The CFO As A Catalyst For Successful Customer-Centered Strategies
The role of the CFO in the process of implementation and transformation towards a customer-centered business model is critical and affects three key areas of change:
- the ability to lead the customer-centered strategies developed by the company,
- the need to measure organizational performance based on customer value,
- and the financial support required by change initiatives.
All these areas, which are essential to ensure the successful implementation of a customer-centric management strategy, depend very much on the work processes carried out inside the financial department and the way the CFO understands the consequences that a customer-centered initiative has for the organization.
The convergence between the financial, operational and customer delivery dimensions that is currently taking place in the business ecosystem is leading to the “classic” financial department and CFO—more focused on the control of the finance function of the company— to lose its original meaning.
The changing role of the CFO
The old idea that the CFO acted “against the rest” is forgotten in the new customer-centered organizations. Instead, CFOs with a new set of roles have emerged who are now constantly thinking on how they can provide satisfactory support for the customer needs.
Of course, CFOs and financial departments will continue to act as the guardians of the financial resources of the company and to ensure that the financial health of the company is as strong as it can be.
Nevertheless, customers are who dominate today’s business ecosystem and demand higher openness, better quality and lower costs. This forces the CFO and the financial department to necessarily evolve into a more customer-focused, more open and collaborative units within the organization and to hold a higher share in “customer ownership”.
For this change to happen, it’s therefore crucial that the CFO gains access to all the information gathered by the company and to develop a deeper knowledge about who the company’s customers are, what products and services are sold by the company, and what customers think of the company.
The new CFO profile
The effective implementation of a customer-centric management strategy and the derived organizational changes will not be possible unless the company hires or promotes a CFO with a new profile. A less “technical” profile more prepared to face the challenges posed by the customer-centric management business model and able to become a true value generator for the company.
This requires the new CFO to develop multidisciplinary skills and build the ability to cross the organization’s boundaries. Ultimately, to acquire key customer-centered competences and extensive customer knowledge so as to act convinced that the customer is the most important asset the company has.
No doubt numerous challenges remain ahead for the financial function in customer-centered managed companies, many of which involve significant changes in the culture of the company and the financial department processes.
Working hard and being consistent in the implementation of change, as well as providing the leadership and commitment of senior management to stand firm in the process is crucial. The reward for companies is huge.