Where is the Customer Represented in Your C-Suite?

Your company’s most valuable asset doesn’t even show up on your financial statements.  That asset is your customers.  If you don’t have customers, you don’t have a business, period.  You can outsource manufacturing capabilities, fill in gaps in management and even beg or borrow for products and services to sell to existing customers, but there are no substitutes for not having customers.

While customers are so critical to businesses, many companies are not run in a customer-focused manner.

When you look at the C-suite of virtually every company you can think of, from mom and pop businesses to billion dollar multi-nationals, who are the people within the organization truly focused on the customer?  There is typically a CEO (Chief Executive Officer) focused on overall strategy and vision.  There is a COO (Chief Operating Officer) focused on operations.  There may even be a CMO (Chief Marketing Officer), but that person is focused on selling the company’s vision and products to the customer, not really being an internal advocate for the customer.  There are all types of people running around with C-titles where the “C” stands for Chief.  How many companies do you know that have C-level executives where the “C” stands for customer

Sure, you may have a customer service department, but their focus is likely handling complaints when something goes wrong, not advocating the customers’ wants and needs upfront to impact your company’s strategy.  It seems crazy, but most executives aren’t focusing their attention on their company’s most important asset!

You can differentiate your business by defining a new C-level executive for your company.  Call it the CCA (Chief Customer Advocate), the CCRO (Chief Customer Relations Officer) or any other name or acronym you want.  Heck, you can even call it Fred, as long as customer focus is the position’s top priority.  What is important, whether you are in business for yourself or have a large organization, is having that point person (yourself or another senior executive) acting as the CCA for your company. 

As competing for customers’ attention becomes more intense and the value of each customer increases over time, you need a CCA to nurture customer relationships.  The CCA’s job will be to dialogue with customers, particularly your most important customers, and carry their perspective back to the company to be assimilated into your overall business strategy.  With social media tools and other online tools, this is easier to do than ever.

Your CCA should connect with every part of the organization- the CEO on strategy, the marketing and branding staff, customer service, even product development.  This person is the face of the company when interfacing with customers (or prospective customers) and the voice of the customers when interfacing with the company.  Even if you are currently a one-person business, you will still want to make sure to wear this hat and reflect the importance of the customer in planning your overall business strategy.

Why should you do this?  Because customers are placing an increasingly high value on companies that demonstrate that they care about their customers and are listening to their wants and needs.  Also, customer acquisition costs are very high, so the deeper the relationship you can establish with your customers, the better off your company will be.  If you don’t focus on your customers, you can bet that one of your competitors will.

If you want to stand out from your competitors and maximize your growth and profits, then you need to make your company customer driven.   

What strategies will your business use to create a C-level focus on your customers?