In our previous blog, we examined the first five marketing “game-changer” challenges that CEOs will face in 2011. Now let’s review the second half of the list.

CEO CHALLENGE #6. Re-design your web site to meet customer expectations.

Per extensive Voice of Customer research, we have learned that most customers and prospects are not satisfied with current websites. They feel that most websites are one-dimensional, corporate, “me”-oriented experiences. Websites must now provide a three-dimensional experience that provides access to, in order of importance, 1) peers, 2) content experts, and 3) the company itself.

WHAT TO DO: Re-think your entire website strategy. Learn how your customers and prospects define value and relevance. Follow their lead by connecting them with easy access to peers, subject matter experts, and your corporation.

CEO CHALLENGE #7. Give Customer Service the respect it deserves.

In 2011, the companies who thrive will be the ones who recognize that Customer Service is not an expense to be trimmed back, but a revenue contributor.

WHAT TO DO: Start an internal revolution. Abandon the view of Customer Service as an Operations expense line-item. Reposition it as a revenue center, and synchronize it with your marketing efforts. Yes, this may mean stepping on some toes. The earlier in 2011 you step on those toes, the sooner the customer-centric revolution will be completed at your company.

CEO CHALLENGE #8. Don’t let short-term financial objectives destroy your long-term customer focused strategies.

Whether they sell to businesses or to consumers, 2011’s most successful enterprises will shift their selling focus away from just “closing deals.”

Teams that focus on building customer relationships over time will win market share and competitive advantage. Don’t allow short-term income targets to reinforce the old behaviors of “Spray and Pray” marketing or “churn and burn” customer acquisition.

WHAT TO DO: Use quarterly financial forecasts as…simply forecasts. Don’t become a prisoner of short-term forecasts.

CEO CHALLENGE #9: Model the behavior and the priorities for your employees.

As CEO, you are the single most important role model for your team members. Use that “bully pulpit” to show how you want both internal and external customers to be treated … and to demonstrate the values your company stands for.

WHAT TO DO: If you haven’t already done so, create an Employee Council and:

  • Meet with its members at least once a quarter.
  • Hear what is on people’s minds.
  • Listen openly to both criticisms and suggestions.
  • And remember: The respect you show these people will determine the respect your front-line employees show to your customers!

CEO CHALLENGE #10. Accept that ultimately, the responsibility for moving away from “business as usual” in any and all of these areas is yours.

Adjusting successfully to a customer-driven world won’t come naturally to you or your organization. In the year to come, you must be the catalyst for customer-focused change in your organization.

WHAT TO DO: Throughout 2011, champion initiatives that that tap into the Voice of the Customer as an essential source of wisdom and strategic insight.

Acting on this customer-driven wisdom will often mean altering products, procedures, and relationships that your team has grown used to…and that seem to be “working just fine.”

As you advocate for these changes, your leadership ability will inevitably be tested. But being tested is one of the things you love about this job, right?

Additional insights are contained in Ernan’s manifesto “Don’t You Want To Do Real Marketing?” published by 800-CEO-Read.

Author:  Ernan Roman is President of the marketing consultancy, Ernan Roman Direct Marketing.  Recognized as the industry pioneer who created three transformational methodologies: Integrated Direct Marketing, Opt-In Marketing, and Voice of Customer Relationship Research.