Here is another hard question. Who owns the relationship with ALL the customers? Individual customers and relationships are “owned” by specific individuals or teams within the organisation but who is responsible for understanding and looking out for the interests of all customers. The answer is often no one or it’s the CEO who does not have much time to devote to it.
I believe that the answer should be Marketing. Increasingly there is a CMO (Chief Customer Officer) who also owns responsibility for all of Marketing, CRM and products as well as Customers. Done well it can significantly improve the focus on meeting the needs of customers and hence improve profits.
Customers drive investments
A great question that the boards of several retailers ask before making every investment is: “How will this investment help customers?” If you can’t respond positively the probability of getting the project approved drops significantly. I’d recommend every organisation to adopt this approach because it’s a powerful way of encouraging everyone to think from a clients perspective.