CRM, Chief Customer Officers, and XXM of the Month

In response to my comments on the potential for Marketing to lose a seat at the strategic table, Curtis Bingham comments on the difference between a Chief Marketing Officer and a Chief Customer Officer.  It’s not that I am opposed to the idea of a CCO, I’m just wondering, why are they needed?  I asked the same question about CRM when it came on the scene.  I mean, to me, CRM is Marketing; what would Marketing do if CRM was in charge of the customer relationship?  So then Curtis puts forth this gem:

“In some companies I’ve worked with, the CMO is so myopically focused on outward – bound marketing and “pushing” information on the customers that it takes a CCO to bridge the gap between what marketing hopes customers want and the customer reality.”

And then it hits me.  That’s really what is happening from a macro organizational perspective; it answers the question of “why” people are Deconstructing Marketing.  Current CMO’s can’t do the job I used to know as “Marketing”.

As someone who came from the database marketing side, all my experience has been in industries rich with customer data, and in these industries, the CMO is the CCO, performing all those functions, because that is simply the nature of the business, it is all about the customer and always has been.  I think what we are seeing is as more companies get access to their customer data and want to act on it, the skill sets of the CMO’s in those companies are lacking relative to the financial opportunity presented by having the data.  This conflict results in functions like “CRM” and “CCO” being stripped out of what I know as Marketing and created as new functions to address the new opportunity that “outward focused” Marketers don’t have the skills to address.  Unless, of course, the CMO steps up to the challenge of a data-driven organization and grabs hold of it.  Otherwise, the CEO simply fills the gap with another position.  

And that squares with the idea database marketing folks would make great Chief Customer Officers – they have both the Marketing skills and the Customer-centric empathy, plus a knowledge of process optimization all in one package.

Another issue of course is one of scale.  Not that HSN was a huge company at 2 billion in sales or so, where I managed to handle all the “Customer Centric” functionality as well as the Marketing.  But compared to Sun Micro or Cisco, I suppose at some size a single function like Marketing simply cannot pay enough attention to everything that is going on so you have to break it up – or do you?  I suppose that depends on the kind of talent you have access to.

Either way, at some level, as companies become more data-driven and so customer-centric, the traditionally trained “outbound CMO’s” are going to have to get with the customer-side program or will lose a lot of their power.  They will have to, because the financial leverage in customer marketing / analytics / accountability is so huge it’s bound to dwarf anything an “outbound CMO” can come up with.

Plus, the pressure to improve process optimization / accountability is only going to get more powerful as our friends over in IT keep rolling out their favorite XXM (Xxxxx Xxxxx Management) flavor of the month.

This all begs a larger question for me: If the above is true, then is there a market for training “outwardly-focused” CMO’s in the art of customer-centricity?  Or are they simply going to “let go” and cede control to the CCO’s because Customer Marketing is just too hard?

A pithy question we can perhaps discuss at the Don, Ron?

One thought on “CRM, Chief Customer Officers, and XXM of the Month

  1. A few thoughts on this post, Jim:

    1) I read Curtis’ post — very articulate, but a firm does NOT need a CCO to bridge the gap. One more chief something officer doesn’t solve anything (see the post on my site about CCOs.

    2) The gap that exists today in many organizations comes about because many CMOs are really CBOs (chief branding officers). And, quite frankly, many of the database marketing people are just too campaign-centric, tactical, and execution-oriented to fill the role.

    3) And yes, we can most certainly discuss at the Don (where I’m writing this, now). But after a few drinks, I’m not sure how coherent my side of the discussion will be. (And I’m hoping that the discussion won’t become public, because, as Denise Wymore would would say, “friends don’t let friends blog drunk”).

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