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Do CEO’s Get It? May 19, 2011

Posted by David Dirks in Keeping Your Customers.
Tags: , , , ,

The Conference Board recently asked CEO’s which business priorities they ranked from highest to lowest. I’ll tell you right now that I was a bit surprised and disappointed to see how CEO’s view their world. Here’s how the overall rankings came out across multiple industries:

1. Business Growth
2. Talent
3. Cost Optimization
4. Innovation
5. Government Regulation
6. Corporate Brand and Reputation
7. Customer Relationships
8. Sustainability
9. International Expansion
10. Investor Relations

I don’t know about you but you know what surprised me? Customer relationships didn’t even make it in the top third of the rankings. That’s very interesting in light of all the decades worth of attention, studies, books, workshops, conferences and a host of other resources that have put customer relationships at or near the top of the ‘priorities’ list.

Now I’m not saying that the other top rankings like business growth or talent are critical issues. They are but I’ve always subscribed to the practice of putting your customer relationships in the center of the engine for business growth. Everything within an organization from sales, marketing, operations, and servicing are all connected and integrated into the customer relationship.

Interesting that CEO’s find that ‘cost optimization’ is far more important that customer relationships. Well, it’s more like an astounding fact. Sure, cost optimization is always an ongoing focus but do you build an organization around that?

And for all the talk (and there’s been a lot of that) on ‘sustainability’, that ranks even lower than customer relationships. Then on the bottom of the CEO rankings are the poor investors aka shareholders. Remember that the next time you hear a CEO talk about building ‘shareholder value’.



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