VP of Customer Intelligence

Patty's Dream Team: Roles and Responsibilities You'll Need for Your Customer-Centric Organization

November 4, 2004

Who should be managing your customer information? What roles and responsibilities should you ideally have in order to do a great job with your customer information? We’re not talking about technical roles, but business roles--these are the job responsibilities that you’ll want to be sure are covered if you really want to have a customer-centric organization. We recommend that you combine oversight of operational customer information with oversight of customer analytics. By bringing these two teams into a single organization, you can take better advantage of real-time analytics--using what you learn from customers to take appropriate actions in near real time. There’s a major twist in our view of your customer intelligence organization: The first priority of your VP of customer intelligence should be to act as the custodian for the information that your customers care about. Start by ensuring that your customers have access to all the information they want about their profiles, their accounts, their transactions, and their interactions. Then worry about what your marketing and sales organizations want to know about customers. And make sure that customer privacy, customer research, and campaign management coordination are covered!


In this series of reports, we offer a set of roles and responsibilities that we have found to be essential to transform companies from being inward facing to being customer adaptive. If you want your company to be easy to do business with, it’s time to rethink the way you have organized for success. Don’t assume that these roles equate to “positions” in your organization. It is certainly possible (and often desirable) to combine roles into a single position.

In this report, we discuss the role of your lead customer information intelligence gatherer. We’re calling this role a VP of customer intelligence. He or she would provide your SVP of customer experience[1] with the information he or she needs about customer segments, customer value, customer satisfaction, and customer behavior and motivation. The VP of customer intelligence is the senior executive who is responsible for gathering, analyzing, and interpreting customer information.

We offer a twist on the usual customer intelligence or customer information-gathering role. We recommend that your VP of customer intelligence be responsible for overseeing the information that matters most to your customers, as well as the information that matters to your product marketing managers and other internal stakeholders. We also recommend combining the oversight of both operational data and customer analytics in a single organization.

Your VP of customer intelligence should ideally lead a team of people who are collectively responsible for the following:

* Customer information--information that customers care about vis-à-vis their own accounts, profiles, assets, and transaction and interaction histories

* Customer privacy

* Customer segmentation

* Customer profitability analysis

* Customer experience measurement

* Customer and partner research

* Marketing campaign and notification coordination--ensuring that customers aren’t being bombarded with multiple, conflicting messages

* Maintaining the customer experience and profitability scorecard (Customer Flight Deck[SM] or equivalent) used by the SVP of customer experience, HR, and management to inform and motivate employees and partners.


Over the past five to ten years, organizations of all kinds have been scrambling to improve the quality of the information they have about their end customers. Quite a few companies have made considerable progress in pulling together customer information, improving the quality of that information and making it easier for employees (and customers) to access and act on that information. Yet there’s still a long way to go in pulling together actionable information that can be used to enhance your customers’ experiences and to improve customer profitability. Our recommendation is that the time has come to begin better coordinating all activities that deal with customer information under the aegis of a single role. Ideally, your customer intelligence group would support your customer experience team by providing all of the detailed operational and analytic information needed to improve customer experience and customer profitability continuously.

Current Practice

DISTRIBUTED CUSTOMER APPLICATIONS. What we find in practice is that the purview over customer information is usually scattered or divided up across departments. Typically, there are separate departments in charge of the following:

* Customer portals

* Partner portals

* Online stores

* Customer Web self-service for support

* ERP systems

* CRM applications for sales force automation

* CRM applications for customer service

* Campaign management or marketing automation

* Customer data warehousing

* Customer analytics

* Customer experience and customer satisfaction measurement

* Customer privacy

CENTRALIZED CUSTOMER DBMS OR DATA WAREHOUSE EFFORTS. The current best practice is for organizations to pull together all the customer information from these various sources and to house that integrated information in a customer data warehouse and/or to synchronize all the disparate sources with one application’s customer data store, which then becomes the customer master. Some organizations aggregate operational customer information on-the-fly as it is needed, leaving the different customer applications to be separately managed. These organizations typically also house aggregated customer information in one or more data warehouses or data marts for the purpose of running analytics and taking action (usually in the form of profitability analysis or marketing campaigns).

Usually, there’s someone in charge of each organization’s customer master--but, more likely than not, it’s someone with a technical background and/or a business intelligence analytical background--not a high ranking business executive. What’s usually missing is a business executive with clout who is responsible for both the quality of the customer information and its analysis and usage throughout the organization. Whether you call this person a chief customer officer or our preferred title, VP of customer intelligence, we believe that this executive should report to, and support, your SVP of customer experience. He or she should be responsible for gathering, understanding, analyzing, protecting, and making accessible all customer information.

What’s Wrong with Current Practice?

YOUR CUSTOMERS NEED ACCESS TO THEIR INFORMATION. Instead of putting an executive in charge of your organization’s 360-degree view of your customers, you should have a high-level business executive in charge of your customers’ 360-degree view of their own information. Virtually every CRM or customer strategy team we’ve worked with starts with the assumption that their job is to get a better picture of their customers and prospects. In the midst of the Customer Revolution[2], it’s safer to assume that customers own their information and to make someone responsible for ensuring that customer information is well managed and well secured. However, if you’re going to invest in providing customers with clean, accurate information about their accounts and their interactions, you can leverage that investment by analyzing both customer experience and customer profitability and by using that information to make better offers to customers.

NEED A HIGH LEVEL EXECUTIVE WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR ENSURING THAT CUSTOMERS’ INFORMATION IS ACCURATE AND PROTECTED. Since customers now own their information, your organization is a custodian of that information on behalf of your customers. Therefore, you need an executive with clout whose job it is to ensure that customers’ information--their account information, their billing information, their contact profiles, their interaction and transaction histories--are accurate and accessible to your customers. Of course, you’ll want a customer privacy officer who coordinates closely with your customer intelligence chief to ensure that customers’ privacy is maintained and that any information your organization keeps as a byproduct of providing services or products to customers is secure and is never misused.

YOU SHOULD NO LONGER SEPARATE OPERATIONS AND ANALYSIS OF CUSTOMER INFORMATION. Most companies still separate the oversight of operational uses of customer information from the oversight of their customer analytics and marketing planning activities. Operational customer data and customer analytic data are often housed on separate technology platforms and accessed by different applications with different data access and application processing characteristics...

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