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Marketing Practice

Customer Marketing Organization
The Key to Turbocharging Customer Marketing Performance

Stronger customer relationships have grown increasingly vital to the strategy of companies vying for competitive advantage in today’s complex multi-channel marketplace. Many proactive players, acknowledging the need for a greater focus on strengthening customer relationships, haveinvested millions of dollars in the databases and technology required to support a customer-centric approach. And they have been quick to launch pilot programs in many product areas. In spite of their efforts, many of these marketers have failed to elevate CRM performance to their targeted level.
Organization is a critical and often overlooked factor in driving CRM initiatives to betterperformance Clearly, the challenges are daunting. Many of these marketers – lacking the customercentered talent and skills to bring about significant change – have struggled to get their programs off the ground. They have found it challenging to work beyond their traditional business silos and to inspire managers to “embed the customer” in the fundamentals of how they run their businesses. Even aftersuccessful pilots in several product areas, they become deadlocked over how to pursue crossbusiness opportunities that might offer even greater potential. What then, is the missing piece of the puzzle needed to support companies in establishing more powerful CRM programs? CRM programs that create substantial value require four integrated elements: 1) a strategy for managing customer relationships that istied to business economics; 2) compelling, well-executed programs that can drive customer value levers; 3) technology to support key activities, both data management and customer experience; and 4) the organization that underpins the ability to deliver and sustain the first three elements over time. (See Table 1.) Our research1 has shown that organization is a critical and often overlooked factorin driving CRM initiatives to better performance. We talked to marketers at four distinct performance levels (see Table 2) and identified 10 specific organizational characteristics of marketers who are achieving their performance goals. All of our interviewees placed organization among their top three critical challenges and over 60 percent cited organization as one of their top two challenges. Onemarketing executive was particularly emphatic. “Building the organization to develop and execute ideas,” he said, “is the real showstopper.”

McKinsey Marketing Practice


Table 1

Integrated Elements of CRM Programs


Target customers Value levers Channel leverage


Accessible customer information Customer insights Compelling customer offerings Integratedcustomer experience/touchpoints Test and learn disciplines Adaptable IT architecture Flexible data capture and management Customer management tools



Customer-enabled structure Critical supporting skills Customer-driven business processes

These 10 organizational characteristics fall into three distinct categories – structure, skills, and processes. And highperformers have the structure, skills, and processes that enable them to leverage existing assets like customer data and successful pilots, mitigate conflict over customer “ownership,” and create the insights and programs to serve customers more effectively within and across products and channels.

The 10 Distinctive Characteristics That Drive Successful Customer Marketing
Most companiesthink of structure as the lines and boxes that make up an organization chart, and that simply shifting job responsibilities or adding customersegment managers will create a customer-focused organization. However, winners redefine critical roles and responsibilities among and outside the boxes, integrate work across functions, and build cross-functional teams to capture opportunities.