&Ls, balance sheets, risk, historical metrics, and business strategies at the board level. Marketers talk about customer lifetime value, acquisition cost, and other crucial metrics that don’t necessarily have a direct link to the bottom line.
The key to growth is found somewhere in the middle