It is true for all my articles, but I’ll explicitly state it here … the views and opinions expressed within are solely mine and have no relationship to my employer. That said, let’s carry on …
Last week, I declared there was no longer a question of “should we do socials media.” If you are out of the cave, you’ve moved on and are past the debate. I discussed “How?” But now onto the next burning question – “where?” Everyone (I haven’t found any exceptions, yet) is puzzled by the question – “where should the social media leader/team fit within the company organization?” And there is a very simple answer – NOWHERE.
“Nowhere – what are you talking about Social Steve,” I’m asked. That’s right – nowhere. Today, the organizational structure of companies is flawed. They are not set up to maximize the potential and power of the new groundbreaking winning social implementations.
Before I explain the resolution, let me take you back 20 years or so and we can learn something very important. There was a day when there were no computers. (I am not a millennial, I remember.) Computers become one of the most important “tools” for businesses. A bit later, the role of the CIO (Chief Information Officer) was created. For a long period of time, this was filled by a strong technologist that could ensure the computer system remained up and running. But after more than a decade (at least), CEOs began to realize that technology and business needed to be aligned and that technology needs to drive business as opposed to supporting business in order for companies to command leadership in their industries.
Fast forward to 2010. NOW, we need to align THE CUSTOMER (potential and existing) with business. The customer, not the company, needs to be the focus. We need to structure corporate organizations around the customer. We need to focus on winning solutions that have direct ramifications on the customer experience.
Social media is equally as influential today to business success as the computer introduction into business was some 30 years ago or so before. Are we going to wait 10 years to determine the appropriate organizational structure around social media or learn from the past? It took at least 10 years to realize that a CIO was a hybrid technology/business responsibility. Social media is an even wider hybrid. When you think of the customer experience relative to social media, you realize SM includes marketing (branding, lead generation, PR and communication, product management/marketing), customer service, and operations.
So are you going to pigeon hole social media in one area or are you going to morph the organization to maximize the customer experience and leverage the strength and knowledge of an experienced social leader. The emergence, growth, and potential of social media has redefined how businesses interact and influence their target market. Thus, the corporate structure must be changed to reflect the business environment change.
Introducing the new corporate position – CCO (Chief Customer Officer). This position is responsible for the entire customer experience through the complete lifecycle from awareness to consideration to purchase to ongoing support. If we think from this customer-experience perspective, we will build successful business models and structures. The CCO should use social media as their major support system. He/she should have a solid background working with customers in many (if not all) the areas defined above – marketing (branding, lead generation, PR and communication, product management/marketing), customer service, and operations.
I do not suggest this change will be easy. Change of any kind is tough and organizational change is one of the toughest. But let me ask you something – how bad do you want your company to be a great company – a company that is loved by their customers – a company that constantly displays innovation and leadership in their industry, a company that operates efficiently and reacts with lightning speed as required by our digitally connected world? Got the chutzpah to “make it happen”?
Let the Fun Begin,
PS Okay – so maybe the Chief Customer Officer is not a new position. There are some companies that have one. But are they utilizing their most powerful tool for engaging with customers?