Determining where the customer leadership position will report is something to think hard about. The strength of an operating area’s ability to be an influencer in the company should drive this decision. And determining how much executive backup is required depends on how far along the company is in driving the customer agenda.
Take Action: There are three variables to critique where the customer leadership role can successfully reside and to whom it should report.
Review the variables to determine which stage your organization is in each.
As a general rule, if you rate yourself as “early” in most of the variables, the more executive firepower you’ll need to gain and maintain momentum.
1. Leader Commitment
- How serious are your leaders about the time commitment, people commitment, and work involved in managing customers and customer relationships?
- Is your most senior leader personally engaged?
- Does he or she own the mission and have a strong viewpoint about where to take this?
- Has your company board committed to the effort, and do they understand that the time trade-off for making progress here?
2. Understanding the Mission
- Think about the level of clarity and consistency in your organization. Is there across-company buy-in?
- Are people collectively weaving customer metrics into the standard business metrics they are comfortable with to define their operation?
- How much leadership backup is still necessary to move the agenda ahead?
- Are all leaders in agreement or do some disagree or question the mission?
3. Ability to Work Cross-Functionally
- Do you regularly initiate projects with the determination of cross-company dependencies and accountabilities?
- Have the traditional silo ownership powers been put aside when necessary for collaborative projects?
- Is there a real understanding of the need to define outcomes, metrics, and priorities with cross-functional teams for customer deliverables?
- How far along are you on that path?
- Are you willing but still feeling the pain?
- Are people mostly unwilling?
- Are you the rare evolved organization that has this nailed?
→ Critical Checkpoints:
- The more evolved the organization is in each of the attributes, the better your chances of achieving success in a divide-and-conquer approach to spread out the work.
- The more evolved you are, the more willing the organization will be to see the customer effort led from somewhere within the organization besides the president’s office.
- If you assess that you are at the early stages in more than one of these areas, your company likely needs the backing that comes from reporting as high up as you can go.