At many companies, the whole organization is becoming more responsible for customer engagement. A few are extending this thinking to the boardroom. A McKinsey Quarterly Governance article.
Three tips for improving engagement
First, much as most boards now include a strategy day in their calendar of meetings, we think it’s worth considering a customer-engagement day to take stock of the broadest strategic implications of changes in the marketing environment and of the company’s position with customers. On such a day, the directors of another Asia-based services company took decisive action to rethink its premium-pricing strategy after coming to grips with big changes under way in the customer base.
Second, it’s important to be mindful of the board’s composition, given the fast-changing nature of marketing. For example, including more board members with public-sector experience—including political-campaign skills—can provide valuable counsel to today’s ever-more-exposed CEOs.
Third, it’s important to keep board involvement strategic in nature and clearly aimed at governance issues and not the day-to-day management of marketing activities. To be sure, it can be valuable for board members with specialized expertise to provide it fairly regularly; we know of one company that’s asked an innovation guru on the board to work closely, between meetings, with the head of R&D. Yet any such involvement must ultimately connect back to the board; otherwise, there’s a risk of creating a cadre of shadow managers. In this case, the R&D director and board member jointly update the board on innovation efforts to ensure that it remains plugged in.