There are few topics as fraught with passion and controversy as the debate over who “owns” particular roles and responsibilities. In fact, this is among the most frequently asked questions during the Effective Product Marketing seminar, perhaps because no role is more ambiguous than marketing. While many factors contribute to the confusion, the matter of customer “ownership” is near the top of the list.
So this “Who Owns the Customer Relationship” post from Liz Roche caught my attention. Liz says that companies should name a Chief Customer Officer to oversee this role, since the relationship with the customer cuts across all of the disciplines in the company. She questions whether marketing could “credibly influence/direct activity in segments” such as Customer Service. I agree with Liz about the scope of the function, but disagree emphatically with her conclusion. I wonder how she would describe the marketing function in her hypothetical organization.
Why not define marketing, at the highest level, as the group that listens to the customer, thinks like the customer, and influences the customer? Aren’t all of these activities inextricably linked to one another? If this were its charter, wouldn’t the rest of the company relate to Marketing as the experts on customer strategies? And perhaps most importantly, wouldn’t this reinforce the need for Marketing te develop real insight into customer segments?