I'm often asked whether competing analysts know each other, and if so, do we somehow collaborate. I suspect that most folks would be surprised to hear that yes, we know each other (we meet at industry events), and some of us really enjoy working together. While we don't formally collaborate (though I think a cross-industry analyst consortium would be pretty cool), we can't help but be influenced by one another since no one lives in a cave.
So It's in this context that I'd like to pick up a conversation I started back before Thanksgiving with an analyst from another firm who I really like and respect, though has a vastly different opinion from my own about who "owns" the customer. I believe if we're trying to influence customer behavior across a lifecycle -- how a customer is engaged (mindshare captured), how the transaction is effected (exchange of "currency"), how the fulfillment works (product/service delivery) and how the service looks (post-sale service and support) -- we must have visibility into and the ability to effect change among each lifecycle stage. If we buy this notion, then to me this means the customer relationship must be coordinated/directed centrally -- and NOT from within any one of the disciplines in the lifecycle. I've always said that if for example you have a marketing hammer, then you'll be hammering marketing nails.
So I think that the customer relationship must be coordinated by something like a Chief Customer Officer (CCO) organization, which doesn't live in sales, customer service, marketing or product, but exists independently (reporting to the CEO). And as such is able to create segment-specific treatment plans (down to segments of 1) that have involement across the lifecycle. My friend believes (though she's too polite to put it exactly this way) that the notion of a CCO just a bunch of idealistic, unrealistic crap and that since marketing has most of the information about the customer anyway, marketing should own the relationship.
I think this is THE key issue to getting more targeted. For my money, if I'm going to do more targeted marketing, then I want to take the next step and actually apply differentiated lifecyle treatments based on the (current or future) economic value of that relationship. If marketing "owns" the relationship, I don't see how it's possible for that organization to credibly influence/direct activity for particular segments say in Customer Service.
I think taking a more targeted approach requires us to think beyond marketing and thus the relationship should be owned (i.e., coordinated) from "on high." My friend thinks taking a more targeted approach requires us to dig very deeply into behavior-based marketing and that while information could (and should) be shared across organizations, marketing should ultimately control the treatment plans.
What do YOU think? And does customer ownership really matter at the end of the day? Or is it just something us analysts like to talk about? Let's hear it!