Redefining the scope of marketing to operationalise customer centricity

My previous blog posts here for Marketing have centred on data-driven marketing themes and how marketers can exploit data and analytics to create a more customer-centric, fact-based culture. And by extension, how this, combined with quality execution is likely to lead to better customer experiences and improved customer equity.

This time I’m asking the question: Where is this leading us – what is the future promise for marketers?

Implementing the changes I have described above isn’t at all easy because marketing as we have long understood it is changing right in front of us and literally on a day-to-day basis. Small wonder then that some marketers are confused as they struggle to get a holistic view of exactly what they should be doing and how they should be doing it.

Let’s start by elevating the perspective and looking at the common denominators across this rapidly changing environment. Let’s ask ourselves how we, as professional marketers, should go about our job differently to establish ourselves as the epicentre of any customer centric organisation.

It is a fact of life – and a very important and welcome one, too – that concern for customer centricity has moved into the board room. In the main, today’s executive teams understand that customers are the most important asset to any organisation, period. Nevertheless, I am finding that the C-level is still struggling to operationalise customer centricity into the established version of the organisational design and hierarchy.

Marketing, sales, and customer service – and even accounts and other parts of the organisation – all have important customer communication responsibilities which they are striving to manage effectively at the various touch points they are responsible for in isolation. But any business-to-consumer organisation that wants to compete successfully in the world of the empowered consumer needs to effectively manage the end-to-end experience throughout the customer journey.

So the question the CEO is looking to answer is, ”Which part of the organisation do I hold ultimately responsible for ensuring that all parts of the value chain are driving towards better customer interactions? Who, exactly, is the one customer centric steward who should be actually looking after the voice of the customer?”

I would reason that the modern CMO is in the best position and is the obvious executive to take on that responsibility. Here is why I say that:

  • Most marketing organisations have started enabling themselves to integrate and drive insights from customer and market data – they have laid the initial groundwork,
  • marketing organisations have been through first generation multi-channel campaign management projects and are starting to understand what it takes to optimise cross-channel customer experiences, and
  • data and analytical talent will continue to be thin on the ground until we get serious about filling the skills gap but more and more positions like head of customer Intelligence, marketing performance manager, marketing analyst, and marketing technology manager have started to emerge under the CMO position.

My take is that marketing must assume the full responsibility for the customer. We marketers must establish ourselves in the position where we are the ones that ensure that every other part of the organisation is able to listen to the voice of the customer and learn from each customer interaction.

We yet have a way to go to get to that position, of course, because we are still fighting the traditional perception that the marketing department is where they create ‘funny posters’. But if we can achieve the customer centricity stewardship I know is the right role for marketing professionals, then the future of marketing is bright and promising – and the CMO will secure a seat right next to the CEO.


Daniel Aunvig
BY Daniel Aunvig ON 8 May 2014
Daniel Aunvig is head of customer intelligence for SAS.