by CIO Staff

CRM: CEOs Need to Get Out More

Sep 07, 20063 mins
CRM Systems

The heads of businesses need to get back with the customers. Tight business conditions over the past several years have caused more chief executive officers to make sure the internal workings of their organizations were humming correctly.

CEOs also were pressured by fallout from the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which essentially makes them more personally liable for the validity of their company’s results, forcing them to spend more time inside to make sure that is the case.

But now, senior executives and managers say it is time for their chiefs to get back out with the customers.

While almost half of senior executives and managers say that their chief executive spends most of his or her time internally focusing on the business, only a quarter of them say the chief spends his or time externally focusing on customers.

As to where the CEOs should spend their time, the majority of executives and managers feel it should be externally with the customers, according to our nationwide survey. Less than a third of respondents thought the CEO should be spending the majority of time internally focusing on the business.

“Focusing on your customers has to be the primary goal, because without them you have no business,” said one survey respondent.

In organizations with more than 10,000 employees, a third of senior executives and managers say the chief executive spends most of his/her time externally focusing on investors, although only four percent say the CEO should be spending his/her time focused there.

“Wall Street demands the attention, but clients deserve it,” said one survey respondent.

The reality is that the CEO has to balance many constituencies, including investors, employees, vendors, associates, customers and the business itself.

“In public companies, too much time is spent on managing short-term results and analyst expectations,” said another respondent. “A well thought-out business plan and good long-term results should negate unnecessary short-term focus.”

The grander, long-term approach can come from moving each constituency along in tandem. Otherwise, too much emphasis and focus can rest in one arena to the detriment of others.

“A true leader would find a way to balance their time,” said one respondent. “In order to keep their finger on the pulse, it is critical that he/she focus on both the internal (business and employee) and the external (investors and customers) view. Otherwise, they become one-dimensional and lose their competitive advantage.”

Said another: “Ideally, CEO focus should be balanced to both customer and employee opportunities that support the business value proposition and returns on investment, including human capital.”

The CEO must focus both internally and externally. “Focused, motivated and dedicated employees remain the only sustainable competitive advantage any company has,” said a respondent. “An emphasis on them will result in the resolution of internal issues and will result in delighted customers.”

Said another: “There is an important balance to be struck between being keen on what is happening internally and spending quality time interfacing with external constituents. Hiring a trustworthy internal leader and establishing routine communications protocols that allow both officers to share their internal and external views is critical to allowing both to be successful.”

With too much time being spent internally these days, it is time for the CEO to get back out with the customers, to improve that balance.