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Who “Owns” the Customer?

by on May 7, 2012

In a Social Enterprise Asking “who owns the customer” is Not Only Antiquated, it is Ludicrous

Each day we have interesting and insightful conversations that get our juices flowing.  Sometimes we get a new idea or sometimes we exit those conversations just scratching our heads. I recently had dinner with someone I have a great deal of respect for, but I have to say that I left that conversation scratching my head.   I have known this person all of my life and I can say that he is usually very insightful and spot on when it comes to intuitively knowing that the customer wants.  In this conversation however, he was dead serious when he spoke of his organization and who should be making decisions about the customer.  His exact words were:  ‘Why should PR be involved in this issue?  This is a customer issue and therefore, it is our decision what to say or do when it comes to the customer.  They are our customers not theirs.  What do they know about customers?”

I have to say that I was floored – from two perspectives.  First off I have to state my bias.  I do come from the “PR world” and was integrated into PR when they actually controlled the message.  I also spent enough time in the public sector to know how the various interested parties want a say in the message, the timing, etc.  However, and thankfully so, I have seen the light.  Because of my passion for social media and the intrigue around the democratization of knowledge, I know that no one single person or business unit owns the message.  That being said, I also know from experience that no one single unit owns the customer.  If an organization approaches its customers from the standpoint that only the Customer Service department has a stake in the customer, then heaven help us.

In today’s social enterprise, we all have a stake in the customer.  We all have a say in how to communicate.  We have moved beyond someone thinking that a department owns the customer.  Or, at least I thought we have.

Over the coming weeks, I will explore some actual best practices that I was working on in my last organization and how these practices can move organizations to being social enterprises as opposed to anti-social enterprises.

If you have experiences that you would like to share as well, I welcome your thoughts and conversations.  After all, it is about being social.

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