The changing role of the chief financial officer (CFO) has seen them play a growing part in stewarding their organisation’s customer experience – a mandate traditionally viewed as one of the chief marketing officer, according to Dun & Bradstreet.
The business services company reports that as positive business results are often fuelled by great customer experiences, CFOs are increasingly using data and analytics to become customer-obsessed to ensure that customer strategy is rooted in insights that will drive favourable outcomes.
D&B commissioned Forrester Consulting to survey finance executives – CFOs or executive vice presidents (EVPs) of finance – in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific across companies in multiple industries generating annual revenue of at least US$150m. The survey generated 250 responses from this group, with just over half (53%) saying they were responsible or accountable for customer-focused initiatives.
‘The Customer-Obsessed Finance Leader’, a study based on the survey feedback, found that 36% of CFOs surveyed were identified as customer-obsessed leaders, making customer-focused initiatives a top priority this year and reporting increases in customer acquisition, retention, and satisfaction.
This group reported year-over-year increases of 10 to 30 percentage points greater than their less advanced peers in revenue, profitability and cashflow, while data and insights-driven companies are seen as 39% more likely to report year-over-year revenue growth of 15% and more.
Seventy-nine per cent of customer-obsessed leaders indicated that their organisation is likely to increase spending on technology applications to support customer engagement.
D&B says that successfully implementing a customer-obsessed strategy requires mastery of seven data competencies that must be aligned across people, processes, and technologies.
“CFOs, with their leadership position, cross-organisational perspective, and ability to understand complex sets of data, are uniquely positioned to implement insights-driven behaviours and processes within their organisations,” the study concludes. “Investing in the right tools and technology, as well as augmenting internal data with third-party data and analytics are some of the key actions leading finance executives are taking.
“Challenges to becoming truly customer-obsessed persist; disconnected strategies within the organisation, disparate data, inconsistent metrics, and a lack of investment in technology are among respondents’ most cited obstacles.”
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