About 10 years ago, the adoption of social media moved us from the Information Age into the Age of the Customer, which is much more disruptive and has dramatically changed how consumers behave, purchase and engage with brands. Current thinking has moved on further still; either put your customers at the front and centre of your strategy or risk losing ground to more enlightened competitors. From “Customer Focused” to “Customer Obsessed”.
Traditional thinking might make the sales or marketing teams accountable for this progress.
With strategic responsibility for cash flow, revenue and profitability, the CFO has a substantial stake in any organisation’s customer obsession efforts due to the clear link between customer strategy and financial performance.
So, should the role of the CFO be evolving too?
The best customer obsession strategies are surely data-driven and CFOs are uniquely positioned to drive the transformation to a data-driven and insight-driven organisation. Many CFOs already take responsibility for IT, Business Intelligence and Data Analysis so it makes sense to for the CFO role to move from managing finance (and by extension risk and compliance) to partnering over customer strategy.
What does being a customer obsessed CFO mean in practice?
The CFO must help his or her Boardroom peers more closely understand the relationships between customer objectives, financial strategy and results. A capability to demonstrate the financial benefits of customer acquisition, retention and satisfaction in a simple straightforward manner is an essential skill of the changing CFO role.
The CFO must lead investment in data-driven analytical tools to meet the demands of the customer obsessed company. An even handed and objective approach to overcome the barriers of disparate data, departmental silos and inconsistent metrics is invaluable.
A good CFO will be considering how to transform the CFO dashboard, not just to report customer obsession, but to actively lead it. Traditional balance sheet and operational reporting will be expanded to include predictive analytics linking customer strategies with forecasts.
The traditional conflicts between the CFO’s Board report and that of the Sales Director are generally a thing of the past. But any evidence-based process that predicts and encourages customer behaviour that is closely aligned with business profitability will give you a real advantage. And your CFO should be right at the heart of it.
Thank you for reading and if you’d like to find out more about what we do and what we think at Headstar then please do get in touch, it would be great to see if we can help your business.